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20 Best Baby Carriers for Travel (2023)

A baby carrier for travel is an invaluable piece of baby gear. In fact, we prefer it over all else when we travel. There are many reasons why a baby carrier is an essential travel item for a baby.

Firstly, you get to have a free hand or two which means more hands to carry other things. This is such a major plus, especially when at the airport, maneuvering luggage, and flying with a baby. Wearing a baby carrier for travel also comes in handy when you are out sightseeing, since not all cities or attractions are stroller friendly.

And lastly, babies love being in their mom and dad’s arms at all times, which makes naptime so much easier when on the go. After all, nothing makes happier travels than a happy baby. Finding the right travel baby carrier is a worthwhile use of your time!

baby sleeping in baby carrier - one of the must-have baby travel gear items

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Benefits of a Baby Carrier for Travel

We’ve often wondered if a baby carrier vs a stroller would be better for travel. In many instances we’ve found our travel baby carrier to be the clear winner. Here are the main reasons we’ve preferred to travel with one of the best travel baby carriers:

  • Being hands free.
  • The benefits of babywearing still apply on vacation.
  • Your baby may sleep easier in a carrier.
  • Not all attractions are stroller accessible.
  • Not all cities are stroller friendly.
  • You will want it for the airplane, trust me!

Let’s get into a little more detail on some of the key parts of travelling with a baby or toddler and why you’ll want a baby carrier:

Baby Carrier for the Airport

We always chose to use a baby carrier at the airport (often without even bringing a stroller on our trip with us and choosing to rent baby equipment at our destination instead). It doesn’t happen all the time, but often you’ll get right through security without even taking your baby out of the carrier.

And if your baby isn’t sleeping, it’s not really a big deal to take them out if you have to. Going through security with free hands is invaluable. Plus you won’t have to completely empty a stroller to put it through the x-ray.

Flying with a baby in baby carrier

Baby Carrier for Air Travel

Every parents dream is that their baby will sleep through the flight. You’ll save your arms (and maybe even be able to hold up a book or feed yourself) if your baby falls asleep on you in the carrier.

If your baby is having trouble sleeping or it’s just not nap time, having a carrier to walk your baby around or even just to not have to hold your baby the entire time will be a lifesaver. We highly recommend a baby carrier for plane travel. Your arms will thank me!

Don’t miss our post on Best Baby Travel Toys!

Baby Carrier for Public Transport

We have regretted taking our stroller on public transit nearly every time we tried. Either we had to fold it up, or there wasn’t enough room or we couldn’t get it through the turnstiles. A baby carrier is so much better for these trips.

Baby Carrier for Sightseeing

There are plenty of places around the world where you either can not or will not want to use a stroller, even the most lightweight travel stroller. Having a baby carrier will mean you won’t have to miss out!

stroller or carrier for travel with a baby and toddler

Choosing between a wrap and a soft-structured baby carrier

Wraps are excellent for infants and very small babies (typically from birth until about 20 lbs). They don’t require any type of infant insert. If you get a true wrap (as opposed to a carrier like the Baby k’Tan) then it’s a one size fits all. They are a soft without any buckles, like wrapping your baby in a blanket.

A wrap will require some practice to get it right. A soft-structured baby carrier can also be used from birth.

tips for getting baby to nap in carrier on vacation

A soft structured carrier will have a much higher weight limit and some can be used into the early toddler years. Soft-structured baby carriers also have a much smaller learning curve. They’ll often have padded shoulder straps for added comfort.

You probably can do a back carry in a woven wrap, but it’s much easier to do in soft structured carriers. A carrier will also have a few pockets to carry keys, etc. Depending on who will be doing the baby carrying, Dads typically (obviously, not always) prefer the carriers over wraps.

Baby in Carrier for Sightseeing

When to Choose a Ring Sling

A ring sling will be easier to put on than a wrap, as the techniques to wrap must be mastered before it’s easy to take your baby in and out. Your baby will outgrow the wrap quicker. A ring sling can still be used with a toddler. Ring slings are smaller than a wrap so can easily be put into a bag or pocket, additionally they are easier to change your baby’s position.

Considerations Before Buying a Baby Carrier

So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that a baby carrier is a must for travel, which one should you get? The options can be overwhelming. 

Our first recommendation would be to do your research (which we’ve done for you below) then try them out before you buy. How can you do this? See if you can borrow from a friend, visit a babywearing lending library or join a babywearing group. Alternatively, check return policies and see if you can order more than one to try before you commit.

When it comes to choosing the best baby carrier for you, these are the questions you need to ask yourself: 

How long do you hope to use it for?

What age will you start using it with your baby?

How many carrying positions would you like to have?

Do you have any back, neck or shoulder issues?

How important is the fabric and/or the option to have fun patterns?

Do you plan to use it mostly in warm destinations?

What types of activities will you use for most: sightseeing or hiking?

And finally, what is your budget?

Visiting Rome with a baby and toddler

Best Baby Travel Carriers

This guide provides you with a clear overview of the best baby carriers for travel to help you choose the one that’s right for you. Listed below are some of the best travel baby carriers organized based on age group (for newborns and infants), based on the activity (for travel, hiking or water/beach vacations), as well as carriers that are best suited for twins.

Huckaby Trail - easy hiking trails in Sedona

If you are looking for the best toddler carriers for travel, we’ve separated those out into it’s own post.

Best Soft Structured Baby Carriers for Travel

Without fail, if you ask a group of moms to share their favorite baby carriers for travel, you'll find the LILLEbaby, Baby Tula and Ergo baby carriers in the responses. These three baby carrier brands make the best baby carriers, but each of them has several options to choose from which just adds to the overwhelm.

We've included the most popular option from each, but we also recommend heading to their sites to discover other options which may suit you better.

We've also included other popular soft-structured baby carriers that would work well for travel.

Best Baby Carriers for Newborn Babies

If you are traveling with an infant, here are the best infant travel carriers. The ones above will work as well, but these hold your newborn nice and close in a soft wrap.

Best Baby Carriers for Hiking

If you hope to bring your little one along on your outdoor family adventures, a baby carrier for hiking is a definite must-have for hiking with a baby.

The best baby hiking carrier will offer your baby a view of their surroundings, while also providing you with the right back support for even the lengthiest excursions. Keep reading to see why we love these hiking baby carrier options.

While you can always use soft structured carriers for hiking, we preferred a baby backpack carrier for hiking, especially if it was a long hike. You can read more about it in our post on the best baby hiking carriers, but we always appreciated the fit of a backpack style carrier plus the storage options for everything we needed to carry.

Baby carrier backpacks can also offer a more comfortable ride for your baby since they aren't right up against your body plus backpack carriers with a canopy can offer some sun protection.

Best Baby Carriers for Beach Vacations

When you want to have a good time by the water with your little one, a waterproof baby carrier is an indispensable item. It'll make sure your little one is safe and sound, and snuggled up close to you when things get exciting all around them! Listed below is a quick overview of some of the best baby carriers for hot climates and use in water in the market. 

Best Baby Carriers for Twins

A twin baby carrier is an absolute must if you ever want to have two free hands again once you have twins! They also make it that much easier to enter places that are not large enough to accommodate a double travel stroller easily. For instance, when you are in an elevator or navigating a busy airport in a rush, lugging around a stroller plus two babies can be a nightmare.

Having a baby carrier for twins is a life saver in all of these situations. You'll want to bring anything you can that makes travel with twins even a little bit easier!

Best Baby Carrier for Traveling – Our Recommendation

We have used a Baby K’Tan, Ergo Original, Ergo Performance Original with & without infant insert, Onya Baby Nexstep, LILLEBaby CarryOn Toddler Carrier, Deuter Kid Comfort III, and the Piggyback Rider. We have also rented a Kelty backpack carrier, but it wasn’t clear what model it was (or we forgot to check). We’ve used our carriers for around the house, hiking, city sightseeing and everything in between.

Baby k'tan for newborn
Baby K’Tan used in Sedona.

I do the majority of the babywearing, but my husband does it quite frequently too. I loved our Baby K’Tan when each of our kids was itty bitty and would buy it again. I didn’t use it for very long though (maybe 9 months). 

Enjoying Dreyer's ice cream while on a family walk along the Mission Beach Boardwalk

I am frugal by nature and also don’t like to have to carry extra pieces, plus I didn’t really love using the infant insert with our Ergo (especially when it was hot out), so if I was buying a carrier now I would probably go for one that could be used the longest with the most options.

Ergo baby carrier for travel with baby in Sedona
Ergo baby carrier used on easy hikes in Sedona

My choice would be the Ergo Omni 360 or the LÍLLÉbaby COMPLETE. They don’t require an infant insert, they have the most carrying options and I’m familiar enough with their other products, that I know the quality would be great. Both of these options also have mesh fabric options making them some of the best baby carriers for hot weather.

If carrying is still an option once your toddler is 2.5-3 yrs old, I would highly recommend a toddler carrier, like the LÍLLÉbaby Carryon Toddler Carrier. Though the baby carriers are rated to 45 lbs, the toddler carrier is wider and taller, making it so much more comfortable for both toddler and parent.

Lillebaby Toddler Carryon for travel with toddler
LILLEBaby Carryon Toddler used in Norway

I’ve carried my 4 year old in my Ergo and was surprised how much more comfortable the LÍLLÉbaby Carryon Toddler Carrier was. I love being able to carry it around my waist or in my backpack and throw my toddler in it easily on-the-go. When he chooses to walk, I’m not still pushing around a stroller. I’m free to chase him!

The best baby carriers for dad are the one’s that will fit both parents. While I loved the Baby K’tan, my husband and I couldn’t share it. We both found the Ergobaby carrier and our Deuter backpack carrier to be comfortable for carrying both babies and toddlers. Any of the baby carriers with adjustable shoulder straps and an adjustable waist belt will be the best baby carriers for men.

hiking backpack for baby

The best baby carriers for air travel are the ones that you can pack up. To be honest, I think any of the soft-structured carriers are a good fit for older babies and toddlers. When flying with an infant, the Baby K’tan, the BABYBJORN mini or the Ergo Embrace would all be good options.

Onya Baby NexStep Carrier for travel with baby or toddler in Mexico
Mexico with a toddler

Finally, if you plan to spend a lot of time hiking with a baby or toddler, look into a hiking backpack carrier. Both of my kids were happier for so much longer in the backpack carrier. They sat up higher, could see more and were cooler.

Deuter Kid Comfort 3 for travel with baby in Italy
Hiking with toddlers in Cinque Terre

What’s the Best Baby Carrier for Flying?

In all honesty, the best baby carrier for flying is the baby carrier that your baby is most comfortable with. Flying will be a new experience for your baby and having something that your baby is familiar with is a good idea.

We’ve said it plenty of times before, but we love a baby carrier for flying because it allows you to take a break from holding your baby, you can walk the aisles if your baby is fussing and it allows you to have your hands free to do things like eat or hold a book (if your baby falls asleep on you). It also keeps your baby safe if you happen to fall asleep too.

So once you find a baby carrier that’s most comfortable for you and your baby, that’s the best baby carrier for air travel for your family!

Baby in carrier at La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

What to do if Baby Hates the Carrier?

What if you’ve bought the best baby carrier for travel you could find and you’re baby hates being in it. It’s true, some babies don’t like the carrier. Some babies have only a certain amount of time they will tolerate being in it. And then some babies love being in a baby carrier. All babies are different.

The best advice we can give here is to try it at home before you plan to travel with it. Then you’ll know how your baby feels before you go on your trip.

If you have an infant baby carrier or one that works for newborns, start using it right away. Regardless of when you start using your baby carrier, try using it for small stretches of time every day even just around the house, especially if your baby isn’t a fan.

If your baby is old enough, try different positions. If your baby just isn’t having it, put it away for a few weeks then try again. Babies are constantly changing!

Need baby gear for your trip? We recommend our favorites in our Shop.

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Best Baby Carriers for Travel

This post was written & edited by:

Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has contributed to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.

Celine also writes about family travel on the site, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site