best travel car seat
Choosing the best travel car seat for unborn baby – kalinovsky (depositphotos)

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Keeping your child properly secured in a car seat is one of the most important steps a parent can take to ensure the safety of their child while on the road and in the air. If you are looking for the best travel car seat to help keep your kid safe, we’ve compiled a list of the top twelve child safety seats to find just the right one for you and your family.

Top Picks for the Best Travel Car Seat:

CategoryCar SeatReview
Best Overall (also cheapest)Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car SeatReview
Best Integrative DesignDoona Infant Car Seat and Latch BaseReview
Best Lightweight Car SeatEvenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Car SeatReview
Best Compact Car SeatSafety 1st Guide 65 2-in-1 Convertible Car SeatReview
Best Convertible Car SeatPria Max All-in-One Convertible Car SeatReview
Best Portable Car SeatWAYB Pico Portable Car SeatReview
Best Travel Booster SeatHiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car SeatReview
Honorable mentionsClick here

Read below to find more details about the car seats, especially about the pros and cons. Some of them don’t get into the “best x” categories but are also highly recommended and might suit your needs more. Note that this is also an FAA approved car seat list (with the exception of booster car seats)

Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat (Best Overall)

Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat
Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat – Coscokids

Price: $59.99 (Best Budget)
FAA Approved: Yes
Child Weight: 5-40 lb for rear-facing; 22-40 lb for forward facing
Child Height: 19-40 in for rear facing; 29-43 in for forward facing

When it comes to affordability, ease of travel, and safety we found the Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat to be the best overall. For under $100, users can enjoy many of the other features found with more expensive car seats at just a fraction of the price.

For families looking for a high-quality, budget-friendly car seat that will serve them for many years, this convertible car seat is an ideal option. Designed to accommodate children from 5-40 pounds, this car seat can be used throughout many phases of childhood making it a worthwhile investment for families.

This car seat has been rigorously tested and certified to offer the highest level of safety for children with side impact protection as well as meeting all of the federal safety criteria. For parents looking for travel-friendly features, this car seat is TSA compliant and approved for airlines travel.

Pros and Cons:

Pros

  • Coming in at under $100, this car seat is one of the most affordable on the market
  • Designed for children 5-40 pounds, users can enjoy the relative longevity of this convertible car seat throughout many stages of life
  • Approved for airline travel and meets TSA requirements
  • Machine washable cover

Cons

  • Other convertible car seats can accommodate children over 40 pounds

Doona Infant Car Seat and Latch Base (Best Integrative Design)

Doona Infant Car Seat and Latch Base
Doona Infant Car Seat and Latch Base – Doona

Price: $550
FAA Approved: Yes
Child Weight: up to 35 lbs, rear facing only (infant only)

For busy parents on the go, having a travel car seat that fits their active lifestyle is extremely important. If you are looking for the best integrative design, the Doona Infant Car Seat and Latch Base offers the easiest and most streamlined way to keep kids safe with their all-in-one travel system.

The Doona Infant Car Seat and Latch Base is an integrative, modern design that allows users to easily transition from a rolling stroller to a car safety seat in seconds. With the simple push of a button, this stroller folds down into a car seat that easily attaches to the included latch base which can be mounted in any model vehicle.

Every product from the Doona company undergoes rigorous safety testing and certification processes to bring parents the highest level of safety when it comes to their child’s car seat. This car seat comes fully assembled so there’s no guesswork when it comes to set up and parents can ensure their child is protected on the road.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Lightweight, integrative design makes it perfect for busy parents on the go
  • This product has some of the highest safety ratings when it comes to safety testing and certification
  • Comes in a variety of stylish color options for a personalized touch

Cons:

  • The high price tag of this car seat may make it inaccessible for many families
  • Designed as a car seat for children under one year of age, the lifespan of this product is quite short
  • Users report no recline options and minimal storage capabilities

Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Car Seat (Best Lightweight Car Seat)

Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Car Seat
Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Car Seat – Evenflo

Price: $224.99
FAA Approved: Yes (carrier only)
Child Weight: 4-35 lb for both rear facing and forward facing
Child Height: 17-32 in for both rear facing and forward facing

If you are looking for the best option for a lightweight car seat, the Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Car Seat may be just what you are looking for. Weighing in at just 8.7 pounds, this car seat is one of the lightest on the market making traveling with kids a breeze.

