So you have decided you need to take a car seat with you whilst traveling, but are wondering which is the best travel car seat for your trip? There are a huge variety of travel car seats on the market for kids of various ages, you can get a foldable car seat, some are better suited as an airplane car seat, there is even a travel car seat stroller on the market.
For travelling it is generally recommended that you purchase a lightweight convertible car seat, this way it will be suitable for your child as they grow. If your family intends to do a lot of plane travel, it is also recommended that you purchase a travel convertible car seat that is suitable as an air travel car seat. All the car seats recommended in this review are both convertible seats, and approved car seats for airplanes.
- 1 The best car seat to travel with comparison chart
- 2 Do you need a Portable Car Seat for Travel
- 3 Using a Car Seat for Travel on Airplane
- 4 Using a Compact Car Seat for Travel on Arrival
- 5 Things to Consider when Purchasing the Best Convertible Car Seat for Travel
- 6 Reviews for the Best Car Seat for Airplane and Travel Convertible Car Seat
- 6.1 Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat with Cup Holder Moon Mist Grey
- 6.2 Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
- 6.3 Combi Compact Convertible Car Seat
- 6.4 Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat
- 6.5 Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
- 6.7 Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
- 6.8 Britax Roundabout G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
- 6.9 Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller
- 6.10 Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat
The best car seat to travel with comparison chart
Do you need a Portable Car Seat for Travel
Whether or not you need a portable car seat for travel depends on a variety of things. You could take your everyday car seat to travel with, but usually these car seats are bulky and not very practical to carry around. Alternatively, you may be comfortable with hiring a car seat once you reach your destination or perhaps you intend on using public transportation, and there is no legal requirement to use a car seat.
Whatever your decision, keep reading to see why some parents choose to take their own travel convertible car seat
Using a Car Seat for Travel on Airplane
A travel friendly car seat is not only great for use in your rental car or taxi, it can also be used as an airplane child seat. Whilst babies under 2 don’t need their own seat on planes, it is not always comfortable holding a baby on your lap for a long-haul flight. In many cases there are bassinets available for use on planes, but a larger baby may not always fit comfortably in these bassinets and there is always the chance there are no bassinets available on your flight.
Even if you are lucky enough to get a bassinet on your flight, you will need to remove your baby from it during take off and landing as well as during any times when the seat-belt sign is on. Constantly removing your baby from the bassinet is not always practical, especially if he or she is asleep.
Even for wiggly toddlers who are over 2 years and require their own seat on the plane, a car seat for travel on airplane is a great way of keeping them safely secured during the flight. It also gives them some height, so they are at a better level to interact with the rest of the family.
One thing to note is that installing even the best car seat approved for air travel is not always that easy, however the flight attendants should be able to assist you.
If you do decide to take a car seat for place travel, it will need to be approved for airplane travel. All the seats in this review are FAA approved.
Using a Compact Car Seat for Travel on Arrival
Once you arrive at your destination, if traveling by car you will need a car seat. Of course many car rentals hire car seats out, or if you have arranged private transfers they may well be able to arrange a car seat too. However there are some cases where the car rental agency or private transfers may not have a seat appropriate for your child or if they do have one it often costs a small fortune. You don’t want to be left in the lurch, so it can be a good idea to bring your own light car seat for travel.
There are plenty of advantages in having your own compact car seat for travel upon arrival. You will know exactly how to install the car seat, your child will be familiar with it, you know whether or not it has been in any accidents, that the car seat is age and weight appropriate for your child as well as being able to use it on a arrange of other public transport.
It is recommended that you do your own research before arriving in the destination as car seat laws do vary from country to country. In some countries you may not even be required to have one at all, but you will feel safer knowing your child is securely fastened in their own good travel car seat.
Things to Consider when Purchasing the Best Convertible Car Seat for Travel
So you have decided that you do in fact need a car seat while traveling, here are some considerations to keep in mind when looking to purchase the best lightweight car seat for travel.
FAA Safety Approval
The best convertible car seat for travel is one that is FAA certified so you can take it on the airplane with you. You may not be aware, but you can only take a car seat on an airplane if it has in fact been FAA certified. Car seats that can be used on airplanes will have a sticker on the side saying it is approved for use in both motor vehicles and aircraft. All the car seats in this review are FAA approved.
Given you are going to be carrying this car seat around with you during your travels, you want it to be lightweight. You also consider purchasing a car seat back pack or cart to transport the car seat. You can even purchase a travel car seat with wheels to make it easier to transport.
You are going to need to ensure your portable convertible car seat is going to fit on the airplane. Plane seats vary in width, so just because your car seat fits on one airplane does not mean it will fit on the next.
A narrower car seat is also ideal if you are hiring a car, particularly if you end up hiring a smaller car than you usually drive at home.
Of course you not only want a practical and safe travel car seat, you also want your child to be comfortable. Look for car seats which have fully adjustable harnesses and backs so your car seat can be adjusted as your child grows. Also look for soft good quality fabrics which can be removed and machine washed.
