When traveling with small children and renting a car, car seats are certainly a requirement. Deciding whether to schlep your own along or rent one at the car dealership will depend on availability, convenience, and personal preference.
Most big name car rental companies will have a limited number of car seats available to rent for an additional fee. These go on a first come, first-served basis, so be sure to reserve them far ahead of when you will need them. You will also need to specify the type of car seat you need. For example, you will need something that can be installed rear-facing for an infant while a simple convertible car seat or booster seat will be appropriate for different aged children.
Keep in mind that some rental companies will require you return the car seat to the location you rented it from. It is likely you will need to install the car seat yourself. There is a good chance you will need to put down a refundable deposit when renting a car seat.
Because car seats are such an important safety item, you will need to inspect the seat carefully. Straps should be in good condition and the cover should be clean. You might try specifying a recently cleaned car seat when making reservations or request a clean cover if you find the one you are given is dirty. It might give you peace of mind to clean it yourself with disinfecting wipes.
If the thought of renting a car seat doesn’t sit well with you, consider bringing your own car seat. The Cosco Scenera costs around 40 dollars and weighs less than 9 pounds. It is easy to install and can also be used on an airplane.