To be worried about travelling with baby

(44 Posts)
Zoomania Thu 14-Feb-13 14:20:25

First time starting a thread so please be gentle! I am going away on a package holiday to Europe soon and it includes coach transfers. To sort out our own car hire and car seat package would add nearly 500 pounds to the holiday and is not something we could easily afford.

Everyone I have spoken to, including the holiday company says our 1 yr old will sit on our lap for the 2.5hr coach transfer. Coaches do not have three point harnesses to attach a car seat to and baby would not be allocated a seat.

Aibu to be anxious about a toddler not strapped in on a coach potentially travelling 70mph? DH also uneasy but generally more relaxed about things and has come up with idea of strapping himself in and putting baby in baby Bjorn carrier on his front so strapped to him. (Can't imagine wriggly toddler happy with that for 2.5hrs but fingers crossed for sleep!) in laws think I am worrying needlessly!

What would you do?


NatashaBee Thu 14-Feb-13 14:32:45

Supposedly the reason coaches/buses don't have seatbelts is that the crash forces are distributed/absorbed differently:

Large school buses are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than do passenger cars and light trucks. Because of these differences, the crash forces experienced by occupants of buses are much less than that experienced by occupants of passenger cars, light trucks or vans. NHTSA decided that the best way to provide crash protection to passengers of large school buses is through a concept called “compartmentalization.” This requires that the interior of large buses provide occupant protection such that children are protected without the need to buckle-up. Through compartmentalization, occupant crash protection is provided by a protective envelope consisting of strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs.

I guess I would go with it although I would much prefer the baby to have a seat of their own - for everyone's comfort and to be able to put stuff on, as well as safety reasons.

It's not something I would be comfortable with myself, but I know lots of people will feel otherwise. When we took our toddlers on a coach I insisted that they had their own seats and we had car seats that fitted in with lapbelts but I know that isn't an option in your case.

RichardSimmonsTankTop Thu 14-Feb-13 14:36:55

I'm not sure you have much option other than to go with it, although maybe someone will come up with a better suggestion!

We travel a lot and took DD backpacking at 13 months, we just put her in her sling on coach trips and although she's a wriggly one she didn't seem to mind and would usually fall asleep.

ramblingmum Thu 14-Feb-13 14:38:44

Have you asked if they can have their own seat on the coach for a supplement?

Zoomania Thu 14-Feb-13 15:07:51

Thanks everyone, helpful to know about the sling working for you tanktop and others' opinions.

We could try asking again about booking another seat but from experience these transfer buses are usually totally full.

I keep telling myself that an experienced coach driver is likely to be safer than us trying to drive up mountainous roads in an unfamiliar car but I am glad I am not the only one who would worry. My inlaws think I am mad for worrying about safety all the time and I start to wonder if IABU!

RichardSimmonsTankTop Thu 14-Feb-13 15:16:17

Having just seen you might be travelling on winding roads, I also recommend taking a load of plastic bags and wet wipes. Even though DD is a good traveller on every other mode of transport she gets sick on buses. Which we discovered to our detriment on our first bus trip in a hot country ... not nice for poor vomit-covered DH or for the other passengers who had to endure our stench for four hours.

Rosa Thu 14-Feb-13 15:20:29

Could you not ask for a private transfer - costing less but it will just be for you. many private comps do also have car seats. Where are you going to?

SteIIaBeIIa Thu 14-Feb-13 15:24:31

I wouldn't want to be on a coach myself without a seat belt so personally wouldn't even consider allowing a child in my care to be exposed to that potential danger. Maybe that's just me though.

space21 Thu 14-Feb-13 15:33:45

Accidentally borrow the lap belt from the plane and use that. Then return it when you get you flight home. My BIL put one in my bag by mistake and the airline were not bothered when I returned it on my homeward flight.

I'm not advocating stealing btw

space21 Thu 14-Feb-13 15:34:05

Accidentally borrow the lap belt from the plane and use that. Then return it when you get you flight home. My BIL put one in my bag by mistake and the airline were not bothered when I returned it on my homeward flight.

I'm not advocating stealing btw

Zoomania Thu 14-Feb-13 17:39:14

Unfortunately lap belts are more dangerous in a little one as they put pressure across the abdomen otherwise coach lap belt would do!

13Iggis Thu 14-Feb-13 18:06:14

I don't have any advice but wanted to say I share your concerns - one of the reasons we haven't flown abroad yet!
Interesting about lap-belts - presumably the airlines feel they are safer than being belt-less, since they insist you use them for take off/landing with kids.

SolomanDaisy Thu 14-Feb-13 18:12:15

I would book a private transfer, way cheaper than car hire etc.. There is no way I would want to do that coach journey with a 1 year-old. Though actually, I have done similar on a train.

Zoomania Thu 14-Feb-13 18:24:36

I only know lap belts aren't safe in cars. I think planes are different ?as it is more likely to be turbulence than sudden braking.

