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10 Best Travel Car Seats Reviewed [Mommy Approved]

Whether you’re taking a family trip somewhere or planning to travel, chances are you’ve dealt with lugging around a heavy car seat.

There are literally hundreds of car seats on the market for both toddlers and infants. Some are lighter than others and some have different characteristics than others, but which one do you choose?

The best travel car seat for an infant is the Graco SnugRide 35 Lite because it can be installed without the base and feels stable in most cars. Additionally, it weighs a mere 7.2 pounds and it’s super budget-friendly. Another great option is the Evenflo Sonus 65 due to its comfortability, higher weight and height limit, and the ability to fit in most cars. 

What exactly makes the car seat worthy of travel? 

The FAA website states that Child Restraint Systems (CRS) are hard-backed child safety seats that are approved by the government. CRS’s are for use in both vehicles and on airplanes, but not all of them are approved for both.

Parents must check to make sure that the seat they choose is approved for travel. There are many car seats out there that can make traveling with your children a little less daunting. 

Which Car Seats Are Safe, Lightweight, and Approved for Air Travel?

Below we provided a detailed review of the best travel car seats approved by the FAA currently on the market. They have shown to exceed in the areas of safety ratings, durability, ease of use, and value.

Comparing The Top Travel Car Seats

Product Name
Best Feature
Weight
Chicco Next Fit#1 Rated Car Seat 25 lbs
Britax Marathon Convertible Car SeatExtra Safety Features28 lbs
Combi Compact Coccoro Convertible Car SeatExtra cushioned and comfortable12 lbs
Graco Snugride 35 Infant Car SeatLightweight and comes in a travel system7.5 lbs
Safety 1st Guide 65Durable and long-lasting (up to 65 pounds)14 LBS
Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car SeatLong lasting, can be used for infants and toddlers from 5-20 lbs13 lbs
CARES Safety Restraint SystemMost lightweight travel system1 lb
Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car SeatUltra comfortable11 lbs
Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car SeatExtremely Lightweight9 lbs
Cosco Scenera NextBudget Friendly10 lbs

1. Chicco NextFit iX Zip Air Convertible – Great for Long Trips

Rated the #1 car seat overall, this is a great investment if you are going to use it as the everyday and travel car seat. It is heavier than all of the other travel car seats on the list, but FAA approved and the most durable and long lasting. 

The Chicco Next Fit iX has the best design and functionality. It is extremely comfortable and air flow system will help keep baby’s temperature at a moderate level. 

Pros

  • Design and functionality
  • Comfortable
  • Keeps baby’s temperature moderate
  • Easy to install
  • Durable
  • Fits into a travel stroller
  • FAA approved

Cons

  • On the heavier side
  • Bulky
  • Expensive
Chicco NextFit iX Zip Air Convertible Car Seat, Surf
  • Recline Sure 9-position leveling system for an accurate fit in a wider range of vehicles
  • Premium connectors and a Super Cinch tightened help achieve a secure installation with LATCH
  • 3D Air Mesh technical performance fabric with airflow channels for improved ventilation on backrest

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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2.Britax Marathon Convertible – The Most Durable

Both on the expensive side and the heavier side, this might look like a bad option. However, the Britax Marathon car seat has over the top safety ratings. It is well built, making it one of the most durable travel car seats on the market!

The Britax Marathon is one of the safest travel car seats out there. The click-tight installation system and Safe Cell Impact Protection system give parents peace of mind. Little ones will be safe and sound wherever they are in the world.

Pros

  • Extra safety features
  • Comfortable
  • Long lasting 5-65 pounds
  • Durable
  • Narrow
  • FAA approved

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat | 1 Layer Impact...
741 Reviews
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat | 1 Layer Impact...
  • Easy installation: Patented click tight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat...
  • No rethreading, ever: 14 position harness, 2 position buckle for a comfortable fit as your child...
  • Relax and recline: 7 recline positions ensure comfort and the best vehicle installation angle

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3.Combi Compact Coccoro Convertible Car Seat – The Smallest

The Combi Compact was designed to fit into very small cars, which should make installation on an airplane a breeze. At only 15.5 inches across, even the smallest airplanes will be able to accommodate this seat.

Besides being compact, the Combi Coccoro is ultra-comfortable. This car seat will make travel a breeze, keeping your little one snug for the entire trip!

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Ultra-narrow
  • Long lasting (5-40 pounds)
  • Can snap into a travel stroller
  • FAA approved

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Tricky installation
  • Can be too small for bigger children
Combi Coccoro Streamlined Lightweight Convertible Car Seat| 3...
  • TRU-SAFE: Combi utilizes Tru-Safe Side Impact Protection in its Convertible Car Seat. This offers...
  • COMPACT, LIGHTWEIGHT AND THREE ACROSS: The Coccoro Convertible Car Seat was designed with small...
  • COMFORTABLE AND EASE OF USE: The Coccoro Convertible Car Seat has a buckle with an indicator that...

