We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Advice on driving in the US with young children

Brisbane, Australia
5 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Advice on driving in the US with young children

We are travelling to the US next May with our 3 children, aged 9, 7 and 4. We fly into LA and currently the plan is to drive to San Diego, then onto Anaheim and then Las Vegas before flying elsewhere.

Can someone please tell me what the car restraint laws are and do the car hire companies provide adequate seats if I request them? (I usually bring my own car restraints when travelling in Australia but don't really want to do that for this trip if I can help it). I have found a guide for car restraint laws and it states that in California and Nevada children under the age of 5 must be in a restraint, is this a fixed harness and does this mean the other 2 don't even need a booster? (neither of them are tall enough to be without a booster seat in Australia IMO, but they are old enough).

Would it be easier to catch a bus to some/all of these destinations, or even fly a component?

Apologies in advance if I'm in the wrong place to post this question, still trying to find my way around.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
57,988 posts
113 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

Hi

As most of this driving is in California, I recommend checking that forum. There is a Top Question (right side of the page) about car seat laws in CA.

Here is a direct link:

California: Car Seats for Children Under 8 Years Old tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c183583

You might want to check with the folks on the CA forum about transit options. Driving from LAX to San Diego makes sense, then driving to Anaheim. You may not need a car for this portion of your trip and flying to Las Vegas is certainly much faster.

One other tip ~ make careful plans about where you'll be over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, if you're still in the US at that point.

Brisbane, Australia
5 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

Thankyou for your quick response!

And thanks for the tip on Memorial Day... just checked and we will be in Fiji on our way home :)

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
28,102 posts
417 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

If you will be going to other states and plan to drive check on that states car seat regulations. I know many states and some here in the south want a child up to the age of 9 in a booster style car seat.

Chicago's North...
Destination Expert
for Illinois, Chicago
Level Contributor
6,767 posts
271 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

and, i have found, the car rental places rip you off if you want to rent a car seat from them.... after a coupla days, you're better off buying one..... and they definitely don't just provide them for free.... my advice would be to check your own....hopefully there won't be an extra baggage charge for them... however, my guess, you should be fine with the 9 yo sitting in the back seat w/o a booster. the 4yo will definitely need a car seat.... the 7 yo should have a booster, but i'm willing to bet he/she won't need a full-on car seat.... so the way it looks to me, is you'll have to bring 1 booster and 1 car seat... but definitely check each state you plan to be in to be certain......

Chula Vista...
Level Contributor
2,617 posts
104 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

Hi,

Here is the California Department of Transportation website's requirements for child restraints:

www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/vc/tocd12c5a3_3.htm

Zed

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
391 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

We found it easier just to take our own child seat for our 4yo and booster for the 8 yo. Drove through many States and in several different cars. The small inconvenience of carrying the seats through the airports was worth it.

Frankfurt, Germany
Level Contributor
4,052 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

Don't rent the car seats unless you have some package where they are for free. It's a rip-off. You can usually get a brand new booster seat for the same price the car rental company charges you to rent ONE seat for 3 days.

So either bring your own seats or buy them after you arrive in the US.

If your 4 y/o weighs less than 40 lbs he needs a car seat with harness, otherwise a booster seat will be ok.

Your 7 y/o needs a booster seat by law in CA. And if you have your 9 year old in a booster seat at home, because the seat belt alone doesn't quite fit him yet, you could as well get one for him too, although he is not legally obliged to have one in America.

And in the NV law a "restraint" doesn't necessarily mean a seat with a harness. As long as your little one meets the weight requirement for a booster seat (40 lbs or 18kg) you can use it.

Edited: 15 October 2013, 13:33
Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
19,730 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

Hi

We don't travel with kids so I'm not too familiar with the regulations. However, from what I've read on this and other forums, you've been given great and accurate advice above.

I'd concur with regard to the info on car seat rental from car rental companies, having checked prices on somebody else's behalf relatively recently. This is an area where they can really rip you off with high prices, and I've read the quality of what they provide is often not the best, or they can be soiled - not so nice. Ordering online from a US supplier and picking up the seats on arrival day, if you can get that to work, can be cheaper, but bringing your own seats will ensure you have them with you ready at the airport when you pick up the car. This is a hassle as it's yet another thing to car around the world, but some airlines will carry child safety seats free of charge and over and above your normal luggage allowance, but you need to check with the airline you use, they all have different rules on this.

On a separate note, with a car full of young folk, do ensure you have plenty and suitable drinks (especially at a hot time of year) and snacks and entertainment if you plan long driving days.

SWT

Brisbane, Australia
5 posts
1 review
Save Reply
9. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

Thanks everyone for your advice, I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Off to investigate purchase prices now!!

Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
Level Contributor
42,887 posts
1,049 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Advice on driving in the US with young children

You probably do not smoke, mrandmrspumper, but if you do -- or if anyone else is reading this who does -- in California, you CANNOT smoke in a vehicle when children are in the vehicle with you.