The Best Travel Car Seat of 2024

Strapping into a car seat isn't the first thing that comes to mind when picturing sweet travels with your little one. But just like remembering passports and packing snacks, bringing the right travel car seat is essential.

Whether heading to grandma's house or jetting off on a tropical getaway, the ideal travel car seat involves careful consideration of your child's age, size, and specific travel needs.

To help guide parents through this important decision, we consulted the founder of Calabasas Pediatrics, Dr. Tanya Altmann. Her expert recommendations suggest considering factors like rear-facing vs forward-facing, LATCH system or seat belt compatibility, portability for airport travel, and certification for use on airplanes. With the wrong seat, you risk wrestling with tricky installations, tangled straps, and discomfort for your little traveler.

Thankfully, car seat innovations have boomed, offering a new generation of options elegantly designed for safety, comfort and convenience at every stage. Drawing from Dr. Altmann's guidance, we'll explore the best travel car seats in 2024 that check all the boxes - Because the only tears you want are happy ones from the joy of discoveries with your baby.

Top 10 Baby Travel Car Seats in 2024

Top-rated travel car seats for your baby's travel adventures are safe, elegant and innovative.

1. Chicco KeyFit 35 Infant Car Seat

The Chicco KeyFit 35 features a European belt path that installs securely without the need for a base. It's more affordable than other car seats with the same belt routing feature.

This rear-facing design fits children weighing from 4 to 35 pounds, up to a height of 32 inches. It's lightweight at 10 pounds, making it easy to carry through airports. Its compatibility with both LATCH and vehicle seat belts ensures a secure installation.

2. Doona Infant Car Seat/Stroller

The standout quality of the Doona Infant Car Seat/Stroller is its versatility. Not only is it a safe and secure car seat, but it also swiftly transitions to a stroller. This makes it perfect for airport travel, eliminating the need for a separate stroller.

It's rear-facing, suitable for infants from 4 to 35 pounds, and meets FAA standards for use on airplanes. The Doona is designed for those who prioritize function and flexibility, weighing only 16.5 pounds with integrated wheels for easy portability.

3. Diono Radian 3RXT

The Radian 3RXT has a slim profile that can fit three car seats in most vehicles, and it also goes well beyond safety standards. It lasts for 10 years, works rear-facing for longer than most seats, and can also convert to a booster.

This seat supports children from 5 to 45 pounds rear-facing, 20 to 65 pounds forward-facing, and up to 120 pounds as a booster. Its compatibility with LATCH and seat belts, along with FAA approval, makes it ideal for varied travel needs.

4. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat

This convertible seat will grow with your kid. It starts rear-facing from 5 pounds and becomes forward-facing until 65 pounds. Finally, it takes on the role of a belt-positioning booster up to 100 pounds.

Its design ensures compatibility with LATCH and vehicle seat belts. Although it's bulkier, its 3-in-1 functionality makes it a versatile choice for long-term use.

5. Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat

The Cosco Scenera Next is a reliable and affordable car seat that gets the job done. It's FAA-approved for airplane use and weighs only about 7 pounds, making it easy to tote around the airport.

It fits children rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds and forward-facing up to 40 pounds. Its lightweight design and compatibility with LATCH make it a convenient option for frequent travelers.

6. Nuna RAVA Convertible Car Seat

Nuna RAVA fits children up to 65 pounds and provides up to two extra inches of legroom, with an extended leg rest and a cup holder included. Its ten-position headrest can be pulled up or pushed down for improved comfort.

It supports rear-facing from 5 to 50 pounds and forward-facing up to 65 pounds. The seat's LATCH and vehicle seat belt compatibility, along with its easy installation, make it a top choice for comfort and safety.

7. Evenflo Sonus 65

This keeps your child harnessed up to 65 pounds with a convertible car seat stage. It's lightweight and slim enough for multi-seating setups, and its six shoulder harness positions give your child enough room to grow.

It supports rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds and forward-facing up to 65 pounds. The Evenflo Sonus 65 is compatible with LATCH and seat belts, and its lightweight design makes it easy to carry.

