Travel car seats come in a variety of styles, but the key factors will be ease of use, portability, size and of course affordability. Traveling is a luxury for some families and a daily occurrence for others.
Regardless of how often you travel, having the right equipment for you and your child can make or break the trip. Searching through all the options and reviews can take lots of time, we went ahead and put together a list of our favorites.
Best Travel Car Seats For Infants & Toddlers
1. WAYB Pico – Best Foldable Travel Car Seat
This travel car seat is the Benz of the travel seats. It has everything you can want from a travel car seat. It is foldable, lightweight, safe and relatively affordable.
This Pico Travel car seat folds up so quickly and is so light you will have no excuse not to travel with it. In addition to how easy this is to fold it also comes with its own carrying bag(travel bag).
The Pico travel car seat weighs just eight pounds and can fit three across in most vehicles.
The WAYB Pico car seat is for children weighing 22 to 50 pounds(source).
The Pico car seat meets all the safety requirements of both the National Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Aviation Association. You can use this car seat on the plan and then easily transfer it to car use when you reach your destination.
- Easy to fold and carry
- Works on both planes and cars
- Not much impact protection
- Very expensive
2.Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 – Best Travel Car Seats for 4-Year-Old
There is no question that Peg Perego is a well-known brand when it comes to car seats. This particular model stands out to us because of the size ability to fold and the recline option. When dealing with a four-year-old a lot of adjustability in the car seat can be very important.
The Viaggio Flex can be adjusted in four different ways, the headrest, the upper backrest, the side wings, and the seat. We all know your four-year-old is going to be looking to wiggle during travel, and at least you can appease them with a quick adjustment of the seat.
Ability to Fold
The Peg Perego also can be folded when not in use, and it makes it very easy to both store and transport.
Not all travel car seats have the ability to recline. The Peg Perego can recline into five positions to make sure your child gets into the safest and most comfortable position for them. Overall this is a perfect travel car seat for your four-year-old.
What We Like
- Comfort recline can be set in five positions
- Four ways to adjust the seat
- Aluminum reinforced backrest
What We Don’t Like
- Expensive if this is just for travel use
- Smaller size and the fact that the sides are not built up may make it less cozy
3. Hifold Fit Highback Booster Seat – Best Travel Car Seats For Three Year Old
Our favorite travel car seat for a three-year-old child is the Hifold Fit and Fold Highback Booster Seat. The number one reason we love this option for a three-year-old is that you will be able to use this option for years and years.
The smallest children that this seat works for are 33 pounds and 36 inches. The average three year old would fall in this range.
Similar to the Peg Perego, the HiFold can be adjusted in four areas, the seat, the body, head width, and height. As your child grows, this seat will continue to fit them. This seat can accommodate a child up to 100lbs and 59 inches tall! Take care of this travel seat, and it is the only one you will need.
The seat is foldable and very easy to carry. With the longevity, you will get out of this travel car seat and the price, it makes this option a no brainer.
- Great pricing
- Incredibly adjustable
- Will fit kids for years
- Does not recline
- Will not work for very young or lightweight children
4. Cosco Scenera Next – Best Travel Car Seats For Two-Year-Old
For your two-year-old jetsetter we found this Cosco Scenera Convertible Car Seat. This is truly a travel seat and would not be an excellent option for everyday use. However, if you need a lightweight option that is easy to use, this is a great choice.
Our favorite features of the Cosco travel car seat is the cup holder and the fact that it reclines so well. This is a really comfortable car seat for a two-year-old traveling child. If you want to encourage some extra sleep while flying or driving, this option will do that.
Easy to Clean
Another essential aspect when it comes to car seats for two-year-olds is how easy the chair can be to clean. The cover on this car seat wipes clean with ease, and it holds up well over time as well. For the price and function of this car seat, it’s a great buy.
This car seat does not fold and unfortunately, that can make it a deal-breaker for some seasoned travelers.
The Cosco car seat is great for traveling because of how lightweight it is but that is also what makes it a less than a stellar choice for an everyday car seat.
- Low price
- Reclined position is comfortable and encourages sleeping
- Not suitable for everyday use
- Impact protection not as good as other options
5. Evenflo Pivot Modular– Best Travel Car Seats For Infants
When it comes to the infant traveler, you may need more than just a car seat; sometimes, an entire travel system is going to make the most sense. Carrying an infant through an airport is no easy task.
The Evenflo Modular Travel System is a versatile and lightweight option that is easy to clean and use. The three-piece set has six different modes making this seat appealing to younger and older infants. The stroller can convert to a carriage, frame stroller, or travel system in a matter of minutes.
If you are someone who knows they will have all the snacks, bags, toys and clothes a child could possibly need this is a great option. The underside of the Evenflo Modular Travel System has plenty of room to put anything you could want to travel with.
With the safety and versatility of Evenflo Modular this travel system, it can be used as your everyday car seat and stroller as well; it does not have to be just for travel.
