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- Using Uber with Kids - What You Need to Know
- Is it Safe to Use Uber with Kids?
- The Basics of Ride Sharing
- Ride Sharing Health and Safety Info - New for 2021
- Can You Uber Outside a City Center?
- It's Not Just Uber Anymore
- Is Ride Sharing Really Safe?
- Uber with Kids in Car Seats – How Does that Work?
- Installing a Car Seat in a Ride Share
- Enough Room for the Whole Crew? Maybe
- Disney Minnie Vans
Should you Uber with kids? Ride sharing has become a pretty routine way of getting around, both at home and on vacation. Here’s what you need to know, including car seat info and how to handle airport pickups and drop offs.
Using Uber with Kids – What You Need to Know
Ride sharing is so common that “Uber” is now a verb. “I’ll Uber there.” My husband and I routinely use Uber or Lyft when we want to go out to dinner. It’s nice not to worry about parking or that second glass of wine. I also like to use ride sharing when I have a solo work trip. It makes those early morning flights so much less of a hassle. But what about Uber with kids?
I think ride sharing with kids in tow is absolutely doable. That said, there are a few more things to consider than with an adults-only ride. Here’s everything you need to know about using Uber with kids.*
*I use Uber synonymously with ride share. Lyft is also a very popular service and ride sharing is definitely an emerging market.
Is it Safe to Use Uber with Kids?
Bottom line: yes, it is safe if you keep up with car seat and booster seat requirements and follow your instincts. If you’re comfortable riding in a taxi with your kids, you’re probably going to be just fine using Uber or Lyft with your kids. There are safety and common sense things to consider, but ride sharing is widely viewed as a safe, easy and smart way to travel.
Although this information is written with the traveling family in mind, you can use it to navigate any situation where you want to use a ride share with kids.
The Basics of Ride Sharing
Before we talk about using Uber with kids, let’s talk about using Uber (and other ride sharing services) in general. This is easy – if you can order something from Amazon or download a game on your phone, you will be a whiz at ride sharing.
Your mileage (pun intended) will vary, but here are the basics:
1. Install an App.
You need a smartphone if you want to ride share. The Uber App and the Lyft App are both available free in the iTunes Store or the Google Play Store.
2. Set Up Your Profile.
This will include your payment information. You can store a credit or debit card or link to a PayPal or Venmo account. You’ll be able to add details such as your home address and a profile picture.
TravelingMom Tip: Keep your profile picture current and use one that really looks like you. Your driver will often use this to recognize you in a crowd.
3. Use the App to Summon a Ride.
When you want to go somewhere, you open the app, select where you are and then punch in where you want to go. You can type in an address (usually the easiest) or drop a pin on a digital map. There’s also a search function, i.e. “airport” that will bring up the airports near you.
The app will tell you how much the ride will cost, match you with an available driver in your area and give you an ETA (estimated time of arrival). It also will show the driver’s name and photo along with the make, model, color and license plate of the vehicle.
The cost of a ride can change based on the type of vehicle, the time of day, and whether it’s a “pool” car. A ride in a pool car will be cheaper but may take longer because the driver will pick up other passengers along the way. This is usually not the best option for traveling with kids.
Be aware of surge pricing. Popular times to travel (holidays, popular festivals, weekends) are normally going to have surge pricing apply. Surge pricing is pretty transparent. When you open the app, you will be notified you’re in a surge period and what the multiplier is, i.e. 3.5X the normal rate. Surge pricing is designed to increase the chances you will find a driver without a long wait. No one likes to wait, but waiting on a street or at the airport with cranky kids is no one’s idea of a good time.
5. Watch Your Driver’s Progress.
The app will display a map and a little icon of your driver’s car. You’ll be able to watch the driver’s progress to know when to look for the approaching vehicle. The app will notify you when the driver is nearby and when he or she arrives.
Never get into a ride share without first confirming the car and driver in front of you are the same as the car and driver shown in the app. Don’t be afraid to challenge this and don’t feel obligated to accept “Oh, I forgot to change my plate/add my new car.” You can decline with no penalty and call another ride.
6. You’re Being Graded.
Watch your behavior; it could make it tougher to hail a ride share in the future. That’s because the drivers can rate you as a customer just as you can rate the service you get from your driver.
7. Payment is Automatic.
Once you reach your destination the app will process your payment. You will be asked whether you want to add a tip, and how much, and asked to rate your driver.
Ride Sharing Health and Safety Info – New for 2021
Both Uber and Lyft require passengers to wear a mask over their nose and mouth. Your ride share driver may terminate the ride if passengers do not comply. There may be different limits on how many passengers can ride in a ride share so check before you go. A family of four may need a larger vehicle because of spacing requirements. Both Uber and Lyft are currently requiring the front seat to be clear of passengers.
Neither website mentions an age requirement when it comes to face coverings. Since federal law requires passengers over two to wear a face mask on an airplane, consider this a good rule of thumb for taking a ride share. These policies are subject to change based on current climate/COVID infection rates, so check in advance of your trip.