For nearly 100 years, the Evenflo company has been a leader in the child safety industry. With the addition of the LiteMax DLX car seat, parents can rest assured they are receiving the highest level of safety for their child that comes with the Evenflo name.

This car seat features a lightweight design that is easy to carry and perfect for parents on the go. This versatile car seat offers both forward-facing and rear-facing options and is collapsible and compact, giving parents the freedom to travel anywhere with their child. This seat is designed to comfortably accommodate infants weighing between 4-35 pounds and measuring 17-32 inches and parents can have peace of mind knowing this product meets all the federal guidelines for car seat safety certification.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • In business for more than 100 years, Evenflo has a proven track record of making durable, high-quality products that last
  • The lightweight, compact design makes this car seat easy to transport and travel with
  • This car seat features a no-rethread harness design that makes seat adjustment a breeze

Cons:

  • The relatively high price of this car seat may make it inaccessible for some families
  • Users report that this car seat is bulkier and takes up more space than other traditional car seat designs, making it difficult to use in smaller vehicles

Safety 1st Guide 65 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (Most Compact Car Seat)

Safety 1st Guide 65 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Safety 1st Guide 65 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat – Safety1st

Price: $99.99
FAA Approved: Yes
Child Weight: 5-40 lb for rear facing; 22-65 lb for forward facing
Child Height: 19-40 in for rear facing; 29-49 in for forward facing

Designed specifically for smaller cars, the Safety 1st Guide 65 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is the ideal affordable, space-saving car seat for families. With added comfort and safety features, this car seat provides plenty of support for infants and children alike.

For parents looking for a safe, compact convertible car seat this Safety 1st product is guaranteed to deliver. With one of the most compact designs on the market, the measurements for this car seat are 27.25X 22.75X 19W.

As a convertible option, this car seat provides two modes of use including a rear-facing option for children between 5-40 pounds or a forward-facing option for children 22-65 pounds. This car seat has added comfort features like removable body pillows, a cup holder, and premium washable fabrics. Safety features include side impact protection, compliance with federal safety standards, and an adjustable headrest.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Compact, lightweight design is perfect for smaller vehicles
  • At under $100, this car seat is one of the more affordable options on the market
  • With a maximum weight limit of 65 pounds, this convertible car seat can be used throughout many stages of life
  • Machine washable fabric

Cons:

  • Users report complications with harness and LATCH systems
  • Only available in one color; not customizable

Pria Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat (Most Versatile Car Seat)

Pria Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
Pria Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat – Maxicosi

Price: $349.99
FAA Approved: Yes (in harness mode)
Child Weight: 4-40 lb for rear facing; 22-65 lb for forward facing
Child Height: 19-40 in for rear facing; 29-49 in for forward facing

For families looking for the most versatile option for car seat safety, the Pria Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat has everything you’ll need to ensure your child’s safety while on the road.

With dozens of added features, this car seat offers users a comfortable, personalized experience for everyone.

As one of the most versatile car seats on the market, this all-in-one product is designed to safeguard children from birth up to 10 years, making it one of the longest-lasting investments a parent can make. The car seat features a variety of tried and true comfort options including a unique easy-to-use magnetic harness system, auto-adjusting headrest, and more.

This car seat has been tested to meet the federal guidelines for car seat safety and provides important safety features like side impact protection and a QuickFit shoulder harness that automatically adjusts to the appropriate fit for your child. Their unique PureCosi material does not require the use of fire-retardant chemicals and each car seat is made using premium fabrics that come in a variety of color options.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Longevity; this convertible car seat is designed to hold children weighing from 4 up to 100 pounds that can be used from birth up to 10 years of age
  • Added convenience features like auto-adjusting headrests and magnetic shoulder straps make this car seat user friendly
  • Comes in a variety of color options and patterns for a personalized feel
  • Users have the option of purchasing additional products like seat covers, travel changing pads, and more

Cons:

