Our guide to choosing the best travel booster seat for your child and some of the most popular types and brands on the market.
A portable booster seat is one of the best purchases you can make, when planning a road trip with kids.
At home, a high-quality car seat to keep baby safe on the road is the first purchase parents are happy to invest on and this doesn’t change once the kids are a little older and you move from baby car seat to booster seat age, whether you need it at home or on your travels.
However, considering how big and bulky some car seats are, there is no doubt that carrying them on travel poses some issues and many people look for easier solutions that don’t require lugging a heavy seat around airports, hotel lobbies and busy roads!
I have been dealing with this dilemma recently myself.
This summer we are going to be travelling to the US and we know that we will find ourselves in a car often.
For the vast majority of our time there we are going to have a car equipped with full on car seats but for some of the distances we need to cover we will be relying on taxis and uber.
This caused a few questions to come up: how can I keep my kids safe in a taxi? Is a car seat compulsory for a short taxi ride? What about uber and private cars?
The answers to these questions were a little less straightforward than I had hoped for but basically, my conclusion is as follows:
- Rules concerning car seats in taxis vary immensely by country and sometimes between states within the same country (in the US, you need a car seat in taxis in California, but I hear you don’t in NYC, at least at present)
- Uber cars are private vehicles and therefore follow private vehicle rules, which means often cannot offer you a ride without a car seat installed
- Regardless of legality, I feel safer with my children in appropriate car seats and secured with the proper harness for their height/ weight so an investment in this sense is, for me, worth it.
All this considered, I put myself to work to research the best booster seats for travel and the best portable car booster seats to bring with us on our next vacation.
These are some of the best travel booster seats on the market right now.
Good to know! Car seats can get damaged while not in use, especially in the hold of a plane. To protect them, you can get a good car seat travel bag (some very reasonable in price too)
Disclaimer: I have written this article on the basis of my research on the web, personal experience and the experience of other traveling parents. I am not an expert on the subject and rely on the specs and information provided by the manufactures: always check with them the suitability and safety of each product before purchasing. This post contains affiliate links and if you make a purchase, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Buying for your next road trip with kids? Don’t forget to check out our family travel gear guides such as:
- The best kids travel pillows
- Best road trips for families
- Tips for tackling long car rides with toddlers
- Family road trip packing checklist
What is a car booster seat
A car booster seat is a car seat designed for older kids who have outgrown both baby and toddler car seats. Booster seats come in several shapes.
Full size booster seats
Full size booster seats come with a high back and head rest. Those suitable for smaller kids usually have a built in 5 point harness, for safety, while those catering for older kids usually do not have their own belts but rely on the car seatbelt system to keep them and the child in the correct and safe position.
Backless booster seats
Backless booster seats are much smaller objects and are exactly what the name suggest: rather than a full seat, they operate like a cushion that ‘boosts’ your child higher up on the backseat of the car.
Their job is to lift your child high enough for them to wear safely the car seatbelt and are, as such, usually recommended for older and bigger children and for shorted car trips.
Convertible car booster seats
Convertible car booster seats are a sort of hybrid between the two types above. They can be used as a rear-facing car seats for younger kids, forward facing seats and as a booster, both with and without a back.
Best booster seats for travel: highback or backless?
The best travel booster seat depends on the type of journey you have ahead (plane or car) and the age, height and weigh of your child. In general, highback booster seats are considered safer than backless ones (look here) but backless booster seats are considered much safer than no booster seat at all, so they can be a good purchase.
When deciding on what portable booster seat to carry on your next vacation, take into account that, in general:
Highback booster seats pros:
- Many come with 5 point harness for kids under 40 lbs
- They have seatbelt grooves to position the seatbelt properly
- They offer a head rest for your child
- Headrest and side wings can protect your child’s body in case of impact
High back booster seats cons:
- Heavier and bulkier, which is a pain when travelling by plane
- Can leave marks on the car due their heavier eight
- Take away some of the space available to your child’s legs and make bigger kids feel cramped
Backless booster seats pro:
- They are light and easy to transport, some even inflatable
- Leave a little more room to the child since they allow them to sit flush against the back of the car
- They are cheaper
- You can fit more of them on the back seat (provided you have the correct seatbelt configuration in the car)
Backless booster seats con:
- They usually don’t have groove guides for the seatbelts
- They do not offer head support so are less suitable for long journeys or kids who tend to fall asleep in the car
Best booster seats for travel comparison table
|Product||High back / backless||Folds||Weight||Weight (of child)|
|Cosco Scenera||High back booster||No||6.8 lbs / 3 Kg||Up to 40lb /10 Kg|
|Evenflo Chase LX||High back harnessed||No||9.29 lbs / 4.2 KG||Up to 110 lb / 49 Kg|
|Baby Trend Yumi||High back booster||Yes||9.1 lbs / 4.1 Kg||Up to 100 lb / 45 Kg|
|Bubble Bum||Inflatable backless booster||Yes||1.1 lbs / 0.5 Kg||Up to 100 lbs / 45 Kg|
|Trunki Boostapack||Convertible backless||Turns into backpack||3.8 lbs /1.7 Kg||Up to 80 lbs / 36 Kg|
|Mifold Grab and Go||Portable backless||Yes||1.6 lbs / 0.75 Kg||Up to 100 lbs /45 Kg|
Best highback booster seats for travel
The following are some of the best booster seats for travel by car and plane.
