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What’s the best travel car seat for a 6 year old? (2024 reviews)

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This article about the best travel car seat for a 6 year old is written by certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Melissa Conn and may contain affiliate links.

Are you trying to pick the best travel car seat for a 6 year old? Or maybe you feel like your 6 year old is ready for a travel booster seat? You’ve come to the right place! If you’re shopping for a child of a different age, check out the best travel car seats for all ages to get to the right list.

If your family is anything like ours, at home the kids are riding around in harnessed boosters that might as well be kid-sized thrones. They’re amazing for safety and comfort.

But for air travel? Not so much. Many families don’t want to lug a 25 pound car seat through the airport, hoist it over an entire row to get it installed in a tiny airplane window seat, navigate back through another airport and then lift it into a taxi or rental car. A better choice if you can swing it is to pick up one of the many travel car seats for 6 year olds on the market today.

If your child is big enough and mature enough you can also start to consider some travel booster seats on the market. Nearly all of them are lighter than harnessed combination seats but not all 6 year olds are ready to make the jump – I know mine isn’t! Every family will need to decide what is the appropriate car seat for their 6 year old. In this article we’ll help you make that choice.

Read more: Bringing your booster seat on an airplane

Quick Picks: Best Travel Car Seat For A 6 Year Old

If you want to skip the details, here are my top picks for the best travel car seat for a 6 year old:

How to Choose the Best Travel Car Seat for a 6 Year Old

What do we look for in the best portable car seat for a 6 year old? In my experience, there are a few important priorities:

-It has to be light, ideally not more than ~10lbs

-It has to be easy to use

-Ideally it should last at least 3-4 years

On that last note, some of the options on this list are affordable enough that you might want to choose them even if they’ll only last you a year or two. Better to spend a few dollars to keep your kid boostered to a safe age than to let them ride around unsafely, even on vacation! Most kids need a booster seat until 10-12 years old to get a safe fit with an adult seatbelt.

Of course every family has unique needs. If your child is extremely tall for her age or you think she would benefit from staying harnessed for a few more years, you might want to choose taller car seat even at the expense of a few extra pounds. If your travels involve a long flight and a long drive, look for comfort features like padding and cup holders to keep your youngest passengers happy.

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Want to know all my best secrets? Click here to learn how to travel with your car seat like a pro!

Portable Car Seat For A 6 Year Old Comparison

Travel car seatSize
Graco Tranzitionsforward-facing, high-back booster
or backless booster;
12.5 lbs
Ride Safer Travel Vest booster seat alternative;
2 lbs
Peg Perego Viaggio
Flex 120
highback booster;
Diono Monterey 5iSThighback booster;
Bubblebumbackless booster seat;
1 lb
Chicco GoFit Plusbackless booster seat;
5 lbs
Cosco Rise LXbackless booster seat;
2 lbs

Best travel car seats for 6 year olds

The NHTSA recommends that kids remain in a forward-facing harness as long as possible, and many safety advocates urge parents to keep their kids harnessed for several years beyond age 4.

The right type of car seat for a 6 year old is something of a crap shoot. You may feel ok with a booster for a 6 year old who is extremely mature, good at listening to directions and doesn’t usually fall asleep in the car. On the other hand, you may need to look for a 5 point harness booster seat for over 40lbs if you think your kid won’t be able to stay in a safe position 100% of the time.

In the reviews below, we mostly recommend travel combination car seats, which can be used forward-facing with a harness until your child is big enough and mature enough to use the seat as a high-back booster. That means they’ll last you for years – maybe even until the end of your car seat days.

Some lightweight convertible car seats might still work for your 6 year old, so if you have one laying around you can stick with that! But I wouldn’t recommend buying a new convertible car seat as you won’t get to use it for long.

At the bottom of this list you’ll also find a few booster seats that are appropriate for a mature 6 year old who meets the size requirements too. YMMV.

Does my 6 year old need a carseat to fly?

