Taking your kids on vacation can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very stressful.
One of the easiest ways to start your vacation out on the wrong foot is to rent the wrong vehicle. It might seem like a simple choice, but rental vehicles come in all shapes and sizes – price points and safety levels.
Your kids deserve the very safest vehicle possible, and they deserve to have a good car seat option too. Here’s how to make the right decision.
Get The Right Vehicle
The “right” vehicle really depends on your family size and the number of kids you’re trying to transport. For example, if you have just one child, a small vehicle might suffice.
However, most families will need either an SUV or a van (even a minivan will
do). Larger vehicles are also implicitly safer than smaller vehicles though
they may not actually be safer.
Still, seating capacity plays an important role in your decision. If you can’t get the entire family in there, it doesn’t matter what its government safety rating is.
Renting a Car Seat
Most rental agencies allow you to rent a car seat. It’s a convenient way to make sure your young children are safe.
However, be careful in choosing a rental. Do some research before you’re ready
to rent. The premium that car rental agencies charge for a car seat can
significantly increase the cost of the rental. In some cases, expect to pay
upwards of $10 more per day for the addition of a child safety seat.
Obviously, you don’t have to rent a seat. You can bring your own.
Get To Know The Safety Gear
Not all vehicles have the same crash safety ratings. If you’re renting a vehicle, make sure that it has an impressive list of safety features that are verified.
For example, small vehicles like the four door Honda Civic regularly receive some of the best crash test ratings. The Mitsubishi Lancer and the Subaru Impreza are also excellent choices.
For midsize vehicles, the Ford Fusion, Chrysler 200, and the Volkswagen Jetta are all very good.
Finally, for large vehicles, you have a lot of choices.
The Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, and Buick Regal all rate well. SUVs
that have good crash test ratings include the Hyundai Tuscon, the Kia Sorento,
and the Cadillac SRX.
If your rental agency doesn’t stock any of these, consider shopping around for one that does. Even though 95 percent of the vehicles in a rental agency’s fleet will provide good frontal crash-test ratings, only 77 percent fair well in side-impact, and only 60 percent have good roof strength (an important consideration if you’re in a rollover).
No, you don’t want to think about the worst-case scenario. A potentially fatal crash is probably the worst thing that can happen on a vacation, but that’s exactly why you should choose the safest vehicle you can – so that you don’t have to worry about what will happen to your family.