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How To Travel Safely With Young Children When You Rent A Car

Nov 21, 2007
Holidays are meant to be relaxing, but when you're travelling abroad with young children and need to hire a car at the airport of your destination, you should take a few moments to read the following tips in order to guarantee a safe and comfortable journey.

The most important thing to bear in mind is to protect your children at any time inside and outside the car. Do not allow any exceptions just while you're on holiday.

When you book your holiday car make sure to reserve a car seat in advance. Child seats are considered additional services which are offered locally, but most car hire companies do not guarantee availability of the appropriate safety seat if this service was not booked in advance. Remember that occasionally they may go quickly, especially when you're travelling in the high season and/or school holidays.

If you travel with small babies (less than 6-8 months old) please make sure that the car hire company confirms the availability of the appropriate size for the height and weight of your baby. Many car rental companies buy child seats in bulk and offer one standard model which is generally suitable for children from 8 months to 4 years, but these seats are not adequate for babies which are not able to sit upright. If the car hire company cannot guarantee the availability of the type of child seat you require for safety reasons you should consider bringing your own restraint. There is no way of travelling safely with such small children without the appropriate car seat.

In many cases you will be responsible for installing the car seat yourself, a rent a car does not normally come with the child seat pre-installed. Most car hire companies will hand over the safety seat when you sign the car rental agreement at the airport counter. For this reason we strongly recommend to previously do some practicing at home mounting your safety seat in your own car. Most parents fit the child seat in their car only once and forget how it was done. It is very frustrating not to be able to figure out how to fit the child seat in the hire car, especially after a long journey with yelling children in a badly illuminated car park at some unknown airport.

Here are some other important tips to bear in mind when you've packed the car and are ready to leave the airport:
- under no circumstances should children be left in the hire car without adult supervision.

- do not install a child seat on the passenger side if it comes with an airbag or check with the car hire company how to turn the passenger airbag off.

- before driving away double check once again that the child seat is installed correctly. I case of doubts try to get advice from the local car hire supplier.

- for children under 12 years it is always safest to travel in the back seat of the car.

- modern vehicles come with child locks on the back doors. Always try to use these locks if they are fitted.

- do not store any loose items in the rental car as these may cause serious injury in case of accidents.

- keep your children out of the way of all airbags and keep toys and other objects from getting between your kids and an airbag.

- do not forget to check the child's position throughout the journey.
About the Author
Rudi van der Zalm is the founder of one of Europe's most popular online car rental services to help travellers find cheap car hire in Mallorca, Spain. Visit www.hispacar.com for a free online car hire quote.
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