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4.Graco Snug Ride 35 Infant Car Seat – The Lightest

The Snug Ride is a great choice for an infant travel car seat. It is lightweight and comes with a travel system or can easily latch on a travel cart. For an infant seat, the Graco Snug Ride is perfect for travel. It easily latches into a travel stroller or system and is lightweight and narrow enough to fit in airplane seats.

Pros

  • Ultra lightweight
  • Easy to transport
  • High safety standards
  • Comfortable
  • Easily latches onto travel system or travel stroller
  • FAA approved

Cons

  • Limited to infants up to 35 pounds
  • Expensive
Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat | Baby Car Seat, Gotham
  • Ultra-lightweight infant car seat is easy to transport from the car to the stroller and everywhere...
  • Rear-facing newborn car seat helps protect infants from 4 - 35 pounds; and up to 32", making it an...
  • Click Connect system provides a one-step secure attachment between the rear facing car seat to all...

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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5.The Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat – Best All Around

Evenflo has been around for nearly 100 years providing reliable and durable products for children. They design a complete line of car seats, including FAA approved Child Restraint Systems (CRS). The Evenflo Sonus is a rather new model, yet highly safe and convenient for your travel needs.

The Evenflo Sonus is a great travel car seat on a friendly budget. It is very affordable and safe car seat on the market! It is FAA approved and is suitable for infants to toddlers from 5-20 pounds. Thus, it allows the most use for the dollar spent. Its durability and comfortability will ease the duress of traveling.

Pros

  • Lightweight (10 lbs)
  • FAA approved
  • Easy installation
  • Well padded and comfortable
  • Narrow

Cons

  • Not suggested for forward facing under two
  • Single strap harness
Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat, Charcoal Sky
2,068 Reviews
Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat, Charcoal Sky
  • Versatile: The Sonus Convertible Car Seat helps protect rear facing infants from 5-40 pounds, and...
  • Tested & Trusted: In addition to meeting or exceeding all applicable federal safety standards. This...
  • All-Season Comfort: The sonus features a revolutionary air flow ventilation system that provides a...

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6.CARES Safety Restraint System – Most Convenient

The CARES Safety Restraint System is not a car seat, but rather a one-pound, 5 point harness restraint system. Although it is not a seat, it is an FAA approved travel restraint system. It simply keeps kids safe during travel with ease. CARES fits in a diaper bag, backpack or carry-on luggage.

The CARES Safety Restraint system is super light and compact. It does not require any added effort to take along on a trip.

Pros

  • Lightweight (1 lb)
  • FAA approved
  • Compact
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • The child must weigh between 22 and 44 pounds
  • Wraps around seat
  • The child can slide out through lap belt
Sale
Child Airplane Travel Harness - Cares Safety Restraint System -...
  • Safety harness designed specifically for aviation travel
  • Compact fits into 6 inches stuff sack weighs just 1 pound
  • Easy to install takes less than 1 minute

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

8.Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat – Most Comfortable

This car seat has been said to have extra cushioning, making it very comfortable for travel. However, it may be too big for some airplanes. The Cosco Apt 50 is easy to travel with. It is lightweight, so maneuvering through the airport is a breeze!

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • FAA approved

Cons

  • Wider than average
  • Tough to install
  • Uncomfortable
Sale
Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat (Black Arrows)
  • With 2 modes of use, this latch equipped Cosco car seat accommodates infants from 5 pounds up to...
  • The 5 point harness adjusts easily from the front of the seat and features 6 heights and 3 buckle...
  • In both the rear facing and forward facing modes, built in side impact protection keeps your little...

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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9.Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat – Ultra Safe and Ultra Light

This car seat is not only inexpensive and lightweight, but it also has extremely high safety ratings. Infants to toddlers will travel comfortably in the Evenflo Tribute LX. The Evenflo Tribute is an ideal travel car seat. It is one of the lightest on the market, weighing only 9 pounds.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Cleans easily
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Comfortable
  • High safety ratings
  • FAA approved

Cons

  • Low durability
  • Straps may tangle
Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat, 2-in-1, Saturn Gray
5,088 Reviews
Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat, 2-in-1, Saturn Gray
  • Side Impact Tested, Meets or Exceeds All Applicable Federal Safety Standards and Evenflo's Side...
  • Designed and Tested for Structural Integrity at Energy Levels Approximately 2x the Federal Crash...
  • Multiple Shoulder Harness Positions for Better Fit and Longer Use. Age at Least Two Years of Age

Last update on 2021-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10.Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat – Most Affordable

The Cosco Scenera Next car seat is extremely affordable and lightweight, the perfect combination in a travel car seat! Installation is easy and is sure to fit in airline seating. It is FAA approved so using it on a plane will not be a problem.  It is less expensive than any other travel car seat on the market by at least $10!

