The 6 best travel car seats for toddlers

Parent-Approved: The 6 Best Travel Car Seats and Boosters for Toddlers and Older Kids (2020 Guide)

We spent hours researching car seats for our children to make sure they are safe and secure in our cars, yet when we hit the road, we discover our enormous “tanks” of car seats are difficult to carry, hard to install and can get damaged during transit. So, how do we keep our children safe when we are taking taxis or tours and riding on a plane? Bring on the lightweight car seats that keep our kids secure but are lightweight and easy to install.

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For our travels, we selected the IMMI-GO — the best travel stroller, in our opinion. Weighing less than 10 pounds and able to fold in half, it is the only car seat that comes with an attached carrying case so you can easily carry it when you are not using it. The seat doesn’t convert into a booster seat, as the only way to connect it to a car or airplane seat is through its high back, but we found it to an amazingly easy, lightweight and safe choice. (Read Our Best Car Seat Recommendation for the full review.)

Alas, IMMI-GO is not available on Amazon or other sites other than their own, so we also reviewed other front-facing car seats and boosters that are lightweight, travel well, and are relatively easy to set up. These car seats are best-suited for children 18 months and older, and weighing at least 22 pounds, and over 18 months of age.

Here’s how we rated the car seats on our list:

  • Weight limit for kids: The car seats and boosters listed here are for children over 22 pounds and ages of 18 months and older. We list the top weight, to make it easy for you to determine if it can handle your child.
  • Ease for travel: If it is easy is it to carry and travel with the car seat, we give it a higher ranking than if it is cumbersome and heavy, which gets a lower rating on the scale.
  • Ease of installation: When catching an Uber or installing on a crowded plane, we give top ratings for the car seats that are simple to install. The longer it takes to install, the lower the rating.
  • Convert to Booster: If a car seat can convert to a no-back booster seat, we simply mark it with a yes.
  • Value for money: When we add up all of our criteria and combine it with the price, we give higher ratings to those who offer the most, for the least.

1. IMMI-GO

Although you cannot buy it on Amazon, trust us that this car seat is worth its $234 price tag. Accommodating children from 22 to 55 pounds at heights up to 52 inches, the IMMI-Go is easy to install and easy to pack — it folds right into its attached carrying case and weighs just 10 pounds. 

We aren’t the only ones raving about the IMMI-Go as the best traveler stroller; others like Cars.com, We Go With Kids, and weeSpring love it, as does Uber, which uses it for uberFamily rides. One parent-approved travel car seat review put it best: “Can’t be beat for travel with toddler.”

Our ratings:

Weight limit for kids: 22 - 55 pounds
Ease for travel: 5 out of 5
Ease of installation: 5 out of 5
Convert to Booster: No
Value for money: 5 out of 5

2. Evenflo Big Kid AMP High Back Booster Car Seat

This super-cheap car seat by Evenflo is just $40 and can convert from a high-back to no-back booster seat easily. Lightweight at just 8 pounds, and offering a six-position height adjustment, this is a great option for traveling parents, accommodating kids up to 110 pounds in a seat that doesn’t require anchors — it can work on a plane or a car within seconds. As a high-back booster, the seat isn’t recommended for children under 30 pounds and 40 inches, otherwise 73 percent of parents give it a 5-star rating.

“I was bit hesitant to order this seat because the padding and cover seemed quite thin. However, I decided to give this seat a try for my 5-year-old son. After using very bulky Britax seats that are cumbersome to carry around, I was ready for lighter seats. The seat was easy to put together, and it was very easy to place on the back of my small SUV. My son was excited to get a new seat and he repeatedly answered he was comfortable,” said one parent.

Our ratings:

Weight limit for kids: 30 - 110 pounds
Ease for travel: 4 out of 5
Ease of installation: 5 out of 5
Convert to Booster: Yes
Value for money: 5 out of 5

3. Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat

Another top name for car seats, Graco’s Transzitions is a car seat, high-back booster and booster seat that provides a five-point harness system for kids as small as 22 pounds and becomes a lightweight booster seat when then grow up to 100 pounds. Priced at $100, the seat weight 18 pounds and is easy to install and durable for travel. Seventy-three percent of parents give it a 5-star rating, as well.