Can You Uber Outside a City Center?
Probably. This will vary based on your location but as of 2021, ride sharing is very common and I’ve found it to be pretty widely available everywhere. That said, if you’re in a very small town or suburban area (I had a Lyft driver once refer to my house as “deep in the suburbs”) you might experience delays, since the apps will match you with drivers who are physically close to you.
Uber and Lyft both allow you to schedule a ride in advance. That usually does the trick if you’re ride sharing from somewhere more out of the way or less populated.
Even though Uber is a common term, the ride sharing service Lyft is almost equally as popular. I’ve found little difference between the two services and have found most ride share drivers are registered with both services.
It’s Not Just Uber Anymore
I find the difference between Uber and Lyft to be negligible. The fares are usually about the same, although you can easily do a quick cost compare by entering your ride info on both apps.
There are also other options. Apps like Flywheel and Curb are the taxicab industry’s effort to regain some of the customer base they’ve lost to ride share services. Both Flywheel and Curb allow you to use traditional taxi services summoned via an app.
One of the reasons Uber and Lyft are so popular is that the apps are so easy to navigate. The Flywheel and Curb apps will put you into a regular taxi versus a rideshare vehicle but it saves you having to call a taxi on the phone or flag one down on a busy street. Taxis are generally more expensive than ride shares so price compare first.
Another ride share service worth mentioning is Via. It’s a cheaper option and may take longer than Uber, Lyft, or a traditional taxi. That’s because Via will stop to pick up other customers, similar to ride share pool cars. I have never used Via and it doesn’t seem like the best option for families traveling with kids, especially younger ones. Via is only available in limited markets.
Also worth a mention here is HopSkipDrive, which is sort of an “Uber for kids” which is used differently than Uber with kids. HopSkipDrive connects you to a “care driver” who will pick up your kids and bring them to you or to another place of your choosing. Parents typically use this service for school pickups/drop offs or taking kids to activities such as sports practice or dance lessons. You can use this service on an as-needed basis or to meet your regular transportation needs.
Numerous local options are also popping up. The best way to find these is to search for “Ride share options in (insert desired location)”, see what pops up, and read reviews. You might also find info on local ride share programs in the airport baggage claim area.
Is Ride Sharing Really Safe?
If you’re comfortable getting into a taxi, you’re probably going to be comfortable getting into a rideshare. There are some potential differences in background checks to be aware of, though.
Ride share companies may conduct background checks through a third party. Ride share drivers may not undergo the same level of drug and alcohol testing as taxi drivers. Also, once they’re hired on, the process for monitoring a Lyft or Uber driver isn’t as regimented as a taxi driver. This means your friendly Uber guy or gal could have received a DUI last week and no one is the wiser.
Since background check requirements and safety records vary, it’s hard to determinate whether one form is safer than another.
Uber and Lyft offer the option to send a link to your trip to someone else. If I get into a rideshare alone, I can send my trip progress to my husband. If he sees the driver has veered off course or is heading in the opposite direction of the airport, he can act accordingly.
You can also read customer ratings of your driver and see what other riders have to say about who you are getting in the car with.
Related Post: How to Save Money on a Rental Car
Uber with Kids in Car Seats – How Does that Work?
In general, neither taxis or ride shares provide car seats. Uber offers a car seat option called Uber Car Seat, on some larger (UberX) vehicles and only in a “select cities.” Uber Car Seat vehicles carry one inspected, current car seat and add a surcharge to the ride fee for using the car seat. The operator is trained on how to install it.
Lyft offers something called Car Seat Mode that works much the same way as Uber Car Seat, but, as of publication time is only in New York City.
If you’re requesting a taxi and want a car seat, request it when you book the taxi. The average taxi driver probably isn’t going to be carrying a car seat. Even if they are, you have no guarantee about when the seat was purchased or how well it’s been maintained.
TravelingMom Tip: Know the car seat/booster seat laws where you’re traveling. Know your comfort zone, too. And read these tips for safely installing a car seat without a base.
Installing a Car Seat in a Ride Share
Taxis and ride share services will allow you to install your own car seat. However, lugging a car seat around town isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. If you are catching your ride share from an airport and have checked or carried on your child’s car seat, getting to and from the airport to the hotel is probably no big deal. If you need to use ride share to get around during your trip, what are you going to do with your car seat? That’s the big dilemma.
If you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, there are bucket style car seats that snap into a stroller that may work while traveling. If you are traveling with an infant, you’re used to toting around lots of baby gear so this may be no big deal.
When your kids are older or sit in a booster style seat, the Mifold portable seat might be an option when traveling. Mifold offers several options. We have used the Portable Grab and Go Booster which is easily stowed in a bag or backpack. My kids found it supremely uncomfortable but for short trips, it will do the trick. The inflatable Bubble Bum booster seat is another option.
