Let’s be honest, if you are traveling with a baby or toddler primarily in the United States or Canada then you do not need a portable high chair. Almost every restaurant will have a high chair available for you to use. As you begin to travel internationally with a baby, you will find that this is not always the case, even if a restaurant is family-friendly.
Do you really need a portable travel high chair?
As parents traveling with a baby you already have enough to worry about, so bringing your own portable baby chair is an excellent idea. Having your own portable highchair will enable you to give your baby their own seat while also being able to eat your own meal!
A portable high chair seat for your baby can also come in handy if you plan to self-cater at your hotel or Airbnb apartment, if a high chair is not provided. It will also very useful for camping and for visiting family or friends. If you are flying with a baby, all of the ones recommended below should easily pack in your suitcase.
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Traveling without a Portable High Chair
How do you eat at restaurants when there aren’t any high chairs if you are traveling without a travel high chair? Here are your options:
- Find a restaurant providing high chairs.
- Hold your baby or toddler on your lap during the meal. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy trying to eat while holding a wiggly baby or getting food in my hair.
- Use a stroller that has a snack tray. Not all restaurants will have the space to accommodate a stroller.
- Use our baby travel hack and attached your baby or toddler to the seat with your baby carrier. Or travel with the Onya Baby NexStep baby carrier that has a built in travel high chair.
See all our recommended baby carriers for travel.
We’ve done all four of these and though they work in a pinch, they aren’t always feasible.
Besides eating in restaurants, if you want to do some meals in your hotel or apartment rental, you can keep the mess contained by bringing your own portable baby high chair.
Baby Travel Tip: Always ask your Airbnb apartment if they can provide one. Sometimes the highchair just isn’t included in the listing.
When our daughter started on solids, we wanted a baby travel high chair because at a minimum we knew we would want to eat breakfast in the hotel before leaving for our daily outing. We needed a way to secure her to a chair, as the lap option just hasn’t worked well for us. Maybe it’s just our kids, but they are MESSY!
We have traveled with a My Little Seat ever since, but it’s not perfect and we’ve seen some of other baby travel chairs that are worth considering.
What to look for in a portable high chair
How are you going to decide which one is the best fit for traveling with a baby? The main things to consider when looking to purchase a portable travel high chair are how sturdy is it for keeping your baby safe, when and where do you plan to use the travel high chair, the size and cost.
How Sturdy Is the Chair for Keeping Your Baby Safe?
The travel high chair alternatives that we recommend are only those with high ratings and without any major safety concerns. If there is anything to be aware of when it comes to the safety of a portable baby seat, we made sure to note it in the list below.
As an extra precaution, never leave your baby unattended in a portable travel chair, they just aren’t as secure as a regular high chair.
When and Where Will You Use the Portable High Chair?
If you are traveling internationally with a baby and want to bring your own folding portable high chair, how small should it be?
Will you bring it out with you when you are sightseeing or will you only use it at the apartment rental? If you plan to carry it with you, consider trading off some functionality for size. We travel with as little as possible and often without a stroller, so to carry a travel high chair along with us meant it had to fit in our backpack.
If you plan to use your portable high chair for camping with a baby, then you’ll want something more sturdy than a fabric travel high chair. You’ll want one that is stand alone and doesn’t need to be attached to another chair.
Size of Portable Travel High Chair
If you are looking for a travel high chair that takes up the least amount of space, a fabric travel high chair is the best option. These portable cloth high chairs fold up to the size of a diaper.
If size isn’t an issue, then a travel booster seat or a portable baby chair with a tray or that clamps to the table will be the easiest to use.
Cost of Portable Travel High Chair
Fabric travel high chairs are the most cost effective of all the high chairs. The foldable high chairs for travel will not only take up more space but they’ll be more expensive too.
If you are on a budget, consider getting a chair that can be used at home as well as when you travel, rather than spending more money on a second travel high chair.
Which is the Best Travel High Chair for Your Family?
We say this so much that we will probably start to sound like a broken record, but not everyone travels the same. Not every family will have the same needs when it comes to traveling with a baby.
Based on our own experience, we recommend the My Little Seat travel high chair, but as we compare the best portable high chair options, you might find one will meet your needs better than others.
The Best Travel High Chair Alternatives
There are four categories of travel high chairs that we cover in detail below:
- Fabric Travel High Chairs
- Travel Booster Seats
- Clamp-on Travel High Chairs
- Stand-alone Travel Booster Seats
But first, here is some first hand experience using two types of these portable high chairs.
Skip down to the list of Best Travel High Chairs
Let’s start with the travel high chair our family used while traveling with a toddler or baby, the My Little Seat fabric travel high chair
Pros of a Fabric High Chair
- A fabric high chair, like this one, is super easy to carry around with you on your daily outings and hardly takes up any extra room in your bag.
- Fabric travel high chairs are machine washable for those extra messy meals.
- Has a 5 point harness to secure in those wiggly ones.
- Recommended ages are 6-30 months and up to 35 pounds.
- We have found it to fit on the majority of the chairs we have tried it on, with the odd exception.
Cons of a Fabric High Chair
- Depending on the height of the table or your little one, sometimes sitting on the chair is really too low for them.
