This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link we may earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.
Having the best travel car seats for kids and babies in vehicles is not optional; this vital accessory is even more daunting, especially for families that make a lot of travel.
For example, if you change cars frequently, take flights, or board taxis, you require a lightweight car seat that’s easy to fix and unfix, compact and comfortable for the child.
When shopping for car seats, you’ll need to choose whether you need a forward-facing or rear seat. American Academy of Pediatrics says that rear-facing seats are generally safest for kids under age two and below four years.
However, they recommended that you follow the length and weight limits of the car’s seat for the forward-facing ones.
Important features that should also be considered are ease of cleaning, a 5-point harness system, a LATCH system, and more. There a various options we have researched from trustworthy brands that come with these attributes.
Best Travel Car Seats
This car seat is a space-saver. It fits three across your back seat and has a padded headrest with a deep recline to keep your kid comfortable and a 5-point harness for safety.
For kids weighing about 40 pounds, it can function as a rear-facing seat; for kids weighing around 65 pounds, it can be used as a forward-facing seat; and for kids weighing 100 pounds, it can be a belt-positioning booster.
- It saves a lot of space
- It’s easy to fix and is high in quality.
- It is comfortable and safe for your kid.
- It’s unavailable for purchase in stores around the states.
The lightness of the LiteMax is just enough to let you carry your infant onto an airplane without having to remove them from their car seat. Instead, you can leave them in their seat and simply use the plane straps to fasten the baby seat to the airplane seat.
It is advisable to adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines to know whether your kid can sit facing forward or not; this may well influence your decision on the car seat that’s best for your kid.
Even if your kid can sit upright on their own in an airplane seat, you may discover that carrying your convertible seat with you will prevent your kid from walking around the airplane and helps them sleep easily.
This works especially for kids of 2 to 3 years. Before bringing your child’s car seat on board the plane, ensure it’s an FAA-approved seat. The good news is our list only includes convertible seats that the FAA approves.
- SafeZone Load Leg: This vertical extending bar stabilizes the seat and limits crash forces in accident situations.
- SureSafe Installation System: This technology lets you feel and hear when the car seat is properly fixed to your vehicle.
- Compared to the original model of the Evenflo LiteMax, this version doesn’t let you adjust the harness height low enough for preemies.
- It is difficult and confusing making use of the adjustment for hip width.
- Requires a minimum space of 1.5″ between the front seat of the vehicle and the back of the baby car seat when not fixed in the middle of the car.
- Its stroller is only compatible with Evenflo strollers.
If you want to buy a car seat suitable for your toddler, the Cosso Finale offers you a good choice. You can use it as a highback- booster or forward-facing seat equipped with a t-point harness.
It’s easy to transport as it weighs just 9 pounds and has a width span of 17 inches; for most cars, it’s possible to fit in 3 of these seats next to each other.
Cosco Finale as a 5-point harness child car seat is appropriate for kids from 32 inches to as tall as 49 inches and 30 pounds and 65 pounds.
The LATCH system can be used until the child is up to 50 pounds. The highback booster has a weight limit between forty pounds and a hundred pounds and a height limit between 43 inches and 52 inches. In addition, the FAA only approves the highback booster if an internal harness is used.
- Its build is slender and a good fit for compact cars or families occupying many car seats per time.
- It’s easy to switch between your different cars because they are lightweight.
- The FAA approves it for usage in the harness mode.
- It is very affordable.
- It is removable, and its cover is machine-washable.
- Needs to be assembled.
- Booster mode requires that the seat be buckled in when not in use.
- Some buyers have complained that it needs more Padding.
The Baby Tend Trooper weighs slightly above others at 15 pounds but offers some whistles and extra bells. In addition, it comes in three different modes; forward-facing toddler mode, rear-facing toddler mode, and forward-facing infant mode. This allows you to use it for several years.
So a baby of 4 pounds and children weighing up to 65 pounds can use this. It is also really easy to install perfectly with the bubble level indicator, and rear-facing reclip flip foot.
- This seat is a 3-in-1 car seat that can function in various modes and for different weights of kids.
- It’s easy to fix and use.
- Built with the 5-point harness and has protection from side impact.
- It isn’t approved for use on an aircraft.
This car seat is built to lend parents a third hand. It is quite different from other car seats because a lightweight carrier can be pulled out of it and strapped across the shoulder and move around with ease and freedom.
The inner carrier can be returned and clipped to the car seat when you finish the job or errand. This is the first car seat with this sort of design.
Pushing a button and using the side handles is all it takes to remove the lightweight carrier. It offers you the chance to get your activities done and play with your child from time to time, whether as a car seat or carrier.
It has a peculiar 3-component nesting system comprising the inner carrier, outer car seat, and seat base, giving you much flexibility for your everyday routine.
It also has four modes for carrying; Handle, cross-body, stroller, and standard carry, providing options for you to move the way you prefer and be comfortable.
