Best Travel Car Seats, From All-in-Ones to Booster Seats for Big Kids

Traveling with kids means traveling with car seats. Here are our favorites for older kids: all-in-one seats that won't slow you down, and easy-traveling booster seats.

Car Seats Are So Easy. Photo: Jill Robbins
Car seats are so easy. Photo: Jill Robbins

Travel with Kids Car Seats? Yes! 

The never ending questions is: Do we bring our kids car seats or rent them when we travel? And it may not be that easy; you should have kids car seats in an Uber or may need them if a friend or family member offers to do the driving on your travels.

Installing, uninstalling and hauling car seats through airports, train stations and more is a pain. But, it’s better than the alternative: Staying home. 

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to travel with kids car seats. If you have the right kind of car seat that travels well, that is. Here are some of our favorites for older kids (here are our tips for traveling with infants in car seats) and why we like them for travel.

Related: Keeping Kids Happy In Car Seats: All Our Secrets

Installing The Kids Car Seats Was Not Difficult; The Center Row Seats Slide And Tilt, Giving You Plenty Of Room. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Installing the kids car seats was not difficult in the Jeep Grand Cherokee L; the center row seats slide and tilt, giving you plenty of room. Photo: Scotty Reiss

All-in-One Car Seats

These are an excellent choice that offer an exceptional value and good versatility because they are designed to grow with your children from infancy to around age 10. We looked at car seats that are easy to install, Two popular options that we really like are the Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One and the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat.

Chicco Nextfit Max Child Car Seat

Chicco NextFit Max child car seat. Photo: Amazon

Chicco NextFit Max

This convertible car seat accommodates infants to pre-teens, rear facing and forward facing up to 65 lbs. And it’s intended for travel: It’s not as wide as some car seats so it’s possible to fit 3 across a bench seat, it’s designed for easy installation and weighs in at 26.5 lbs. 

The NextFit Max also, due to its shape, offers more leg room for kids positioned rear-facing, and it’s manufactured with materials known for low emissions and no unnecessary chemicals. 

Find the Chicco NextFit Max here for $268.

The Britax One4Life Baseless Car Seat Flexes With You As Your Child Grows.

The Britax One4Life baseless car seat flexes with you as your child grows. Photo: Amazon

Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One

The Britax One4Life ClickTight stands out for its easy installation process. Buckle it in using the car’s seat belt and in just three simple steps it’s installed securely. That’s because the seating surface opens to allow the car’s seat belt to thread between the base of the seat and the seat surface; close the seat and it secures the seatbelt tightly with a ‘click’ that lets you know the fit is tight.

However, it’s worth noting that the Britax One4Life ClickTight is relatively heavy, weighing 30 lbs., which may be a consideration for parents traveling solo or those who like to travel light.

Find the Britax ClickTight car seat here for $400.

Related: Why We Are Just Bonkers for Britax


The Graco 4Ever Dlx 4 In One Baseless Car Seat.

The Graco 4ever DLX 4-in-one makes traveling with young ones a dream. Photo: Amazon

Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat

The Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat is a fantastic choice that offers a range of impressive features. Installing this car seat is a breeze, thanks to its integrated belt lock off, which simplifies seat belt installation. As your child grows, the Graco 4Ever DLX transforms from a rear-facing seat to a backless booster.

With a large weight range from 4 to 120 pounds, this car seat provides long-term usability. It has specific weight limits for each mode, including rear-facing, forward-facing, high-back booster, and backless booster to ensure a secure fit for your child at each growth stage.

The Graco 4Ever DLX weighs 23 lbs., making it relatively lightweight compared to other All-in-Ones. 

Find the Graco 4Ever DLX here for $330.

Clek Foonf Kids Car Seat

The Clek Foonf kids car seat in Marshmallow. Photo: Amazon

Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat – in Marshmallow

This is one chic kids car seat, and while it does come in a variety of colors, it looks spectacular in white. We love two things about this and one thing not so much: Clek seats are narrow so they are a good option for 3-across, and they have rigid latch clips, so you can simply slide and click to the car’s LATCH anchors (in theory, anyway), making for a super speedy installation. 

The one thing we don’t like? The steep price tag; at $580 this is luxury kids car seat, but it will look right at home in a Range Rover or Mercedes-Benz SUV. 