Will make enquiries re private transfer costs with child seat. Thanks.

specialsubject Thu 14-Feb-13 18:31:52

I think strapping the baby to an adult is actually MORE dangerous - if there is a crash the adult can crush the baby.

coach crashes are very rare and most modern foreign coaches have lap seat belts - although in my experience as a rep many people don't use them. As you note, these belts won't hold a car seat. Abroad is different from the UK.

the private transfer will be in a taxi and if you are thinking safety, from my experience - take the coach. That is the big, solid vehicle driven by a qualified driver who is on controlled hours.

specialsubject Thu 14-Feb-13 18:32:49

ps also note the interesting post about how crash forces are considered in coach design.

Yep. I can't get past this either. Not sure how we would manage a package holiday. Annoying.

But I do know that others do.

Fairylea Thu 14-Feb-13 18:44:03

I wouldn't be happy at all. I think I'd have to book a private transfer and either take a car seat or ensure they had one, even if it cost me money I didn't have!

If something happened I'd be kicking myself I didn't book something else.

DragonMamma Thu 14-Feb-13 18:48:12

I can't say it's ever really crossed my mind and we go abroad most years. Obviously when they are past 2 they get their own seat but I did a 1.5hr transfer with a 13mo last year and I just strapped him under my belt and he fell asleep.

badguider Thu 14-Feb-13 18:50:37

I'd be a bit worried but the sling idea is a good one.

I have been in a coach accident and I can vouch that even if the driver does and emergency stop the feeling isn't like that in a car, the coach takes so long to actually stop that it's a slower, more forceful pushing motion which I was able to control bracing my forearms against the seat in front. The only people injured in my crash were elderly (and we went through a wall and down a banking). I'd be worried about an unstrapped baby if the coach rolled but probably feel ok about the sling/bjorn idea.

Jenny70 Thu 14-Feb-13 18:58:49

We bought an aeroplane extender belt off ebay - basically same as airline belt.

You absolutely shouldn't put one belt around you both, as adult's weight will crush baby in a crash.

The airline belt will stop them flying out of your arms (even with forewarning an adult cannot hold a baby in a crash), even if coach has great crumple zone flying baby, flying luggage and sudden stop will be more serious injury than belt injury (in my view).

All assuming the coach has belts of course.

I think the risk of crash far less on coach than driving yourself, but the injury in coach could be catestrophic to baby (more protected in car).

Are there no other holidays that appeal, maybe this one won't work with the baby? In a year or 2 ok, but unbelted and probably upset at being restrained - not fun.

ballstoit Thu 14-Feb-13 19:13:50

I don't think you're being unreasonable to worry, but I think it's important to balance potential risk v.potential benefit.

If we always prioritise safety over the benefits of an experience, we limit our family lives and children IMO. I think it's sad that some posters are suggesting that you cancel the holiday, rather than take a short, relatively low risk coach trip with your baby.

I think the lap belt/baby bjorn plan is a good idea, and would definitely feel more comfortable on a coach with either of these, than in the hands of a taxi driver. I've been in taxis abroad with DC (most noteably in Tunisia, where the front passenger door opened as we were driving along!), and also been in coaches, and definitely felt safer on the coaches.

MrsKeithRichards Thu 14-Feb-13 19:15:41

Where are you going? Resort taxis are sometimes cheaper than holiday company arranged.

Zoomania Thu 14-Feb-13 21:04:49

Mrskeith it is a ski package with transfers included so unfortunately not quite resort taxi situation.

It is interesting to see the wide range of ideas and opinions so clearly a grey area with no right or wrong solution which is slightly reassuring.

I think ballstoit you have summed up how I am now feeling about it. (although i still will worry, as always! )

Thanks all!

edwinbear Thu 14-Feb-13 21:51:51

We took ds ski-ing when he was 18 months which involved a 2.5 hr coach transfer. I wasn't wild about the concept, but we went, ds sat on our laps and it was OK. There were actually quite a lot of unrestrained children on the coach so people obviously do it. It comes down to your perception of risk in the end.

Are you me? This is my current rant-of-the-week! DS will be a few weeks short of two when we go in early April, and not only are we worried about the safety aspect, but he won't stay put on somebody's lap (massive tantrums once the raisins run out after five minutes) and certainly not with a lap belt. He escapes from his car seat without a third party extra strap. He will probably nap through the shortish plane ride but not a chance for the three hour coach transfer afterwards. Not nice for him, us, or anyone near us.

He does sit still if he is strapped into a car seat though. But - he won't even be guaranteed a seat angry yet we were told we could bring along a car seat that works with lap belts "just in case" there was a spare one. Great.

This is all from a major company (Crystal) who offer "family-friendly" holidays including childcare etc.. yet don't provide basic safety facilities on board their transfers. Particularly galling as I have travelled with other companies a lot smaller who AREN'T family-friendly but do provide car seats.

I have complained but got a total fob off reply as you might expect.

Interesting to read the stuff about coach structures etc though. Still not happy however!

Rosa Fri 15-Feb-13 06:51:56

I would not brush off the private taxi idea. There are companies that provide it either from the resort or located near the airport you will be using. It is a case of investigating - there are many travel orientated people on here who might be able to help further. Just because there are transfers included you could as for them to be refunded. My bet is that if anybody wants to buy a transfer from them they have a price they charge so seeing as they cannot provide a 'safe transfer for your child ' they can refund you that part. Plus I bet they will be able to give you a private transfer supplement as welll......obviously elevated so they make a profit!!!!!
As for Crystal I agree being family friendly is a publicity thing and they should follow it through completly and offer the extra services. They are hot on seatbelts being used and the 'non safe' coach seats not being used so they should also think safe for children.