This car seat makes it easy for you to transit from the car seat to anywhere you may want to go, whether you need to leave the car for a short trip, run to the store, or finally have your baby asleep. The Coral XP is very safe and meets all the government standards for safety.
- It is cushiony and well-padded; as a result very comfortable. It is largely said that no other car seat is this cushiony.
- It has a light inner carrier that is easy to separate due to the 3-part structure.
- It has several modes of keeping the car seat secure in the car and is easy to use.
- It has a large canopy hence offering adequate protection from the sun.
- Converting this car seat to the carrier does not compromise the car seat or its safety.
- It is relatively expensive.
- It can be used for just between the first ten to twelve months of the baby’s life.
- Difficult to install compared to other car seats
This car seat is designed to grow with your kid from the drive out of the hospital to driving to your kid’s first sports game and give him a comfortable and safe ride.
This car seat is built to accompany your child through all his firsts. It has the grow-and-go feature, which your newborn and growing toddler can use in a rear-facing position for weights of 5 to 40 pounds.
It comes with two grow-with-baby pillows that give your baby a snug-fitting, and they go off easily as your child outgrows them. It can also be used in the forward-facing mode for weighing about 65 lbs to protect your kid in a harness.
In both forward-facing and rear-facing modes, the harness holder ensures that the harness is in an open position. You can put your child in and out of the seat easily because of this feature. In addition, the clips and harness are right where you need them, and you don’t need to get them from the back.
The harness is a quick fit and offers extra convenience in the two stages by allowing you to adjust the harness and headrest height in one easy step, giving your child the best fit.
You can make use of the adult seat belt when your kid is ready by simply taking off the harness and making using the belt-positioning booster mode of the grow-and-go car seat: up to a hundred pounds.
The headrest is still easily adjustable in the mode, allowing you to find a good fit for your kid. As your little infant grows into a big child, there would be a lot of messes; the pad of this car seat makes cleaning very simple.
It is dryer safe and machine washable. Its design always stains go off easily with the harness still in place. The grow-and-go uses less space when in rear-facing mode, providing about 7 inches of extra space and comfort to the parents in front.
- It is very sturdy and comfortable.
- Its installation is easy.
- This seat is attractive to the eyes.
- It comes already assembled, and it is easy to adjust to your car and child.
- It rattles during a drive when your child is not seated in it.
This convertible car seat can be used in a forward-facing or rear-facing direction. It is jet black, and its slim fit allows usage in three across the configuration. It is built for kids up to ninety pounds and has a lifespan of 10 years.
- It can be used in 3 different ways – rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seat.
- Its ten years lifespan makes it a good investment.
- The car seat is lightweight and can be transported easily from car to car.
- It is a safe car seat, tested and approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- This car seat is unavailable in some stores.
This car seat is a 2-in-1 seat/stroller combo and is the simplest way to move an infant around. You can use it like a baby car seat — this is best for hopping on or out of a taxi. You can convert it to a stroller by just clicking a button. You need not be bothered about two different gear pieces.
Sadly, however, it is costly and has quite a short lifespan. Since it doesn’t change to a convertible car seat, it’s built for kids below a year and below in age — reaching its peak usage when your kid hits 35 pounds or as tall as 32 inches.
However, considering this car seat/stroller combo weighs only 16 pounds, you would agree that carrying your baby doesn’t come any easier.
- The baby car seat that can turn into a stroller.
- Easy to convert from car seat to stroller (and vice versa).
- Easy to take in and out of the car.
- Don’t have to juggle putting the car seat and stroller away.
There are several positives the Doona offers; however, there are a lot of negatives too that you may need to consider.
- Heavy as an infant car seat.
- Short lifespan.
- Safety concerns over babies spending too much time in car seats.
- No recline options
This is a comfortable and safe option that you can use as a forward-facing or rear-facing car seat. It can accommodate kids from 4 pounds to 120 pounds. Its slim fit allows for usage in three-across installations. In addition, it is made with Safe Plus engineering providing the best safety possible.
- It is reliable, safe, and can be used forward- and rear-facing.
- It features Safe Plus Engineering, which provides four stages of baby protection.
- The sit is slim-fit, allowing for three seats for most cars.
- Its slate color is gray and has a lifespan of 10 years.
- The major con is that it is unapproved for use on aircraft.
Our best baby car seat top pick should be the Britax Marathon Convertible if the cost and heavy weight were ignored. Its installation is made easy through click-tight technology, which signals that it has been fixed correctly.
The no-rethread buckle and 14-position harness are the best of their features. A pull on the strap adjusts the harness by a unit. You can also recline it in seven different positions, making sure that the child is comfortable. This is one very safe car seat for travel available.
The Safe Cell Impact Protection and Click-tight Installation systems are an assurance to parents that their kids will be sound and safe anywhere they are
- It is built with surplus safety features.
- It is comfortable.
- It is durable.
- It has a long lifespan.
- Its build is narrow.