Ease of Installation
Car seats can be a nightmare to install at the best of times! So you can only image trying to install one on a busy airplane. Read reviews to see what other parents are saying about installing the car seat. Moreover, once you get your car seat, have you a few practice runs at home before heading on holidays. You don’t want the first time you install your car seat to be on the airplane!
Don’t have time to read the full reviews below on the best car seat to travel with? Then check out the quick comparison chart below. Every kids travel car seat in our review is FAA approved and convertible so it can be used in both rear and forward facing positions.
Keep reading below for more information to help you choose the best portable child car seat for your little one.
Reviews for the Best Car Seat for Airplane and Travel Convertible Car Seat
Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat with Cup Holder Moon Mist Grey
The Cosco Scenera Next is a slim design, lightweight car seat for travel and is a popular choice among parents who regularly travel and looking for an airplane child seat. If you are after a good cheap travel car seat for travel this is a great option.
This lightweight portable car seat has built in Side Impact Protection and a 5-point harness that is completely adjustable with 5 heights and 3 buckle locations to ensure your child is securely fastened even as they grow. With the narrow width of only 17.5” you can easily fit 3 of these across a car or in a narrow plane seat. Perfect for the best car seat for airplane travel and a road trip.
Talking about the best car seat for air travel, the Cosco Scenera is FAA certified, providing your child with a familiar and safe place to travel. Parents will love how lightweight this car seat is, at only 10.4 lbs, this is one of the lightest convertible car seat for travel options in our review. In fact many reviews on this item make special mention as to how super light this car seat is, and how easy it is to travel with even with more than one!
Other great features of this lightweight toddler car seat for travel include the easy to clean car seat pad which comes in a range of colours and can easily be removed for machine cleaning. There is also a removable cup holder which is dish washer safe.
Like all the travel toddler car seat options in our review, this is a convertible car seat meaning it can be used in both rear facing and forward-facing positions and so is a portable car seat for toddler and baby from 5 lbs. This toddler and infant airplane seat is only suitable for children up to the weight of 40 lbs, unlike some of the more expensive baby and toddler airplane seat options in our reviews which go right up to 120 lbs.
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
We all know that Britax is a big named brand, so from the get-go that should give you peace of mind in terms of quality and safety. This particular Britax car seat is a popular choice, and has several safety features to boast about.
The ClickTight system ensures that when you install the car seat, it stays in place and doesn’t slip around. This has to be one of the easiest installation processes unlike some other seats on the market, making everything simple and effective.
For extra safety, there is SafeCell Impact Protection which means there is a steel frame within the build, a base which absorbs any impact, and a design to ensure that the seat doesn’t move or lurch forward in the event of any impact occurring. Included side impact protection adds an extra dimension of peace of mind also.
Many reviewers rate this as a Britax car seat airplane choice, as it is comfortable and secure for long journeys. Overall, this makes it one of the best toddler car seat for travel options around, and the 12-position harness, as well as 2 position buckle means that your child isn’t going to be able to wriggle free, no matter how fidgety they are in general.
The harness is also adjustable for growth, so it will last a good length of time, as your child grows with it. To add further evidence to the fact this is one of the best car seat for airplane travel choices, the seat has a 7 position recline function, and there is a level indicator which gives you a pointer on when the recline is best suited to your child.
This is a mid-priced range option, so it won’t break the bank, and is also a good light car seat for air travel, which won’t weigh you down whilst moving from A to B. It is also suitable from birth, up to 65lb in weight.
Combi Compact Convertible Car Seat
The Combi Compact Convertible Car Seat is a great mid-priced option for those who want a good car seat for airplane use. The overall weight is light, so you don’t have to worry about extra bulk whilst travelling, and there are several safety features which give you extra peace of mind.
The seat has Tru-Safe Side Impact protection, which absorbs energy on impact and keeps the overall energy momentum away from your child’s head, spine and neck area. There is also a removable insert, to make it more comfortable and safer for smaller children.
Another reason why this is the best car seat to travel with on planes is because it was designed to fit into smaller spaces, which is certainly what you need in economy class! You simply fit the seat with the ‘three across installation’ system, and you can rest assured that it is going to stay in place and not move until you want it to.
For extra peace of mind, there is an indicator on the buckle which tells you when it is securely fastened in, and an included connector strap for rear-facing position, making it one of the best convertible car seat for air travel options around.
For cleanliness you can remove the covers and wash them, and the rest of the shell is able to be wiped clean.
Your child will be able to use the seat from birth, up until 40lbs in weight, in a forward facing position, and up to 33lb in weight when rear facing. Overall, this is certainly one of the best lightweight convertible car seat for travel choices around.
Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat
If you are looking for the best portable car seat, but you don’t want to break the, this is a great option. This is one of the best toddler car seat for airplane choices, if you don’t want a whole array of fancy extras.
The seat is suitable for children from 5-40 lb in weight in a rear facing position, and from 22 to 65 lb in weight in a forward-facing position. The seat attaches easily and securely and doesn’t move around at all.