If just like to add that while you are correct that lap belts are not safe for children (because they sit over their abdomen rather than across their pelvis as they should in adults if worn correctly) they are still safer than being completely unrestrained. So I'd definitely consider the aeroplane type lap belt arrangement.

Schumann Fri 15-Feb-13 07:21:03

I too was very worried about this for a ski trip when our youngest was 13 months. After many unsatisfactory phone calls to the travel company my dh suggested putting the car seat (she was still in group 0) in the suitcase. I initially thought he was mad but with the handle pushed right back in the flat position (hope that makes sense) it went in easily and we packed our clothes in and around it.
Once we'd got our suitcase the other end we got the seat out and put her straight in. Was brill actually cos she hadn't slept at all on the plane and so went straight to sleep and stayed asleep for the entire 3hr transfer.
I had thought at best we'd wedge her seat in on a spare coach seat (and also knew she wouldn't sleep on our laps so would likely to be extremely tired and therefore grumpy in the coach - wanting to run up and down etc!). As it happened coach had seatbelts so the seat was wedged in and we cld use the seatbelt on it as normal.
So if yours is still in group 0 maybe see if it fits in your suitcase?

TheCountessOlenska Fri 15-Feb-13 07:32:50

I agree with what ballstoit said.

I did a 2 hour transfer on a coach when DD was about 5 months - I fretted the whole way there and back but there didn't seem a way round it (I asked the travel agents before hand).

forevergreek Fri 15-Feb-13 07:33:43

We do a ski package each year, but upgrade to private transfer. There was 8 of us in a private mini bus ( 8 person group and I think it was £480 total - so £60 each). I would have thought a regular car private transfer would be cheaper if your travelling in a smaller group

badguider Fri 15-Feb-13 10:13:35

This doesn't help the op but for future reference I can highly recommend Austria where resorts are really close to Innsbruck and taxis affordable and trains easy to use. Austria is also really family friendly - lots if playparks in the towns and hotels with pools are cheap compared to France.
Or les arcs in France is accessible by train and the trains zoom past the stationary traffic jams in half the time.

IloveJudgeJudy Fri 15-Feb-13 10:40:20

All I can say to this is, how many coach crashes have you heard of? I think you are getting the danger out of proportion. Just go with the transfer coach. let DH put the strap around him and hold your DS on his lap.

13Iggis Fri 15-Feb-13 10:46:11

Has anyone tried an inflatable car seat, or those trunki backpack ones? (For a slightly older child).

Zoomania Fri 15-Feb-13 12:58:19

Murder...yes can imagine our tantrums already.... We seem to have the terrible twos a year early!

Don't think our seat will fit Schumann but great idea!

Thanks for all the other advice, will definitely look into child friendly resorts next year!

ujjayi Fri 15-Feb-13 14:22:48

Zoomania can I ask which ski resort you are going to?

We have skiied most years since DCs were born and always had coach transfers without problems. Last year we hired a car instead and I found the journey way more disconcerting.

I just did a bit of research for private transfers and for a return we're looking at 750 euros as it's 3 hours. I don't mind paying up to a few hundred return but nobody would do it that cheap understandably, and I am seriously willing to bet that Crystal wouldn't refund £500 or so!

As DS is nearly two, he needs a bigger car seat now - his usual one is a rear facing one so pretty bulky and stupidly expensive so there's no way we'd want to risk it in the hold. We do have a smaller Britax Eclipse which we bought for DD1 when we went to America, which we might bring with us and hope there is space on the coach <sigh>

It's not just the safety, it's the practicality of a tantrumming DS who realises he can escape from a lap belt/our laps and wants to run around the coach.

honeytea Fri 15-Feb-13 14:51:16

My dp is a lorry driver in a snowy country and he tells me that heavy vehicles are much much safer in the snow than cars even if they have winter tires.

Will your dc be skiing or sledging? If so I imagine you will have a helmet for them, you could put dc in a car seat with the helmet on, even if the coach rolled over dc would be fairly well protected by the seat and helmet.

Zoomania Fri 15-Feb-13 20:59:32

Murderofprose. Mmm that is rather a lot... We could do the car hire option for that...
Honeytea baby is only just 1 so not going to do any helmet requiring activities, although she has banged her head so many times today learning to walk I think she probably needs to wear one in the house!

honeytea Fri 15-Feb-13 21:21:37

you could get her a little sledge to pull her around in, the kids here in sweden seem to love it, the mums here use sledges not pushchairs in the winter smile

13Iggis Sat 16-Feb-13 11:45:11

Honeytea - you're not meaning to tie the sledge to the back of the transfer bus, are you? wink grin

honeytea Sat 16-Feb-13 12:00:29

You could do! I ment more once you are at the resort smile

Zoomania Sat 16-Feb-13 18:49:05

grin solution!

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