Should you pack your car seat?
If you are doing a variety of travel types (meaning, flying to Paris, taking a train to Rome, driving to Switzerland and flying home), rent the car seat. Just because you can bring it doesn’t mean you have to. They’re bulky and cumbersome when you’re also bringing luggage and a stroller or what-have-you, so since you can rent them for about $20 per day, for the sake of a few days, spend the moolah and save yourself the clunky space.
If you are doing a road trip with one single car for the duration of your trip, bring it! $20 per day, per car seat adds up, so whilst it is 100% annoying to carry it through the airport, once you install it in the car it’s happy cruising. Other things I like is that it’s your own car seat so you know its history, how to install it properly, and that it’s comfortable for the child (a lot of rental options don’t have canopies to keep the sun out of their eyes for example).
Side note: if you rent one and you aren’t happy with what you are provided, ask to see the other options. We had a car seat given to us in Bologna that, once installed, was too bulky for the passenger seat to be occupied. When I asked if there was another option (so that I wouldn’t have to sit in the back seat the whole way to Slovenia and back), I was taken to a room with about 50 different car seats to pick from! I tried this tactic again in Spain and it was true there too. Maybe in a more remote area the experience will be different, but it’s worth a shot!
Do you rent or bring your own, when you travel?