Car Seat/Airplane dilemma

When we moved here, E flew in her Britax Roundabout.  However, through a series of misadventures, that car seat is broken and unusable.  The very short version is that I took off the cover to wash it and the styrofoam that made up the head guard was snapped.

This was irritating, but hardly an issue.  We don’t own a car, and while SG has car seat laws, as in every other country, they don’t apply to cabs, which are our main source of transportation.  I’ve met a few moms who use the sit n stroll carseat, but that looks like a nightmare, both in terms of installation in cabs and discomfort while pushing it. Some moms use the CARES system that was made for airplanes, and I’ve even met a few moms who found European distributors of a vest to use in the cab which, like the CARES system creates a 5 point harness.  They all seem like a lot of crap to haul around, and the car seat is too big, too bulky and too damn heavy to carry around (although I’ve seen one or two moms who also do that).

Which is a long justification before saying I just strap my kid into the regular seat belt in cabs.  It works out fine, and now as soon as she’s in the cab she starts insisting that we “bucklely bucklely.”  About five minutes later she’s asking for out, but she does at least get that she needs to be strapped in.

But we are facing the long airline ride back to the US, and I’ll be driving my car around Boston for a month, so a new car seat is in order.  Britax has come out with an upgraded line of carseats with much higher weight limits (although that’s not a huge consideration with E).  However, it’s an arm and a leg to ship them to SG.  So our current plan is to buy a new Britax, and have it shipped to or  picked up by my in-laws.

My logic was to get a cheap car seat to just use on the plane to the US and then toss.  I bought a car seat off craigslist for 50 SGD (about 37 USD) and I thought the brand was “Safety First.”  Obviously I wasn’t paying attention to anything other than if it would fit into an airline seat, as today I looked at it and saw the brand is “Safety fits.”  It also doesn’t work with my travel system, so I think I need to throw it away (I don’t have a manual, and I don’t think it’s ethical to resell it on CL).

Which leaves with the dilemma of

  • paying to ship the carseat here just to have a good car seat on the ride to the US, where otherwise it will be waiting, installed and inspected by the local police, which just seems like a waste of 150 USD.  This assumes that Magic Beans will get the car seats in with enough time to ship it to me and have it arrive before we leave (they don’t have them yet…Amazon does, but can’t ship to Singapore, and having my in-laws ship it directly would cost over $400 USD).
  • just to use the CARES system and pray I don’t need to haul her through the airports (or can hire one of those golf carts–anyone know anything about that?)
  • to buy yet another cheap car seat here off craigslist (although good car seats here are few and far between)
  • just figure out a way to haul this one around (my travel system connects the car seat to the wheeled carryon, creating a faux stroller and minimizing what you carry/push around), maybe using bungee cords.
  • Not check my stroller with the luggage and push her in that, which creates issues in that the Bugaboo travel bag (non optional when flying) is huge, and would create both a third and fourth wheeled thing to push–as the storage compartment in the Bee is fairly small and can’t hold more than one personal item, this just adds to the problems.
  • Have E straddle the carry-on bag and ride it (which she’s done plenty), tying her to it with bungee cord (like a seat belt) and creating a pseudo stroller.  My concern is that this wont’ work if she’s sleeping or tired and uncooperative and needy about being carried.

Keep in mind it is NOT possible for me to get on the plane with less than two wheeled carry-ons and two personal items.  We don’t travel light, it’s not changing, seriously don’t even waste your time trying to convince me it can or should be done.   I promise I will tell you about when X happened in the air with E and why now I need Y to deal with it happening again. Especially considering the trip to Boston from Singapore is 36 hours of travel door to door, 22 or so of it in the air.  Especially Especially considering it’s just the two of us.

This is the time when I really wish I had a stronger back.  I’d use the MOBY/ a leash while bouncing around airports and just use the CARES on the plane.  But that’s just not an option.  Carrying her for a block is an issue for me as her weight has almost certainly gone above 20lbs and is possibly near my carry limit of 25.

I’m likely to just call whatever airline we end up traveling with and figuring something out, but I’m seriously stressed at 8 weeks out (almost to the day…we’re flying out Nov 4, which is 8 weeks from Thursday).

I also kind of resent that this is an issue, but it’s the cost of my getting a month at home when R only gets a few weeks.

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3 Responses to Car Seat/Airplane dilemma

  1. Rachel M says:

    Sounds like you have put alot of thought into this, sorry I don’t have anything to add, just sympathy for such a long plane ride with energetic toddler. I hope you can at least get business class. I’ve never used a car seat on planes b/c I just assume C will scream bloody murder and just want out. I let her play in the empty seats around us on the last flight at 18mo. Obviously you can’t anticipate empty seats on an international flight and you probably have to switch planes in Hong Kong?

    When I last flew from Vietnam to return, I had to stop in Hong Kong. It was an evening flight and I had to catch a hotel for the night before taking the flight back to the US. It was actually nice to get some rest before the big flight. But I only had one bag and myself to worry about. You have more bags and a toddler to wrangle so you probably want to keep going until you get back to Boston.

    • Crystal says:

      I’m a big fan of the pacific route to get back to the US…you leave Asia in the morning and get to the East Coast around 8:30pm. That way you can eat (I hate hate hate airline food so other than snacks I bring/buy along the way, I don’t get a real meal until I land) and go to bed without it being a “bad thing”, causing jet lag to work in your favor (sort of…you still get some weird hours for a few days/week). Most of the flights that are members of Star Alliance (we have status with United, so especially on long runs like this, we are slaves to United/SG Air/ etc) from SG leave in the AM, go to Narita in Japan, and then either hit SFO, O’Hare or JFK before continuing onto Boston.

      I really couldn’t handle having a full on layover with luggage and all–we’re premiere so we get 2 full sized 50lb bags as well as the carry-ons and personal items (and stroller, and carseat which don’t count)–I can’t handle either end without a set of hands (R on this side, my in-laws on the other).

      For me, the route also works in reverse because you get to Asia at midnight and after eating are in bed by 2am…hard first day but you pop onto local time super fast.

      My concern is actually that E has always slept well in a car seat and I worry that she wouldn’t sleep as much without one (using only CARES, for example). When we flew to SG this last time (the move) she was 17 months and slept for easily 70% of our airtime. Between the car seat’s immobilization, the movement and the hum, it was a winning combo. However…she has stopped napping since then (she was still at a daily nap back then) and hasn’t been in a car seat since, so I don’t entirely know what to expect. They change so much so fast, you know? I just watched a video from 15 months and she was so much less verbal, it blew me away; I knew we’d had a language explosion, but until I caught it on film it was hard to see the magnitude. So I really don’t know what to expect from her at 2 years (and one day).

      I’m going to try for the upgrade using miles, but I doubt we’ll get it (we didn’t when we flew here in April). At least we definitely get economy plus because of status. And she doesn’t hog the arm rest, so that helps too.

      In the end, it’s 36 hours and we’ll survive, even if it sucks. I just pray for nice flight attendants who might help me out and let me go to the bathroom if she’s asleep and it’s the long flight. Otherwise, taking her to the bathroom is not something I’m looking forward to.

  2. Saffy says:

    Sweets, you’ve been doing this much longer than me, but my 2c is that we heart our Sunshine Kids seat. I wonder if it could be a good goer from the perspective that it folds up (steel frame) and can be packed in a bag for transit. Got ours from Magic Beans in no time flat. That’s my 2 c 🙂

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