I love reading all of your posts about children and travel as we're starting to do this more and more with our child, Monkey. I would love to read your thoughts on ground transportation. For example, we're preparing to travel up north where having a rental car is more of an annoyance rather than a convenience. But, I'm having a difficult time deciding on whether to take a cab, or a private car. There are pros and cons to each, but I'm not sure what would be the best for us. My main concern is: will our luggage fit? and most importantly, will Monkey's car seat fit? Often times the taxi cabs are outfitted with those plastic seats. Not great when trying to install a car seat. Also, the shuttles, where we're traveling to, don't allow children under the age of 12 as passengers. Any insight would be appreciated! :)
Thanks for your question. Ground transportation is often a difficult issue for parents with small children. If you don't rent a car, you are left with the options of taxis, shuttles, buses or private cars or limos.
In most major airports, there are taxi stands with a variety of different options as far as vehicle size or type. In the US, most are at least as large as a mid-sized sedan, so you should have no trouble taking your carseat and fitting your luggage. We've traveled with 2 parents, a small kid, and about 9 pieces of luggage (including carry-ons), and have been able to make it work in taxis all over the world. Occasionally, we've passed on the next available cab, and taken the next minivan taxi available, or asked the dispatcher to call one for us. Make sure that the seatbelts are working before you get in, so you can be sure that your carseat can be strapped in properly. It won't be as secure as your carseat at home, but it should get you to your destination without causing you to have a panic attack.
Private car or limo services tend to have larger cars, like a Lincoln Town Car. They tend to be cleaner, but you have to arrange for these in advance. Be sure to tell them when you make your reservation that you have a small child and a car seat, and approximately how many pieces of luggage you have. You can ask if they provide car seats for small children, but make sure that they have one that is the right size for your child. The nice thing about a private car service is that the driver will meet you outside the secure area, and help you get your things out to the car. If you're traveling alone with your child, this can be a big plus.
We have had some success with door-to-door shuttle van services, but they usually charge per-person. Depending on the size of your family, it might be more cost effective to take a taxi or private car. You also have to make numerous stops as they drop off other passengers, so it can be a long ride for a little kid.
In many states, shuttles, buses, and taxis are exempt from the car seat laws. You can check the laws in the state you're traveling to by checking out The Inventive Parent, which has a state-by-state listing of laws for the US, and a less thorough summary for Canada. Depending on the age of your child, you might not be required to have a car seat or booster seat, but you might want to bring one for your own peace of mind.
If your child is 4 and over 40 pounds, you might want to try something like the Graco Turbo Booster Seat. It is lightweight and not as bulky as the regular car seat. We used one of these and it worked like a charm (and still does in states that require that the child be 8 years or 80 pounds).
The Silent I