best travel car seat

The Top 10 Best Travel Car Seats For Babies Who Pack Light

The Top 10 Best Travel Car Seats For Babies Who Pack Light

This might sound ridiculous, but maybe you can relate.

I booked a flight to Austin when Poppy was 10 weeks old. It was Poppy’s first flight (though not her first trip), and Ryan and I were talking plane logistics.

I told him that I didn’t want to book her a seat, because I didn’t want to bring her anchor of car seat.

“We can just bring her in the Ergo and then we don’t have to overpack.”
(because you'll need a portable crib, lightweight stroller, and your backpack diaper bag).

So we set out to make a packing list, going through all the things we’d need to bring on our first flight with a baby. We thought we had it all figured out.

And then a couple of days went by and Ryan asked me how we’d get from the airport to the AirBNB, and I responded “we can just rent a car”.

I forgot that we needed transportation when we landed. And that meant we needed a travel car seat too.

If there's one thing I've learned from traveling with a baby, it's that her needs don't change just because she's away from home. Mine do.

Car seats are no exception: they may still need one (whether on the road or in the air), but we need it to be more travel friendly. Enter: the best travel car seat.

Do You Really Need a Travel Car Seat?

The quick answer:

Maybe.

Helpful, right? Yeah, I know, not so much. So let’s clear it up. If you answered “no” to either of these questions, you may not need a travel car seat (or any car seat, for that matter):

Do you plan on renting a car, driving in a car, or transporting your baby in a vehicle at all on the trip?
Do you mind having your baby on your lap during your entire flight?

Now, assuming you answered “yes” to one of those questions, the question remains… do you need a travel car seat, or will your at-home carseat suffice?

Take a moment to picture your baby's car seat… Got it?

Now, what's the first word that comes to mind? Heavy? Big? Bulky? For me, it’s “pain in the ass to carry around town”.

Whatever it is, I'll bet it isn't “travel-friendly”. Since most car seats weigh a whopping 25+ pounds, it's not surprising! That's why a travel car seat that's either smaller, lighter or more portable is non-negotiable.

Of course, you could hire one if you don't mind putting your baby in a crusty and possibly damaged car seat… I personally feel a lot more comfortable using my own.

What Makes A Good Travel Car Seat?

Here's what you should be looking for when shopping for a travel car seat:

Lightweight
Whether you'll be traveling by car or by plane, you’ll be moving that car seat around a lot more than usual and choosing a lightweight option will make your job easier. They (whoever “they” is) should really make all car seats lightweight.

Compact
You can't really expect a car seat to be small, but it still shouldn't take up too much space. This is especially important if you're flying – bulky car seats won’t fit in airplane seats. Note: Airline seat dimensions vary, so always check to make sure your seat fits.

Safe and Comfortable
Does it come with a 5-point harness? Seating look comfortable? But then again, if you are only using it briefly, maybe cushy seating isn’t a high priority.

Stylish
Ok, maybe not super important for some people—the people who’ve already handed over their licence to be fashionable. But for those who haven’t, this category has at least some weight, right!?

Price
Is it going to cost you an arm and a leg and then only get used once a year? Well, we’ve ranked these things based on bang for your buck. And I bet that’s what’s important, because ain’t nobody just shopping based on the absolute lowest price (and if you are, then skip this guide and get straight to amazon)

Oh, and also make sure your car seat is flight approved and it says so, either on the sticker or in the manual. If you don't have proof of this, your flight attendant may not allow you to use it. Womp womp. (All the car seats in this list are flight approved, so you have one less thing to worry about!)

Okay, so which should you get for your trip? Here are the best travel car seats of 2017:

The 10 Best Travel Car Seats


Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat

Lightweight: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Compact: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Style: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Price: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Average:4.2 Stars (4.2 / 5)

Popular, super lightweight, safe, and highly affordable—can't ask for much more from a travel car seat. Keep in mind that this isn't a luxury everyday car seat, it's a functional travel car seat that gets the job done (at a great price!).

Pros

  • Highly affordable.
  • Super lightweight (only 9.1 pounds).
  • Compact but still comfy.

Cons

  • No strap pads.
  • Some users report instability when used in rear-facing position.
Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat

Lightweight: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Compact: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Style: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Price: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Average:4 Stars (4 / 5)

A good quality, highly versatile (if you already have a Graco stroller) and affordable travel option that could be used everyday = great bang for buck!

This car seat also looks great and is a little more plush for your babe's tush. It's ranked #2 because it's a little heavier, bulkier, and more expensive. But if you'll spend a lot of time in the car, your baby will appreciate the extra cushioning.

Pros

  • Very safe and comfortable.
  • Affordable.
  • Looks awesome.
  • Compatible with Graco Click Connect Strollers..

