Best travel car seat options by age

Best travel car seat options by age

Hi! are you planning your family’s upcoming vacation and recently suffered that moment of dread when you realized that you have no love for the idea of slogging a 25 (or 30!) pound car seat all of creation, find below the Best travel car seat options by age.

Then you are in the right place. This article will get you the necessary answers you have been searching for. I promise your mind will be at ease after you have read this article

The good news is that you have options for flying with a car seat. There are plenty of hacks for moving your big car seat around if that’s what you want to do. But if you want to take your travels to the next level, consider upgrading to a lightweight car seat for travel or even a swanky folding car seat. For new parents, there are some great lightweight infant car seats to consider as well. Check out our top picks for the best car seat to travel with at each stage, and keep reading to find out what to look for when you’re shopping for the best car seat for traveling.

On this page you’ll find our pick for the best car seat for travel at each age, but if that one doesn’t meet your needs you can click the link right below for reviews of even more options. What is the best car seat for traveling? Read on below and click through for age-based car seat reviews.

Table of Contents


Best travel infant car seat

Top pick: Clek liingo

clek liingo carbon

Key stats:
-Weight 9 lbs
-Rear-facing size limits: 4-35lbs, up to 32”

 Can be installed baseless using LATCH
Very compact in all directions
Compatible with lots of strollers via Maxi-Cosi adapters

Expensive for an infant car seat
Base is sold separately

Budget pick: Century Carry On 35 LX

Century Carry On 35 LX

Key stats:
-Weight 6.5 lbs (10.5lbs including base)
-Rear-facing size limits: 4-35lbs, up to 32”

 Lightest infant car seat + base
Fits newborns well
Fits most kids to 15-18 months
Great for compact cars

Basic features
Limited stroller compatibility

Best travel car seat for a 1 year old

Top pick: Cosco Scenera Next DLX

Cosco Scenera Next DLX

Key stats:
-Weight 7lbs
-Shell height 24”
-Max harness height 13.5”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs, 19-40”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-40lbs, 29-43″

Lightest convertible car seat
Low price

Low size limits
Hard to install in some cars
Limited padding for patterned covers
No extra protection in headwings
Requires top tether for forward-facing

Travel car seat for a 2 year old

Top pick: Evenflo Sonus 65

Evenflo Sonus 65

Key stats:
-Weight 11lbs
-Shell height 25”
-Max harness height 18”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs, 19-40”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-65lbs, 28-50”

 Generous size limits
More comfort features than other travel car seats
Nice enough to use as an everyday car seat
Somewhat narrow convertible car seat

Requires top tether, which may not be available in all countries
Heavier than Cosco Scenera Next and Cosco Apt 50
More expensive than Cosco car seats
Can be a tight squeeze front-to-back when rear-facing on some airlines with limited seat pitch
6 year expiration

Travel car seat for a 3 year old

Top pick: Graco Tranzitions SnugLock

Graco Tranzitions SnugLock - Best travel car seat options by age

Key stats:
-Weight 12.5lbs
-Max harness height 18”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-65lbs, 27-49″
-Highback booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″, age 4+
-Backless booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″, age 4+

 Fits from age 3 (as a harness) to ~age 12 (as a backless booster)
Reasonable price for longevity
Extremely narrow

Original can be tough to install in some cars
Heavier than other options
Back and base may separate when carrying
7 year expiration

Travel car seat for a 4 year old/

travel car seat for a 5 year old

Top travel pick: Ride Safer Travel Vest

Ride Safer Travel Vest

Ride Safer Travel Vest - Best travel car seat options by age

Key stats:
-Weight 2lbs
-Size small: minimum age 3, fits best for 30+ lbs and 35-47″
-Size large: minimum age 4, fits best for 50+ lbs and 45-57″

 Rolls up to the size of a 2L soda bottle
Perfect for taxi rides
Lowers seat belt to provide an appropriate fit for young children
Keeps kids properly seated better than a traditional booster seat – even when sleeping
Easy to fit 3-across since it’s only as wide as the child
10 year expiration

No side impact protection like a highback booster seat
Takes practice to get belt fit right
NOT permitted for use on planes
Fits most kids better when they’re close to 3.5-4

Travel car seat for a 6 year old/

high back booster seat for travel

Top pick: Hifold

Hifold - Best travel car seat options by age

Key stats:
-Weight 10lbs
-Highback booster size limit 4yo, 40-100lbs, 40-59″
-Belt guide 14-20″

 Tons of size adjustments for great fit
Folds down small
Legal to use everywhere except Australia (in progress)
Extremely narrow
7 year expiration

Expensive if you will only use for a few years
No cup holders included
Bigger than some of the other travel-specific car seats

Best travel car seat options by age

What to look for in a portable car seat for travel

So what makes these car seats the most travel-worthy? We look at a few key criteria to determine the best car seat for airplane travel.

