One of the problems when traveling with children and renting a car is what to do about car seats. You can struggle with bringing the car seats on the plane. You can check them with the airlines and risk paying a baggage fee. Or you can rent a car seat from the rental car company for a pretty hefty amount of money. I’m going to share with you how to get a free car seat from Hertz as well as some other options.
Bring a car seat on the plane
I personally don’t like this option for small children because it is just one more thing that you need to bring on to a plane.24 With airlines cutting the seat pitch (distance between seats), it is harder and harder to squeeze anything reasonable into your seat.
Plus, car seats can be pretty heavy and bulky. And if your children fall asleep on planes like my kids do, the last thing you want to do is try to carry a sleeping child, your carry-ons, AND a car seat!
If you MUST bring a car seat on a plane, consider a car seat travel belt that will allow you to strap the car seat to your suitcase to more easily transport it to and from your flight.
Luckily, Timmy is old and big enough where we can easily carry his booster seat with us when we travel. So, that’s a reasonable option. However, for Scarlett, there is no way I would carry her car seat on to the plane.
Check the Car Seat with the Airline
If you want to bring your own car seat, the best option is to check it with the airline. However, be careful of airlines that charge fees for luggage. Luckily, most airlines waive fees for car seats and strollers, but check with your preferred airline BEFORE booking your flight! That’s one of the reasons why my preferred airline is Southwest. You can check two bags per person without any fees (as long as your bag is 50 lbs or less).
If your airline does charge for checked bags, consider getting the airline’s co-branded credit card that will waive fees for checked bags. My approach is that, if you need to check one bag, might as well save yourself the hassle of carry-on luggage and check them all. You’re going to be waiting around baggage claim anyway.
You don’t want to have to lug around a car seat, right? So, do what we do when we bring a car seat. Get a rolling car seat bag that is ideal for carrying not only your car seat, but also diapers, wipes, and a bag full of dirty kids clothes (when coming home from vacation, obviously).
This bag has shoulder straps to easily carry it while keeping your hands free, you can pull the handle like you would a rolling suitcase, or you can attach it to your suitcase and roll it around. Super simple and convenient.
Rent a car seat from the car rental company
Renting a car seat is a decent option when you’re traveling for just a couple of days. However, those daily charges of $10-$30 a day can really add up quickly! If you’re getting a really good deal on the rental car and using airline miles and hotel points for your stay, splurging a few bucks to avoid the hassle can certainly be worth it.
However, did you know that you can get a free car seat from Hertz?
How to get a free car seat from Hertz
When you’ve decided that it’s time to rent a car seat instead of carrying one around like a pack mule, there are a couple ways of getting around paying for the car seat rental.
When booking your car rental, use Hertz and the AAA promo code 1805452 to have the car seat fees waived. We used this promo code when we traveled to Orlando for Scarlett’s 2nd birthday. We brought Timmy’s booster seat and used the free rental for Scarlett to save money and have one less thing to carry around with us through the airport. For this AAA benefit and so many more, check out the AAA benefits your membership buys you.
As an alternative, if you can’t get a free car seat from Hertz, trying contacting the local AAA office to borrow a car seat. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll have to figure out how to get to the AAA office with your child without a car seat. Not all offices offer this service, so please call ahead to confirm that they offer this service to members.
If you’re a member of the National PTA, you can use the promo code 1929580 to have the car seat charges waived as well.
Click here to use our referral link for the best deals directly available from Hertz. When using either the AAA or National PTA promo codes, just remember that the Hertz location may ask for a membership card or other confirmation of membership in order for the discount to apply.
Rental car fee add-ons like car seat, insurance, or fuel surcharges really add up. We avoid renting a car whenever possible during our travels. But, some destinations are difficult to explore without a car. Consider getting a free car seat from Hertz during your next rental by using the promo codes discussed above. It’s a great way to save money, stay safe, and reduce the amount of stuff you need to bring with you on vacation.