It’s an increasingly common question among parents today: if I don’t have a car, do I need a car seat? In this blog, we’re going to talk about why the IMMI Go Hybrid Car Seat Booster, which you can use in Uber cars in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC, is especially terrific for car-free parents, but let’s start with some background first.
Let’s start with Uber: as one of many services enabling a carless lifestyle, they’ve been riding a fortunate trend. In past generations, getting your first car was one of the key rituals of adulthood, but according to venture capitalist Bill Gurley, those days are passing. Last year at SXSW, Gurley, an investor in Uber, told Malcolm Gladwell, “Millennials don’t give a s— about cars,” and credited millennials who are reluctant to invest in their own vehicles as part of the success of Uber.
While there are still plenty of millennials racking up hours behind the wheel, the stats back Gurley up to some degree: a 2012 study from the US PIRG Education Fund found that the average annual number of vehicle miles traveled by individuals between ages 16-34 decreased by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009. That’s a lot! Given that the financial crisis of 2008 occurred at the tail end of this period, money is only part of it – wealthier millennials are skipping the cars too. And if you live in a city with adequate mass transit (like, say, here in Boston), it’s quite doable.
However, as these youthful non-drivers start becoming parents, the picture is becoming a bit more complicated. In a conversation on Park Slope Parents, participants cited the following benefits for having a car in the city with a baby:
- Grocery shopping and errands: yes, having a stroller with a large shopping basket is helpful (like an UPPAbaby Vista or a Bugaboo Donkey), but on cold or wet days, sometimes getting what you need by car can be a lot more pleasant.
- It’s easier to get out of the city on weekends.
- Depending on parking, it may make for an easier commute.
- When the kids are a little older and have extracurricular activities, you can keep their equipment in the car instead of lugging it on the bus or train.
On the other hand:
- Zipcars and Uber service can be quite handy.
- Parking tickets have a way of adding up, and parking in cities is usually unpleasant.
- Gas, car payments, insurance, parking – it’s all pricey.
- There are some pretty compelling reasons to reduce car usage, although being car-free just isn’t possible for most people outside of urban areas.
- Living in a city means that your car may be subject to vandalism, theft, bad drivers, and other extraordinary wear and tear.
However: the occasional car travel with your baby is absolutely going to happen, whether you own a car or not. And no, riding with the baby in your lap is not safe or recommended, even for short trips. So, what do you do?
As we’ve said before, for the littlest passengers, a lightweight infant car seat that can be installed on the European belt path will provide great protection for kids under age 1. Get one of our recommended seats, practice installing it until you feel comfortable, and you should be good to go.
For the next stage, when kids would typically transition into a larger convertible car seat, there were few good options until recently: convertible car seats are bulky (as they should be, since they’re loaded with important protective equipment), and few of them are simple to install (with important exceptions).
So, finally, we get to talk about the IMMI GO Hybrid Car Seat Booster! It’s made to last your family much longer than an infant car seat, since it can seat kids from age 1 up to 100 pounds*, and it’s so much lighter and easier to install than your average convertible car seat. The soft, foldable back cuts the weight down to 10 pounds, the attached travel bag makes it simple to tote, and it installs in under two minutes with LATCH. It’s great for carpooling, grandparents’ cars, and sitters’ cars, and if you’re traveling by plane, you can tuck it into the overhead compartment and have it right on hand and ready to use in your rental car. The IMMI GO is available in Uber cars in select cities, but not all, and if you’re using other car services (like Lyft or Zipcar), you’re definitely going to want to have your own easy-to-install car seat ready to go.
So if you’re almost-but-not-quite car-free: go with the IMMI GO! We’re proud to be among very few companies who have it, and we hope you’ll come check it out at our stores. We’ll be happy to demonstrate it for you to show how easy travel with your child really can be!
Watch our demo of the IMMI GO here:
***IMPORTANT NOTE***: While this seat can technically be used from age 1, children should ride rear-facing for as long as possible! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride rear-facing until at least age two, and you can and should keep them rear-facing for longer if you can. You can read more about why here. If you’re going to use this seat for a child under age 2, it should only be in a pinch when there’s no better option.