There is a five-point harness, and the centre section is adjustable, to make it comfortable for your child, whilst also adding an extra dimension of safety at the same time. This portable baby car seat has an adjustable head rest, which can be moved as your child grows, ensuring you don’t need to purchase another seat for a good period of time.
The seat has anti-rebound bolsters around it, to absorb any impact and to hold the position in place.
For cleanliness, the seat pad is removable and can be washed by hand. The rest of the outer shell can be cleaned with a damp cloth quite easily. The ease of cleaning and the safety features make it one of the best travel car seat for 2 year olds.
Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
This particular folding car seat for travel might be a little more expensive than some of the others we have reviewed so far, but it is very high quality, and has several superior safety features to it. The other plus point of choosing this foldable car seat for travel overall is that it folds completely flat, so it can be packed away easily when you’re not using it.
In a rear facing position the seat is suitable for children from 5-45 lb in weight, and in a forward-facing position from 20-65 lb in weight. There is also a booster mode installed, which will accommodate from 50-120 lb in weight, giving an extra dimension as your child grows, making it one of the best convertible car seat for airplane travel choices over the longer term.
This folding car seat for air travel is also very slimline and lightweight, despite it having a full steel frame for extra security and safety. Superior head protection offers 12 positions of head support, and there are also strong reinforced sides, to absorb any impact and offer the greatest protection for your child. There are also removal infant inserts included.
Despite the slightly higher price, this is one of the best portable car seat for toddler choices on the market.
Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
This is another lightweight car seat for air travel that is ideal for those on a budget. Despite the lower price, there is no slip in quality, and plenty of safety features to give you peace of mind in your purchase. This portable car seat for air travel meets and exceeds all safety test standards and has superior side impact protection too.
When purchasing portable travel car seats for toddlers, the number one consideration is safety and fit. This product has several shoulder harness positions, which means not only is your child comfortable and safe, but it can be altered for continued use, as your child grows. The front harness is adjustable and has a buckle release, making it convenient and quick to use. The body cushion is integrated into the seat itself and there is a removable head pillow, for older children to use comfortably.
Overall this is one of the best toddler car seat for air travel choices for those who are on a stricter budget. It is also suitable from birth, up to 18 month, or 40 lb in weight.
Britax Roundabout G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
This is another Britax big named product, which is one of the best travel seats for toddlers on airplanes.
Within the medium range price tag, this portable baby seat offers the SafeCell Impact Protection System, which comprises of a base to absorb any impact, a secure tether and harness, and a robust steel frame which is designed to stabilise the seat. There is also superior side impact protection. All of this makes this particular product one of the best baby car seat for travel options, and it is designed to cocoon your child within the protective shell, and avoid debris making any contact with your child.
The 5 point harness is tangle resistant, and prevents the straps from twisting. This means your child will fit into the seat much quicker and easier, and of course, more comfortably too. The seat is suitable for children from birth to 55 lbs.
The seat reclines back into 3 different positions, and there is an additional quick-adjust 2 position buckle, which allows you to move the buckle outwards, as your child gets larger. This means you shouldn’t have to purchase another product too soon afterwards, giving you a longer-term option.
Overall, this is one of the best infant car seat for travel products on the market, with a big brand name for reassurance.
Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller
This is a portable infant car seat which is also a full travel system combined. To sum it up, this is a travel infant car seat which also has wheels integrated within it, so it converts into a stroller of sorts too – ideal as an infant car seat airplane choice, and perfect for the airport departure lounge too, due to its flexibility.
Suitable from birth, up to 35 lb in weight, this travel baby car seat offers room for your child to grow. The overall seat itself is quite lightweight, at just 12 lb. The seat of course offers high safety features and the harness is twist-resistant and has a 5-point buckle, which stays in place when it needs to, but releases without fuss when you need to remove you child from the seat.
Overall, this is a great option for those who travel a lot with babies. This infant car seat airplane choice basically eliminates the need for you to check in your stroller at the check in desk, and you can simply pop out the wheels for use around the airport, and then integrate them back inside when it’s time to board the plane.
Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat
This Evenflo travel car seat is an ideal option for those on a budget, whilst offering a range of safety and security features for your child.
The seat itself is compact, so it doesn’t take up a huge amount of room, and therefore fits into smaller spaces. This makes it ideal for air travel or smaller cars.
There is also a 4-shoulder harness position adjustment system and a 2-crotch buckle position, so you can create a comfortable fit for your child. The 5-point harness can be easily adjusted from the front of the car. You can use this product from birth, up to 40 lb in weight.
The seat has been tested and exceeds all safety standards, with focus on side impact safety features too. It’s safety features provide you peace of mind during short, long distance or air travel.
Overall, this is one of the best small car seats for travel as well as being a cost-effective option. If you are looking for a budget lightweight car seat for airplane travel, this is a great one to go for, and it won’t take up a huge amount of room in your luggage either.
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David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times. His images are frequently used throughout the world by tourism bodies such as Visit Britain and Visit Wales.