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When we started traveling with our first son we quickly realized one of the most frustrating parts of traveling with a young child: hauling their car seat around with you.
For many of the baby items you use on a regular basis, you can either get a more compact travel version or simply do without for a few days during your trip. This isn’t so easy with car seats. While big and bulky, there’s no getting around the fact that car seats are typically a necessary part of travel with little kids.
One way to make transporting a car seat less challenging is to use a car seat travel bag. These sturdy bags are designed to make it easier to carry your car seat while helping protect against dirt and damage.
There are a lot of different options out there, but we’ve made your job easier by reviewing the best car seat travel bags on the market today. Read on to find the best car seat travel bag for your trip!
For more helpful travel items, see our ultimate list of toddler travel essentials!
Best backpack car seat travel bag: JL Childress Ultimate Backpack Car Seat Bag
Best wheeled car seat travel bag: J.L. Childress Spinner Wheelie Car Seat Travel Bag
Best dual purpose car seat travel bag (backpack+wheels): Simple Being Baby Car Seat Travel Bag
Best budget option: V VOLKGO Car Seat Travel Bag
The best car seat travel bags
Car seat travel bags can be broken down into two main categories: wheeled bags and backpack bags. People swear by both options, so it really comes down to your preference and what you find more convenient.
A wheeled bag means that you don’t have to carry the weight of the car seat on your back. However, it is one more thing to wheel around and keep track of as you’re going through the airport with your kids. It also doesn’t pack down as compactly when you aren’t using it.
A backpack is a hands free option that typically packs down compactly when not in use. But the downside to the car seat backpack is that it can also be heavy and bulky to wear.
We’ve reviewed several options in both categories, so that you can find what works best for you no matter your preference.
Backpack car seat travel bags
J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack Car Seat Bag
One of the most popular backpack car seat travel bags on the market is the J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack Car Seat Bag. This was one of the original car seat bags and has a lot of great features to recommend it.
This car seat bag is padded with dense foam to protect your car seat as you’re transporting it, with padded wings at the top to provide extra protection for the car seat headrest. The backpack straps are also padded and adjustable to provide greater comfort for the wearer.
Strong, water-resistant material makes the bag sturdy enough to prevent tears and rips while also being easy to clean.
The bag is tall enough to fit most car seat options out there, including the base for infant car seats. If you’re having difficulty fitting your car seat, place it in the fully upright position. To see if your car seat is compatible with the bag, you can check out this compatibility guide on their website.
Compared to the competition, this bag is sturdy, durable, and spacious enough to fit most car seats.
- Foam padding to protect car seat
- Padded wings on top
- Padded backpack straps
- Padding makes it less compact
- Weight: 3.3 lbs
- Folded dimensions: 18″ x 11″ x 7″
- Maximum dimensions: 33″ x 20″ x 19″
YOREPEK Padded Car Seat Travel Backpack Bag
As an alternative to the J.L. Childress, the YOREPEK Car Seat Bag is a car seat carrier with a lot of similar features.
This bag is made of water and scratch resistant material to provide protection for your car seat. The interior contains a fastening strap and padded wings to hold the car seat in place so that it doesn’t shift in the bag while you’re carrying it.
Padded straps and an adjustable waist strap make carrying the bag more comfortable and convenient, which can really make a different when you’re hauling it around on your trip.
This bag has a slightly smaller internal capacity than the other backpack bags we’ve reviewed, so double check that it will fit your specific car seat.
- Padded wings
- Adjustable waist strap
- Padded backpack straps
- Padding makes it less compact
- Smaller internal capacity
- Weight: 3.02 lbs
- Folded dimensions: 18″ x 11″ x 7″
- Maximum dimensions: 28” x 18” x 18” inch
V VOLKGO Car Seat Travel Bag
If you would like a sturdy, bare-bones bag that gets the job done, look no further than the V VOLKGO car seat travel bag. This bag has two padded backpack straps and durable material to securely carry whatever you manage to stuff in there.
This is an unstructured bag, which means you can fit a lot in it. You can use this car seat bag for infant, convertible, and booster seats. When we use this type of bag we can actually fit two car seats in it, which is extremely helpful in reducing the number of bags we have to carry (although it does make for a very bulky load).
The top is fastened with a drawstring and covered with a Velcro flap to keep your items securely inside.
And one of the best parts is that when you’re not using it, it stuffs into its own storage pouch and takes up virtually no space. That’s one of the things we like most about the bag, because we’re all about reducing the amount of gear we need to haul around.