- Entire system with stroller, base and infant seat
- Great storage
- Six mode for versatile seating options for baby
- Child will outgrow car seat before stroller
- Wipe clean and let dry, not removable to put in washing machine
6.Diono Radian 3RXT – All In One Travel Car Seat
The Diono Radian is all in one travel seat. In other words, this seat can stay with your child from birth until booster age. This seat can be a lifesaver when it comes to fitting.
The seat is the best car seat for 3 across. When traveling a lot of time you are forced to rent smaller cars, this car seat will become very handy. However, the seat is much slightly heavier than others. It weighs 23 pounds. The seat is about 17 inches wide. In other words, It can fit on the airplane easily.
It is equipped with a steel alloy frame. This amazing feature can ensure you an added strength. An energy-absorbing foam EPS is added with this item. You can convert it to a belt-positioning level, and use the seat up to 120 pounds.
Carseat Roller for Traveling – Car Seat With Wheels Alternative
Who needs to spend all that money on a new car seat when you can use your own and just add some wheels to it. The Holm Airport Carseat Stroller is an effortless way to get you, your child, and their car seat around the airport. You can leave your stroller at home with this model.
The Holm folds small and will easily fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment once on a plane. This Airport Stroller comes with a strap that will attach your child’s car seat safely in place.
Not only does this Holm Airport Carseat Stroller make your life easier, but it is a safer option as well. Keeping your child close in an airport can be difficult, but this stroller makes it fun and comfortable.
- Attaches to any car seat
- Ease to use and foldable
- Helps parents to keep track of child in the airport
- No storage on the stroller
- Will still need to fold and store the stroller once on the plane
Buyers Guide: What To Look For
If you are going to bring your own car seat or buy a car seat specifically for traveling, please make sure its An FAA Approved car seat.
The lighter a car seat is, the better it is for traveling. Often you have to carry it around. That’s why you wouldn’t want to be a heavy one.
The ideal travel car seat weights around 10 lbs. The heavier ones can go up to 20 lbs or more. The notion people have is that lighter car seats are less safe. In reality, this myth does not hold water.
The compact a car seat, the better it is for traveling. Compact car seats aren’t unusually large but serve the same purpose. You should get one because they are really easy to carry around and most of them are usually lightweight. A compact car seat saves a lot of space when you want to store them.
Ease of Installation
As you have to often plug in the seat and take it out frequently, you must look for a safety seat that is easy to install and take out. Also, an easy harnessing system and one-click features really come handy in traveling.
Suspension on Base
It is not a very much handy feature inside a car but very much effective on airplanes. Actually this feature is developed and designed to protect the baby inside the safety seat from drops. Now you probably know why we have included it here. We should mention here that this is a rare feature among the car seats in the market.
Frequently Asked Questions
Rules and Regulations for Airplanes and Car Seats
As long as your car seat has a sticker saying it is suitable for aviation use, then the FAA will be more than happy to let you use it. There is only one type of approved child harness for use on planes. This is called a CARES, and it is only for children between the weights of 22 and 44 pounds. This device is not approved for motor vehicle use.
Should I bring a car seat on the plane?
It is a personal decision if you want to travel with your car seat or rent one when you get to your destination. Considering an airline won’t charge you to check your car seat and they actually encourage car seat use on an airplane there are not too many reasons to rent one when you land. Bringing your own can save money if you travel often and have to continually rent car seats. Looking into an affordable travel car seat would make more sense financially.
Can you bring your car seat on the plane?
As long as your child has their own seat, then you are encouraged to bring a car seat for them. If you are flying with a lap infant, a child under two who is sitting on a parent’s lap, then you will not be able to bring the car seat. In rare occasions where there are open seats, the flight crew will tell you that you can take an extra seat and use your child’s car seat.
Do car seats count as a checked bag?
Car seats do not count as a checked bag, and if you are not going to be using the seat on the plane, you can leave the car seat at the ticket desk when you check-in.
Can I use the rear facing position on board?
Yes, you can. However, by doing so the person in front of you won’t be able to recline his or her seat. If that person complains the crew member will ask you to use the seat in forward-facing. In actuality, it doesn’t matter whether you use it rear-facing mode when flying.
What to do when my car seat doesn’t fit?
If your car seat is bulky, notify the flight attendant. They will be able ship your car seat in the cargo section. While finding an appropriate solution for the flight.
The Danger of Renting A Car Seat When Traveling
When traveling, try not to rent a car seat(source). Instead, you should carry your own travel car seat. The logic behind this is that Rental car seats are not periodically checked for safety.
Renting a one may seem to be an easy solution. However, those seats are unhygienic and come without the instruction manual. Finally, without having time to familiarize yourself with proper installation, you will probably install the seat incorrectly.
Travel Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated
Choosing a great travel car seat for your child does not need to be complicated. Keep in mind that you will want something lightweight, easy to use, and compact, if possible. We all know how much you will be carrying during a day of travel with children. If a car seat is easy to use and carry, it can make the entire day go that much smoother.