  • This car seat comes with a higher price tag than some others
  • Users have reported that this car seat is heavy and difficult to travel with

WAYB Pico Portable Car Seat (Best Portable Travel Car Seat)

WAYB Pico Portable Car Seat
WAYB Pico Portable Car Seat – WAYB

Price: $380
FAA Approved: Yes
Child Weight: 22-50 lb (for forward facing only)
Child Height: 30-45 in (for forward facing only)
Child Age: 2+

Being a parent often means being able to juggle multiple tasks all at once and for parents traveling with kids, this car seat is the perfect way to cut down on the stress of traveling. The WAYB Pico Portable Car Seat is a compact, foldable car seat that is the perfect option for parents on the go.

For parents planning on traveling with kids, the WAYB Pico Portable Car Seat is the ideal travel option to provide protection for children even on the go. Weighing in at just 8 pounds, this compact car seat easily folds down to a small storage size of 11.6” L x 14.5” W x 18.9” H.

Parents using this car seat do not have to sacrifice safety for convenience as the WAYB Pico Portable Car Seat meets all of the federal safety requirements for both highway and airway travel. This forward-facing car seat can accommodate children between 22-50 pounds and 30-45 inches in height.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Compact, lightweight design makes it easy to transport and use for travel
  • This car seat meets all the requirements for highway and airline safety when traveling
  • Affordable financing options are available when purchasing directly from the manufacturer

Cons:

  • The high price of this car seat may be prohibitive for some families
  • Due to the design of this car seat, the seat is only able to be used in a forward-facing capacity

Hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car Seat (Best Travel Booster Seat)

Hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car Seat
Hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car Seat – Hiccapop

Price: $36.92
FAA Approved: No, use in car only in tandem with 3-point adult seat belt

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under 4 feet 9 inches tall should utilize a child booster seat through the age of 8 years, even when traveling. For parents taking their kids on vacation, having a portable booster seat like the Hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car Seat can help keep kids safe while ensuring they still have plenty of fun along the way.

If you are heading out on vacation and want to make sure your little one stays safe along the way, this portable, lightweight booster seat is the perfect travel essential for child safety. Designed for use with children between the ages of 4-11 years or 40-110 pounds, this inflatable booster seat provides comfort and protection in seconds.

This booster seat is made of durable, long lasting puncture resistant material with a non-skid base for use with fabric, leather, and vinyl interior. This booster seat is certified safe for use and meets all of the federal safety requirements for child car safety.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • With a price tag less than $40, this booster seat is an affordable option for most families
  • The lightweight and compact design allows users to easily transport their booster seat
  • Made of durable material, this booster seat is puncture resistant
  • Machine washable cover

Cons:

  • Some users reported that their booster seat did not hold air and would deflate when in use
  • While users reported that this booster seat is great for travel, it is not stable or durable enough for everyday use

Honorable Mention

Baby Trend Trooper 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Baby Trend Trooper 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Baby Trend Trooper 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat – BabyTrend

Price: $99.99
FAA Approved: Yes
Child Weight: 4-40 lb for rear facing; 23-65 lb for forward facing
Child Height: less than 50 in for forward facing
Child Age: 1+ for forward facing

This three-in-one convertible car seat is designed to be used throughout multiple stages of your child’s life and can be adjusted for use with premature babies as well as toddlers. This versatile seat can be used in both rear-facing and forward-facing positions and can accommodate children between 4 and 65 pounds.

The BabyTrend Trooper 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat features generous reclining options to offer the safest and most comfortable ride for kids. The lightweight shell and easy-to-manage design make it simple for parents to attach the car seat to a LATCH base and use it easily in any vehicle. This car seat is approved for airline travel and meets all regulations for TSA guidelines.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • At just under $100, this car seat is an affordable option for most families
  • Comes in a variety of color options for a personalized feel
  • Longevity; as a convertible car seat, this product is designed to be used throughout childhood

Cons:

  • Users report that the car seat did not accommodate older children within the weight range for this product

Graco My Ride 65 Convertible Car Seat

Graco My Ride 65 Convertible Car Seat
Graco My Ride 65 Convertible Car Seat – GracoBaby

Price: $119.99
FAA Approved: Yes
Child Weight: 5-40 lb for rear facing; 20-65 lb for forward facing

Designed to be used for kids up to 65 pounds, this standard convertible car seat is the perfect safety option for any family. The Graco My Ride 65 Convertible Car Seat offers protection for kids up to 40 pounds as one of the few car seats in the US offering a rear-facing option for larger children. This car seat grows with your child to keep them protected from infancy and up to 10 years of age.

