This is NOT to make anyone feel guilty, but something to keep in mind.
The fact is, we take chances all the time. Weigh the risks. And when it comes to having our children in car seats, much of the time, parents will properly err on the side of caution.
But for some reason there is this false sense of chance that comes to play on vacation. We think, “What are the chances there will actually be an accident?” Well, probably about the same as each and every day we put them in our own vehicles at home. And there hasn’t been an accident (for most of us) in that time. So by the same logic, why bother putting our child in a booster even when at home?
EACH AND EVERY car trip has the same risk. Which means the risk on a vacation is no different than at home. Which means we should follow the same safety as we would elsewhere.
The tricky part on vacation is having control over the proper seat for your child. Watch a few videos of kids (well, dummies) belted in various ways (with backless booster, with high-back booster, with inflatable boosters, etc), and you end up realizing that it is a gamble. Going WITHOUT a booster, in spite of the laws, until the shoulder AND waist belt fits your child properly is putting your child at definite risk.
We have seen the laws/recommendations change a lot since our first son was young. I remember even with our daughter (born fourth in line) excited to move her out of a backless booster and eventually out of a booster. Later studies showed it to be a mistake. We should have kept her MUCH longer than the laws required. Same is true with our DS8 now. Despite the LAWS, the fact is, the seat belts just don’t fit him properly without a booster.