It is no secret that we love traveling with our toddler. From city breaks, beach breaks, national parks and a round the world trip we have loved every experience we have had with her. One of the things that I am always asked about when I mention that we travel with our toddler is always “what is the best toddler car seat to travel with?”. There are a lot options on the market when it comes to car seats for travel and let me tell you we have tried a few and I have found they all have their pros and cons. In this guide I will weigh up both the good and bad points of various car seats on the market to help answer the question what is the best toddler car seat for travel.
Updated September 2019
The Best Toddler Car Seats for Travel
Everything you Need to Know About Traveling with your Toddler Car Seat
Things you need to know about traveling with toddler car seats
We always recommend traveling with your own car seat rather than hiring one when you get there. I know it can seem a hassle traveling with a toddler car seat with you especially those bulky ones but there are plenty of great toddler travel car seats on the market. In my opinion it is always better to travel with your own car seats rather than hiring one at your destination as you do not know the care history of a rented car seat.
How to Travel with Car Seats?
Well you have two options when traveling with car seats either to gate check them or use them as your toddler seat on the plane.
If you decide to gate check your car seat then you will need to pack it in a car seat bag for protection. We recommend this car seat protection bag!
The benefit of packing your seat and putting it into the hold is you aren’t going to be lugging your car seat through the airport however the risk is that your car seat could get damaged when it is in the hold. So the other option is to use the car seat on the plane.
How to travel with toddler car seat on a plane
Using your travel toddler car seat on a plane has many advantages. Firstly, in the event of extreme turbulence, having your toddler strapped into a car seat is of course going to be the safest place. And now you are travelling with a toddler rather than flying with a baby you will be buying your toddler (over 2 years) a seat on the plane whatever. Once your child hits two years old they have to have their own seat anyway. So why not take the seat on the plane with you.
If you are do decide to use your car seat on the plane you will need to make sure it is FAA approved. In our listing below we will highlight whether the car seat is FAA approved.
Toddler car seat travel accessory you need
If you are going to take the car seat onboard with you, we recommend getting some wheels to make it easier to move through the airport. These are the ones we recommend as they are universal which means if you decide to change car seats you do not have to buy a new wheel system to attach to it.
The only downside to traveling on the plane with the car seat with you is that, on a crowded plane you have no where to store your car seat and your toddler will be forced to sit in it for the whole journey.
If you want to check your car seat but are still worried about a restraint while flying with your toddler you might want to consider purchasing the CARES Harness.
The CARES harness works on children 22 – 44lbs so perfect for toddlers. This is the first and only harness style child restraint that has been approved by the FAA. I personally haven’t used it but it is definitely something I would consider for future flights. It can be used on children aged over one, but from the reviews I’ve read online, works better when the children are slightly bigger. The whole system weighs less than 1lb and can be carried in a 6 inch sack. The harness can be fitted to any seat (barring emergency row) on any airline configuration. The small size means you don’t have to travel with your car seat on the plane but can check it and pick it up at the other end.
The Best Toddler Car Seat for Travel – What is the best toddler car seat to travel with?
When you come to look for the best car seat for toddler travel it can be confusing. There are so many options on the market so in this round-up we pick out some of the biggest sellers on the market, including their best pros and cons to help you decide which is the best car seat for toddler travel for you. But in general I would say that there are a few key features that the best toddler car seat to travel with must have. These are things you should look at for the best toddler travel car seat:
- Slimline but not too slimline
- FAA Approved
- Convertible Rear to Front Facing
- Legal in the Country of Travel
Our review of the follow car seats for toddler travel will take all of the above categories into consideration.
Disclaimer: please check all information on listings before buying in case of change to regulations or manufacture etc.
Is the Combi Coccoro Car Seat, slimline car seats for toddlers the best travel toddler car seat?
Pros of the Combi Cocoro Car Seat as a toddler travel car seat
- Lightweight, less than 13lbs
- Convertible Rear to Front Facing (rear facing from 3 – 33lbs and forward facing 20 – 40lbs.)
- One things I love about this is that it is one of the most slimline car seats for toddlers on the market. Measuring in at 15.5 inches means it fits into smaller cars and airline seats which for me makes it on of the best contenders for the best travel toddler car seat on the market.
- FAA Certified
- Machine Washable – having a car sick toddler you can’t win the title of best car seat to travel with for toddler if it isn’t machine washable.
Cons of Combi Cocoro Car Seat as the best car seat to travel with for toddler
- Slightly more expensive than some other seats on the market
- It’s slimline feature might mean it is not as comfortable for larger children.
Is the Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat the best toddler car seat for travel?
Pros of the Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat as travel car seats for toddlers
- Convertible Rear to Front Facing
- Large weight range means your child will not grow out of too quickly so it will be a great travel car seats for toddlers over a longer period of time.
- This is one of the most affordable car seat for traveling toddlers
- Built in side impact protection
- Slimline, can fit three in the back of a car.
- FAA Approved. Meeting or exceeding federal, ASTM, and JPMA safety standards and includes a one-year limited warranty.
Consof the Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Sear
- Some parents dislike the fiddly harness system
Is the Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible the best travel car seat for toddler?
- The face that this is Super lightweight- only 9lbs has to make it a contender for the best travel car seat for toddlers.
- Can used between 5-40lbs
- Convertible rear and front facing
- Its’ width 18.5 is wider than other travel car seats so may struggle on some slimline airplane seats.
Another great option in the Evenflo Range is the SONUS – you can read all the details and check prices online HERE!
or the Evenflo STATOS – you can read all the details, reviews and check prices online HERE!
- This is a very easy to use car seat for traveling toddlers
- 7 recline positions for car seat installation.
- Side impact protection
- One of the heavy travel seats on the market at 28lbs.
We have used this one on our travels so can speak about this from experience in details
- Super lightweight – only 3KG!
- Collapsible which means it is easy when using in taxis or on days out
- Comes with its own bag
- Meets all European regulations
- Very easy install
- Not FAA approved
- Sits very low in the car so can be frustrating for toddlers on long journeys as they can’t see out of the window
- Not approved for use in the US
- Only suitable from 9kgs
FAQs about best toddler car seats for travel
What is the best lightweight travel car seat?
Of the seats we have tried the most lightweight car seat we found was the Urban Kanga. However is this the best lightweight travel car seat? It depends as it is not suitable for use in the USA.
The other contender for this the title of best lightweight toddler car seat for travel has to be the Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible.
What is the best slimline car seats for toddlers to travel with?
Do toddlers need car seats on planes?
It is not required however in severe turbulence car seats provided added safety.
Can you bring a carseat on a plane?
Yes try can bring a carseat on a plane to use if it is FAA approved.
What is the best toddler car seat for airplane use?
Is it better to gate check a car seat?
It is possible to gate check a car seat with some airlines. Car seats can get damaged in holds so it can be useful to gate check a car seat if your airline allows this. BE sure to check at check in whether this is allowed.
Do airlines charge for car seats?
Most airlines will allow you to travel with your car seat for no extra charge. However some airlines charge for car seats as they may only allow one extra piece of luggage so if you are travelling with a stroller this might count. Be sure to double check with your airline before flying in case they charge infants and toddlers for extra luggage.e
What do you consider to be he best toddler car seat for travel? What are your tips for how to travel with a toddler car seat?