I’ve got another giveaway this week (essentially two giveaways in one), geared more towards families. Read on:
Parents who decide to travel with young kids take on a task that involves hauling a LOT of stuff onto airplanes. It can be quite the daunting task and most likely contributes to a good number of families deciding to drive to a vacation rather than fly. There’s this natural progression as your children grow.
In the beginning, the kids stay fairly still on long airplane rides and most likely don’t require parents to carry bulky things like car seats on board. Once you transition into hauling a car seat on board, things get considerably more complicated. However, it seemed to us that once our oldest child graduated from an infant car seat we really didn’t need to bring too much on the airplane for her.
At 3 and 4 years old we used the CARES harness for our daughter and finally graduated to just plonking her down in an airplane seat without any seat gadgets to worry about. This seemed like a great solution until recently when my daughter couldn’t see over the seat in front of her to watch an in-flight movie. We ended up putting our daughter on top of a small suitcase which worked okay, though she ended up breaking a small makeup kit my wife had.
Shortly after that flight my wife stumbled on a possible solution for this, and it appeared to solve other problems as well. It’s called Bubble Bum, and it functions essentially as an inflatable booster seat. Their website lists it for sale in a few places around the country, but why mess around when you can just order it from Amazon and have it 24 hours later with Amazon Prime?
There was obviously a bit of skepticism on our part at first. Could an inflatable booster seat really be safe? Their website proclaimed as such, showing it had passed the same tests other booster seats are required to do so in order to be certified as a booster seat. It’s intended for kids over 40 pounds, so definitely a “next step” after car seats. It is not FAA certified, so it’s not permitted to be used for takeoffs and landings on airplanes. But, as Bubble Bum touts, it’s easy to pack it and use it for a car seat wherever you’re traveling to instead of lugging a full booster seat.
The product is reasonably priced for affording the ability to stuff your child’s car seat into a carry-on. At roughly $40 it’s a bit more than a conventional “no-back” booster seat, but a heck of a lot easier to carry. The package itself is about 5 inches wide and 10 inches high and can be squeezed down to an even tinier footprint if necessary. We found it very easy to inflate, it took no more than 3 big breaths.
It was surprisingly firm when inflated. I was a bit concerned it wouldn’t provide a good base. In some ways, after seeing how it was constructed, I liked it a bit better than a regular booster seat if used correctly. The two clips on the side secure the lap belt in place so the booster seat can’t slip around. And, there’s a positioning clip that holds the shoulder and lap belt in a better position for safety. It was pretty simple to install in our rental car and was very stable for our daughter to sit on (she weighs just shy of 50 lbs). The clips on the side function the same as running the lap belt across the bottom of the booster seat and allayed our fears that our daughter might slip off the seat while we were driving.
The potential downsides for some is that it doesn’t come with armrests or cupholders (we have a booster for our daughter which does). And, we generally prefer to keep our daughter in a full back car seat for more protection, which this obviously is not.
But, overall, it serves it’s purpose well. It’s very stable, inflates to a very firm but comfortable feel and the straps make it simple to anchor in place. I’m lucky enough to get car seats for free with my Hertz Platinum status, but this product could easily pay for itself with most families traveling for vacation. A quick check of the Hertz website shows they charge $11.99 a day for booster seats. So, a $40 price tag essentially recoups your investment in one trip.
If you want more detailed info on the product itself, check out the Bubble Bum website.
The folks at Bubble Bum were nice enough to provide a free Bubble Bum for me to give away to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post about a future trip you’d like to take where Bubble Bum would come in handy. I’ll select one winner randomly on Friday, April 19th.
Since we all have funny (and frustrating) stories to share about travel with our kids, I’m also up 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points transferred to the travel partner of your choosing for the funniest story someone shares of past family travel. No other rules, I’m the sole arbiter of what’s the funniest. 🙂