Probably not, as long as she’s at least 40 pounds and will abide by the seatbelt sign. The main reason to fly with it is that you need it at your destination and want to avoid checking a car seat on an airplane. We continued to bring this car seat on flights with us if we were doing a trip with lots of driving. If we weren’t doing as much driving (or were flitting around on trains and buses too) we brought this instead and didn’t use anything on the plane for our 6 year old.

Graco Tranzitions review

Key stats:
-Weight 12.5lbs
-Max harness height 18”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-65lbs, 27-49″
-Highback booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″, age 4+
-Backless booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″, age 4+

✔ Fits from age 3 (as a harness) to ~age 12 (as a backless booster)
✔ Reasonable price for longevity
✔ Very narrow

✘ Can be tough to install in some cars
✘ Heavier than other options
✘ Back and base may separate when carrying
✘ 7 year expiration

If we were on the market for a travel car seat for a 6 year old who still needs to be harnessed, the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster car seat would get some serious consideration. The price tag is extremely reasonable for what you get and it would be a great seat to use both at home at on the go (it’s sometimes even cheaper at Walmart).

The best part? You might never have to buy another car seat again (unless you want to, that is) thanks to the 7 year lifespan and the ability to “tranzition” the seat to a highback booster and later a backless booster.

Unlike the Evenflo Maestro, the Tranzitions harnesses to 65lbs (rather than only 50) has harness pads and a slightly wider distance between straps to keep your kid comfortable. It’s a better choice all around if your child is bigger than average.

It has an option pillow for extra padding and even two cupholders, which can be rotated inward to save space and make this a great car seat for traveling with three kids. For added convenience, as your child grows taller you can use the Simply Safe feature to adjust harness height – a no-rethread harness is a feature usually reserved for much heavier car seats.

So what are the tradeoffs? Nothing is perfect. You’ll have to carry around a few extra pounds to get all those features in a 6 year old car seat, though you won’t notice a difference if you use a cart like this one or strap it to your suitcase. Just know that if you’re using it as a booster seat for your 6 year old, you won’t be able to bring it on board a plane with you.

Some parents have had trouble installing the Tranzitions (or the Graco Wayz) in certain cars since the path for the seatbelt and LATCH strap is mounted very high on the car seat – I’ve even had difficulty sometimes when helping caregivers with this seat. Prepare to spend a little more time with it and use these tips for installing your car seat. It also requires a top tether for installation, which you may not find in developing countries.

Lastly, the base and the back can click apart from each other too easily when you’re carrying it around – this problem afflicts just about every booster seat that can become backless (including the one we use at home) and it’s such a nuisance!

The Graco Tranzitions might be the best car seat for 6 year old kids whose families are on a budget but want a travel-worthy option. Since it converts between a forward-facing harness, highback booster seat and a backless booster seat, many families can get at least five years of use out of it – not bad for a seat with a retail price under $150.

Ride Safer Travel Vest review

Key stats:
-Weight 2lbs
-Size small: minimum age 3, fits best for 30+ lbs and 35-47″
-Size large: minimum age 4, fits best for 50+ lbs and 45-57″

✔ Rolls up to the size of a 2L soda bottle
✔ Perfect for taxi rides
✔ Lowers seat belt to provide an appropriate fit for young children
✔ Keeps kids properly seated better than a traditional booster seat – even when sleeping
✔ Easy to fit 3-across since it’s only as wide as the child
✔ 5 year expiration

✘ No side impact protection like a highback booster seat
✘ Takes practice to get belt fit right
✘ NOT permitted for use on planes

Several years ago the kind folks at Safe Ride 4 Kids sent us a Ride Safer travel vest to review, and it hasn’t left our travel kit since. The Ride Safer travel vest is completely different than the other travel car seats and booster seats on the market.

You could say that the Ride Safer travel vest is sort of in between a booster seat and a traditional forward-facing car seat. It relies on the car’s seat belt to handle most of the restraint, but also has an optional top tether that minimizes head movement in an accident and keeps your child in the correct position even if they fall asleep (or drop a toy). While our youngest child wasn’t ready for a booster seat yet at 6 since she was a car sleeper – especially when jet-lagged – we were comfortable with her riding in the Ride Safer vest.