Safety features on this car seat include a five point safety harness system, side impact protection, and rigorous crash testing performance has helped this car seat receive safety certifications that meet federal requirements. The soft, comfortable lining and breathable material make this car seat comfortable for children of any age.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Longevity; this car seat is designed for children to use from infancy up to 10 years of age
  • Relatively low price tag makes this an affordable option for any family
  • One of few car seats offering a rear-facing option for children up to 40 pounds

Cons:

  • Users have reported that the infant inserts for this car seat often shift while driving
  • This car seat is more bulky and heavier compared to other models

Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Car Seat

Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Car Seat
Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Car Seat – Coscokids

Price: $69.99
FAA Approved: Yes (not in booster mode)
Child Weight: 30-65 lb (forward facing only)
Child Height: 32-49 in (forward facing only)
Child Age: 1+

This 2-in-1 child safety seat is designed for extended use for children over 30 pounds. The car seat can be used for children between 30-65 pounds and 32-49 inches in height as a standard forward-facing car seat and transitioned to a booster seat for older children between 40-100 pound and 43-52 inches in height. The car seat is made of durable, deluxe fabric that is easy to clean while ensuring kids have a comfortable ride along the way.

The Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Car Seat exceeds federal safety standards so parents can have peace of mind knowing their child is safe. Additionally, this product has received a Best Bet rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when being used in booster mode.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • At under $100, this car seat is an affordable option for most families
  • Longevity; this car seat transforms into a booster seat for aging children and can be used for kids weighing up to 100 pounds
  • This car seat exceeds federal safety requirements

Cons:

  • This car seat does not accommodate infants or children under 30 pounds
  • Users have reported their children displaying signs of discomfort when using the shoulder harness

CARES Child Aviation Restraint System (Travel Harness)

CARES Child Aviation Restraint System
CARES Child Aviation Restraint System – amsafe

Price: $72.99
FAA Approved: Yes

Although only available for use on airplanes, this child restraint system makes flying with kids stress free. Designed for us as an alternative to car seats for airline travel and approved for use by the e Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), this portable and easy to use harness is perfect for keeping kids safe and seated during a flight.

The CARES Child Aviation Restraint System is designed for use with kids 22-45 pounds and can easily be used in combination with any airline seatbelt to provide the same level of protection as a car seat would.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Weighing just one pound, this lightweight travel harness is ideal for use when flying
  • At under $100, this restraint system is an affordable option for most families
  • The only FAA approved child safety restraint system on the market
  • Ideal for use with kids who have special needs
  • Simple, easy to use design installs in under one minute

Cons:

  • This travel harness is only approved for children between 22-45 pounds
  • This restraint system is compatible only with airlines seats and cannot be used for car travel

BubbleBum Inflatable Backless Booster Car Seat

BubbleBum inflatable booster seat

Price: $32.99
FAA Approved: No, use in car only in tandem with 3-point adult seat belt

Similar to the Hiccapop version, the BubbleBum Inflatable Backless Booster Car Seat features a portable, lightweight design that’s perfect for parents on the go. This inflatable booster seat is made of durable, washable fabric that features memory foam technology offering kids a comfortable ride each time.

The booster seat is tested and approved for safety by both US and European federal regulations, making it just as safe as regular booster seats. The seat is designed for use with children between the ages of 4 and 11 years weighing from 40-100 pounds.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Portable, lightweight design that easily inflates in seconds
  • At under $40, this travel booster seat is an affordable option for most families
  • Easy to install and can be used with any standard vehicle

Cons:

  • Users report that this booster seat uses low quality material that is easily popped or deflated
  • The inflatable design is uncomfortable for some children

Best Travel Car Seat: the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do you need to bring a car seat base when traveling?

