Trust me when I say that, as a first-time mom, I am not the type to buy things for fun, but I am willing to spend a little more on a safe car seat if it makes my journey easier.

My husband and I continued to travel after my daughter was born, and with the services of Uber, flights, and rental cars, it became clear that we needed this product due to its portability, ease of use, and fewer space requirements.

With that in mind, I have compiled a list of the top travel car seats below based on my personal experience with them and gathered insights from fellow parents.

Quick Takeaways

  • If you’re planning a cross-country road trip or an airplane trip, the Safety 1st Guide 65 is a long-lasting and comfy car seat for children up to 65 pounds. Because it can be easily transformed into a stroller.
  • The Doona Infant eliminates the need to bring or check a separate stroller, and it is suitable for babies weighing 4 to 35 pounds.
  • The Evenflo Tribute LX 2-in-1 is easy to transport through airport security, fits snugly in airplane seats, and provides a comfortable fit for your toddler, making it an excellent choice for any trip.

The Best Car Seats To Travel With Toddlers

When hunting for a car seat for your toddler, it can be challenging to find one that meets all of their needs without sacrificing comfort or other features, but fortunately, the products I have listed below have all of the features you could want.

1. Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX

I often receive the same question from parents who are preparing for a trip: what should they do about a car seat? I completely understand their concerns.

Now that your little one has graduated from an infant seat to a convertible one, you may have noticed that these convertible seats are heavy and not exactly designed for easy transportation.

The Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX is an excellent choice, highly regarded by many. This portable product weighs approximately 11 pounds, making it easy to carry around.

Although it doesn’t have the option to attach to a stroller, you can conveniently sling it over your shoulder or secure it to a rolling suitcase with a bungee cord while navigating through the airport.

Additionally, it is incredibly budget-friendly, simple to set up, and has become an essential item for all of my travels.

What I LikedWhat I Didn’t Like
The seat pad is machine washableTravel bags sold separately
Compact TSA-friendly designDifficult to adjust straps
Easy to install
Very durable

2. Viaggio Flex 120 Car Seat For Children

This belt-positioning booster car seat folds down to a tiny fraction of its original size, making it ideal for toddlers (those weighing 40 pounds or more) who are between the ages of 4 and 5.

Viaggio Flex 120 really impressed me during testing because of how simple it was to set up and operate, making it very unlikely that a parent could make a mistake. With a no-rethread harness and six different recline positions, it’s really customizable, which is another great feature.

Not only that, but its removable and washable seat pads make cleanup a breeze. On the rear of the seat, there is an integrated belt lock that makes installing the seat belt as easy as pie, just in case you’re taking it with you into a ride-share and can’t use the LATCH installation system.

I really appreciate the durability of this product, as it can handle even the toughest toddlers without any issues. I have had mine for more than five years now, and there’s very little wear and tear, so it still looks almost as good as it was the day I bought it.

What I LikedWhat I Didn’t Like
Folds down to a standard sizeExpensive
It features a belt-positioning booster
Highly adjustable headrest
Very durable

3. Safety 1st Guide 65 convertible car seat

I haven’t personally used this item, but I have heard positive feedback from some of my friends who are parents, which is why I have included it on my list. If you’re a parent who frequently flies with young children, Safety 1st Guide 65 is incredibly helpful.

A notable feature of this convertible item is its ability to accommodate babies as small as 5 pounds when rear-facing. Unlike many other travel car seats that are designed for kids up to 40 pounds, this one ensures safety for children weighing up to 65 pounds.

With dimensions of 20 inches wide, 23.5 inches high, and 18 inches deep, it conveniently fits on airplane seats and can accommodate three across in most vehicles.

In addition, it includes a convenient removable cup holder, adding to its compact design. Based on feedback from my friends, I discovered that Safety 1st Guide 65 offers superior cushioning and comfort compared to many other travel car seats on the market.

Although it is very solid, lightweight, comfortable, and easy to use for travel, a friend of mine had trouble getting it to fit tightly in her car. However, other people have reported getting a very secure fit, so I suppose it’s safe to assume that some cars are more suited to it than others.

What I LikedWhat I Didn’t Like
Five-point harnessNot easy to install
Adjustable headrest
Supports a variety of sizes and ages
Sleek design
Machine-washable cover

4. Doona Infant car seat and stroller

In case you were wondering, the Doona Infant is quite expensive and I know this might be an issue for a parent trying to find a cheap but comfortable seat, but trust me when I say it will be money well spent if it makes traveling with your baby a million times easier.

It’s comfortable and easy to use, but the best thing about this piece of art for me is that it comes with wheels, so with the click of a button, you can turn it into a stroller right away. It can also fit on most car seats and is FAA-approved for use in airplane cabins.

The folded dimensions of the Doona Infant are 23.6 by 17.3 by 26 inches, and its unfolded dimensions are 39 by 17.3 by 32.3 inches. Though it’s heavier than the average infant car seat at 16.5 pounds, you’ll be pushing the stroller most of the time instead of carrying it, so it’s really not a problem.

What I LikedWhat I Didn’t Like
Easy to useVery expensive
Saves room when traveling

5. Evenflo Tribute LX Lightweight car seat

You might value the Evenflo Tribute LX’s rotational feature if you often find yourself bending over backward to fit your toddler into the vehicle.