DEAL ALERT! Save $11 off the Ride Safer Travel Vest with coupon ‘VOYAGE

So comfortable, in fact, that we brought our Ride Safer vest on our year-long trip around the world! It’s seen action on six continents and served us well the whole time. Once we practiced a few times, we got very fast at putting her in the vest and getting her secured in the car. The newer version features an easier buckle in the front and more adjustability, so that should help many parents.

Travel Car Seat Mom - A young girl sitting in a car seat.
Small Ride Safer Gen 5 at 7 years old

Many families wonder what size to buy. The size small should last most kids until 6 or even 7 (if they’re on the smaller side). Above you can see my niece at 7 years old, around 46″ and 45lbs – she has a very slim build and still fits nicely in the small.

Travel Car Seat Mom - A young girl wearing the Ride Safer Travel Vest sits comfortably in the back seat of a car.
Large Ride Safer Gen 5 at 9 years old

If your child is bigger than average or older but still not ready to ride in a booster seat, you can opt for the Large or even XL size. In fact, the Ride Safer travel vest is one of the best travel car seat options for taller kids who aren’t booster-ready, as all of the very tall harnesses on the market weigh 20+ pounds. My daughter pictured above is around 48″ and 55lbs; the small didn’t work for her but large is perfect.

Read more: My in-depth Ride Safer travel vest review

While we generally think of the Ride Safer as a travel car seat alternative, we also use it at home often. I keep it in my trunk at all times so that we can fit 3-across in our car for those unexpected carpools or for when Grandma comes for a visit! Since the vest is as narrow as the child in it, there’s no trouble fitting it between two big car seats in our compact SUV.

Best travel booster seats for 6 year olds

Ok, so what if you feel like your 6 year old is mature enough (and big enough) for a booster seat? There are a few great choices to consider for the next stage.

When you’re shopping for a portable booster seat, it’s important to remember that even the best booster seats are not FAA-approved – here’s what you need to know about flying with a booster seat. From a safety perspective, that’s fine: your child will be over 40lbs, so the airplane seatbelt will secure her properly. But what should you do with her booster seat so it’s not lost or damaged?

Take it on board! There are a few ways to manage this. One option is to buy a folding booster seat from the list below. We own several of these and they’re great! They fold up small enough to fit in the overhead bin of a plane so that you’re never separated from them.

The other option is to separate the bottom of the booster seat from the back and put the back in a suitcase. It’s ok to check the back that way because it’ll be protected by the suitcase and padded by clothing. You’d then carry the backless part of the booster on-board with you and put it in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of your kid. The only risk is if your luggage is lost or delayed, but at least in a pinch you could use the backless portion of the booster on its own.

You can also find even more travel booster seat options here.

Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 Booster Seat review

Key stats:
-Weight 15lbs
-Highback booster size limit 40-120lbs, up to 63″

✔ Steel reinforced frame
✔ Rigid LATCH
✔ Tons of size adjustments for a great fit
✔ Reclines for sleep
✔ Extremely narrow
✔ 10 year expiration

Really expensive
✘ No arm rests
✘ Heavy
✘ Folded size is as big as a carry-on suitcase

If you don’t have an enormous budget to spend on a travel booster seat for your 6 year old, just look away now.

If you’re still reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you. The Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 (usually available at a discount thankfully) has some great features, but a price tag to match as well. It’s hard to fathom spending that much on luxury high back booster seat that doesn’t have any other modes available. However, some of the premium features make it a solid choice.

First off, it’ll last forever… or at least as long as you want it to. The upper size limit is a whopping 120 lbs and 63″, which is the size of a petite adult. Most riders that size will fit in a seatbelt just fine without a booster seat so you may not ever need a backless booster. The other piece of lasting forever is that Peg Perego gives a whopping 10 years until expiration of this seat. If you have a second child (or third or fourth!) they’ll be able to get a few years out of this seat as well.

Second, it’s loaded with reassuring safety features. The Viaggio Flex 120 has rigid LATCH connectors to easily install the booster seat and keep it from moving around. The back of the seat is also steel reinforced for additional safety.