If you plan on bringing a car seat with you when traveling with kids, you may want to bring the car seat base too. Car seat bases provide extra security that keeps the car seat from sliding around or dislodging in case of an accident.

It is possible to use a car seat without a base while traveling by installing the seat using the car’s seat belt. However, it is much safer for your child if you use the car seat base.

What do you do with a car seat base when flying?

Most car seat bases are not allowed to be used when flying. The car seat will just be directly strapped onto the airplane seat. There are several thing you can do with you car seat base while flying:

  • Stow the car seat base in the overhead bin on the plane
  • Gate check the car seat base
  • Check the car seat base with the rest of your luggage

How do you bring a car seat on a plane?

In order to bring a car seat on a plane, it must be FAA approved. To know if a car seat is FAA approved, check the sticker located on the back or side of the car seat.

If you want your child to use a car seat on the plane, you must purchase a separate ticket for them. Once you get to your gate, you can also ask the flight crew if there are any open seats. If there are no extra seats and your child does not have its own ticket, you may gate check the car seat.

How do you carry a car seat in the airport?

It can be difficult to carry a car seat and luggage around the airport. There are several great ways you can make carrying a car seat in the airport easier.

  • Strap the car seat to your luggage with a car seat luggage strap
  • Put the car seat inside of your child’s stroller
  • Use a car seat backpack or travel carrying case
  • Bring a collapsible wagon to pull the car seat in
  • Rent a luggage carrying trolley at the airport

Can you check car seats for free?

Yes, most airlines will allow you to check a car seat for free. For example, you can check at Delta car seat policy. You can either check the car seat with your luggage or gate-check it. Strollers and booster seats can also be checked for free.

Verify with your specific airline ahead of time to make sure they will check your car seat for free.

Do car seats count as checked baggage?

No, car seats do not count towards your checked baggage allowance. Car seats can be checked for free and do not lower the checked baggage allowance included in your ticket.

Are car seats required on airplanes?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly recommends that car seats are used on planes. However, children are not required to use car seats on planes. This decision is up to the parents but it is safer for children to be in their car seats while flying. This protects them from any turbulence that may occur.

Children under the age of 2 are permitted to fly while sitting in the lap of an adult.

Will car seats get damaged on a plane?

You can never know for sure if your car seat will get damaged on a plane. Especially if you check the car seat as luggage, you can never control how it will be handled. Airlines are usually not liable if a car seat comes out damaged on baggage claim.

If you are worried about damage, avoid checking your car seat with luggage. Or gate-check the car seat to minimize the amount of time the airline handles it. You can use the car seat on the plane or maybe store it in the overhead bin.

Do I need a car seat cover on an airplane?

It is not required that you bring a car seat cover on an airplane. However, it may be nice to bring one if you choose. A car seat cover may help block your child from the light and noise of the plane.

How do you put a car seat in an airplane seat?

Putting a car seat on an airplane seat can be a little different as you are not always permitted to use a car seat base. Here is how to put a car seat on an airplane seat:

  • Find the correct belt-path on your front-facing and rear-facing car seat
  • Loosen the airplane seat belt
  • Thread the adjustable side of the airplane seat belt through the belt-path
  • Buckle the seat belt on the other side
  • Tighten the seat belt strap as needed.

If you need help, ask the flight crew for assistance.

How do you pack a car seat for a flight?

If you are checking your car seat with checked luggage, it is important to pack it securely. Here are a few things you should do.

  • Put the car seat inside a protective car seat carrying bag
  • Wrap the car seat bag with plastic film or packing tape for extra protection
  • Put an identifying luggage tag on the bag

If you are bringing the car seat onto the plane with you, you do not need to pack it in a special way. However, putting the car seat in a car seat carrying bag may make carrying the seat around the airport easier.

Conclusion

We know that vacation is supposed to be a time when parents (and kids) let loose and have some fun, but just because your vacation is carefree does not mean your child’s safety should be! Ensuring that you have chosen the best travel car seat for your child can help keep them safe and ensure many more years of family vacations and fun in the sun.

Also contributed: Emma Barfus

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