Thursday, June 22, 2006
Homegoing: Travel Safety in the Motherland?
So, staying on this travel/carseat tip we're on, I have a question for you, dear globetrotting readers.
We're planning a big trip to the Philippines in January, the first for both me (after 8 years of marriage to my lovely came-to-the-U.S.-at-age-one wife) and The Pumpkin, who will be just over 2 years old. We'll be with my parents-in-law and my sister-in-law's family, the only part of la dra.'s huge extended family in the States, and we'll be spending almost all our time with said huge extended family in the provinces.
In starting to plan the trip, la dra. was remembering how she and her mom took our nephew, now ten, back with them when he was about the age The Pumpkin will be on this trip. Not being her own kid, and motherhood still just an idea and years away at that, my wife, she is horrified to admit, was not thinking like a parent. She can't really remember how he was on the plane (except for when he mimicked a nearby coughing passenger), and her enduring memories are of how he almost got bitten by a goat he was teasing and how he subsisted on a diet of mangos (fine) and, because of the water quality, Coke (not so fine). Contemplating a similar trip with our babygirl, with all of our anxieties and the precautions they engender, she's really quite amazed that they survived that earlier trip unscathed.
And so, here's the thing that's prompted this post: carseats. They didn't have one for our nephew back then, and being years pre-baby, it didn't even cross my wife's mind at the time. So on every overcrowded jeepney and in every rental car packed with relatives, he sat on her lap. Now, thinking about taking our Pumpkin on a similar trip, our first instinct is, of course, "Duh! Of course we're taking the carseat." [I lug our Britax Roundabout in a bulky backpack thingy, by the way—lots of fun navigating airports with that thing in back and a top-heavy luggage cart in front, I'll tell you. That, of course, is because we've always taken the stroller with us. Maybe, by that age, we'll have to switch to a more portable umbrella stroller? Or take P.L. and F-Bomb's advice and go for the Go Go Kidz? Or maybe just have the relatives take turns passing her around?]
But then, other thoughts creep in. [Don't go gettin' all smackdown on me, CityMama, we're still gonna take one, just hear me out, okay?] First, the issue of logistical practicality. Can't exactly put a Britax in a jeepney, yeah? Okay, we'll probably be renting the biggest van they can find on the island, but still.... Of course, weighed against the potential for a crash with one of those jeepneys [I'm told that traffic signals and laws are seen more as suggestions—kinda like when we lived in Rhode Island]—again, duh.
But here's the trickier one, in which the subtle nuances of culture come into play. Will us, bringing and insisting on using our fancy European carseat, be seen as just another signal that we're self-important, stuck-up Americans? Again, this is not something that would make us not take it, it's just something we hadn't thought about before. And, again, fitting in vs. our baby flying out of a car? Yeah—duh.
So, after all that, here's the question: What have been your experiences in other countries (ancestral homelands or otherwise) with vehicle safety and the use (or not) of carseats? Especially in places where practice, whether due to law or custom, is different from here? [Anybody actually know the situation in the Phils.?]