8. Cosco Rise

This is a backless booster that fits a child from 40 to 100 pounds. It has a lightweight design for easy traveling, and the fabric pad is machine washable. It's ideal for older children who still need a booster seat.

Its compact size and light weight make it easy to carry, though it’s best for shorter trips due to its lack of LATCH compatibility.

9. Graco Contender SlimFit 3-in-1 Car Seat

Just like its name says, it's designed to save space in your backseat. It grows with your child from rear-facing to forward-facing to high-back booster mode. With TrueShield Advanced Side-Impact Protection and a steel-reinforced frame, this seat keeps your little one safe.

It supports rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds, forward-facing up to 65 pounds, and booster mode up to 100 pounds. It's compatible with both LATCH and vehicle seat belts, and its slim design makes it perfect for travel.

10. Britax Emblem 3-Stage Convertible Car Seat

Finishing off the list is the Britax Emblem 3-Stage Convertible Car Seat. This seat offers enhanced safety features such as two layers of side impact protection. It sports a steel frame and crumple zone to help absorb crash energy and adapts for greater comfort as your child grows.

It supports rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds and forward-facing up to 65 pounds. The Britax Emblem is compatible with LATCH and vehicle seat belts, providing peace of mind during travel.

Sure, here's a section on the LATCH system. This section should go before the "Choosing the Right Travel Car Seat for Your Baby" section, as it provides relevant technical information that will help readers make an informed decision when considering car seats.

Understanding the LATCH System

LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. It's a standardized car seat installation system designed to make the process easier and safer. Introduced in 2002, LATCH is required in nearly all new cars and car seats. Here’s a closer look at how it works:

  • Lower Anchors: These are metal bars located in the crease between the back and bottom of the vehicle's seat. Car seats equipped with LATCH have lower anchor connectors that attach to these bars, providing a secure installation without using the vehicle's seat belt.

  • Tethers: The top tether is a strap attached to the top of a forward-facing car seat. It hooks onto a tether anchor point in the vehicle, usually located on the back of the seat, the rear shelf, floor, or ceiling. This helps prevent the car seat from tipping forward in a crash.

Benefits of the LATCH System

  • Ease of Installation: LATCH is designed to simplify the car seat installation process, reducing the risk of errors.
  • Improved Safety: Properly using the LATCH system can enhance the safety of car seats by ensuring they are securely attached to the vehicle.
  • Consistency: Since LATCH is standardized, you can rely on a consistent installation method across different vehicles and car seats.

When using the LATCH system, always refer to both the car seat manual and the vehicle's owner manual for specific instructions and weight limits. Some car seats have weight limits for LATCH use, beyond which the vehicle's seat belt must be used.

Choosing the Right Travel Car Seat for Your Baby

Selecting the ideal car seat for your baby is crucial for safe and comfortable travel. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

Age, Weight, and Height

Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines for the appropriate age, weight, and height range. Most infant seats accommodate babies from 4-35 lbs and up to 32 inches tall. Convertible and all-in-one seats often go up to 40-65 lbs rear-facing.

Ease of Installation

Look for a car seat with clear and intuitive installation instructions, diagrams, and labeling. The easier it is to install properly, the better. Simple attachment systems like LATCH connectors also help.

Vehicle Compatibility

Ensure the seat fits properly in your car. There should be adequate space front-to-back and side-to-side when installed. Check for seat belt compatibility and if your vehicle has LATCH/Isofix system anchors.

FAA Approval

If flying with your baby, look for the FAA approval label on car seats for assurance they meet the Federal Aviation Administration's safety standards for air travel.

Testing and Safety Ratings

Only consider car seats that meet or exceed all applicable safety standards. Additionally, check independent crash test ratings from organizations like the NHTSA. High safety ratings give peace of mind.

Keep these factors in mind when picking a travel car seat, and have confidence knowing your baby is protected and comfortable on each new adventure.

Safeguarding Your Little One's Adventures

There's no doubt that peace of mind while on the move with your little one(s) is essential. When you have the best travel car seat for your baby, every journey becomes a chance to create beautiful memories.

And because you need to keep your little one nourished during travel, consider bringing along our Aussie Bubs formula. Easy to prepare and nutritious, it's designed to fulfill your baby's dietary needs as they explore the world.