Third, kids generally like it. It’s padded, it has folding cupholders on each side and the lack of armrests (though a downside for long drives) means it’s easier for booster-age kids to buckles themselves.

So what’s wrong with this portable booster seat for 6 year olds, other than perhaps the price? It comes down to the portability aspect. The steel reinforcement and rigid LATCH add an extra 5-6 pounds, making you less likely to sling this one over your shoulder and use it out on the town. Likewise, it’s not all that small when folded – about 2′ long! You’ll be lucky to fit it in the overhead bin, but taking it when you walk around a city means you’ll need a really big backpack to carry it.

The best use for the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex booster seat is probably when you’re flying to head on a road trip and won’t be moving it in and out of cars all the time. This is a solid competitor against the Diono 5iST below.

Diono Monterey 5ist review

Key stats:
-Weight 19lbs
-Highback booster size limit 40lbs/38″ to 120lbs/63″; max belt guide 21″

✔ Folds for compact storage
✔ Easy for kids to buckle
✔ Side impact tested
✔ Rigid LATCH for quick installation
✔ Very roomy, width adjusts to fit even the biggest kids
✔ Highest weight and height limits of any booster
✔ 8 year expiration

✘ Heavier than other folding booster seats
✘ Too wide for 3-across as kids get taller

If you’re looking for the best booster seat for a 6 year old who will just be traveling to Grandma’s house now and then, put the new Diono Monterey 5iST on your consideration list. It’s not the lightest car seat for a 6 year old on this list, but it has a ton to offer.

First off, the Monterey 5iST adjusts tall enough and wide enough to last nearly every kid to the end of their boostering days (it’s officially rated to 63″ and 120lbs). Since it’s good for 8 years, if you buy it now you may not need to buy your child another car seat or booster seat ever again.

Diono Monterey 5iST booster seat at age 7

When you do plan to take that occasional flight, the 5iST folds to about the size of a carry-on suitcase so that you can probably fit it in the overhead bin (YMMV depending on the airline and aircraft). Alternatively, you can just leave it at Grandma’s and she won’t even notice it in the closet since it folds so compactly.

The Monterey 5iST has plenty of great features: side impact protection, rigid LATCH, unbeatable ease-of-use and more. Subjectively, it also feels extremely sturdy. This is a wonderful everyday booster seat.

My kids absolutely love the booster we received from Diono. You can read more in my in-depth Diono Monterey 5iST review, but my 10 year old is so enamored that he’s chosen to ride in it full-time. That’s high praise from an image-conscious tween!

Bubblebum booster seat review

Key stats:
-Weight under 1 lbs (really!)
-Backless booster size limit 40-100lbs, age 4+

✔ Lightest booster seat
✔ Extremely narrow
✔ Good seatbelt fit in lots of cars

✘ Can slide around if kids are wiggly
✘ 4 year expiration (from first use)

Here’s a great portable booster seat for a 6 year old in this roundup with which we’re extremely familiar: the Bubblebum inflatable booster seat. We traveled full-time with this booster seat for the better part of two years starting when our son turned 6.

The Bubblebum is pretty amazing. It weighs about one pound and deflates/rolls to the size of a soda bottle. Setting it up takes just a few seconds, and there’s even a shoulder belt guide to give a great fit for kids of different sizes in all different vehicles. It’s also extremely affordable, even for something you’ll only use every now and then.

If you’re a family with a mature 6 year old who doesn’t usually sleep in the car the Bubblebum gives you the paragon of portability. It’s the best booster car seat option for taking around on days in a city when you think you might hop in a taxi to get home at night or if you’re taking lots of planes and trains for an extended trip.

Bubblebum is the best travel booster seat because it gives a great, consistent belt fit in nearly every car

The Bubblebum is so light that it may shift if your kid is very wiggly. But if your kid is very wiggly, they may not be ready for a backless booster seat just yet. In that case, I’d go with the RideSafer travel vest for an ultra-portable option. We also had an issue with one of our Bubblebums deflating after we left it inflated in a hot car for a month (oops!); we reached out to customer service and they sent us a whole new one for just the $7 shipping charge!

