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8 Best Car Seat Travel Bags PLUS Tips on How to Carry a Car Seat Through the Airport

Trust me… lugging around a car seat with one hand while juggling all your baby travel essentials in the other is no easy task. By investing in one of the best car seat travel bags, you can not only carry your car seat through the airport without the struggle but also offer your travel car seat some valuable protection against damage during your flight.

While I recognize that traveling with a car seat in the airplane is the most reliable way to keep your car seat from getting damaged, I also recognize that this isn’t always possible. Sometimes we need to gate check our car seat and other times it needs to be checked with luggage. Regardless of how you plan to travel with your car seat, a car seat bag for the airplane will help to protect it along the way.

In this post, I’ll share the best car seat travel bags, but that isn’t the only way to travel with a car seat. I’ll also share some other ingenious ways on how to carry a car seat through the airport.

a baby smiles while sitting in a car seat.

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8 Best Car Seat Travel Bags

Most Important Features for Car Seat Bags for Air Travel

1. Wheels

Wheels are a great addition to your car seat travel bag if you are a frequent traveler. There are a few things to consider depending on the number of wheels you go for (two or four); check for the type – is it an inline skate wheel or a spinner wheel? 

An inline wheel is built into the car seat bag and is better protected against external damage. They are made of polyurethane material and can glide easily over uneven surfaces. Note that with these wheels, you will need to push your bag around and when used for prolonged periods, your wrist and shoulder may have to bear the brunt of the task. 

As the name goes, a spinner wheel spins on all sides making it ideal for crafty maneuvering. These car seat bag wheels are attached externally instead of being inbuilt. This could welcome a slight chance of damage as opposed to its counterpart. 

2. Padded Backpack Straps

A well-designed backpack strap is a must when selecting a travel bag for a car seat. What you want are shoulder straps that are adjustable and comfortable enough that you forget you’re even wearing them. 

When shopping for a car seat backpack, keep an eye out for contoured straps that take the shape of shallow S-shaped curves. These are more in tune with your body and will relax the muscles they are placed over instead of pinching them. 

Also look for dual-density foam, in which the closed-cell foam of the padding prevents it from collapsing under heavyweight, and the open-celled foam on the other side provides extra cushioning. Lastly, having buckles to fasten the bag in one position is always a good idea. 

father and toddler walking into airport carrying JL Childress car seat bag for travel.
My husband wearing our JL Childress car seat bag as a backpack.

3. Extra Protection / Padding in the Bag to Protect Seat 

Internal winged pads protect the essential safety features of your child’s travel car seat from external shock and damage. This is crucial in order to retain the quality of your car seat for the safety of your child. 

All the padded car seat travel bags covered in my list above have this one feature in common. So, it’s probably evident by now how integral this feature is. 

Lightweight travel car seat covers like this one offer little protection in case of gate checking, although it would be fine if you are not using your car seat bag for flying.

4. Price 

The price for a car seat travel bag usually ranges between $40 – $100 depending on the features available. The car seat bags on the lower end tend to come with inline skater wheels or none at all. If you do not travel much or find the backpack version sufficient, this is a cost-efficient option that works for most people. The bags on the higher end come with better material quality and additional features such as pockets and wheels. 

5. Universal Fit

A ‘one size fits all’ design can make your car seat travel bag worth the investment. A universal fit car seat travel bag is one that can hold, protect and even provide room for extra items, regardless of the brand of your child’s car seat. Shopping for a Universal Fit bag is a lot more hassle-free than checking and rechecking your car seat’s measurements for every new prospective bag you find during your search! 

Britax Boulevard seat fits in JL Childress Car Seat Travel Bag - one of the best car seat bags for travel.
Our child’s car seat inside our J.L. Childress travel bag.

6. Water Resistance

Between rainy days, clumsy kids and rough baggage handling, water resistant car seat covers have become a must. Besides, it’s easier to find a water resistant car seat travel bag than one without any such reinforcements nowadays anyway. 

7. Size When Folded 

Many parents want their car seats on the airplane. Not only is it safer for your child, but it might be the best way to get your toddler to sleep on the airplane. Getting a few extra snoozes can help with baby jet lag. Since these baby car seat travel bags can take up a lot of room when folded, we offer other options on how to carry a travel car seat through the airport below.

What happens in the instance when you plan to gate check your car seat, but an open seat is available on the plane?

In these instances, how do you store your car seat travel bag in a way that doesn’t take up a ludicrous amount of space? By folding it, of course!

