Do you need to bring a car seat when you travel with a baby?
We were recently contacted by a reader who was struggling with the decision to bring a baby car seat on her upcoming vacation to Mexico.
Not surprisingly, we get asked this question quite often, so we thought it would be helpful to share our recent travel experience to the Mayan Riviera (you can see our Mexico photos here).
First, to answer the question – yes, we did bring our baby car seat with us.
Baby B is not really a baby anymore, so we had to drag our big, bulky car seat with us all the way to Mexico. Gone are the days of bringing his convenient car seat/stroller combo.
Instead, we purchased a cheap umbrella stroller and packed up our heavy car seat. We didn’t really have a choice. We needed to take a taxi from our house to the airport, about a 45 minute drive (we would also need to do this on the return trip home from the airport). Because we were arriving in the evening, we organized private transportation from the Cancun airport to our resort (check out our video footage from the resort).
Now, we could have requested a baby car seat for an additional charge, but we didn’t want to take the risk, especially after a 6 hour flight with a cranky baby. The thought of the private vehicle arriving without the car seat was a real possibility, so we didn’t feel like gambling.
We also needed to take a taxi from the first resort (located near Tulum) to the second resort (located between Playa del Carmen and Cancun), which meant we would need a car seat for that trip as well.
We flew with West Jet, a Canadian airline that offers direct flights between Vancouver and Cancun. West Jet allowed us to check our car seat for no additional charge and we were able to gate check the stroller (they are very good at accommodating young families). So, once the car seat was checked we didn’t need to deal with it again until arriving in Cancun.
On the surface, it was a fairly straight forward process. We only had to deal with the headache on the travel days, which was manageable.
But what happens when you want to leave the resort?
We planned to meet up with our friends Erin and Simon in Playa del Carmen. We hadn’t seen them since they visited Vancouver for TBEX 11, so we were looking forward to catching up and introducing them to Baby B (he was only a bump in Nicole’s belly at that time!).
We organized a shuttle from our resort to Playa del Carmen, about a 30 minute drive.
The problem – we could not bring Baby B without bringing his car seat.
I want you to think about that scenario for a moment. This meant we would have to carry around his heavy car seat while strolling the streets of Playa del Carmen during the hottest hour of the day. No thank you!
Our other option was to pay an additional fee to have a car seat provided by the shuttle company. This was fine for the trip into town, but what about the return trip back to the resort? The company would not guarantee that a car seat would be available on the return trip, so it was a gamble. Either we take the clunky car seat with us (along with his stroller and baby gear) or we cancel the trip into town.
Sadly, we cancelled the trip. It became far too complicated and we didn’t want to risk not having a baby car seat (and Baby B would not have the patience to deal with lengthy public transportation).
So, the lesson learned is that even if you bring your baby car seat with you, you still need to plan your excursions and day trips. That said, most excursions offer a private vehicle that stays with you throughout the day, so this will work with your car seat.
If you plan to take taxis or private transportation, it’s best to bring your baby car seat with you.
Have you experienced a similar situation? Do you bring your car seat with you?
Share your feedback and experience in the comments section below, we’re always interested in learning from other travelers!