Best Lightweight Travel Car Seats and Strollers for Air Travel

Finding a great travel car seat can make or break a trip with kids.
Finding a great travel car seat can make or break a trip with kids.
6/18/24 - By Maureen Wilkey

Finding the best travel car seat can be a life saver when traveling by air with small children. A good travel car seat can help your little one sit safely in their airplane seat and in rental cars or rideshares. Some car seats even turn into strollers, or can be easily snapped into a stroller as part of a travel car seat system.

The best travel car seat for your family depends on your budget, your ability and/or willingness to lug the seat through the airport, and the age and size of your child. You should also consider whether you want a seat that can be used for both everyday and travel, or if you're OK with buying a separate travel car seat.

We've found eight top-rate, FAA-approved travel car seats for infants, toddlers, and young kids. Find even more great travel gear, including the best kids' luggage, in our Best Baby and Kid Gear Guide.


Doona Car Seat and Stroller
The Doona Car Seat and Stroller is a great all-in-one travel system.

Best Infant Car Seats for Air Travel

1. Best Travel Car Seat System: Doona Car Seat and Stroller

Weight and Height Limits: 4-35 pounds; up to 32 inches

If you need a car seat and a stroller on your trip, the Doona all-in-one travel car seat system is a great pick for babies. The wheels fold up into the seat and then pop out, so you can seamlessly move in and out of vehicles—no base needed. But while the wheels are great for getting through the airport, they don’t actually fit through airplane aisles, so you’ll have to fold and lift the seat (which can be heavy).

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Chicco KeyFit 35
Find out why so many parents love the Chicco KeyFit 35.

2. Best Travel Car Seat for Babies: Chicco KeyFit 35

Weight and Height Limits: 4-35 pounds; up to 32 inches

The tried-and-true Chicco KeyFit is made from eco-friendly materials and transitions easily into the Chicco KeyFit Caddy Frame Stroller. You can use the KeyFit with or without a base, and the seat itself weighs in at just 10 pounds, making it easy to carry around and the airport. It's also an excellent everyday car seat, so if you get one, you won't also need to buy a separate travel car seat.

Maxi Cosi Romi
The Maxi Cosi Romi travel car seat is easy to carry on your back.

3. Easiest-to-Carry Travel Car Seat: Maxi Cosi Romi

Weight and Height Limits: 5-40 pounds; up to 46 inches

Suited for both infants and toddlers, this car seat weighs in at under eight pounds and includes a strap that you can use to sling it onto your back. It is a little cushier than some of the other seats on the list and includes a detachable cup holder.

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Cosco Scenera Next
The Cosco Scenera Next is a great value travel car seat.

4. Cosco Scenera Next

Weight and Height Limits: 5-40 pounds; up to 43 inches

If you’re looking for value, this convertible travel car seat is your go-to. Some versions of the Cosco Scenera Next sell for less than $60 and weigh under eight pounds. Downsides: Some users say this seat is a little harder to install than the average car seat, and you will need another car seat once your child reaches 43 inches.

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Kids can ride rear-facing until they reach 50 pounds with the Graco Extend2Fit.

Best Travel Car Seats for Toddlers and Kids

5. Best Rear-Facing Travel Car Seat: Graco Extend2Fit

Weight and Height Limits: 4-65 pounds; up to 49 inches

With the Graco Extend2Fit, your child can ride in the rear-facing (read: safer) position for a longer period of time—until they reach 50 pounds. The seat weighs in at 19 pounds, so it’s not the lightest one on the market, but it should be bearable to carry through the airport with a little muscle and/or a cart. Harness storage containers mean you won’t have shoulder straps flying around everywhere, and the seat has a long history of safety testing.

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Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1
The Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 is lightweight, weighing just 12 pounds.

6. Best Booster Travel Car Seat: Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1

Weight and Height Limits: 30-100 pounds; 32-52 inches

The Cosco Finale itself weighs just 12 pounds, but it can hold a kid that weighs up to 100 pounds! It’s relatively inexpensive at just $80, and you can purchase a travel backpack separately to carry it through the airport. The downside is that this seat doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles—it can’t recline and it doesn’t have an adjustable headrest.

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Graco Contender
The Graco Contender has lots of customization options.

7. Best Customizable Travel Car Seat: Graco Contender

Weight and Height Limits: 5-65 pounds; up to 49 inches

Relatively light at just 15 pounds—and slim enough to fit in the backseat of a vehicle with two other car seats—the Graco Contender is a great mid-range travel pick. This convertible car seat has more customization options than some of the other choices, including extra pads that can be added or removed, eight headrest positions, and two reclining positions. There are also snack and drink holders for convenient fueling on longer trips.

The WAYB Pico car seat folds up small for easy transport.

8. Top Lightweight Travel Car Seat: WAYB Pico

Weight and Height Limits: 22-50 pounds; 30-45 inches

This travel car seat is for toddlers and young kids weighing 22 pounds and up. It looks skeletal compared to other car seats, but that means it takes up less space and weighs just eight pounds. It also folds up to a size small enough to fit into an overhead bin and comes with a premium carry bag.

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Britax Car Seat Travel Cart
The Britax Car Seat Travel Cart makes it easy to wheel the seat through the airport.

Recommended Travel Car Seat Accessories

Britax Car Seat Travel Cart

This handcart can hold most brands of car seats and makes it easy to wheel them through the airport—with or without your kid sitting in them. Once you've boarded the plane, simply stow it in the overhead bin during your flight. If you’re a jet-setting family that plans a lot of plane travel, this may be worth the $85 investment.

YOREPECK Padded Travel Case for Car Seat
The YOREPECK Padded Travel Case protects your car seat from damage.

YOREPECK Padded Travel Case for Car Seat

If your travel car seat does not come with a case, consider buying one separately to make it easy to carry and store. Reviewers love this YOREPECK Padded Car Seat Travel Bag, which allows the seat to be carried on the back like a backpack when it's not in use. The bag has extra pockets on the sides to carry diapers, clothing, and other essentials, and it does a great job of shielding the car seat from damage during storage.

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