Best Car Seats for Travel

See also:  Infant Car Seats     Safety Boosters     Car Seat Alternatives

 

                  Car Seat Travel Accessories

 

Here are Shelly's latest picks for travel-friendly convertible and toddler car seats. All of the seats included here can be used both rear-facing and forward-facing, and all are FAA-approved for air travel.

 

Travel-friendly Cosco Scenera convertible car seatCosco Scenera Convertible Car Seat

 

Why Shelly recommends it:

 

Best "extra car seat" for travel, Grandma's car, or back up. With an entry price of around $50, a weight of only 10 lbs, an airplane-friendly seat width of 17.5", and extra features like a 2-position recline and removable cup holder, it's hard to go wrong traveling with a car seat like the Scenera. Not to mention, the 4 harness height slots and 3 buckle locations give a better fit for your growing child than most other convertible car seats that are rated up to 40 lbs. While some parents complain their children outgrow the strap settings for height long before reaching the 43" height max the manufacturer boasts, I've found that the shoulder strap settings go higher on the Scenera than they do on most other convertible car seats, aside from those by Britax. At least the price point of the Scenera makes it easier to swallow the transition to a larger car seat and/or booster when the time comes (or see below for heavier convertible seats for travel that will go up to 80 lbs). I also like that the Scenera has a rear-facing weight limit of 35 lbs--which comes in handy when you want to prevent your child from kicking the seat in front of him. I only wish they made a deluxe version with at least EPS foam and perhaps memory foam like the cushier models (if this interests you, see the Titan Elite below). Be aware that what you see is what you get--beneath the seat cover is nothing but hard plastic. Rear-facing from 5 to 35 lbs, forward-facing 22 to 40 lbs. 17.5" W without cup holder x 17"D x 26 1/2"H. 10 lbs.

 

Find it online at:  Amazon.com

 

Graco ComfortSport Convertible Car Seat

 

Why Shelly recommends it:

 

The ComfortSport weighs in at a mere 11.5 lbs, and at 17" W it fits into airplane seats with ease. But the ComfortSport is more than a friendly flier; the deulxe models like the Metropolitan include a GracoPedic memory foam upgrade, with support pillows, and removable snack and cup tray to make a cushy ride for small kids even on lengthy road trips (rivaling pricier Britax seats). I also like that the greater seat depth even acts as as a leg rest for babies, and also provides more comfort for longer-legged older passengers. However, the deeper seat means that it may take up more space reclined in the rear-facing position than models with a shallower seat, so you might reconsider if you have a very small car (forward-facing this shouldn't be such an issue). What I don't like about the ComfortSport is the minimal harness height adjustment slots-- a little ironic since they bothered to offer two positions for the lower buckle. With taller-than-average children, you will likely top-out early on height just because of the low shoulder straps. Other inclusions: EPS energy-absorbing foam liner, easy to use LATCH attachments, and 2-position crotch strap for the most secure fit. Rear-facing from birth/5 lbs. to 30 lbs, forward-facing 20 to 40 lbs. 17"W without cup holder x 21.5" x 27"H. Weighs 12 lbs. Read my detailed review of the ComfortSport.

 

Find it online at: Amazon.com

 

Sit n Stroll Car Seat + Stroller in one

 

Why Shelly recommends it:

 

Check your stroller with your suitcases and roll this car seat to your gate instead. On your cruise, enjoy the space-savings of this stroller, car seat, and dining booster in one, and the convenience of it when taking taxis in port. With its flat bottom, it can also serve as a dining booster when needed (and the cover is washable). When you're ready to roll, pop out the retractable wheels and lift the foam-grip handle. Just ask for a seatbelt extension from the flight attendant as you board, then buckle the belt right around the car seat, instead of fishing it through a path in the back or bottom like other convertible car seats. This "ease of belting" also makes it a breeze getting in and out of taxis and shuttle vans. What's more, the sun canopy can be very helpful in the car as well as on the sidewalk. Note: While it offers obvious advantages as a stroller, you may prefer to use a travel stroller for extended sightseeing, especially where there may be lots of curbs to negotiate (you are advised to back it up and down curbs, though we've gotten away with it ourselves). On the other hand, you may also find this helpful at home when running errands with your child--just keep her buckled and snoozing in her seat as you go. Stroller handle adjusts from 33" to 37".  LATCH-equipped, and FAA-certified for use in aircraft. Sometimes sold with canopy included, sometimes as an extra. An organization bag is also available. Rear-facing from 5 to 30 lbs, forward-facing up to 40 lbs. Weighs 16.5 lbs. While the handle measures close to 18" W across the top, the footprint is 16" W to fit in virtually all airplane seats (with seatbelt extension). For more details and to see pictures of the Sit N Stroll in action, read the Travels with Baby feature review of  the Sit N Stroll.

 

Find it online at:  Amazon.com      Baby Earth

 

Britax Roundabout G4 Convertible Car Seat

 

Why Shelly recommends it:

 

The Britax Roundabout is streamlined for travel, with no bulky armrests to compete with those on the airplane, yet with the safety features that make this the seat you want every day and on every road trip. Features side impact protection, versa tether, and premium lower LATCH connectors, plus a tangle-free five-point harness.  It's also very easy to install in the forward-facing mode (from 1 year and older) and remove using seatbelts, and includes its own seatbelt lock-offs for extra stability without the need for additional locking clips. It is also LATCH-equipped. It measures 26.9"H x 18."W x 24.4"D. Rear facing from 5 to 40 lbs, forward-facing up to 55 lbs. Weighs 17.6 lbs.

 

Find it online at:  Amazon.com     Baby Earth

 

 

Britax Marathon Convertible G4.1 Car Seat

 

Why Shelly recommends it:

 

COMFORT. While you may curse a blue streak carrying it through the airport (see Car Seat Carriers & Travel Bags for help), and it is not always the best fit for coach seats, the Marathon is hard to beat for comfort in the car, and if you have many lengthy road trips in your future, the higher price of this car seat may be worth it. In addition to extra padding, plush fabrics, and an adjustable recline for both rear-facing and forward-facing installations (great for snoozing): it offers the widest width for any harnessed child up to 65 lbs., and may be used longer than may forward-facing car seats--up to 65 lbs. (see following car seats, too). It's also very easy to install and remove using traditional lap and shoulder seatbelts, and includes its own seatbelt lock-offs for extra stability without the need for additional locking clips. It is also LATCH-equipped. It measures 18.5"W x 26"H x 21"L. Rear-facing from 5 to 40 lbs, forward-facing up to 65 lbs. Weighs 19.5 lbs.

 

Find it online at: Amazon.com     Baby Earth

 

Diono Radian RXT 80 Folding Car Seat

 

Why Shelly recommends it:

 

Safety, size, and portability. The Diono RadianRXT 80 is narrow enough to fit three across the back seat of most cars--an impossibility with other car seats that meet this higher weight limit (compare with the bulky Britax Regent), and at only 17" wide you can also use it in airplanes with confidence. When you check in for your cruise, you can simply fold it and store it away in your closet. Its safety features also exceed U.S. standards with a full, steel alloy frame for strength and four panels of EPS foam for impact (including side impact). And it also features a tether for use when rear-facing for enhanced safety and stability. Again, it is not the lightest-weight car seat for travel, but you may feel the safety, size, and convenient storage features "outweigh" this one drawback. FAA-approved for use in aircraft. Measures 28.5" x 17”W x 16"D open, folds to 28.5" x 17" x 10". A car seat carrying case with shoulder strap is also available. Rear-facing from 5 to 33 lbs, forward-facing to 80 lbs., then converts to a belt-positioning booster for kids up to 120 lbs. Weighs 25 lbs. See more photos and read up on my experiences in this review of the Radian RXT.

 

Find it online at:   Amazon.com