Nadia said: March 13th 2011 3:58 PM
Sent: March 14 2011 10:00 AM
My baby will be 8 months when travelling to Bali and 14 months when travelling to Cuba.
Do i need to take a baby seat with me, are seat belts installed in these country’s’ or is there other products that can help ensure the safety of my boy when travelling by car or bus without lugging around a cumbersome seat (we intend to backpack around).
Donna @ Little Gulliver said: March 17 2011 10:54 AM
Car seats and their world-wide requirements is a really common question and sadly so hard to find information on. My thoughts are though, that I’m afraid you can’t go past a car seat to ensure ultimate safety, especially as some say driving in those areas tends to be a bit “haphazard”. The best option may be to take a car seat with you for car travel, but buses are unlikely to have seat belts.
International car seat laws
Now, the really annoying part for parents trying to do the right thing is that car seat standards are different the world over. Therefore, car seats approved for use here in Australia are unlikely to be “approved” for use overseas. So, is taking your own car seat practical anyway? In the 2 areas you are looking at it could be safe to assume the laws may not be too strict? And if you want to take a car seat on a plane that is a different problem all together.
I’ve got a few thoughts though, on how to make this a bit easier;
Rear facing car seat
I guess at 8 months and 14 months your son would still be in a rear facing car seat (at between around 9 – 11 kilos). If you didn’t want to take your own car seat, consider getting a second hand one specifically for the trip or a budget, light-weight version?
There’s also the Sit n Stroll from Lilly Gold, these are quite popular overseas and have had some good reviews. (I noticed there’s one on ebay in Australia at the moment. Also, I’m unsure if it is approved for use in Australian airlines or cars, so may just be useful for overseas travel). It’s worth checking how easy it is to convert from a stroller to a car seat…
The cars in both Bali and Cuba should have seat belts (but no bolts) so you’ll be fine installing a seat in a car, but as I mentioned the buses are unlikely to have seat belts (but you never know). Also, maybe look at a car seat which has a reclining feature since you may be on the road during sleep times.
Car Seat bags
Consider a car seat bag. Its an easy way to transport the car seat when not in use, there are some with wheels which make it easier to cart around. It also a great space to cram some extra nappies and wipes into.
If you’re considering taking a stroller, we use a Quicksmart for travel. Another great option is to get a cheap umbrella stroller, one of the $20 varieties. They do the trick, you wont mind it it gets damaged in transit and you can even leave it there if you’re finished with it. Again, some sort of stroller bag may be handy, depending on what you’re already taking. And, have you seen the Ride On Carry On? I’m still a bit on the fence with this one, but it is popular and I can see it would be useful if you need an extra pair of hands. It may not work with your style of backpack anyway?
Car seat alternatives
I have to say first, that there really is no alternative to a car seat. But take a look at these and see what you think. There are 2 products that I know of which are designed to improve safety in vehicles. Again, neither really replaces the car seat. One is the Safefit. It moves a regular car seat strap into a more suitable position for a child. Coupled with a cushion booster seat to lift the child up, it could work well. Again though, some cushion booster’s are recommended from around 18 kilos, so not recommended for your child’s size. Another is the Ride Safer Vest. I’m not sure, again whether these would suit you at 8 and 14 months and how easily you could get one. A blog I have found useful (though our youngest is now 2, sigh), Travels with Baby, has a great car seat alternatives post (bearing in mind its US based).
Some reading on Cuba
In Cuba, it sounds like the Casa’s, hotels and rented apartments are great options for families, while travelling on public transport works well. Apparently just allow extra time for travel, as many Cubans will want to stop you to see your child! We have family visiting Cuba as we speak, so I may be able to add some more feedback about travelling there at a later time.
Some reading on Bali
Your son may still be too young to fit into a CARES flight harness for the travel you have planned for this year. It’s worth some thought for the future though, especially as you seem to be frequent travellers. And, of course, it and other handy Travel Essentials for Kids are available from www.LittleGulliver.com.au!
I hope I’ve been able to add some useful insights and information for you here. I’d love to hear what you think and how you go. They sound like great trips. There is a lot to think about re the car seat, so in the end, just go with what you feel comfortable with.
Finally, apologies for my delay in replying, I’m catching up after the labour day long weekend here in Victoria. We had some beautiful Autumn weather so all was good!