Will you need to take a cab with a baby?
Even if you’re not a heavy taxi user at home, unless you’re on a family holiday with your own car you’ll often need to use a cab or taxi to get you all from one location to another. So when will you need to take a cab with a baby? Are there better options?
Depending on how many children you are travelling with, how many adults are on hand to help, how much luggage you have (probably more than you’d like), and what kind of traveller you are, you’ll sometimes be better off using public transport rather than cabs.
Don’t assume more expensive = faster.
Sometimes, you’ll be surprised – public transport may be not just cheaper – sometimes it’s also faster. Many European countries have fantastic transport links from the airport by train. In fact even Heathrow has the excellent Heathrow express. It’s not cheap, but if you are staying somewhere near its endpoints, it could be a good way to beat the typically horrendous London traffic that will see you sitting in a cab for hours to get into town.
If I’m ditching public transport, should I choose a taxi, cab or private car?
A cab, taxi or private car can be useful when you are heading to and from an airport, or moving hotels; basically, those times when you are packing up the whole show, and trying to get everyone as efficiently as possible from A to B. Private car, cab or taxi travel with a baby is also often a godsend after a long flight.
Don’t be mistaken and think a taxi/cab will always be cheaper than a private car. This depends completely on the location. London is a great example. If you’re trying to get from Heathrow to almost anywhere, black cabs are crazy expensive. Private cars, like Blackberry cabs, will do the job often for half the price, with the added bonus of meeting you after you come out through customs.
Sorting out a baby car seat in a taxi or cab.
The major problem with taxi travel for babies is car seats. In Australia, if you take a cab with a baby under one a car seat is mandatory. Overall, the rules in Australia are stricter than many countries. If you are here and your baby is still in the period where it requires a capsule versus a car seat (typically the first 6-8 months) you may find it’s really difficult to find a hire car which will have one, because the rules on who can install these capsules are very strict. Again, this differs ALOT from country to country, so check in advance.
In other countries, where you imagine the rules will be strict, nobody seems to care. Sue has had her under one in ‘car seat free’ taxis in England (yes a black cab), Paris, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. Nobody blinked an eye, and while she wasn’t entirely comfortable with the proposition, there weren’t any other ways she could see how to transport a baby and a mountain of luggage solo in those specific situations without a world of tears (her own).
What’s the problem? Just order a cab with a car seat. Yes?
In Australia, parents ordering a taxi with a baby seat have mixed results. Some say it’s no problem. Others despair that their pre-ordered cab doesn’t turn up ( another reason why it’s great to aim to arrive at an airport super early). In Sydney, a service called Mum’s Taxi has a popular following on the airport run and comes recommended (be warned: it’s not cheap. But it’s easy, and reliable.)
Of course, you can take your own car seat, and offer to install it yourself. If you think you’ll be needing taxis fairly often, or your trip will require a combination of cabs and car-rental, this could be a smart move as you will always know that the seat’s settings are ready for the exact size of your child. (As almost anyone who has rented a baby seat from a car hire company will know, this is often a world of hassle to get right.)
For transfers between your home base and the airport consider roping in a helpful friend or relative to drive you in your own car there and back, or investigate options for long-term parking just so that you can have the convenience of your own car seat on each leg to and from home.