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Traveling with your car seat: the best car seats for trips far from home

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You may be on a vacation, but there’s no taking a vacation from safety concerns: if your kid is coming along and you’re going to be in cars, you’re going to need to bring a car seat. And while it’s not absolutely required, it’s a very good idea to have your kid ride on the plane in their car seat, too.

The problem is, virtually all convertible car seats (with very few exceptions) are heavy and bulky. And they should be: steel frames, side-impact padding, and other weight-adding features do a great job of keeping your kid safe in the event of a collision! So, how do you maximize protection while minimizing the effort? In this blog, we’ll review some of your best options.

car seat travel immi goYes, it is possible to rent a car seat at your destination, but the experts advise against it: rental car agencies don’t necessarily have the most up-to-date (or sanitary) seats, and switching to an unfamiliar car seat raises your risk of installing it incorrectly, which means it won’t protect your child as well. Bringing a seat that’s easy to install is best, which is one of many reasons why the IMMI GO Hybrid Car Seat Booster is a top pick of ours: it installs in less than two minutes with LATCH connectors and the top tether! It also weighs only 10 pounds, and comes with an attached travel bag. And the IMMI GO is a great buy, since you can use it from age 2* up to 100 pounds! Every family that travels a lot should have one.

If the IMMI GO is your car seat travel solution, you’re going to need one additional item to complete your child’s travel safety: the GO can’t be used on the plane, but the CARES harness can! It weighs only one pound, and adds an FAA certified 5-point harness to your child’s seat to protect them during takeoff, turbulence, and landings. It’s quick and easy to install, and fits kids from 22-44 pounds.

car seats travel doonaIf you’re a frequent jet-setter with a new baby, the Doona Infant Car Seat may be a good investment: it’s the only infant car seat that converts into a stroller! Doona really streamlines your airport experience, since you can use it to wheel your kid through the airport and right onto the plane, and install it right in your baby’s airplane seat. It’s almost too simple! You can read more about taking Doona on a plane at the Baby Gear Gal blog.

On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got some great travel solutions for big kids, too. Big kids still need booster seats to position the seat belt correctly, and the Bubble Bum Inflatable Booster Seat is the very easiest one to travel with, since it’s inflatable! It weighs only two pounds and, deflated, can easily ride in your purse or in your child’s bookbag. (This also means it’s ideal for carpooling to school!)

Many car seats that aren’t specifically optimized for travel on a plane also have features that will make them easier to bring along. For instance, Diono car seats and boosters fold in half, so while they’re not light, they do cut down the bulk a bit. Their custom car seat travel bag can be carried like a backpack, and has padded straps to make it easier to bring along. The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible Car Seat also gets high marks for travel: it’s one of our lighter fully-featured convertible car seats. And it’s ridiculously comfortable.

Finally: if you’ve already purchased your car seat and are just trying to figure out how to take it along to Milan or Bermuda, a car seat travel bag with wheels will be your best friend! The JL Childress Wheelie Car Seat Travel Bag fits a wide range of car seats, and will do a great job protecting your seat if luggage handlers play rough with it. Or, if you’re bringing a Clek Foonf, Fllo, or Oobr along for the ride, the Clek Weelee Car Seat Travel Bag provides great protection and is easy to lug, with a telescoping handle!

Not sure which of these travel solutions is best for you and your family? Ask us! Our baby gear experts know exactly what questions to ask to help you evaluate your needs, and while we don’t sell any items that can guarantee against airsickness, a howling baby on the plane, or other travel headaches, we can definitely hook you up with products that will make everything go just a little more smoothly.

More advice on travel with car seats

Trips With Tykes guide to car seats and airplanes


*The IMMI GO is tested and approved for ages 1 and up, and you can use it that way in a pinch, but kids under age 2 really should be rear-facing



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