- It doesn’t fit on all chairs and was not at all usable on traveling to Japan with a baby or toddler. We realized shortly before leaving on our trip (by reviewing our apartment rental pictures) that we were not going to have any way of securing our 14 month old during meal times since our apartments were set up with a traditional Japanese style of eating with no chairs and only a small table. You’d think we would have made that connection earlier, but what can we say?
- We did our best to improvise several different ways by blocking him in a corner, having a plastic table cloth for him to eat on and feeding him small portions at a time. We luckily found a plastic basket in our Kyoto apartment which worked perfectly as a toddler travel high chair, though we don’t recommend traveling with one.
Further to that, many of the restaurants in Japan did not have chairs with a back or they were very small. We also traveled without a stroller, so we couldn’t even make use of a snack tray. To keep it in perspective though, our challenges in Japan were a one-time thing and we’ve had no other issues elsewhere.
To get more first hand experience on portable high chairs, we enlisted the help of We’re Out of Here. This family traveled the world with a toddler for almost a year and we knew they would know a thing or two about a travel high chair!
The specs on the phil&ted’s are pretty similar except it’s a little lighter and slightly more expensive.
The big difference between these two is the number of tables they can be used on. Robyn & Shane of We’re Out of Here have owned both and told us that the Guzzie+Guss fits on 90% of the tables they have encountered on their travels throughout Asia, where the phil&ted’s would only be usable on about 20%.
The Guzzie+Guss has a c-clamp instead of the lobster claw, allowing it to be used even on tables with a lip or ridge. Another benefit is the back sits higher and the chair isn’t as deep on the Guzzie+Guss allowing smaller babies to have something to lean back on and to elevate them relative to the table.
So how does the clamp-on high chair compare to the fabric high chair?
The two main considerations are the size of the travel high chair and the comfort of your baby, because none of the options will work in 100% of the situations.
To pack lightly when traveling with a baby, a portable cloth high chair takes up very little room and can easily be carried around everywhere.
Get our FREE printable packing list for baby travel here!
The clamp-on style, though it packs flat, likely won’t fit in your diaper bag meaning you will need to carry another item out with you. If you are travelling with a stroller, it could easily be tossed in the lower compartment of your lightweight travel stroller, or you can do what Robyn does and use the travel bag straps to carry it on your back!
That being said, the clamp on portable chair will allow your baby to be up closer to the table and more level with everyone. This would likely lead to less mess and I’m certain they would enjoy it more! One additional benefit, your baby or toddler can’t push themselves away from the table!
How do the other two categories of travel high chairs compare?
The travel booster seats that are the most recommended either have an inflatable seat like the First Years On-The-Go Booster Seat or an internal frame like the Munchkin Brica GoBoost Travel Booster Seat.
Neither of these can pack up very small, but can easily be stored at the bottom of a travel stroller. The Munchkin GoBoost has some storage and a strap so it can be used as a diaper bag as well. They also need to be attached to a seat like a fabric travel high chair.
Where they have some added benefit over a fabric travel high chair is that they will help to elevate your baby or toddler closer to the table.
The final category of travel high chairs is what we’ll call the stand-alone booster seats. The two most popular options are the Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Booster and the hiccapop Omniboost Travel Booster Seat. These types of portable booster are the only portable baby chair with a tray. Additionally, they can be strapped to a chair or used stand-alone on the floor (great for an Airbnb apartment, outside or camping).
They are big enough that you might not want to carry it out every day while traveling with your toddler, but if you travel with a stroller then it can easily be stored at the bottom. They also have a machine washable cover.
Best Fabric Travel High Chairs
Fabric travel high chairs will pack up the smallest, have a 5 point harness and can be thrown in the washing machine. They are easily attached to most chairs and meet almost every budget.
Your baby should be able to sit upright unassisted to use a fabric portable high chair.
Where they aren't the best is that they don't actually boost your baby or toddler up the table. They also don't work in restaurants that have barstools or similar chairs.
Best Travel Booster Seats
These travel booster seats are similar to a traditional booster seat, but they are portable. They require a chair to be attached to, but will help boost your baby or toddler up closer to the table.
They only have a 3 point harness, so your baby has to be able to sit up unassisted.
Best Clamp-on Travel Highchairs
Clamp-on travel highchairs are a great option for people who can use it both at home and while traveling with a baby or toddler. They clamp right on to the table, which enables your baby or toddler to be sitting high up and close to the table. They also have a 3 point harness to keep your baby or toddler securely in their seat.
Despite being a much larger item to carry, they do fold down flat and your toddler won't be able to push themselves away from the table.
A silicone placemat is best to make sure you aren't scratching the table surface and make sure to practice using a clamp-on portable chair before traveling with it.
Both of the ones we have listed have a U-shaped clamp which allows them to be used on way more tables. Even with these, there are several types of tables that a clamp-on portable high chair is not suitable (like glass tables or card tables), so make sure to check what tables it will work on before buying.
Best Stand-alone Travel Booster Seats
The stand-alone travel booster seats are another great alternative. They are foldable and come with a travel bag.
These travel booster seats can either be strapped to a chair or used on their own on the floor. They also have a tray that can be removed when using at a table.
These foldable, portable travel chairs are the perfect option for camping or outside, where you might not have another chair to attach it too. The tray also allows it to be used as a place where your baby can play while you are cooking dinner over the fire.
Shop this entire list on our Amazon Store List: Best Travel High Chairs & Accessories