Right stage for the age

The first, most basic requirement is that a car seat should be age-appropriate. I’m never going to recommend a booster car seat for a 2 year old just because it’s easier to travel with.

At a minimum, we’d suggest following the NHTSA guidelines. Kids should be in a rear-facing infant or convertible car seat until at least age 3, but ideally closer to 4 years old if possible. Beyond that, they should ride in a Ride Safer Travel Vest or a forward-facing harnessed car seat (aka the best combination car seat or even the new Wayb Pico) until they’re big enough and mature enough to sit properly in a booster seat for travel.

Lightweight car seat

The best travel car seat options (and car seat alternatives) range from 2 to 12 pounds. The high end may sound like a lot, but it’s still a lot more manageable than the 25lb convertible car seat most families use at home!

By the same token, on an extended trip or when where you might need lot of impromptu taxi rides you might be best served by a folding travel car seat – not just lightweight, but compact too.

Easy to use

You may think that ease of use isn’t that important for carseats that won’t see a ton of use, but we disagree. We’ve used plenty of different car seats both at home and on the go, and the ones that are hard to install or use are a disaster.

Remember, you’ll (probably) be in an unfamiliar place and installing that car seat in an unfamiliar car or taxi. It could even be after a 12 hour flight crossing more time zones than you or your cranky children can count. And you’ll have kids (those same cranky ones), spouses and taxi drivers waiting on you while you figure it out. Sounds lovely, eh?

Lasts for a few years

The final feature I look for in a travel car seat is a bit on the subjective side. Ideally, I don’t want my house to look like a car seat graveyard (this was a big problem when we lived in an apartment with two kids). So when shopping for a travel car seat, I’m hoping for one that we can use for a few years.

However, in our case, I can be a little flexible. Our kids are almost three years apart so when the older kid outgrows a car seat, usually it’s the right time for his sister to start using it. Even seats that generally don’t last one kid very long have given us five or six years of service.

If storage space isn’t a concern for you, then some of the inexpensive compact travel car seats that just last two or three years could work well. After all, some of those seats cost less than a family dinner out! Even if you just use them a handful of time, you’ve saved yourself money over renting them on vacation.

Which car seats are approved for air travel?

Almost every car seat made for the US market today is an FAA-approved approved car seat provided you use the harness. That means that booster seats are not FAA-approved and that “harnessed boosters” (also called “combination car seats”) can only be used with the harness installed.

Prefer a quick visual summary? Check out my web story on the best travel car seats for every age.

Travel car seat FAQs

What is the best travel car seat?

The best travel car seat depends on your child’s age and size. That’s what this whole article is about! Here are some of our top picks (scroll up for more detail):
–Doona infant car seat stroller
–Cosco Scenera Next DLX
–Graco Tranzitions SnugLock
–Ride Safer travel vest for car + CARES harness for flight
–Graco Turbo GO

Do I need a travel car seat?

Almost any car seat can be used for travel, but a lightweight one will be easier to lug around.

Can you take a car seat on a flight?

Yes! The FAA encourages parents to bring a car seat or the CARES harness for children under 40 pounds. To be guaranteed the ability to use your car seat, you need to buy a ticket for your child; however, many airlines will let you use an empty seat if one is available.

What car seats can be used on airplanes?

Almost every car seat with a harness can be used on a plane. The exceptions are the Cybex Sirona S and Pipa Nuna Lite.

How do you bring a carseat to the airport?

There are many options. You can carry a lightweight car seat by hand or try one of these hacks for heavier car seats, including strollers, carts, backpacks and more.

was our best travel car seat options by age helpful to you, or do you have a question; leave a comment in the comment section and shere what you think.

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