You always have the option of just getting in the ride share with your kids, sans car seats. I’m not advocating for this but I know people do it. Laws on how big or old a child should be to legally not ride in a safety seat vary from location to location. Your driver reserves the right to refuse to transport your child if you don’t have safety equipment, so plan for that.
My personal experience: I took my kids in a ride share (sans booster seat) before they were old enough and big enough to not require a booster seat in our home state. My kids were right on the cusp according to our home state and I honestly wasn’t sure what the requirement was in the state we were visiting. I was comfortable with it and the driver did not seem to notice or care. I’m talking about a small nine year old who was required to be in a booster much longer than most kids his age. I would look at this differently if my child were three or four years old.
Enough Room for the Whole Crew? Maybe
Aside from safety, space is a concern when you’re ride sharing as a family, especially when you Uber with kids. If you’re catching your ride share at the airport, you’re going to have lots of stuff with you. Children and packing light don’t always go together.
TravelingMom Tip: If you plan to use ride sharing for an airport pickup, spend some time on the app to see what type and size vehicles are available. Know your needs. Also, be aware that current health and safety protocols may dictate how many people can be in one vehicle.
We usually opt for UberX, Uber XL or Lyft Plus when ridesharing as a family of four. We typically do not travel with booster seats and we’re pretty light packers. My family can usually squeeze it all into a standard Uber or Lyft, but if it’s more than a short drive, we splurge for the larger vehicle. UberXL and Lyft Plus are usually larger SUVs or minivans. They are a little more expensive but I think they’re worth it not to be squished. I’ve found UberX and Lyft Plus to be available in most areas.
If your Uber with kids experience means traveling with more than six people or you have a ton of stuff, consider splitting up into two ride shares. Your ride will be easier to find and your wait time will probably be less.
Disney Minnie Vans
Disney Minnie Vans*, operated by Lyft, were my kids’ first foray into ride sharing. You can also use regular Lyft or Uber with kids on the Walt Disney World Resort property. The advantage to using a Minnie Van (other than it being super stinking cute) is that it can take you places a regular ride share can’t go. It has the same access as the Disney buses and can drop you closer to the gates of the parks than a regular ride share can. A Minnie Van drop off will mean less steps than a regular Lyft or Uber drop off.
*As of publication, Minnie Vans are not currently running at Walt Disney World. I hope this is a COVID-19 side effect and that they will return soon.
A Disney Minnie Van is a flat rate of $25 per journey. On average, a trip from a Walt Disney World Resort hotel to one of the Disney parks using regular Lyft or Uber is less than $10. Disney Minnie Vans are Chevy Traverses operated by Disney Cast Members. They carry two car seats each and the drivers are trained to install them.
Another advantage to using the Minnie Van ride share is that you’ll be driven by someone who is a Disney expert, increasing the chances you’ll get where you want to go. My family used regular Lyft to get from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for a character breakfast. The driver took us to the Transportation Center because “that’s what the app told her to do.” This was a 10-minute walk away from where we needed to be. We made it work but it wasn’t ideal. I know we would have not had this experience with a Cast Member.
The Minnie Van is a splurge, but it does ease some safety concerns parents have. It’s also a much better option at the end of the night than waiting in those long bus lines.
You can only summon a Minnie Van when you are physically on the Disney property. It should show up as an option when you open your Lyft app. If not, ask a Disney Cast Member for help.
Airport Pickup Spots – Know Before You Go When You Uber with Kids
Families are most likely to use ride sharing for airport pickups and drop offs. While ride sharing services can typically drop off at the same place a taxi or a friend would drop you off, many airports have designated places where ride shares can pick up passengers.
Look for airport signs directing you to ride share pickups. If you don’t see signs, ask someone for directions. Ride shares usually won’t be able to pick you up where taxi cabs pick up or where friends and family pick you up.
Most airport plans favor taxis, so you may have to walk a few more steps to meet your ride share. I recommend getting a feel for where your driver will pick you up before you summon a ride share. Most ride shares are only required to wait a short time. If you are not there, they can leave and charge you. If you have to go down two levels and cross the street to catch your ride share, you’ll want to make sure you know where you are going and can get there quickly before summoning a ride.
Finally, check to make sure an airport allows ride sharing before you plan to use that as your mode of transportation. Most airports in the U.S. do now, but for a time, the Orlando airport did not allow ride sharing. You don’t want to find out you need plan B when you’re standing on a curb with four suitcases and two cranky kids.
What’s the bottom line?
Can you Uber with kids? Yes. Is it easy? Well…nothing with kids is really that easy, now is it? If you’re comfortable getting into a taxi with a driver you’ve never met, you’re probably comfortable using a ride share service.
It’s a reliable, easy way to get where you need to be just about anywhere in the world. The apps will adapt to wherever you are. No need to search for “How to call a taxi in Chicago.” The app will know where you are and adjust. Super easy.