There isn’t any padding on this bag, so it’s not going to do much for protecting your car seat from brunt force, but it will keep it clean and protect it from scuffs. It also isn’t the most comfortable bag to wear, but some of the other conveniences (such as the roominess of the bag and its packability) outweigh this inconvenience for us.
This isn’t the most luxurious of bags, but it does a great job for what it is.
- Extremely compact
- Large capacity/flexible fit
- Low price
- No padding
- Minimal features
- Weight: .86 lbs
- Maximum dimensions: 34 x 18 x 18 inch
Wheeled car seat travel bags
J.L. Childress Spinner Wheelie Car Seat Travel Bag
The J.L Childress wheeled car seat bag is one of the best options out there for rolling car seat bags.
This bag has four spinner wheels with the ability to rotate 360 degrees, allowing you to pull the bag any direction without tipping it.
It also has some padding on the back and sides to protect your car seat while it is in the bag. It features lockable zippers and sturdy, water-resistant fabric to protect your car seat from damage.
It does fit most car seats, but you can check for your specific seat on the company’s compatibility guide.
Note that compared to the J.L. Childress Backpack Car Seat Travel Bag, the Wheelie bag is roomier but has less padding. It also is obviously less compact than the backpack bag, which folds down quite small.
This bag does not have a backpack option, so if you’re looking for a bag that can do both take a look at the Simple Being bag below.
Overall, this sturdy bag can be a back saver, allowing you to easily roll your child’s car seat through the airport.
- 360 degree rotating wheels
- Sturdy, water resistant fabric
- Fits most car seats
- No backpack straps
- High price point
- Weight: 6 lbs
- Folded dimensions: 20” x 20″ x 7″
- Maximum dimensions: 30″ x 20″ x 19″
Chicco Car Seat Travel Bag
Although branded as a bag for Chicco car seats, the Chicco car seat travel bag fits a wide array of car seats and is an excellent option for a wheeled travel bag.
The bag has four 360 degree spinning wheels and is easy to push one handed in any direction.
This car seat bag also has padded, adjustable backpack straps so that it can be carried on your back if that is your preference. And we love that it has built-in pockets to store the backpack straps when you aren’t using them, which prevents them from getting tangled in the wheels.
One of the biggest downsides to this bag is that because it is designed for Chicco car seats, it is not guaranteed to fit other car seat brands. You can of course measure your car seat to get a sense of if it will fit in the bag’s dimensions.
- 360 degree rotating wheels
- Backpack straps with storage pockets
- Not guaranteed to fit non-Chicco branded car seats
- Weight: 5.3 lbs
- Maximum dimensions: 21 x 20 x 31.5
Simple Being Baby Car Seat Travel Bag
For a cheaper wheeled option, consider the Simple Being Baby Car Seat Travel Bag. All four wheels rotate 360 degrees, allowing you to easily glide your car seat through the airport. The wheels are sturdy and can bear 100 pounds of weight.
This travel bag also has padded, adjustable backpack straps so that you can also carry the bag on your shoulders.
The bag is compatible with most car seats made by major brands and can also fit boosters and even small strollers.
Make sure to have your car seat fully upright when you place it in the bag, as many car seats will not fit if inclined at all.
The nice thing about this bag is that it costs less than the J.L. Childress bag and also has the option to carry it as a backpack, which the J.L. Childress does not.
However, the bag is smaller, making it harder to fit larger car seats and it doesn’t stand up well on its own. The other main complaints are that the straps do tend to get caught up in the wheels while you’re trying to pull it and it doesn’t roll quite as smoothly as the J.L. Childress.
This is a good budget option for a rolling car seat bag, especially if you want the option to use it as a backpack and don’t plan on traveling a lot with it. If you are doing a lot of traveling with your car seat, it may be worth it to to pay a bit more for the J.L. Childress bag.
- Low price point
- 360 degree rotating wheels
- Backpack straps
- Bag doesn’t stand up well on its own
- Straps can get caught in wheels
- Weight: 6.04 lbs
- Folded dimensions: 17.2” x 17.2” x 8.6”
Features to look for in a car seat travel bag
Wheels or straps
There is some debate among travelers if the wheeled bag or the backpack is the best option for transporting a car seat. While the wheels save you the burden of carrying your car seat on your back, it is another bag to wheel around and keep track of. It also does not pack as compactly as most backpack bags when not in use.
The backpack allows you to have your hands free, but can be heavy and bulky to carry around.
