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When you’re planning a trip, one of the most important things to think about is how you visit all those beautiful sites! And if you have small kids, you will need to ensure they stay safe no matter how you travel.
You will need a car seat for rental cars, taxis, and tour buses to obey the local laws as well as keep them safe and comfy enough so they enjoy those sites as much as you do. But what’s the best travel car seat to use? There are lots of different options available, so it can be tough to decide which one is right.
In this article, we review some top traits to look for in a travel car seat and make your shopping easy by giving you our list of the 11 best travel car seats on the market today. Whichever you choose, your child will thank you. Well, at least they won’t cry, and that is a thumbs up in our book!
Why Buy a Travel Car Seat?
Car seats are mandatory for transporting young children, but when you travel on vacation with young kids, it’s also a smart idea to bring a travel car seat along. Here’s why:
- They provide extra support during the drive so your child will be more comfortable and you can focus more on driving.
- Kids have an easier time falling asleep in their own car seat.
- Your children are much less likely to misbehave in the backseat if they’re safely buckled in.
- They make it easier to move your child between your vehicle and public transportation like buses or taxis.
- A car seat for traveling is a great idea for kids of all ages. Some people assume only infants and toddlers need them, but there are several reasons why older kids may also benefit from them. When kids are beyond the toddler stage, you don’t have to worry about them not wanting to get in your vehicle or be dragged around on errands.
- You will still need to use a portable car seat when traveling by taxi or other public transportation, and older kids don’t like to make others wait for them when it’s time to head home.
- Many car seats on the market now can be used up until your child reaches 40 pounds and/or 40 inches tall, so they’ll grow with your children.
What to Look For When Buying a Travel Car Seat
Even in a normal world, traveling means lugging around bags and suitcases, but as a parent, you carry a heavier load. Not only do you need to ensure your children are comfortable and safe before, during, and after a trip, but you will need to take the car seats with you. They won’t transport themselves – at least not yet.
It is already challenging enough to lug suitcases in and out of airports. How do you handle carrying along a car seat too?
When looking for the best travel car seat, look for models that are:
Look for a car seat that’s lightweight. You don’t want to lug around one of the bigger, bulkier products on the market today; it will slow you down and make your life harder. Product pages should include information about how much the product weighs, so compare different brands and models to find one that fits within your weight options.
Easy to install
Traveling is hard enough without having to struggle to figure out complicated installation and uninstallation processes. Look for car seats that are easy to install and remove from the car. You don’t want to waste time figuring out complicated installation and uninstallation processes when you’re in a hurry to catch your flight; the simpler, the better.
Durable, even in the face of an accident.
The product should have an enduring strength to do what they are supposed to do: protect your children. Choose a travel car seat that’s durable enough to stand up to the wear and tear of traveling, including bumps in the road, dropped baggage on top of it, puddles on rainy days, etc. A sturdy best travel car seat will last you through several different trips (and children).
Designed with comfort in mind for your child.
You don’t want to bring an uncomfortable seat along with you on your trip, so look for features like padded armrests and headrests as well as cup holders.
Car seats are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, allowing you to purchase one that’s suitable for your child’s age, size, and level of development.
Don’t forget the extras
Once you find a car seat for traveling that works, don’t stop there. You may want to purchase a travel chest or apparatus for your child’s car seat so it doesn’t have to lay on the trunk floor during road trips. If you’re traveling alone, it’s also helpful to get a travel harness that will keep your child from fidgeting around in the car seat.
How to Choose the Best Travel Car Seat
If you’re busy planning an upcoming trip, it’s easy to forget about car seats and just rush out and buy one when you get there. However, taking the time to research the various travel car seats on the market today and learn what features they offer will actually save you money in the long run. Now that you know what to look for, let’s also take a look at the different types of travel car seats.
Types of Travel Car Seats for Your Child
There are three different types of travel car seats that are popular with parents. These include infant car seats, convertible car seats, and booster seats.
