Observations

Car seats: Travel’s great rip-off

Car hire is something that makes travel nowadays far easier than it used to be. Whether it’s to Europe, America, or even as far afield as Japan that you’re heading to, the ability to hire a car makes life considerably easier if planning on travelling around or using your accommodation as any sort of base from which to explore.

Families going abroad with kids already find themselves paying exorbitant fees simply to get kids on planes, with children over 2 incurring around 80% of an adult fee. What these families don’t then need on top of this is an extra kick in the teeth should they wish to rent a car.

In a recent example, we booked car hire with Avis for Majorca. The cost of hiring the car was really reasonable, coming in at around £90 for a standard sized car for one week. Through various reward schemes, we added on a free additional driver, but shockingly found that hiring a baby car seat for the week cost almost the same as hiring the whole car, weighing in at £70!

Given that laws in Spain are no different to those in the UK regarding child car seats, it seems ridiculous that items car hire companies must regularly use are being rented out at something close to £10 per day.

To put it all in perspective, our Britax car seat for our 18-month-old will last her until she’s 12 and it cost only £75, just £5 more than the cost of hiring a car seat with Avis for one week!

What’s perhaps more frustrating is that not only are you paying enormous fees, but in addition, you’re not even able to find out what product you’re going to get. All we were told was that we’d be getting an Isofix car seat age appropriate for our little one.

We accept that car hire companies incur a cost to purchase these seats, but it seems grossly disproportionate to charge so much when families travelling with children have little choice but to add on this item during a holiday rental.

What we suggest is companies introducing far more reasonable fees for hiring car seats, perhaps along the lines of Times Car Rental in Japan, who charge the equivalent of around £7 per rental no matter the duration.

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