Carseat-free Travel in Europe?
March 31, 2014 1:33 PM   Subscribe

In about a month my wife, one-year-old, and I are moving to Italy. We plan to be there a year. As we finish up our plans for the move, we keep wondering if we really need a carseat…

We have never owned a car in the States, but we did get an infant carseat to tote our infant boy around in Zipcars and cabs, and it's been pretty handy. Now that we're traveling to Bologna, Italy, where we'll live in a more walkable and public-transport friendly location, we're debating whether we should really purchase a convertible carseat for our boy, if we're just planning to use it for the ride from the airport to our apartment and maybe the odd cab ride.

I bet another Mefi member has confronted this problem. What have you done? Is it crazy not to have a carseat?

Personally, I'd love not to have another big contraption to lug around, but my wife is really worried that we'll need one. Our boy weighs 20 lb and is 30" long, for what it matters.
posted by jacob to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)

20 lbs and 30" long is very small as far as human sizes go.

And you may get more use out of it than you think. We lived in Boston and my son was in a car, LITERALLY, 10 times between 0 days old and 10 months old. But we still had a carseat because we knew there'd be the CHANCE he'd be in a car. And then guess what? We ended up buying a car, and he was still only in carseat maybe once/month. Then we moved to a place north of Boston. Still have a car seat. He's in the carseat a hell of a lot more now.

It is absolutely crazy not to have a carseat or at least REGULAR AND UNFETTERED access to a carseat. It's irresponsible parenting, too, assuming you intend on driving without one when the need arises. (And it probably will at some point.)
posted by zizzle at 1:47 PM on March 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

You don't want to put your child at risk of becoming a missile. Even if the law there may not require it (although that would be surprising), get a car seat for goodness sake.
posted by Dansaman at 1:56 PM on March 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Interesting question.

A car seat is required everywhere in Europe.

You can borrow/rent a carseat from most gas companies and car rental companies, and taxi-companies will bring one at request, so basically, you really don't need to own one.

If I were living in Bologna, I'd go on trips into the countryside and to neighboring cities at weekends like most Italians do. And for that, I'd get my own carseat because it would be simpler to use and cheaper than renting with the car.

You can get a really good one for about 100 dollars or less, in Europe. Don't schlepp it from the US.
posted by mumimor at 2:00 PM on March 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you're ever going to be a in a car in the next year, Italian law requires your kid to be in a carseat. So, yes, you need a carseat.
posted by lydhre at 2:24 PM on March 31, 2014

You need a carseat 100% of the time your kid is in a car. If you plan on never taking cabs, only bus and train. Sure, skip the seat. Driving any length of time in a car with your baby on a lap is negligent, reckless and likely (hopefully) illegal.
posted by saradarlin at 2:41 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Weigh the cost of the carseat vs the cost of what you would have to live with if your child was in an accident and not in a carseat. Like, longterm, 20-30-40 years out, which will you miss more, $100 or your kid?

Get the carseat.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 3:12 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get the car seat. Italy's public transport has some weird gaps in it, and driving/traffic there is stereotypically nuts, at least in my opinion.
posted by smoke at 3:15 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mumimor has actually read your question and is giving excellent advice. The only thing I'd add is that car rental companies often sting you on the seats, so if you rent more often than once per year, it'll be cheaper to own one. Buy it in Italy, though. I suspect that luggage handling can lead to stress fractures if you bring one on the plane.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:25 PM on March 31, 2014

Europe has different regulations for carseats than the US does (meaning, some US carseats do not meet European requirements). If you are going to be living there, buy it there, so it complies with European regulations. But yes, buy one.
posted by ambrosia at 3:31 PM on March 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Holy jeez, I should've been more clear: If my son is in a car, he'll be in a carseat. I meant to ask how other folks either dealt with the inconvenience of not having a car with a kid or how they borrowed/rented/etc. a carseat if they didn't bring one.

For now, I think we'll plan on buying a carseat once we're there. Thanks, everybody!
posted by jacob at 8:34 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might find, even if you don't get a car, that your son enjoys the familiarity of his own car seat. A group one seat, for example, will last him until he is about four. As you probably know! We have one, though we didn't have a car until recently.

But I'd wait until you get here to buy it, personally. There's largely the same stuff available (e.g. Maxi-Cosi, Britax), and I'd be wary of a seat that had been out of my chain of custody.

(I'm in the UK. We got our first seat from a company in Germany and the current one from Amazon.)
posted by danteGideon at 11:07 AM on April 1, 2014

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