Please note: the specs of each product are taken by manufactures instructions: always check specs and suitability for your child / car directly with the vendor before purchasing.
Cosco Scenera travel booster seat
The Cosco Scenera convertible car seat for travel receives consistently positive reviews by traveling parents.
This seat seems to strike a good balance between size, practicalities and cost and has the added advantage to be aircraft certified, which means you can bring it with you one the plane.
The seat can be used both rear facing and forward facing. However, be aware that if used rear facing this prevents the seat in front of you on the aircraft to recline!
This seat regularly features among the best sellers when it comes to toddler travel booster seats roundups. It is also often mentioned as the best travel booster seat for cost vs specs.
- Convertible travel car booster seat
- Rear-facing 5-40 lbs
- 5 harness heights and 3 buckle locations a
- Forward-facing 22-40 lbs
- Seat pad is machine washable and dryer safe
- Certified for use on aircrafts
Evenflo Chase LX Harnessed Booster
Another full size travel booster seat with regular great reviews is the Evenflo Chase Harnessed booster. This travel booster cars seat is designed to accommodate the needs of growing kids being both a harnessed booster and a belt-positioning booster seat and is a good potable car booster seat for travel for size, price and safety.
Evenflo Chase (click for prices) Harnessed booster /seatbelt booster
- Weight: 22 – 40 lbs. (10 – 18.0 kg.) / Weight: 40 – 110 lbs. (18 – 49.8 kg.)
- Height: 28 – 50 in. (71 – 127 cm.)/Height: 43.3 – 57 in. (110–145 cm.)
- Age: At least two years of age/ At least 4 years of age
- When used with the internal 5-point harness this restraint meets FAA Inversion requirements for airplane use which means many parents count is as one of the best travel booster seats
Baby trend yumi
Baby Trend Yumi foldable travel booster seat is a clever seat that converts from high back to backless and can be easily folded for ease of transport. This versatility makes is one of the best booster seats for travel and one that will grow with your growing child. However, be aware that this car seat is not FAA approved and cannot be fit securely on an airplane seat.
- High-back booster 30-100 lbs; Backless booster 40-100 lbs
- 8-position height adjustment headrest
- Deep contoured energy absorbing headrest
- Patented side impact head control
- 3-position shoulder belt adjustment shoulder belt guide.
- Easy to wash, folds for easy transport and storage
- Weight 30-100 lbs Height 38″-57″
Best backless booster seats for travel
Once your children are old enough for a backless booster seat you have several options to choose from. Among the most popular, these are the ones we have picked for comfort and safety.
Bubble Bum travel booster seat
The bubble bum is one of the best booster seats for travel for ease of transport and comfort and the one we personally use on our travels. The seat is inflatable/deflatable and this makes it easy to pack in out hand luggage, meaning we know we can count on it at all times.
The bubble bum booster seat comes in a handy bag and you can fit up to 3 of them on the rear seat of the car.
It operates lifting your child up to a higher position so that they can use the main seatbelt system of the car.
They have good padding and are comfortable also on longer taxi rides and journeys as well as the occasional booster seat at home if you are changing car or need to drive an extra child!
They come with seatbelt grooves and extra seatbelt clip to help keep the seatbelt in the safest and correct position
- Dimensions: 28cm x 28cm x 11cm (inflated); 29cm x 15cm x 10cm(deflated)
- Weight of seat 500g
- Comes with seatbelt positioning clips
- Easy to inflate / deflate
- Super tough, rigid side clips provide perfect belt fit and replace the arm rests that conventional seats use to position the lap belt
- Meets EU and US safety regulations
Another brand we love for family travel gear is Trunki, who enters this list with their boost-a-pack booster seat for travel. The trunki boost-a-pack is a clever portable booster seat for travel that operated as a booster seat and backpack.
When closed, the boost-a-pack works as a day pack your child can carry and when opened it turned into a booster seat for car journey. This versatility and portability means it is very popular with travelling parents although its weight might make it harder for small kids to carry.
- ECE44.04 approved car seat for group 2 & 3, EU certified
- Recommended for children under 135cm weighing between 15 and 36 kg (approx. 4–12 years).
- Unique fold-out seatbelt guides
- Ergonomic back
- Seatbelt adjuster
Mifold grab and go
I close this list with another great product designed specifically for families who travel and need a super portable car seat to keep the ids safe on the go.
Unlike the previous car seats and boosters, which effectively change the position and height of your child to allow safe use of the car seatbelts, the Mifold adjust the seatbelts positioning so that they can fit your child. The mifold s a super portable, handy gadgets and parents love it because it is significantly smaller than pretty much all other boosters:it literally fits in a handbag!
However, the seat does not prop your child up (which can be a problem if they are too small to look out) and can be hard on long journeys since it is not padded. The Mifold
- More than 10x smaller than a regular booster seat
- Designed for kids aged 4 and up, 40 to 100 lbs, and 40 to 57 inches tall
- Constructed using aircraft grade aluminium 6061 and a super tough plastic polymer called Delrin® 100ST from Dupont™
- Conforms to European Union ECE R44.4; FMVSS 213 in the United States, and the RSSR regulations in Canada
I hope you found this overview of some of the best booster car seats for travel useful. Safe family travels!
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