Infant Car Seat
An infant car seat is typically used in the rear-facing position until your child weighs around 20 lbs. Some models can be used up to 30 or 35 lbs., though this depends on the brand and model of the car seat.
Convertible Car Seat
A convertible car seat is used rear-facing for infants, but it can also be turned around to face forward when your child becomes a toddler. This type of seat typically has higher weight limits than an infant model, allowing you to continue using it as your child grows.
A booster seat is typically used when your child weighs more than 40 lbs. This type of car seat has a high back which helps to keep the lap belt in the correct position over your child’s hips and shoulders. It also prevents him from slumping down while seated, increasing his level of comfort during the drive.
11 Best Travel Car Seats – Our Expert Recommendations
It is a required part of travel to have a car seat with your child when driving your own car or a rental car and you don’t want to sacrifice comfort and durability for convenience. With all of these features of the best travel car seats in mind, check out our list below of the top 11 options available in 2022:
Looking for the best travel car seat for your child? The Graco SnugRide 35 is made specifically for babies and features TrueShield Side Impact Technology. It ensures thorough safety and comfort for your baby. The seat is cushioned and padded to ensure no impact or bumpy driving causes discomfort for your baby.
It can be installed into any vehicle or used as a carry seat whenever you’re out and about. It has a 5-point, front-adjust harness that makes it optimal for you to adjust according to your preference and your baby’s comfort.
This lightweight car seat (9.75 pounds) is ideal when you’re considering taking it out of your vehicle as well.
The Tribute Convertible car seat is made in the USA from 100% polyester, ensuring that your baby doesn’t get irritated by the car seat material. It has multiple shoulder harness positions that enable you to adjust it as your child grows. It is ideal for toddlers who are two years and above.
Weighing just 9.29 pounds, this car seat is ideal when you don’t want anything bulky in your vehicle. It has been tested for structural integrity at 2X the Federal Crash Test Standard, so ensures complete security for your child. There is also a removable head pillow to provide comfort for older children. This seat is one of best affordable options.
When you’re looking for a convenient car seat that can function as your everyday travel or occasional ride, there’s no better option than the Mifold Hifold Booster Seat. It is well-known for being one of the most adjustable booster seats currently available in the market (with 243 individual settings) and ensures complete comfort for your child.
This portable car seat has a compact design ensuring that you can store it conveniently even during air travel. It is safe for global use, so you really can set it up in any vehicle. It is specifically designed for kids aged four and above and will grow with your child (with adjustable seat, body, head width, and length).
Like any other booster seat, this one utilizes the adult seat belt to restrain your child and ensure their safety.
Whether you’re looking for a car seat or a stroller, there’s no need to settle for one, as the Doona Infant Car Seat offers 2-in-1 functionality. Available in six colors, it has a 5-point harness that keeps your infant completely safe once they are secured.
It is made from breathable fabrics that can be removed and washed to ensure cleanliness. It features anti-rebound protection that absorbs the impact in case of a collision.
You will also find a Doona Latch base and Infant Insert included in your purchase of this product. Whether you’re traveling on a ferry or going on a long ride, this infant car seat is optimal to use whenever you’re going outdoors with your baby. At $550 this is on the higher end but it’s worth every penny.
When looking for a convertible booster car seat, the Britax Highpoint makes a perfect choice. The ventilated mesh fabric enables your child to stay cool while they’re strapped onto the seat. With plush foam padding, you don’t need to worry about even an older child not feeling comfortable in the seat.
The car seat weighs 12 pounds, which, while heavier than many others, ensures complete shock absorption. There are four color options for this booster seat, so you could either go along with what your child likes or choose according to where it will be used. The 10-position quick-adjust headrest is ideal for ensuring your child’s comfort throughout.
Versatile and secure car seats can be hard to find, and the Evenflo Sonus Convertible car seat provides both. It seats rear-facing infants and forward-facing toddlers. The seat is designed using an airflow ventilation system that provides comfort no matter the season outside.
