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Traveling with children requires a considerable amount of planning and preparation, especially if you’re flying to your next destination.  One of the most important things to consider is, will you take your child’s car seat with you? Or will you rent a car seat along with a vehicle when you arrive?

Many parents decide to take their own car seats with them when they travel because they can provide a secure seat for babies, toddlers, and older children on the airplane, and they’re a way to keep squirmy children from roaming the aisle.  However, not all car seats are FAA-approved or the most suitable for lugging through the airport. If you’re trying to find an FAA-approved car seat or booster seat and don’t know where to begin, read on to discover a range of options for your child from newborn through elementary ages.  

Travel Car and Booster Seats: Portability Matters 

As someone who has traveled with young children, I’m here to tell you that having the most lightweight travel car seat possible is a game-changer.  Remember, you’ll be transporting this car or booster seat through airport security, to your terminal, and on and off the airplane.  Although the current car seat you use may be an FAA-approved car seat, it may be too heavy to be a realistic option for air travel.  

Tip: One of the smartest things our family did was to invest in a few car seat travel belts.  These are simple, easy-to-use straps that attach your car seat to your carry-on luggage, allowing for easier transport.  You’ll need both hands free, especially if you have a busy toddler in tow!

The Best FAA-approved Car Seats and Booster Seats


Best FAA-approved Car Seat: Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat

Why We Love It: The Safety 1st Convertible Car Seat is the optimal travel car seat choice for several reasons: it’s one of the most lightweight convertible car seats available, and its compact design is ideal for airplane seats.  We also like that you can use it from the time your child is a newborn through their elementary years.

Essential Features: 

  • Dimensions: 20.2 x 18.5 x 27.2 inches
  • Weight: 11.53 pounds
  • 5-point harness (Required for FAA approval) 
  • Weight Range: 5-65 pounds 
  • Compact design 

Other Options to Consider:

  1. Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat  
  2. Baby Trend Trooper 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Best Travel Booster Seat for Air Travel: WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat

Why We Love It: We own this for our older daughter. It was a godsend, saving us from lugging her heavy seat. If you’re traveling with children two years and older, this lightweight, foldable car seat is an excellent option. The five-point harness makes it FAA-compliant, and you can carry it like a backpack with the included travel bag.  It has a hefty price tag, but you can easily use it for many other travel situations.  

Essential Features: 

  • Dimensions: 14.96 x 11.02 x 20.08 inches
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • 5-point harness (Required for FAA approval) 
  • Weight Range: 22-50 pounds 
  • The foldable design allows for easy transport and storage

Other Options to Consider:

  1. Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Combination Booster Car Seat
  2. Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Seat  

Best CARES Harness for Air Travel: CARES KIDS FLY SAFE Child Airplane Travel Harness

Why We Love It: As our children got older, we found that the CARES Kids Fly Safe Harness was the ideal choice.  At only one pound, the harness can fit easily into a diaper or carry-on bag. Its adjustable design allows you to secure your child in their seat in around a minute.  If you’re planning on renting a car seat upon arrival, this child airplane harness is the best option for you.  

Essential Features: 

  • Dimensions: 9 x 2 x 6 inches
  • Weight: 0.99 pounds
  • Specially designed for airplane travel 
  • Weight Range: 22-44 pounds 
  • Easy 1-minute installation

Other Options to Consider: 

  1. Newroutes Child Airplane Safety Travel Harness 
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges you to secure your child in a Child Safety Restraint System (CRS) or device for the duration of your flight. Read more on the FAA website.