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • FAA approved
  • For infants and toddlers 5-20 pounds
  • Narrow
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Only goes up to 13 inches
  • 40-pound limit
  • Awkward to carry

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Amazon’s Top 3 Best Selling Travel Car Seats

SaleBestseller No. 1
Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat (Black Arrows)
  • With 2 modes of use, this latch equipped Cosco car seat accommodates infants from 5 pounds up to...
  • The 5 point harness adjusts easily from the front of the seat and features 6 heights and 3 buckle...
  • In both the rear facing and forward facing modes, built in side impact protection keeps your little...
SaleBestseller No. 2
mifold Original grab-and-go Car Booster Seat, Slate Gray –...
  • COMPACT AND NARROW BOOSTER SEAT - the world’s most compact and narrow, backless booster. This car...
  • PORTABLE BOOSTER SEAT IDEAL FOR TRAVEL – mifold foldable booster fits into a child’s backpack,...
  • KEEPS CHILD SECURE – mifold ensures optimal seatbelt fit. Instead of lifting the child up, the...
Bestseller No. 3
WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat and Travel Bag Bundle - Forward-Facing...
  • ANYWHERE YOU GO: Pico travel car seat is ideal for kids ages 2+ and within the range of 22-50 lbs....
  • DESIGNED FOR SAFETY: Pico meets all U.S. safety standards regulated by the National Highway Traffic...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN: Weighing just 8 pounds, the Pico travel car seat makes it easy to travel light....

Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Buyers Guide

The most important factors to look for when buying a travel car seat is safety, ease of use, durability, and pricing. Getting your child safely secured must be quick and easy.The seat may be moved to multiple aircraft and/or cars throughout trips or may be checked with other luggage. Because of these factors, durability is essential.

The investment should withstand many adventures. This purchase is going to be an additional item that might be used infrequently, so the price should be considered.

Safety

A car seat’s safety rating should be one of the most important factors while shopping.  All car seats are required to pass a 30 mph crash test in order to be released to the market (source). Furthermore, most car seat manufacturers have added safety features to increase a seat’s safety level.

Therefore, before you travel with your child, make sure that the child seat has the best safety features for traveling.

Ease of Use

A travel car seat will be installed and removed frequently. Many transfers can take place during trips. The safety seat should not be something that is a struggle to install.

Traveling with a child requires many items. The travel car seat should be lightweight and not overbearing to get around the airport with. The width of the seat should also be narrow. This will avoid any trouble getting it to install correctly.

Safe installation is imperative, and if it is difficult, mistakes can occur. A simple and easy installation process is one that will ensure the child’s safety when traveling.

Durability

Travel car seats go through a lot of wear and tear. The in and out and up and down and occasional bag check may cause some bumps to the seat. If the child is using a convertible seat, it could last throughout their toddler years. Durability will ensure that the travel seat will tag along as long as the child needs it.

Pricing

A travel car seat most likely will not be the primary car seat used. Since car seats are generally expensive, it may break the bank to buy another one just for travel. The price of a travel car seat should be practical and affordable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Buy a Travel Car Seat?

Traveling with an infant or toddler isn’t easy. Your regular car seat may not be FAA approved. Maybe it’s too bulky and wide to fit on the plane. It is best to check that your car seat is suitable for travel. A car seat should not cause additional stress while traveling.

Do I Have to Buy a Car Seat for 2-year-old?

The Federal Aviation Administration recommends for all the children to sit in FAA approved car seats for the duration of the flight.

Can a Car Seat Be Installed on a Plane in a Rear-Facing Position?

Yes, especially in the case of the infant seats. Those seats are not approved to be installed in a forward-facing position. Make sure your child is within the weight/height limits of the seat to be installed in a rear-facing position.

Traveling With Your Child Just Got Easier

Purchasing a travel car seat can assure that you can get from point A to point B safe and happy. If your child is going to be comfortable and safe, it is well worth the added purchase. Having peace of mind throughout the adventure is priceless.

Consequently, in the end, the most crucial factor, hands down, should be safety features! Check to make sure the seat meets both the FAA and other government guidelines. Furthermore, check for a tag that states that the restraint system is certified for use in aircraft.

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren

1 Comment

  1. Hi, Jolene!
    Both Britax Millenia and Graphene are very comparable convertible car seats that feature optimal protection around your child’s head and easier installation every time. Millenia is better because it offers more cushion and better torso and head protection and was voted the best in 2019. We update our posts frequently and will make sure to include the detailed reviews for all of the newest britax car seats.
    Best! Keren Simanova

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