For so many families, when planning a vacation, there is always the decision DO YOU PACK THE CAR SEAT? For us, it is almost always “YES” as do enjoy traveling by car at our destination. Because of this, I have spent a lot of time researching the best car seat travel bag that you can buy to transport your child’s car seat from home to your destination.
Once you have finished this guide, you will have seen a a list of the best car seat bags for air travel, as well as tips on navigating the airport with carseats and your options with checked baggage for babies and kids! Armed with this information, I am confident you will be able to pick out the best car seat travel bag for your child’s seat!
What is the Best Car Seat Travel Bag for Air Travel?
- What is the Best Car Seat Travel Bag for Air Travel?
- Best Car Seat Bag for Travel
- Car Seat Travel Bag Comparison Chart
- Top Rated Car Seat Travel Bags
- Why do we bother bringing a car seat on vacation?
- Gate Check or Not to Gate Check?
Some holidays, there is no need to bring your car seat. For example, if you are staying in one place and have an airport transfer by shuttle or bus, you probably do not put much thought into it.
But if you are thinking of renting a car, or already have one booked, it is sometimes more difficult to make up your mind. Further, if you plan on taking uber, arranging a guided tour or are very picky on abiding by your home country’s standards with regards to car seat travel, then packing the car seat is usually in your mind!
I have personally never rented a car seat before, as the price for one is often as much as a cheap car seat costs to buy. I have also heard many people had the option to chose from a pile of car seats and have had little help from rental agencies. I do not blame the employees, before I had kids, I probably would not have had any clue how to properly install one, and with so many different brands, each one has its own little quirks! While I am sure there are many great places to rent car seats from, I prefer not to have to worry about it!
You can add another wrinkle into your plans if your young toddler has their own seat and you would prefer to restrain them on the plane, because they are more comfortable with their familiar seat or believe that being safely bucked into a car seat during the flight is essential. It is becoming more and more popular to bring car seats onto the plane for babies and toddlers and some safety advocates even want to mandate it as a requirement (although it is not required anywhere).
So what do WE do?
We pack car seats on every trip we have taken. And to ensure our car seats arrive in as good condition as possible, we use a car seat travel bag!
In the past three years that has been a decent amount of travel! On our first overseas trip with a baby, we took it from Vancouver to England, then to France and back to England again. Twice we have packed 2 car seats to go to Hawaii, Las Vegas and Panama City Beach! Car seats have come as far as the Middle East when we visited Jordan and quite recently in Turkey!
I will be the first to admit, they are BIG, BULKY and a HUGE PAIN. But I do prefer that my kids are buckled safely to MY own personal standards and to meet standards in the countries we are visiting. So I lug them everywhere (we are finally into low back booster seats YAY!) However, with the best car seat bag, that big and bulky and expensive car seat, can come on your holiday with you and it should arrive safely!
Best Car Seat Bag for Travel
Just so you are aware, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Our car seat bag has been on over a dozen trips, all over the world! It is worth finding the top rated car seat bag for travel if you plan on using it more than once!
In my opinion, this amazon car seat bag is exactly what you need and is a cheap car seat travel bag. It is the one we have been using since my oldest was a baby and we still use it 5 years later (thanks to some duct tape where it has worn thin on to the bottom thanks to us pulling it along the floor on the way to the gate.
Why Do I Love the Jeep Car Seat Airport Bag?
- This bag can be used as an infant car seat bag, as well as with a convertible seat and as a booster seat carry bag.
- It is inexpensive and durable.
- It has a moulded shape rather than just a thin bag covering the car seat and has a strong shoulder strap.
the Jeep Car Seat Airport bag is 20″ long x 29″ high x 18″ deep.
Things to note about the Jeep car seat protector bag:
Practice putting your car seat into the bag before you leave home to ensure it fits. There is nothing worse than trying to wrangle it at the airport. Also due to its shape, the car seat will only fit in one way (if you have a high back booster or a convertible seat). Line up the back of the seat to the taller side of the bag.
Car Seat Travel Bag Comparison Chart
Below I have compared 6 car seat travel covers on a variety of factors. You can read about each bag in detail at the bottom of the chart
|Jeep Car Seat Travel Bag||$||4.5|
|Jl Childress Backpack Car Seat Travel Bag||$$||4.0|
|J L Childress Car Seat Travel Bag with Wheels||$$||4.1|
|Britax Car Seat Travel Bag||$$||4.5|
|Gate Check Bag for Car Seats||$||3.5|
Top Rated Car Seat Travel Bags
JL Childress Backpack Car Seat Travel Bag
JL Childress Ultimate car seat bag makes this list because of its handy backpack feature, its moulded shaped bag, and its padding. You may or may not notice that I have completely avoided the brightly colored (usually red) gate check bags for car seats because I have tried them and after one use the one I had was ripped. Not ideal. However, this one from JL Childress looks great. Having something over your back instead of just using a shoulder strap is much more comfortable and keeps your weight better balanced!
This bag measures 19 x 15 x 16 and you can click here for a compatibility chart to ensure your seat will fit
JL Childress Car Seat Travel Bag with Wheels
If you do not want to have to carry your seat, this car seat travel bag with wheels from JL Childress is a great option. The only reason that I have not gone with a bag like this is because I do not have an extra hand to actually pull it! I need something I can put on my back so I can pull my suitcase!
This bag is a hybrid cover as well as a car seat travel cart and you can bring it on the airplane with you if you plan on having your child sit in their car seat on the plane. It has rubber wheels and rugged handles.
If you plan to use this with an infant seat, it is suggested to detach the base and put it inside the bucket of the infant seat when traveling.