When you’re searching for a seat that you can take along with you during the holidays, you’ll be pleased to know that the Evenflo seat is compliant with FAA inversion requirements that enable it to be carried on airplanes.
Easily removable pads also make it easier to wash and clean. The two cup holders and plush head pillow ensure your child is hydrated and comfortable for a long time in this seat.
The latest smart technology is here, even for your car seat. The Cybex Sirona M enables you to connect the seat to your vehicle’s system. It will provide alerts when unsafe conditions arise with the seat.
The seat has also been awarded 2018 Best of Baby Tech Baby Safety, which shows how widely trusted its become. The Linear Side-Impact Protection absorbs up to 25% more impact and ensures your child remains safe in case of a collision. It is designed to support your infants as they grow into toddlers. It is available in four colors, and you can match it to your vehicle’s interior when buying it. Made in Germany, this seat has many special features and technology tested on European standards.
With DuoGuard Protection, the Chicco MyFit harness is ideal when your primary concern is safety. Depending on your requirements, it is easily installed and can be converted from a harness to a booster seat. Its multi-use features enable it to be used as your child is growing.
The four-position recline enables your child to be comfortably seated at all times. It also comes with an ergonomic booster seat with padding to ensure ease.
With a weight of 25 pounds, it’s not a lightweight car seat but the durability makes it one of the best travel car seats. You can choose between two color variants and decide if you want to get zip and wash fabric or 3D air mesh.
An innovative car seat that ensures comfort for your child, the Evenflo Gold Revolve360 has many features. The Sure360 Safety System and Tether360 keeps your child safe at all times.
With the reclining feature, you can easily use this car seat for up to ten years while ensuring your child’s comfort. Rotating the car seat ensures that it’s easy for you to get your child in and out of the car. It also has a five-point harness to ensure better security for your child.
When you’re in search of the best convertible car seat, it might be worthwhile checking these options out. All of them have been highly rated and reviewed on many commerce websites, which can put your mind to ease when you want your child to be safe always.
The Pico offers a 5-point safety harness and comes with a handy travel bag that doubles as a backpack – perfect for zipping in and out of airports. If you prefer, you can opt to use the carrying handle instead or even slip it onto the handle of rolling luggage. But even if you needed to carry it, it only weighs 8 lbs. It is made with an aerospace-grade aluminum frame, making it not only durable but also the lightest car seat on our list.
When compact, the size of the seat is only 11.6″ L x 14.5″ W x 18.9″ H, making it easier to transport with you everywhere you go. You can even store it in an overhead bin on the plane!
The travel bag is made of recycled polyester. Your child may not appreciate that, but if you care about the environment, you can pat yourself on the back.
The Pico meets both NHTSA and FAA safety standards, and an FAA sticker underneath the chair proves it. This travel seat is designed for children 2 and up weighing 22 to 50 pounds and 30 to 45 inches tall.
The Diono Monterey is another expandable design with an easy-to-use, one-hand adjustable design. You can take it from a folded position to a fully open car seat in just seconds. Plus, you are given the choice of 12 headrest positions and the seat is further expandable.
And when it’s folded up for transport, the lightweight design, carrying straps, storage compartment, and compact size compared to standard car seats makes it easier to take with you while you travel. It is also easy to install with adjustable latch connectors.
This one is a strong one, too. It features 8 layers of protection against side impacts and has undergone some serious crash testing in order to create an ultra-strong design.
The weight limit for this travel car seat is 120 pounds (minimum 40 lbs.) and is for kids that are between 38″ to 63″ tall.
When you’re looking for the best travel car seat that allows you to take your child with you wherever you go, it’s important to ensure that they are protected and comfortable. Luckily, there are many safe models available in the market.
In fact, 11 of them have been reviewed above so that finding a good model is simpler for you. We hope that the information shared here helps you to discover a great product that satisfies your needs.