Some travel bags even come with manual instructions for folding your car seat bag on a plane. These are not only a blessing for traveling parents but also co-passengers trying to fit their luggage in as well.  

8. Reinforced Base

A reinforced base assures peace of mind when your car seat travel bag is off being handled by operational staff. It is also a major plus when dealing with bumps and scuffs that you’re bound to face while dragging it along in a hurry. It is definitely a consideration worth making, especially when you are looking for a car seat travel bag with wheels. 

How to Choose the Best Car Seat Bags for Travel

When it comes to choosing the best car seat bag for travel, there are a few things to consider. If you are looking for car seat bags for flying, you’ll also need to consider how you’ll be flying with your car seat: in the airplane, gate-checking or checking it with your luggage.

1. Size: There are two main factors to consider here; whether the bag fits your child’s travel car seat, and whether it’s foldable when required. It’s a bonus if it can hold more accessories.

2. How you will transport your car seat:  Your decision for your investment can be influenced by how you choose to transport your bag. If it’s being gate-checked or added with your check-in luggage, look out for a reinforced base and overall quality of protection. It is worth mentioning that users often find traveling with wheels more convenient. After all, your journey does continue outside the airport as well. 

If you’re just looking for way to carry a car seat to the airplane, see our other suggestions below.

3. How often will you use your car seat carrier: If you plan to use it frequently, choose a padded car seat travel bag with high quality features that stand up to repetitive use.

4. Bulky vs compact: While we highly recommend parents who are flying with toddlers to opt for padded car seat travel bags, we understand that there is also a matter of budget to consider. If you’re looking for an affordable option, choosing a nylon bag without internal padding does have one upside, and that is its compactness. These bags are lighter to carry and offer extra space for packing more items you may need. 

5. Type of travel seat: The size and shape of your car seat most definitely affects the travel car seat cover you choose for it. Take your specific type of car seat and its needs into account when searching for one, because an infant car seat may not require the same size as a convertible car seat or a travel booster.

a laughing toddler in airport sitting on car seat in car seat bag for flying.

Other Options on How to Carry a Car Seat Through Airport

If you plan to bring your travel car seat onto the airplane, there are other more cost effective ways (that pack smaller) to transport your car seat through the airport.

The car seat travel bags mentioned above are ideal for parents who plan to check their car seat with the luggage or who plan to gate check the car seat. If you’ve purchased a plane seat for your baby or toddler and want your car seat on board, here are the best ways to carry your travel car seat to the airplane:

1. Your Car Seat Turns into a Stroller

A car seat that turns into a stroller, like the Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base, makes transporting your car seat super easy! Just pop out the wheels and away you go. No other car seat carrier required and you don’t need to purchase a travel stroller, not yet anyways…

The Doona is suitable for babies 4 to 35 lbs and up to 32 inches in height.

2. Car Seat Luggage Cart

A car seat travel cart, like this popular Britax car seat travel cart or this one, is another easy way to get your car seat through the airport. Car seats attach to the Britax car seat travel cart using the latch system, plus it folds compact enough to go in the overhead bin on the airplane.

3. Traveling with a Car Seat and Stroller

Are you flying with a stroller and a car seat? When flying with a baby, a travel system will make travel through the airport a breeze. Gate check your stroller, then carry your car seat onto the plane.

Even if you don’t have a proper travel system, you can still put your car seat on your stroller to help carry all your gear. If it’s not a secure fit, make sure to carry your baby in a baby carrier and let your stroller do the heavy work.

mother next to travel system with baby in car seat on stroller.
I used a travel system for my baby daughter in London.

4. Lightweight Travel Car Seat Bag

A lightweight travel bag for car seat with backpack straps makes it easy to carry and it will fold away easy once on the airplane.

5. Car Seat Luggage Strap

If you travel with carry-on luggage, use a car seat travel strap to make the most use of those wheels on your suitcase. These easy to use car seat travel belts are the most cost-effective car seat carriers! You just attach your car seat with a luggage strap and roll your car seat onto the airplane.

6. Foldable Toddler Car Seats

Though you may scoff at the price, a travel car seat like the WayB Pico (see on Amazon or Saks Fifth Avenue) makes traveling with a car seat so much easier. If you travel frequently, it’s worth the price.

7. Booster Seat Travel Bag

If you aren’t traveling with a compact booster seat, like the hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster or the BubbleBum Inflatable Booster Car Seat, then protect your backless booster seat with a booster seat travel bag.

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The Best Car Seat Travel Bags

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