Every year during the month of September there is a move to raise awareness of car seat safety. That initiative is to help educate parents on how to install and use seats safely.
I put a lot of thought and research into purchasing the seats my children used. They have moved on to boosters but I know the process well.
It took a few trips with those big, bulky seats that we realized they just weren’t conducive to traveling. Any parent knows that adding children to traveling = adding more stuff (more luggage). In an effort to consolidate and travel more wisely we opted to research and purchase car seats, especially for travel.
The issue with travel and car seats is that the general everyday seat is heavy and cumbersome which makes it difficult when you have to manage strollers, suitcases, and children in travel transit.
At this point in time, our boys were out of the snap-in bucket car seats. This was an easy option during the baby stage as it just snapped into our stroller.
As they grew into toddlers our pick was the Cosco seat. The current model is the Cosco Scenera NEXT DLX Convertible Car Seat weighing in at 10.40 pounds. This car seat is light and inexpensive. The lower price took the stress out of our everyday, more expensive seats getting beat up by the airlines. It can be used in the rear-facing position from 5-40 pounds or forward-facing from 22-40 pounds. It has a compact TSA-friendly design for airport security and meets Federal Safety Standards.
The pad easily comes off for easy washing if you happen to have an unfortunate car sickness episode like we did coming down Waimea Canyon on Kauai or like most kids who snack in the car a mess here and there.
When shopping for a new car seat for your travels consider weight, size, ease, and comfort.
You will want it to be light as possible considering you will be moving it a bunch more than the seat you put in your car (weighing 25-30 pounds). Consider how you would use it from airport arrival through the rental car. I’d suggest looking for something 15 pounds or lighter.
Don’t compromise on the proper size for your child just to get the lightest car seat.
Ease of Use
You’ll want to look for things like a LATCH system or an easy process to use with the seatbelt. You will probably not know what options a rental car may have till you get there. Familiarize yourself with the installation before traveling to avoid the potential for breakdowns if complications with the first installation happen after a potentially long travel day.
I will say that the Cosco seat we used probably wasn’t the most comfortable as the padding was pretty thin. However, my boys never complained. If you have comfort complainers look for one with a bit more padding like the Cosco Scenera Next Deluxe Convertible Car Seat, still at 10.40 pounds but with a bit of extra padding.
A few incidentals to consider. If you are traveling internationally make sure to take a locking clip as some countries do not have locking seatbelts like in the united states.
Finally, the pièce de résistance: a belt that attaches to your suitcase to carry the car seat and child as well. I wish I had a picture of one of the boys enjoying a lift through the airport but you can see what I mean and purchase here.