Britax Car Seat Bag Review
The Britax Travel Bag has great reviews online and all of the features that you want in a car seat travel bag. It has rolling wheels on the bottom with a durable base, backpack straps, and multiple handles. It is made of durable fabric and fits most other car seats as well.
This car seat carry bag from Britax measures 17″ x 15.5″ x 31.5″
Gate Check Bag for Car Seats
I have included this inexpensive car seat protector bag because in my experience it was not worth the money and you should go with spending just a few dollars more and get one that actually has sturdy fabric.
It is very popular all over the internet and you can see it has sold plenty on amazon by reading the reviews but I would not recommend it.
The one good thing about this bag however, is it DOES NOT have zippers, so there is one less thing to break. But we used it on one flight to Hawaii and the bag arrived with a huge hole in it. I would use this bag the same way as you would use a clear garbage bag, to keep the seat clean and dry only. I do not think it has any more value than that.Jeep Car Seat Travel Bag
Why do we bother bringing a car seat on vacation?
You know where it has been: Car seats can be compromised when in an accident, and if you rent a car seat from a rental company, or add on to your car rental, you don’t know the history of the seat: how it has been taken care of, if there has been any recalls on it, if it is expired.
It is set up to fit your child: The harnesses and buckles are ready to install quickly, and you can start enjoying your holiday. After a long travel day no one wants to be fiddling with an unfamiliar seat, trying to set it up properly to fit your child
It is comfortable: In the last year we have road tripped in France as well as road tripped in New Zealand which means quite a lot of time is spent in the car! I want to make sure my kids are comfortable and if we have a rental seat, you never know how it is going to fit!
You know hot to install it: when you bring your own car seat on vacation you know exactly how to install it correctly. Your rental car may be unfamiliar, but at least your car seat is not. You know where to feed the straps through the seat to get a proper fit and you don’t have to try to read manuals or pull on buckles while you may have an overtired screaming child who didn’t nap on the plane (despite your best efforts)
It saves money. We like having a car, so instead of paying around $10 per day to the car rental company, we bring our own. Furthermore, most airlines will check the car seats for free as it is a necessity for children. Make sure you check with your airline before your trip!
You know it will be there when you arrive. We personally choose to gate check our car seats. Yes it makes for more stuff to take through security, yes you have to hold on to that bulky thing a little longer, but yes it means it will be there when you arrive, and you don’t have to worry about lost luggage!
Gate Check or Not to Gate Check?
This is a debate about car seat travel bags that you will see all over any travel forum and facebook. There are those who gate check, and those who advocate against it. Personally, I check my seats with my luggage. I never used to. I used to carry it all the way to the gate, through security blah blah blah (and I had TWO for the longest time!). Then before loading the plane I would leave my car seats (and usually my stroller) and get on the plane to happily retrieve them on arrival.
Why did I Gate Check?
Well there were several reasons. As a mom with two kittle kids and expensive Britax car seats (car seats cost twice as much in Canada than the United States just FYI ) I di dnot want any damage to come to them. I figured not going on belts and out of sight at the airport would be the best situation. Once we actually brought them on the plane for the kids, but that is not our thing and we only did that once.
The second reason that I would gate check my car seats is so that there was less chance of them getting lost. I figured that if I left them right outside the plane, the probability of them being lost somewhere was quite low. I would get them back right away, and they would not get misrouted and loaded on the wrong plane etc.
The third reason that I gate checked using my car seat bag was because we were two adults and two kids with a double mountain buggy and could literally “push” everything to the gate. Often we even had more than two adults with us as we like to travel with family. There was no carrying (except maybe a kid) so it was not a pain to bring them all the way to the gate.
Why I no Longer Gate Check my Car Seats
Packed safely in my favorite car seat travel bag I now drop my luggage and my car seats (or booster seats) at the check in counter.
I no longer take my car seat in the travel bag all the way to the gate. Why? Well circumstances in my life have changed. I often travel solo with my boys. Also, we no longer travel with a stroller, so carrying a car seat in a bag all the way to the gate (not to mention two) is heavy (and hard!). Thirdly, as my children have gotten older and we have traveled more extensively, the fact that they are actually in a car seat or booster seat while we visit Egypt (where kids sit on their parents laps on the front seat) makes me feel as though I am doing just a little bit to protect them. Yes we travel in taxis and busses without car seats. I am comfortable with that. You might be to. Or you might not be. Everyone has their own comfort level. I also like my kdis to be comfy when they nap in the car, so having a comfy car seat is good.
Now my boys are 5 and 7 and we are nearing the end of our car seat travel. I now bring two boosters all over the world, in the same car seat travel bag. I drop it with my luggage and it has always arrived. Now that they are older, I would be ok traveling without them. We will be back in the Middle East soon and I am still bringing them, despite them being not required at all. It makes it easier for my kids to see out the window for one! We will stick with our local standards, as long as we exceed the local ones, and will reevaluate as our needs change.
The biggest things with traveling with kids, is do what works for you, and do not shame others if their choices do not align with yours. There is a lot of that going around. These are my suggestions on the best car seat travel bags around, and I hope you find it useful. If you have another bag that you love, I would love to hear about it!
Want to read More:
- Check out how to travel with car seats (without losing your cool)
- The Best Airplane Snacks for Kids
- If you want another option, you can check out this review of the Rid Safer Delight from the Family Voyage.
- Want to keep your kids happy on the plane? Here are our favorite airplane activities for kids
Do you travel with car seats? Would love to hear why or why not?If you found this page helpful, i would love it if you would pin, share or tweet it on whatever social media platforms you use! Every little bit will help us fund our travels and continue to bring great content to our site!
Lindsay is the founder and editor of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She is passionate about sharing her experiences of traveling with children on adventurous family holidays around the world! She resides in the suburbs of Vancouver when not jet setting abroad.