The Bubblebum also has a relatively small seating area and your child’s bottom needs to be within the silver edge. If your 6 year old has wider hips, you might want to scroll down to the next option, the Cosco Rise LX.

We started using this booster seat at 6 years old, and we think that’s about right. But it’s approved for 4 years old/40lbs and there are plenty of 5 year olds who can use it successfully, especially if your drives are short. This is a judgement call for each family and also depends on the specifics of your travels.

You can also read my in-depth review of the Bubblebum.

Graco RightGuide booster seat review

Key stats:
-Weight 2 lbs
-Backless booster size limit 50-120lbs, 43-60″, age 5+

✔ Extremely light booster seat
✔ Very compact booster seat when folded
✔ Narrow option for 3-across with big kids
✔ Inconspicuous option for tweens
✔ 10 year expiration

✘ Belt guide may not stay in place securely
✘ Incompatible with some seatbelt designs

If you have a big kid or tween who’s approaching readiness for the adult seatbelt (usually 10-12 years old) but not quite there, check out the Graco RightGuide. It’s ultra low profile and easy to throw in a backpack or clip to the outside of a carry-on suitcase. It does require that kids be at least 5 years old, 43″ and 50lbs – a weight many kids don’t achieve until they’re around 7 or even older.

The RightGuide offers a wonderful seatbelt fit even for kids at the bottom of the stated size range. It can be problematic with certain types of seatbelts, so be sure to read my Graco RightGuide review to know what you need to look out for.

Cosco Rise LX booster seat review

Key stats:
-Weight 2 lbs
-Backless booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″

✔ Extremely light
✔ Bargain price
✔ Good seatbelt fit
✔ Narrow enough for 3-across
✔ Updated LX version has more padding

✘ Doesn’t fold

Do you like the idea of a more “traditional” booster seat but want a more compact form for travel? Or do you worry that your child will outgrow the width of the Bubblebum too quickly? The new Cosco Rise LX might be your best travel car booster seat option! We own the original non-LX version and have used it extensively.

The Cosco Rise LX (and original) are the booster seat in its simplest form: you put it down on the seat and then your kiddo buckles and runs the seatbelt under the arm rests to place it properly on her body. If your child is on the shorter side, there’s also an attached adjustable shoulder belt guide to bring the seatbelt down low enough to cross her collarbone.

That’s it. It’s not a folding booster car seat, but at 2 pounds it’s one of the lightest booster seats on the market. It’s also incredibly affordable, coming in right around $20. I’ve used it for multiple kids ranging from 6 to 10 and the fit is good on all of them. Even if you never plan to use it for travel, this is a great one to have on hand as a spare since it’s the cheapest booster seat you can buy.

The Cosco Rise is also the narrowest booster seat aside from Bubblebum at just 15″. That makes it a viable booster seat for 3-across, especially since it’s narrower at the back where your child will need to reach the buckle. We managed to squeeze one into the middle seat of our old CR-V between another narrow booster seat and an adult!

The biggest downside of the original version is the sparse padding, including none on the arm rests. This isn’t the seat my kids typically want to ride in for more than about 30 minutes, and we probably wouldn’t choose it for a long road trip if we had another choice. I recommend that you spring for the LX for just an extra $3-5, as it has more padding including on the arm rests.

Note that the minimum height for this booster seat is 43″ – many kids won’t reach that until almost 6 years old. Our son didn’t get there until almost 7 years old, so parents of shorter kids may need to look elsewhere. But the Cosco Rise LX may be the best booster seat for 6 year old globetrotters who need more hip room and prefer a stable seating area. On the other end of the spectrum, the Rise may not offer quite enough thigh support for the oldest booster riders since the seat is on the shallower side; at 11 years old, my son usually refuses it.

At 2 pounds, the Cosco Rise booster seat is one of the lightest booster seats available. It’s also extremely affordable! If your child is ready for a backless booster and you don’t mind the extra size or weight compared to the Bubblebum or if your child has outgrown the small seat of the Bubblebum, this just might be the best booster seat for travel.