Get the Clek Foonf here for $580

Related: No Minivan Shame: 6 Reasons A Minivan is the Best Thing Ever

Booster Seats Ideal for Older Children

Your kid gets to the booster seat stage and you feel like you can see light on the horizon – sort of. Kids still need head protection, a well-positioned seat belt and a little more heft all around. We like seats that have adjustable head rests and a 5-point harness for extra safety, and we like that these are lighter. Keep in mind that most booster seats need to use the car’s seatbelt because they are too heavy for LATCH systems (the limit is 65 lbs total, kid + seat).

Here are four we really like, and why.

Britax Highpoint Booster Seat

The Britax Highpoint booster seat. Photo: Amazon

Britax Highpoint Backless Belt Positioning Booster

We love how lightweight this seat is – 12 lbs.! – yet it still provides head rest protection and a multi-point harness, so kids are snug when strapped in. And, it has side impact protection with the back attached, which is something most people give up when they move their kids into a booster.

The Highpoint comes in 5 color combos and the seat’s covers can be removed and tossed in the washing machine. This booster accommodates kids from 40-120 lbs., can be used with our without the back and it’s slim: 3 can fit across the bench seat in most cars. 

Buy the Britax Highpoint booster for $159

Graco Booster

Graco TurboBooster. Photo: Amazon

Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster

This one really hugs your kiddo, but it still feels more grownup than a kids car seat; and it has a LATCH system for parents who love this for the secure installation and for kids who haven’t yet hit the weight limit for LATCH installation. This seat converts to backless, has a built-in cup holder and storage drawer that pulls out from the seat.

This Graco seat is for kids between 40 and 100 lbs., and secures with a 3 point harness. Weighing in at just 10.5 lbs., its slender and can fit 3 across in most cars. 

Get the Graco TurboBooster Highback for $67

Chicco Booster

Chicco KidFit Booster. Photo: Amazon

Chicco KidFit ClearTex Highback Booster

We love Chicco’s use of “Clear Tex” fabrics which are made without added and unnecessary chemicals. Add to that a removable seat back, or keep it because it reclines, which your kiddo may like. This seat is designed for kids who weigh 40-100 lbs., and the seat itself weighs just 10 lbs.

This seat comes in 9 colors, has a washable cover, LATCH connectors for a quick install, and cup holders that fold out of the way so you can fit 3 across a bench seat. 

Buy the Chicco KidFit ClearTex Booster for $100

Kidsembrace Booster Seat Car Seat

The KidsEmbrace Booster Seat car seat. Photo: Amazon

KidsEmbrace 2-in-one Booster Seat 

If there’s anything that will get your kid to say yes to staying in a car seat, it has to be  assuming the position of her favorite Marvel super hero or Disney princess. That’s what this seat is all about (oh, and also, safety).

This comes dressed as 18 different characters and can be LATCH installed for smaller kids (22-65 lbs.) or seatbelt installed for larger kids (40 to 100 lbs.). It has a 5 point harness and a height-adjustable headrest, weighs 15 lbs. and has more than 21,000 reviews on Amazon averaging 4.8 stars (versus the typical 2,000-4,000). That’s a lot of happy kids (and parents). 

Car Seats Are So Easy. Photo: Jill Robbins

Car seats are so easy. Photo: Jill Robbins

No Matter Which You Choose, Be Sure Safety Is First

All-in-one car seats and boosters are designed to grow with your kid, so it’s important to be sure that the installation method, head rests and positioning are right for your child’s height and weight. Be sure you’re familiar with the right fit for your child before uninstalling your child’s car seat from your car.

It’s also a good idea to study, or even take photos, of the installation in your car so you can be sure to get it right in a rental car. Which of course you’ll need to do late at night when everyone is tired and cranky, and if you’re lucky, it’ll be cold and raining. Just kidding about that last part. 

What We Don’t Recommend: Renting Car Seats, or Car Seat/Stroller Convertibles

These two options for travel sound so good. Except, they generally are not. Rental car seats are the luck of the draw; they may not fit your kid right, they may not be well cleaned and they may have been returned to the rental fleet even after being involved in an accident– which is a no-no. 

Convertible stroller/car seats also sound like a good option for traveling with kids; fold the wheels down and the handle out for maneuvering through an airport and then pop them back in to install the seat in the car. But in practice we don’t like this as much; first, neither the car seat nor the stroller looks very comfortable. The child rides low to the ground and the handles are not very high or wide. And child passenger car seats are designed with specific safety parameters in place that may be compromised when doubling as a stroller. Frankly, there are not many of these on the market, which is also a good sign they are probably not best for your child’s safety. 

But the good news is, there are lots of great options for families who like to travel with their kids, so go ahead, book that trip and take the kids and the car seats with you! 

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss