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When you’re trying to figure out how to carry your car seat through the airport, one popular option to consider is a car seat travel bag. While it may seem like another thing to lug around with you, a car seat bag can be really handy when you’re juggling a kid, a stroller and a suitcase.
After reading this article, you’ll understand the different features to look for in a car seat bag for travel and how to pick the right one for your family (and your car seat).
Car Seat Travel Bag Quick Picks
What should you look for when choosing a car seat bag for travel? Here are a few details to consider:
- Best travel car seat backpack for convertible car seats: YOREPEK Car Seat Travel Bag with Wheels
- Best infant car seat travel bag: SCTEL Car Seat Travel Bag for Airplane
- Best booster seat travel bag: Birdee Backless Booster Seat Travel Bag
Car Seat Bag Features
There are four basic sizes of car seat bags: infant car seat, convertible/all-in-one car seat, booster seat and generic.
An infant car seat travel bag for flying is generally shaped like an infant car seat: long and low. While some of them may be specific to one brand of seat, in reality most of them are compatible with other infant car seats since they’re all roughly the same size and shape.
A travel car seat bag meant for a convertible or all-in-one car seat is typically tall and wider at the base than at the top. Again, many car seats will fit this type of bag though there’s much more size variation than among infant car seats. Some of the biggest carseat bag options can even accommodate two stacked compact car seats or a car seat and a backless booster seat.
While you can technically put a highback booster seat in one of these bags, you may run into an issue if it’s the type that can convert into a backless booster – many of these can easily tilt out of the “locked” position when you’re moving them around.
A booster seat travel bag is a much smaller than the others and is meant to help you carry a backless booster seat without using your hands.
Finally there are some generic car seat airplane bag options that are glorified nylon laundry bags. They’re big and don’t have a contoured shape, so you can fit anything in them.
Wheels vs No Wheels
One of the biggest decisions when choosing a car seat travel bag is whether or not to get one with wheels. A bag with wheels will save your back and be much, much easier to transport through the airport and beyond. However, it takes up much more space when it’s not in use.
A car seat bag without wheels is much lighter and many of them fold up to be very small when they aren’t in use. They’re also generally less expensive!
You’ll want to look closely at how a travel car seat bag is actually carried. Backpack straps that distribute weight evenly are much better than a single shoulder strap, but adding an adjustable hip belt or waist strap is even better!
But if you’re carrying a full sized car seat in any backpack, prepare for your center of gravity to be behind you and for it to generally feel awkward due to the height of today’s car seats.
For a car seat bag with wheels, you’ll want to check the type of handle to make sure it’ll be comfortable to pull. Some of these have backpack straps as well, which can be handy if you’re in a tight space or will need to walk on uneven sidewalks with your car seat.
A car seat carrier bag’s job is to make it easy for you to lug your heavy seat around, but sometimes you’re also looking for the bag to protect your seat from dirt or damage.
In general, there are some good reasons to avoid checking a car seat. But if you have to check – whether at the gate or with baggage – you may want to consider a padded bag for a little bit of extra protection. It’s still not a guarantee and I’ve seen some bags that were absolutely destroyed along with the seats inside, so YMMV. Note that most bags say that they are not designed for checking with luggage.
If you’re just using the bag to carry your car seat through the airport and you intend to use your car seat on the plane, padding isn’t critical.
By warranty, I don’t mean the bag’s warranty – it’s a bag. Who cares if it takes some damage while protecting the valuable item inside!
But some car seat manufacturers are not providing guarantees that their travel bags will protect their seats. If the car seat gets damaged when it’s checked inside the designated bag, the manufacturer will take care of it! Though these bags are higher priced than their generic counterparts, you can think of it like having an insurance policy on your very expensive car seat.
It’s very important that you weigh the higher price point of these “insured” travel car seat bags versus what’s inside. If you’re traveling with a $60 car seat, there’s no sense in buying a $300 bag!
Best Car Seat Travel Bags for Convertible Car Seats/Booster Seats
YOREPEK Car Seat Travel Backpack
For a simple, affordable option I recommend the YOREPEK Car Seat Travel Bag. It hits all the key points for a car seat backpack: lightweight, fits a convertible car seat, padded shoulder straps, has an adjustable waist strap and it folds down to a very compact size when it’s not in use.
There isn’t much padding on the back, and most parents that I see using this style of bag carry them too low so that the bottom of the car seat is hanging down low on their bodies. Try to carry “high”, with the waist belt of the car seat sitting on top of your hips. You can also order this carseat backpack for comparison – it doesn’t have as much internal padding for the car seat but it does have more padding on the lower back.
This is a good choice for a Cosco Scenera Next travel bag since it’s lightweight, inexpensive and simple – much like the Scenera itself!
Looxii Car Seat Backpack
On the surface, the Looxii Car Seat Backpack looks really similar to the YOREPEK car seat bag… and if I’m being honest they’re probably being made in the same factory by the same people. But the few extra dollars gets you a nice additional feature.
The Looxi car seat backpack for airplanes gives you a second way to transport it through the airport! They’ve built in a strap system that attaches to your carry-on suitcase, similar to this product. That can be unwieldy in some situations, but it’s wonderful to have the flexibility versus only being able to carry the car seat on your back.
YOREPEK Car Seat Travel Bag with Wheels
Do you love the sound of the backpacks above but wish they had wheels? Thankfully you can grab the YOREPEK Car Seat Travel Bag with Wheels without spending an arm and a leg! It offers the same backpack straps, but adds four spinner wheels to the bottom. The wheels and extra structure add another pound of weight, but I think it’s well worth the trade-off.
The bag is about 28″ tall and just has the grab handle on top for pulling it, so you may want to consider a “leash” of some sort if you’re taller.
If you need a Graco car seat travel bag for a convertible car seat like the Extend2Fit, this is a good choice.
Chicco Car Seat Travel Bag
If you’re a frequent flyer and need a really durable car seat bag with wheels, the Chicco Car Seat Travel Bag should fit the bill! The features are largely the same as the Yorepek wheeled car seat bag but it has a reinforced rubberized base and very durable fabric. There’s also a handy slot to tuck the backpack straps in when you’re pulling it along, which is nice so that they don’t get stuck under the wheels and fray.
The dimensions are the same as the Yorepek so tall parents may want to use a leash to pull it – otherwise you might have to bend awkwardly to keep your hand on it.
Pro tip: get it for 20% off when you use coupon ALBEE20.
Best Infant Car Seat Travel Bag
While you can use one of the car seat airplane bag options above for an infant car seat, the shape is so different that realistically you’re better off with a purpose-built bag – especially if you’ll be carrying it on your back.
YOREPEK Infant Car Seat Travel Bag
Again, YOREPEK comes through with their Infant Car Seat Travel Bag! This padded carseat travel bag is meant to be carried by its handle or as a backpack depending on which version you buy. It’s shaped to accommodate a typical infant car seat, though the description specifically mentions the Nuna Pipa/Pipa Lite RX, Uppababy Mesa and Chicco Keyfit 30.
This bag is not intended to hold the infant car seat base. It’s not generally necessary to fly with it, as nearly every infant car seat can be installed without the base.
SCTEL Car Seat Travel Bag for Airplane
Want to fly with your infant car seat base? Pick up the SCTEL Car Seat Travel Bag for Airplane instead. It has a deeper shape that’s purpose-built to accommodate the base attached to the infant car seat.
Read the description carefully, as there are two different sizes and the correct one depends on which seat and which base you have. For example if you’re looking for a Graco car seat travel bag you’ll need the larger size if you have the SnugFit series with an anti-rebound bar on the base while the seats with a more compact base can use the smaller bag. Likewise, the smaller size works as a Chicco Keyfit travel bag (both the 22lb and 30lb modes) but the larger size is better as a Chicco Keyfit 35 travel bag.
Because most infant car seat bases weigh close to 10lbs, this infant car seat bag comes with wheels so you can pull it through the airport.
Nuna Pipa Travel Bag
If you own a Nuna Pipa car seat of any type and plan to check it when you’re flying with a lap baby, you’ll definitely want to take a long hard look at the Nuna Pipa car seat travel bag. It looks pretty darn similar to the generic options above and can be carried as a backpack or by the handles (which I don’t recommend if you have the base in there, as it gets really heavy).
But the magic is in the details. If your car seat is damaged while it’s checked in this bag, Nuna will cover your car seat under warranty. You just have to register your car seat and the bag before your trip and you’ll get an extra year of coverage under their Nuna Boarding Pass program.
Uppababy MESA Family Travel Bag
Similarly, you can buy the Uppababy MESA Family travel bag to protect your Uppababy MESA infant car seat and extend its warranty when checked through the TravelSafe program.
While the MESA travel car seat bag doesn’t offer the option to carry as a backpack (which would be nice since it’s very heavy for an infant car seat), it has a different trick up its sleeve. The bag has a zippered panel on the bottom to extend the base down if you bring the car seat base with you, or you can keep the panel tucked away for a more compact profile if you’re just bringing the car seat.
Best Booster Seat Travel Bag
Flying with a booster seat is definitely easier than with a car seat in many ways, as they’re usually lighter and easier to transport! Here are some ideas for transporting your booster seat through the airport and beyond.
J.L. Childress Go-Go Travel Bag for Backless Booster Seats
Realistically you shouldn’t need to check your booster seat. We typically have our kids carry them on to the plane and put them on the floor or in the overhead bin, and no flight attendant has ever given us a hard time about having them in addition to a carry-on and/or personal item. To make carrying it through the airport easier, consider the J.L. Childress Go-Go Travel Bag for Backless Booster Seats. It has a shoulder strap built in and you can also loop it over the handle of your carry-on suitcase.
This bag is super lightweight nylon and can also serve double-duty as a grocery bag or beach tote while you’re traveling!
Birdee Durable Backless Booster Seat Travel Bag for Airplane
For a more durable, heavy-duty option you can consider the Birdee Durable Backless Booster Seat Travel Bag for Airplane. It’s very similar to the J.L. Childress but made of more substantial material.
Before you go…
There are so many factors to think about when you’re traveling with kids! Be sure to read up on flying with a car seat to make sure you’re prepared with all of the information you need for a smooth trip.