A Complete Guide to Buying and Using Travel Car Seats

travel car seats

Everything you ever wanted to know about travel car seats but were afraid to ask*

*(Because the answer is, “Yes, you should bring it.”)

You probably spent a lot of time researching the best car seat for your baby. So I bet you can’t even fathom doing that all over again for a travel car seat. Below, we break down the best FAA-approved car seats that are lightweight and affordable, the best car seat travel bag and accessories, a complete guide to using car seats on planes (and what to do if you run into problems), and some legal and safe car seat alternatives.

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Ready to shop? Visit Have Baby Will Travel’s Amazon Store for our list of the Best Lightweight Car Seats for Travel

The Best FAA-Approved Car Seats for Travel

travel car seat, faa-approved car seats

We can all agree that the safest place for a baby on a plane is in their own seat, in their own FAA-approved car seat. We can also all agree that lugging a bulky, heavy seat through an airport is about the last thing anyone wants to do.

Whether you’re purchasing a seat with the knowledge that you’ll be doing a fair amount of traveling, or you’re deciding to make the investment in a second seat specifically for travel, here are your best choices based on weight, “lug-a-bility,” and affordability.


The Best Car Seat Travel Bag & Accessories

The Best Car Seat Travel Bag

There are many car seat travel bags on the market.

But, if you’re going to invest in one, the padding in this car seat travel bag protects the seat from more than just dirt or wear and tear, because we all know that airport baggage handlers aren’t always known for their gentle touch when loading and off-loading our luggage.


Using Car Seats on Planes

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We know it’s not mandatory. We know it’s expensive. But we also know that the FAA recommends using car seats on planes. So, we bite the bullet and purchase baby their own seat on the airplane. We lug their car seat (or go through the expense of purchasing an additional one specifically for travel).

What happens if we run into trouble once we’re on board? Here’s how to install and use car seats on planes, and what to do if you have issues with flight attendants or gate agents.


Flying with Car Seats and Booster Seats

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We always travel with car seats. Always. And for our road trip across Alberta, I was pretty happy to road test the Clek Oobr booster seat, as Bub had just outgrown his trusty Scenera.

So I felt pretty good about our trip and the Oobr was great to travel with in spite of its size and weight, so then I wrote about it and the nice folks at Clek posted my review on their Facebook page.

And then I learned that I was doing it wrong. Quite wrong.


Using a Car Seat Without the Base

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Clearly it’s preferred to use your infant car seat with the base. But, if you’re traveling with baby, it’s much safer to still use your seat without the base than to not use a car seat at all. Do ensure that your seat CAN actually be installed without a base.

The Primo Viaggio model we used when my daughter was an infant was an older model and did not have the slots. We couldn’t have used it for travel if we wanted to. But these days, pretty much every infant carrier car seat can be installed without the base.


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Maybe the last thing you want to do is lug your giant car seat on the plane. Especially if you don’t think you’ll be doing much driving. Maybe your busy toddler absolutely refuses to ride in a stroller but you know they’ll need a lift from time to time.

If you’d like to avoid buying a second car seat for travel or a specific travel stroller but these are two items you know you might need, here are some LEGAL and SAFE car seat alternatives and stroller alternatives for travel with toddlers and small children.


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2 Responses to A Complete Guide to Buying and Using Travel Car Seats

  1. Thank you for sharing this information!
    Parents should always check the quality of the car seats if they are planning to rent one. this is very important for the safety of their child!

  2. Hey, this is awesome. We will be having family road trips and I need to buy a car seat! Thank you for this informative post!

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