Chicco GoFit Plus review

Key stats:
-Weight 5lbs
-Backless booster size limit 4yo/40lbs/38″ to 110lbs/57″

✔ Great padding
✔ LATCH to secure it when unoccupied
✔ Nice, removable/foldable cupholders
✔ Long arm rests
✔ 8 year expiration

✘ The 57″ height limit means tall kids might need another booster down the line
✘ Seat isn’t wide enough for kids at the top of the growth chart

We own the Chicco GoFit and love it! (Actually, if I’m being honest we now own four Chicco GoFits and three of them are permanently in my van.)

The padding is nice and squishy, the arm rests and cup holders are great and the price is very reasonable. It’s not terribly wide and the cupholders fold in to help it play nicely with other car seats. Installing the booster seat with LATCH is just as easy as with all of our other Chicco car seats.

This is one of the best car booster seat options for kids who are on the smaller end of the growth chart. If you have taller or broader kids, the seat may not be wide enough to hold them until the end of their booster days. There’s also a 57″ standing height limit, which may not work for the tallest kids.

This is the booster seat we use at home and the one we take for our child when we know we’re going to be doing a lot of driving at our destination. It’s extremely comfortable and has a great carry handle integrated into the back of the seat (it’s where the back would attach if you’d bought it as part of the KidFit highback booster seat, which we also have and like). On some planes my son has put the GoFit at his feet, while on other flights he’s put it in the overhead bin.

If you want to save a little money and a little weight, the original Chicco GoFit weighs about a half pound less than the Chicco GoFit Plus – the only differences are the lower anchors and fancier armrest fabric on the Plus.

Best car seat for 6 year old FAQs

What car seat should a 6 year old be in?

Most 6 year olds are big enough and mature enough to ride in a high back booster seat or even a backless booster seat. If your 6 year old can’t sit still in the car or still likes to sleep in the car, it’s better to choose a 5-point harness.

For 6 year olds who still need a harnessed booster seat, the Chicco MyFit (save 20% when you buy direct) and the Britax Grow With You ClickTight both offer long-lasting harnesses. You might just need to strategize about how to travel with them!

When can my 6 year old use a booster seat?

Most 6 year olds meet the height and weight requirements to ride in a booster seat. However, their developmental level is just as important. Your child needs to be able to sit correctly in a booster seat 100% of the time, even when sleeping.

Can a 6 year old use a backless booster seat?

Most 6 year olds meet the height and weight requirements to ride in a backless booster seat. If your child is developmentally ready for that step, a highback booster can still be a better choice because it provides support for sleeping and the sides are an important reminder to stay seated in the proper position. The right backless booster seat age varies a lot by kid.

What is the best car seat for a 6 year old?

The best car seat for your 6 year old is the one that fits their bodies, fits your car, fits your family budget and that you can use correctly 100% of the time. Many 6 year olds ride in combination (also called “harnessed booster”) car seats. In addition to the travel-friendly car seats in this list, here are some fantastic options to consider that will last your child for many years:
Britax Grow With You ClickTight
Chicco MyFit
Graco Nautilus SnugLock Grow

If your 6 year old is ready for a booster seat, check out these great options to find the right one for your family!

Does a 6 year old need a car seat?

A 6 year old absolutely needs a car seat or a booster seat to ride safely and legally in the car. Seat belts are designed to restrain adult bodies, and most kids don’t get a safe seat belt fit until 10-12 years old.

What are the best 6 year old booster seat options?

There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right booster seat for a six year old! In addition to making sure your child is mature enough and within the height and weight requirements of the booster seat, you’ll need to do a little research before buying. Some vehicles need to have their head restraints removed when using a booster seat, but some booster seats require a head restraint behind them; that can make some combinations incompatible. It’s important to read your car’s manual and the manuals of booster seats you’re considering before you buy.

In addition to the travel-friendly booster seats in this list, here are some fantastic 6 year old booster seat options to consider that will last your child for many years:
Chicco KidFit
Diono Monterey 4DXT (requires headrest)

You can also read about the most comfortable boosters for long drives (or for around town!).

What’s your favorite travel car seat for a 6 year old? Tell us in the comments below!

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