Of the complaints parents had? It can be very difficult to buckle and unbuckle. “My biggest complaint about this seat is how hard it is to unbuckle the leg straps. It is very difficult. My son is almost 6 and unable to get out by himself. I even struggle with the buckle. Because of that, I wouldn’t buy this again,” said one mother.

Our ratings:

Weight limit for kids: 22 – 100 pounds
Ease for travel: 3 out of 5
Ease of installation: 4 out of 5
Convert to Booster: Yes
Value for money: 4 out of 5

4. Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Car Seat

When it comes to comfort, this Chicco car seat has it all. Four-position recline and 9-position headrest accommodates kids between 25 and 100 pounds, while the steel frame and 5-point harness system keep them safe. This seat costs nearly $200, but it is a lightweight car seat at just 12 pounds and it has 5-stars from parents who trust the Chicco brand, as well as this car seat. “Great carseat!” says one father. “My almost 5 year old says so all the time. Super quick and easy to install, on the heavy side for myself, but that is just fine. I would definitely recommend.”

Our ratings:

Weight limit for kids: 25 – 100 pounds
Ease for travel: 4 out of 5
Ease of installation: 4 out of 5
Convert to Booster: Yes
Value for money: 4 out of 5

5. Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Combination Booster Car Seat

Weighing 11 pounds, this car seat/high-back booster is priced at $90 and makes a good choice for a travel car seat to take along for rides in taxis and on planes. It can be a bit bulky and may feel flimsy, but is still worth it when needing an on-the-go seat that can handle 40 to 100 pounds. Although there is a five-point harness system, this seat is not recommended for younger kids needing for secure belting, or for older kids who only need a booster.

As one mom noted, the Finale is “good for travel, not for everyday.” Highlighting the pros, she wrote, “It is very light and easy  to fit into most situations where a car seat is needed including airplanes. Easy install, the straps were very easy to work with. I have had some seats where you need to catch your breath, drink some water and wipe your sweat after installing it in the car.”

Our ratings:

Weight limit for kids: 40 – 100 pounds
Ease for travel: 4 out of 5
Ease of installation: 5 out of 5
Convert to Booster: No
Value for money: 3 out of 5

6. Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat 

Britax is a great name in car seats, consistently ranked high for safety by Consumer Reports. This 25-pound Britax Harness-2-Booster is no different. The seat offers nine positions without having to redo the belts, with the seat holding weights up to 90 pounds and the high-back booster accommodating up to 120 pounds and 36 inches. The seat doesn’t convert into a backless booster, which doesn’t make this $280, heavy car seat an option for older kids, who will outgrow it after their shoulders pass the 19.5-inch top harness. 

But for kids who need a car seat and high-backed booster, 78 percent of parents give it a 5-star rating and love the safety features, material and durability. Parents reviewing the good and the bad find it’s easy to install and switch to other cars, but as one father pointed out: “It’s good but with one major flaw that will require you to fix. The back of it where the belt runs back and forth will rub against your car’s seat and make it very hard to adjust the strap when the weight of your child is pushing on it.” 

Our ratings:

Weight limit for kids: 25 - 120 pounds
Ease for travel: 2 out of 5
Ease of installation: 3 out of 5
Convert to Booster: No
Value for money: 2 out of 5

The 2 Idiots Travel Blog Quick Reference Travel Car/Booster Seat Guide

Which of these car/booster seats are lightest, easy to set up and can accommodate the most weight? The higher the rating (out of 5) you see, the better the seat it is.

Name Weight limit (in pounds) Ease for Travel Ease of Installation Convert to Booster Value for Money
IMMI-GO 22-55 5/5 5/5 No 5/5
Evenflo Big Kid AMP High Back Booster Car Seat 30-110 4/5 5/5 Yes 5/5
Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat 22-100 3/5 4/5 Yes 4/5
Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Combination Booster Car Seat 40-100 4/5 5/5 No 3/5
Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat  25-120 2/5 3/5 No 2/5

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