Best Travel Car Seat For Rental Cars: mifold grab-and-go Car Booster Seat

Mifold’s Grab-and-Go car booster seat is an excellent choice for travel (especially rental cars)—we like its ultra compact form that can fit in a glove compartment or carry on bag. The mifold works by correctly positioning an adult seat belt for the smaller frame of kids 40 to 100 lbs. (40″ to 57″ in height). Here’s more on why we like it:

What We Liked

• Compact and convenient.

• Affordable.

• Doesn’t look like a booster seat. We know—some kiddos don’t want to be seen sitting in a baby seat. The mifold Grab and Go’s stealth-like profile is a big plus.

• Narrow width makes it easier to fit in situations where other booster seats are too wide.

• Easy to install. In our testing, we thought it was easy to thread the seat belt through the lower belt guides. The shoulder belt guide also locks to keep the belt from detaching.

What Needs Work

• Thin padding. There isn’t much padding to this travel car seat, so it is probably best for shorter trips.

• Doesn’t really boost. Smaller kids may be disappointed that this seat doesn’t boost them up enough to see out the car window.

• Belt fit may not work in some vehicles. This is a truism for all car seats: not all vehicles are compatible with all car seats. In mifold’s case, the booster may not correctly position the lap belt because of the vehicle’s belt configuration. A booster seat ideally should position the lap belt low on the hip, just touching your child’s thighs. We’ve seen pictures of children in the mifold with the lap belt too low, thanks to where the vehicle’s seat belt is designed.

• Slides around when kids try to buckle themselves in. In our tests, kids took a bit of time to get into this booster seat, thanks to the sliding issue.

• Shoulder belt guide could be easier to adjust.

Best Travel Seat For Infants/Toddlers: Cosco Apt 50 Covertible Car Seat

When it comes to travel car seats and infants and toddlers, we’d go for a lightweight seat that is easy to use and affordable. The key issue is weight: if you are lugging this seat through an airport or wrestling it into a rental car, you don’t want a 30 lb. behemoth (yes, some car seats weight that much!). Here’s more on why the Costco Apt 50 is a best bet for travel car seats for infants and toddlers:

What We Liked

• FAA certified for use on an airplane.

• 8 lbs. total weight. That’s much lighter than other travel car seats.

• Rear-facing to 40 lbs. It is safest for infants and toddlers to ride rear-facing as long as you can—and this seat’s 40 lb. rear-facing limit allows extended rear-facing use.

• Forward facing to 50 lbs. And this seat has six harness height positions—that means it can grow with your child. Other affordable seats we tested had just four or five harness positions.

• Affordable. 

• Two recline positions. 

• Lowest harness slot (5″) is great for smaller babies.

• Cup holders!

• Machine washable and dryable seat pad.

What Needs Work

• Not much padding. We thought this car seat had adequate padding for most trips, but it isn’t as cushy as other seats.

• Cup holders add to seat width—which makes it harder to fit into tight spots (some narrow airline seats, compact rental cars, etc).

• Installation has a learning curve. We’d definitely take this car seat out of the box and install it at home before you hit the road. That’s because it can be a bit complex to install: example, for the youngest kids, you may need to shorten the harness (the instructions to this are clear, but it takes a bit of time).

Best Travel Car Seat For Older Kiddos: hifold fit-and-fold Highback Booster Car Seat

If your child has outgrown a convertible seat but still isn’t big enough to safely fit in a vehicle safety belt without a booster, we’d suggest this solution: hifold’s Fit and Fold highback booster. Made by the same company as the mifold, the hifold is similar in concept: it is a compact folding booster car seat. The difference: the mifold is just a booster, while the hifold is a high back booster, with additional protection for an older child’s head and torso.

With many states now mandating booster car seat use until a child is 8 years old, using a booster seat isn’t just a good idea for safety—it’s also the law.

This seat is designed for kids 33 to 100 lbs. Here’s more on why we recommend it:

What We Liked

• Small footprint. That enables this seat to fit into tight spaces.

• Weighs just 10 lbs. That lightweight is wonderful for taking on planes or transit.

• Easy to install.

What’s Needs Work

• Nothing keeps the seat in place when a child isn’t in the seat. This booster isn’t secured to the vehicle. If empty, it could be a hazard in an accident as it could fly around the vehicle.

• Thin padding.

• Pricey.

• Vehicle head support is required. Some vehicle back seats don’t have head support—so this seat wouldn’t work in that case.

• Not the best choice for smaller kids (closer to 33 lbs). In our tests, we found this seat wasn’t always the best choice for small kids near the 33 lb. starting point. For smaller kids just be sure to make sure the belt’s are positioned correctly. It often depends on the individual child!

Best Travel Seat for Airplanes: Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat

When it comes to airline travel, you want a lightweight seat that is easy to install. And affordable! After testing several options, we think Evenfo’s Tribute LX car seat is an excellent choice for airline travel. Here’s why:

What We Liked

• Weight is just 9.2 lbs. That’s fantastic. You don’t want to be hauling a car seat that weighs 20 or 30 lbs through an airport.

• Extended rear-facing use to 35 lbs. The seat also works forward-facing to 40 lbs.

• FAA certified for airplane use.

• Machine washable pad. 

• Narrow profile means it can fit in tight spaces—like narrow airline seats.

• Folding cup holder.

• Affordable.

What’s Needs Work

• Padding is rather skimpy. We though it was adequate for most trips, but we realize other car seats are more cushy.

• No recline feature.

• May not fit newborns well, given the lowest harness height position and crotch strap length.

• Can be hard to release the front latch.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing baby gear, including high chairs, since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward safety, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews.

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