- The FAA approves it
- It is heavy.
- It is very costly.
For a product at the center of 2 price ranges, the reviews of the Chicco KeyFit are pretty excellent, and from our survey is the parents’ favorite because of its easy installation.
Allyson Downey, who operates a review site for consumers called WeeSpring, says she bought it for her first kid because of its outstanding reviews.
Lauren Brown, a pediatrician an,d car seat expert at Mt. Washington Hospital, says the KeyFit might be popular among parents because Chicco made a YouTube video demonstrating how it should be installed.
The KeyFit 35 is the upgrade of KeyFit 30 and increases the weight and height limits to 35 pounds and 32 inches, respectively.
Some other features to take note of are the anti-rebound bar that brings more stability, a harness that is easy to extend, and a harness with no-rethread. It also can install a seat without its base in case of frequent unplanned travels.
- Fantastic product for premature babies. Neonatal nurses prefer the KeyFit because it supports infants with a cushion insert.
- Its installation is simple, and it is LATCH-tightened.
- It is compact, so you can fit it in cars with only two doors.
- It is easy to adjust as your infant starts growing.
- It is easy to switch from one car to another.
- It has machine washable, removable cushions; hence its cleaning is very easy.
- Its Padding is good and would keep your baby fit and comfortable.
- Safety, durability, and longevity.
- Warranty for one year.
- Heavy compared to other car seat products. After C-section or delivery, moms would find this difficult to carry.
- With its 30 inches height limit, it lasts for just between 9 months to 14 months.
- Its sunshade is not wide enough and does stay in its place.
- Padding and materials tend to cause heat for the baby; hence they might be sweaty after some time in this car seat.
- Because it is tight-fit, some parents have said in 4-5 months; their child had outgrown the seat.
- You need both hands to carry it because of the handle angle. This is inconvenient.
This car seat is all-in-one. It can change from rear- to forward-facing and then to booster mode, so your child can use it from infancy up until age four and above, even when he weighs about 120 pounds.
This product is quickly becoming popular because instead of purchasing 2 or 3 car seats during your kid’s first year, you can get this one and save some money.
However, an expert we talked with posits that there is a high possibility of misusing this car seat because it has several parts and features that are difficult to use correctly. Also, if you want to use just one car seat for ten years, you have a ton of work to keep it clean.
A review that is worth mentioning is Neuman’s, who picked the One4Life as her best all-in-one car seat. “It’s easy to install thanks to the recline angle indicators, it’s ClickTight technology and color-coded belt paths,” she says.
It has nine recline positions, fifteen neck and head positions, and a harness without rethreading.
In addition, this seat grows with your kid up until ten years of age; rear-facing from 5 to fifty pounds weight, forward-facing from 22 pounds to 65 pounds weight and can take a kid between 40 pounds and 120 pounds weight in its booster mode.
- Installation is easy, and it is not possible to mess up.
- Very durable. It can last as long as ten years and can be used with many kids.
- Finally, this Britax car seat’s material is machine washable.
- It is expensive and would require a deep budget.
- It is heavy and large.
Should You Get a Travel Car Seat?
“We advise that parents buy a seat for children even those under 2 that can be placed on the lap and make use of restraint approved by the FAA for kids on the plane,” said Durocher. “It is safer for both child and parents; during landing or take-off and flight turbulence.”
Do You Bring a Car Seat Base When Traveling?
Going on a flight with children, you may choose to bring and use your car seat on the airplane or use it when you arrive. It all depends on the type of car seat you have.
Do Airplanes Damage Car Seats?
It is possible for car seats to be damaged if they are checked. Kids below 40 pounds are better on an airplane with their car seats. Checking your car seats only prevents surface damage; it does not prevent damage to the structure. Rigid cardboard is the best check for your baby car seat.
How Do I Travel With a Car Seat?
If it is by airplane, Adhere to the AAP recommendation; children below 40 pounds should sit in a car seat approved by the FAA.
Should your kid be above 40 pounds, the airline would let you carry your child’s seat on board without charge.
If it is by road, fix the seat in your vehicle as you normally would. Stop intermittently so your children can get their legs free with some stretches. Ensure there is enough entertainment and snacks, and the car is very comfortable when in motion.
How Long Can Babies Travel in a Car Seat?
Most health care experts and manufacturers of car seats advise that kids do not spend longer than 2 hours in the seat per time (the 2-hour rule). This prevents the baby’s spine from developing a curvature due to the seat.
Also, the AAP says that a baby’s safest spot in a car is in his car seat; however, they do not advise that kids sleep for long periods in them. This rule can only be broken when on a very long flight; in this situation, it is best if your child is buckled in his seat.
Buying a car seat for travel guarantees that your kid is happy and safe as you move around. For this reason, it is worth the money. Having peace on a journey is priceless.
Finally, the most important factor is the safety features! Ensure that the seat is in line with the government and FAA guidelines. Also, check for the system of restraint allowed for use on an aircraft.