We took our first international family trip to Sydney, Australia! When we arrived, our son was 4 years old and our daughter was 14 months old. But getting around in Australia with two small kids was not the easy undertaking I thought it would be. Since we were only planning to be in Sydney for five full days (we had three additional days already earmarked for day trips), we wanted to have the ease of renting a car without the hassle of trying to figure out how to drive on the right side of the car, on the left-hand side of the road. So, we planned to use cabs and ride-share during our time Down Under.
We discovered shortly after landing that you canNOT hire a taxi, or use Uber with small children unless you bring your own car seat in Australia. Bringing your own car seat seems like an easy fix, but who wants to have to lug around a car seat while sightseeing? I didn’t.
[This post on How to Travel in Australia with Kids was originally published in December 2019, and updated in July 2022.]
I’d like to be clear, I’m all for transporting children in the safest way possible. The purpose of this article is to ensure that parents are informed.
Like in the States, child safety laws are strict in Australia and the penalties are applied to not only personal cars but also taxis and ride-share vehicles. I had never encountered this issue when catching cabs and using ride-share companies in cities like Washington, DC, and Miami. Needless to say, I was surprised to learn that in Australia, strict child safety laws apply to all vehicles, including cabs and ride-share vehicles.
The Centre of Road Safety spells out Australia’s laws as it relates to children riding in taxis or ride-share vehicles. This is why most cab drivers we encountered were leery of giving us a lift without a child safety seat.
Solutions to Travel Around Australia with Kids
If you’re planning a visit to Australia and need to get around the city with your children by taxi or Uber, you can either rent a car and child safety seat or bring your own to use in the rental, take public transportation, or use a private taxi service that is equipped with child safety seats.
Rent a Car to Travel Around Australia with Kids
Renting a car is probably the fastest way to get around. But if you’re staying in a major city like Sydney, there might be hotel parking fees. We decided not to hire a car because the idea of driving like an Aussie was daunting. Both my husband and I were afraid to drive on the right-hand side of the car on the left side of the road.
Private Taxi Service
If renting a car is not a desirable option for you, there are a number of private taxi companies for families in Australia. These companies supply child safety seats. But you have to reserve the taxis in advance and specify the age of the children riding and how many car seats you’ll need. Here’s a list of some of the taxi companies that offer child safety seats:
Use Public Transportation
Unfortunately, we didn’t know about the private taxi service until the end of our trip. So, we decided to use the public transportation system in Sydney that includes trains, buses, and ferries. The transportation system was pretty straightforward and easy to navigate. Just like in the Metro system in Washington, DC, charges are based on distance.
To use public transportation, you’ll need to get an Opal Card, which is Sydney’s Public Transport Smartcard. The card is free if you load the minimum amount ($10 AUD or $6.85 USD) on it. We were able to purchase our Opal Cards and add money to them at a convenience store. Commuters have the option of paying for a day pass to ride the system all day for a set fee. While we were Down Under, a day pass cost about $10 USD a day for every day of the week except Sundays. The fee to ride Sydney’s transportation system all day on Sunday was roughly $1.70 USD for each of us.
At the end of our trip, we decided to go out and purchase a car seat to ensure there wouldn’t be any issues with us getting to the airport for our flight home… We weren’t playin’!
Takeaways for Traveling Around Australia with Kids:
Again, we are all for the transportation of children in the safest way possible. However, we did not anticipate that we would not be able to use cabs or ride-share as transportation options because of it. So, for my fellow parents planning a trip to Australia, please plan ahead.
Also, stringent child safety rules are not just a Sydney thing. We encountered the same issue when we flew to Adelaide (in South Australia) for a side trip.
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