This is something not often thought about enough and can cause big problems. “Just grab a cab” isn’t that easy with kids. I have had trouble in the US more than once with taxis as I don’t travel with car seats. Once we arrived at Anchorage airport around midnight. We had a hotel booked and expected just to get a taxi. No taxi was interested because we didn’t have a car seat for our 3 year old and 7 month old. We called the hotel (which was a reputable and expensive hotel chain) and they basically said they had no idea how we were meant to get there. They had no shuttle to offer us at that time of night and no suggestion how we could get there.
We wandered around the airport and outside (which was freezing and raining of course) with little kids getting increasingly frustrated. We eventually happened upon someone who was selling tickets for a minibus leaving the airport going to all the hotels. We paid a few dollars each to Reg, the driver, didn’t need car seats and were taken very efficiently to the hotel. Reg brought our bags in, and unbelievably, the girl on reception greeted him by name and asked him how his night was going. The same girl who had told us she had no idea how we could get to the hotel. I did write this on a feedback slip at the end of the stay.
When you are backpacking by yourself, once you have worked out the public transport it’s easy to jump on. With kids you have extra luggage, perhaps a pram and of course, the kids who may or may not be cooperating. At a village resort on an island in Malaysia, I had researched the buses and trains to get to the boat docks, but then the owner offered to arrange all our transfers for $100. I accepted this and so glad I did – we arrived into Singapore airport at 3am and there was a van waiting for us with a Ferrari brand car seat for 18 month old Juliet. This was invaluable travelling with 4 kids.
I can’t tell you what will be available at your destination because everywhere is different. You need to do your research so you aren’t stuck. Find out the laws, they are different in every state in the US. In Nevada they don’t bat an eyelid, in California the cab driver said sorry, the $500 fine for having a child without a car seat is a lot more than your fare.
Most places have buses or a train system and you can buy a ticket there. Look up the airport you will arrive at, find out if there is a bus and where it goes. Find out what time it starts and finishes, particularly if you are arriving in unsociable hours. Make sure you have local currency to buy the tickets and print out the instructions and where you need to go if you are going somewhere that you don’t speak the language.