Cons

  • Getting heavier 15.2 pounds.
  • Not very compact.
  • Some users report difficulty installing it securely.
Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat

Lightweight: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Compact: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Style: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Price: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Average:3.8 Stars (3.8 / 5)

This no frills option is great for traveling… but not much more (and that's OK because that's all we're asking of it). Affordable, extremely lightweight and compact, this is a fabulous option if you already have an everyday car seat and you're just looking for something for your next trip.

It's also tied for the lightest of all car seats reviewed at only 7 pounds!

Pros

  • Super lightweight (7.7 pounds!).
  • Very affordable.
  • Minimalistic.
  • Uber compact.

Cons

  • Not the most comfortable option.
  • Bigger babies (2+) might be a tight squeeze.
Cosco Apt 50

Lightweight: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Compact: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Style: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Price: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Average:3.6 Stars (3.6 / 5)

This is a well loved option for its affordability and it's comfortable enough for baby, too. Definitely a winner when it comes to travel with only short car rides.

Pros

  • Lightweight (11 pounds).
  • Super affordable.
  • Easy to install.
  • Compact.

Cons

  • No head support.
  • Slightly larger than most travel car seats.
Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat

Lightweight: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Compact: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 2.5 Stars ( 2.5 / 5)
Style: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Price: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Average:3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

A great option for traveling or as a spare. This car seat is small, light and convenient – just don't expect any extras (unless you count cupholder—you get two!)

Pros

  • Lightweight (13 pounds).
  • Affordable.
  • Easy installation.

Cons

  • Minimalistic design doesn't make it the most comfortable.
  • Some users report rear facing installation to be tricky.
Graco SnugRide 30 LX Click Connect Car Seat

Lightweight: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Compact: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Style: 1 Stars ( 1 / 5)
Price: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Average:3.4 Stars (3.4 / 5)

Versatile, portable, and decently priced, this travel car seat is especially useful when paired with compatible strollers (most Graco strollers). The only real drawback is that it's pretty bulky and has “mommy style” written all over it.

Pros

  • Compatible with all Graco Click Connect Strollers.
  • Lightweight (7 pounds without base, 11 pounds with)
  • Easy to use.
  • Comfortable.

Cons

  • Bulkier than other models.
  • Poor styling.
  • Can only be used for infants (up to 30 pounds).
Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat

Lightweight: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Compact: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Style: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Price: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Average:3.2 Stars (3.2 / 5)

Great price, good quality, lightweight and decent size (fits 3 across in most cars) make this car seat well suited for everyday use…But it scored lower because it's heavier and bulkier (but has more cushioning). But nonetheless, it's a nice looking car seat, just not our ideal one for traveling.

Pros

  • Comfortable for baby.
  • Easy to install.
  • Looks good.

Cons

  • Tricky rear-facing installation.
  • Headrest could do with more padding.
  • Bulky and kinda heavy at 15 pounds.
Britax Roundabout G4.1 Convertible Car Seat

Lightweight: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Compact: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Style: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Price: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Average:3 Stars (3 / 5)

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Pros

  • Quality product.
  • Tangle free 5 point harness.
  • Comfortable.

Cons

  • A bit heavy for travel (17.6 lbs).
  • Getting up there in price.
  • Some users report difficulty strapping their babies in.
Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat

Lightweight: 1 Stars ( 1 / 5)
Compact: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Style: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Price: 1 Stars ( 1 / 5)
Average:2.8 Stars (2.8 / 5)

Tipping the scales at 26 pounds, the added security of a steel frame adds some serious weight to this car seat. This is a quality seat, though, and on the plus side, it folds, making it easy to carry and store. This travel car seat might be an option for longer car rides.

Pros

  • Steel frame and energy absorbing features for added safety.
  • Folds for easy storage.
  • Narrow frame great for smaller cars and airplane seats.

Cons

  • The same steel frame that makes it safe, makes it HEAVY, too!
  • Expensive (but worthwhile if you plan on using it for everyday use, as well).
Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller

Lightweight: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Compact: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Safe and Comfortable: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Style: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Price: 1 Stars ( 1 / 5)
Average:2.6 Stars (2.6 / 5)

Super innovative, amazing quality and unbeatable convenience, but at a steep price. If you're going to splurge anyway and your baby is under the age of 1, this foldable stroller/car seat is THE ONE!

Pros

  • Ultimate travel convenience – stroller folds to car seat in one easy move.
  • High quality materials.
  • Lightweight at 14.3 pounds.
  • Compact for everything it does.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Only suitable up to 12 months (or similar weight).

By now you've probably noticed that most travel car seats aren't exactly small. If you're traveling solo or wondering how you'll manage juggling your baby, your baggage and a car seat, check out the BRICA Roll ‘n Go Car Seat Transporter. This neat little gadget allows you to attach your car seat and wheel it around with baby strapped in, just like a piece of luggage – absolute genius!

Yup, it's true – if you want it bad enough, there's always a way. All you need to do is find it…

What are you still doing here?!

 

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