For your next travel you will need to have a child seat during the ride. You have the option of bringing your own seat with you or if you prefer you can choose to rent a seat from the rental agency for an extra fee. Child seats are split into 3 different categories. Baby seats, child seats, and booster seats. They are categorised depending on the age and size of the child and every rental agency will give you the option to choose which one to add to your reservation if you need it. Read on and find out all the necessary information to make your next car hire with your children as worry-free as possible.
Taking your own child seat with you
If you already own a child seat, you can take it with you on your trip and avoid paying for renting one from the car rental agency and possible complications if they would not have any available.
Before taking it, be sure to check the regulations regarding the type and size of the child seat in the country that you are traveling to so that you will be sure that you have the correct one needed. Some airline companies such as Ryanair and British Airways will allow you to take a child seat on the plane free of charge so it's a good idea to keep that in mind as well when deciding. Another useful thing about having your own child seat is that you will know exactly how it works and will not have problems installing it in the car.
Hiring the child seat from the car hire agency
If you are traveling with a lot of luggage or multiple children it might be advisable to rent the child seat with the rental agency directly instead of carrying it with you from home. You have the option to add the child seat at the counter and pay for it with the rest of the reservation. Keep in mind that in this case the availability of the seat might not be guaranteed as car hire agencies usually only have a limited number of seats to give at any given time. Therefore if you are traveling in the peak tourist season when the demand will be the highest there is a chance that they will not be able to service you on a last-minute notice. If you know that you will need a seat when you arrive for your car hire, it is advisable to contact the car hire agency ahead of time and reserve it upfront. That way you can make sure that it will be waiting for you when you arrive and you will have a clear picture of the total cost of your rental ahead of time. When taking the child seat from the agency they will give you instructions on how to install it or point you as to where you can find detailed instructions, but you will usually need to install the seat yourself so if you do not have experience doing it, we advise researching it in detail beforehand.
Types of car seats
As the name suggests its meant for babies. This usually means from birth to around 2 years of age. Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat and that is how this seat is designed to be installed in the car. Note that some modern versions of baby seats can be installed front-facing or rear-facing, but rear-facing is still considered a safer position.
The standard child seat, which is appropriate for any children that outgrow the rear-facing baby seat. You will be using this one until your child is large enough to use a booster seat instead. As it is the most common one, most car rental agencies will also have the largest number of them for rental. When taking it, make sure to read the manual carefully as well as check that it fits comfortably.
Instead of actually strapping your child, booster seat simply raises or »boosts« them, so that the regular seat belt fits better. They are only meant for children in a forward-facing position when they outgrow the child seat. Usually, this applies to school-aged children. The minimum weight to use it varies from supplier to supplier but is usually from 15 kg onward. You can then use this seat until your child is old enough to not need any car seat anymore.
Where to place the child seat
You can place the child seat in any of the 2-3 rear seats or the front passenger seats. However, depending on the exact model of the car and the type of child seat one might be more appropriate than another. Most manufacturers recommend installing the baby seat in the front seat, facing back, and child or booster seat should be on the back seat, facing forward.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that if you mount the seat in the front, you need to deactivate that airbag. If you are not sure how to do it, the staff at the rental station will be able to assist you here.
The cost of renting a child seat
The cost depends on the car rental agency, like the ones that will allow you to reserve it upfront will usually charge more than the ones that only have the option of adding it at the counter. The price for the child seat is usually calculated for each individual day, but every company has a maximum limit, with Enterprise, National and Alamo being the lowest at around 60€ per rental and Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty being the most expensive with a price around 90€ per rental. When choosing a seat at the counter, rental agencies will divide them into different categories that also have varying prices. The categories are usually divided depending on the age and weight of the child that the seat is appropriate for.
In most countries a baby, child or booster seat is mandatory for children up to the age of 12-13 years or up to a certain height, whichever comes first. Before renting a car we recommend checking the regulations of the country that you are traveling to, that you get the correct seat and avoid any unnecessary problems during your vacation.