From infants as little as 4 pounds all the way up to toddlers (and big kids) as heavy as 120 pounds, this item’s height and weight range are comparable to that of many of the top car seats that I have recommended here.

Not only that, it supports rear-facing position up to 50 pounds, but the feature that really wins me over is the one-time installation; the rotating design allows you to easily switch from rear-to forward-facing orientation with the flip of a switch.

Additionally, I found Evenflo Tribute LX to be highly durable and comfortable for my toddler. However, its weight can be attributed to the material it is made of, and the rotating style may take up more space in the car.

What I LikedWhat I Didn’t Like
Made of durable materialHeavy
Very affordableIt takes more space
Feature an upfront harness adjust

6. WAYB Pico Car seat with carrying bag

Make your next adventure with your toddler a breeze with the Wayb Pico. It has a compact design that easily folds up, making it convenient to fit in most airplane overhead bins. It is also FAA-approved, ensuring it meets all necessary safety standards.

This masterpiece, weighing only 8 pounds, can be easily installed using LATCH connectors or the car or airplane seat belt. Furthermore, it also includes a convenient carrying bag that can fit right into your suitcase.

It stands out from others on my list as it offers a forward-facing option specifically designed for children weighing 22 to 50 pounds and measuring 30 to 45 inches tall, suitable for children aged 2 years and above, but it is not suitable for newborns. Still, it can become a great travel companion for your little ones as they grow.

Wayb Pico comes in a variety of colors and offers additional accessories such as a carry bag, vehicle seat protector, and a convenient cup holder. If you have multiple toddlers, you can easily accommodate a few of these in the backseat of most vehicles, with three fitting in a row.

What I LikedWhat I Didn’t Like
Very portableExpensive
Includes a travel bagNot comfortable for long car rides
LightweightCan’t be used until the child is 22 pounds
FAA approved
It fits in most airplane overhead bins

7. Britax Emblem 3-Stage

You should only trust your child’s safety equipment to be sturdy and long-lasting, and the Britax Emblem 3-Stage is no exception. With its sturdy construction from high-strength steel and its SafeCell technology that absorbs impact, you can rest assured that your little one is well-protected.

In addition, the fabric material used is durable and can easily be cleaned in the washing machine and dryer to freshen it up quickly after any spills or accidents.

With the Britax Emblem 3-Stage, you can effortlessly modify the harness and headrest to suit your child’s evolving needs as they grow, from 5 to 65 pounds.

Please be aware that this car seat weighs just under 20 pounds, which may be considered heavy for some. However, it is still manageable enough to bring with you in a ride-share or carry it on for aircraft use.

Simply make use of its installation features, such as LATCH connectors and level indicators, to guarantee proper setup, and you’re all set.

What I LikedWhat I Didn’t Like
High-strength steel frameHeavy
Machine-washableIt doesn’t fold
Easy installation
Removable Cover

8. Chicco KeyFit 35

This is an excellent choice for road trips or as your main car seat that you sometimes take on the go. When you’re ready to go for a walk and explore, detach the seat and easily attach it to any Chicco stroller base for a convenient travel combination.

The base is equipped with an anti-rebound bar to enhance stability while also providing ample legroom for a rider up to 32 inches tall. Additionally, the headrest offers five different positions to accommodate the growth of an infant.

Chicco KeyFit 35 is equipped with various features to ensure proper installation, such as LATCH connectors, a SuperCinch tightener, and RideRight bubble level indicators for angle adjustment.

There is also a Chicco car seat travel bag, which is sold separately, but it offers five height positions and six recline positions to ensure your baby’s comfort during any mode of travel.

What I LikedWhat I Didn’t Like
Simple, accurate, and secure installationTravel bags sold separately
Easy-extend headrest systemNot super light
Compatible with strollers
It features a UPF 50+-rated, full-coverage canopy
Eco-friendly material

What to Look for When Buying Travel Car Seats for Toddlers?

Best Travel Car Seats for Toddlers

If you want your toddler to travel safely and comfortably in their car seat, there are a few things to keep in mind when making your selection:

Weight Limits

Just like regular seats, travel seats have weight limits that must be followed. Furthermore, your child’s weight and height will determine whether the car seat is installed front-facing or rear-facing. 

Ease of Installation

Seek out a seat that provides installation instructions, diagrams, and labeling that are easy to understand and follow. The more seamless the installation process, the more desirable it becomes.

Vehicle Compatibility

Make sure the seat is properly fitted in your car and that there is enough space both front-to-back and side-to-side when it is installed. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that your vehicle is equipped with seat belt compatibility and the LATCH/Isofix system anchors.

FAA Approval

When flying with your baby, it’s important to ensure that the product you choose meets the safety standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration. In addition, it is advisable to refer to crash test ratings provided by independent organizations such as the NHTSA.

More Travel Gear:

Best Packing Cubes for TravelBest Double Strollers for Travel

Final Thoughts

If you’re a parent, you know how important it is to be able to relax and enjoy the journey with your child or children. With the right toddler travel car seat, every trip can be an opportunity to make lasting memories.

If you need more clarification about your specific needs in a travel car seat, consider how frequently you plan to use it.

The Chicco KeyFit 35 is the top choice from this list. Not only is this super light (at only 18 pounds), but it also has a UPF 50+ canopy and has been FAA-approved and the high-quality material used to produce it makes it exceptionally durable, which is perhaps my favorite feature.