We personally find the backpack to be easier and more convenient to use (we love that it’s hands free and is easy to store). Either my husband wears it over the top of his personal backpack or we hang it from our stroller as we go through the airport .
One of the most important features of a car seat travel bag is sturdiness. You need something that can handle the large and awkward car seat without compromising the structure of the bag. There’s nothing worse than having your car seat bag break halfway through a trip.
Carefully check the dimensions of the bag to ensure that it will fit your car seat. The bags we’ve included in this list will fit most car seats from major brands. For some helpful ideas on how to get your car seat to fit into your car seat bag, see the tips section below.
The reality with car seats is that they are large and awkward to bring, no matter how you pack them. However, you’ll want to pick the option that is most comfortable and convenient for you.
That might mean choosing a wheeled bag if you would rather not carry the burden of the bag on your back. Or it could be choosing a backpack option with padded and adjustable straps. If you know you won’t need to carry your car seat far, maybe comfort is less important to you and you would rather select an option that packs down compactly. There’s no right answer, but take comfort into consideration as you select a car seat bag.
Tips for using a car seat travel bag
When using a car seat travel bag, there are a few things you can do to make your experience go more smoothly. Here are a few tips to help you to have the best possible experience.
- If you’re traveling with an infant seat, detach the base and place it on top of the car seat in the bag. This helps it to fit better and is also more comfortable for the wearer.
- Put your car seat in a fully upright position for the best possible fit. For some car seats, removing the cupholders and lowering the headrest also helps the car seat to fit more easily.
- Be prepared to remove your car seat from the bag while going through security. If it doesn’t fit through the x-ray machine, security will want to examine the seat by hand.
- You can use the extra space in the bag to pack diapers, wipes, baby clothes, etc.
- Tie or attach something bright and distinctive to your car seat bag. Often there will be other similar bags and it’s helpful to be able to quickly tell which is yours and not have someone else accidentally walk off with your car seat.
Alternatives to a car seat travel bag
Car seat bags aren’t the only way to transport your car seat through the airport. Here are a few other options that might interest you.
Car seat travel strap
Another method for transporting your car seat is to use a car seat travel strap to attach your car seat to your luggage or stroller. Depending on your car seat, you can even have your child sit in the car seat while you’re wheeling it through the airport.
This option is cost effective and doesn’t require you to purchase extra bulky gear to carry around with you.
Obviously if you’re planning to check your car seat or want a storage bag to keep it in, the car seat bag will be the better option. And the strap also is only helpful if you have a suitcase or stroller that you are bringing with you through the airport to attach it to.
Car seat travel cart
One other option for maneuvering your car seat through the airport is a car seat travel cart. This is a small cart onto which you fasten your car seat. Your child can sit in their car seat while you pull it, making it an easy way to transport both your car seat and your child.
The downside to this method is that the carts can be a bit bulky to travel with. It also means that once again you’re left without a storage bag for your car seat (which may or may not be important to you).
Gate check bag
If you’re gate checking your car seat and want a simple bag to keep it clean and contained, you could also consider a gate check bag.
Be aware that the best way to travel with a car seat is to take it with you on the plane, as this does guarantee that it won’t sustain any damage from rough handling.
However, if you choose to gate check it you’ll definitely want a bag to provide some protection to your seat. These bags are lightweight, inexpensive, and pack down compactly for convenient traveling. They aren’t the best for carrying your bag through the airport as they typically don’t have backpack straps or wheels.
Do you really need a car seat travel bag?
Now you might be wondering if you really need a car seat travel bag. The answer is that you don’t. You can choose to haul your bag through the airport by hand or use one of the other methods that we mentioned above.
But car seat bags really can make transporting your car seat much easier. And when you’re traveling with kids, that can make all the difference.
We always bring a car seat bag when we travel because we really find them very convenient for moving those bulky car seats from place to place.
How do you carry a car seat when traveling?
One of the most common ways of transporting a car seat through the airport is using a car seat bag. You can also use a luggage strap to attach it to your car seat or wheeled luggage, or a car seat travel cart. For infant car seats, travel stroller systems are another convenient way to transport your car seat while traveling.
Do you need to bring a car seat when traveling?
If you have a young child who still needs a car seat, then yes, you will typically have to bring the car seat along when traveling.
You might be able to get away with leaving the car seat behind if you’re planning a trip where you’re relying solely on public transportation. Some places in Europe, for example, have good enough public transportation that this could be an option.
You can also sometimes rent a car seat from car rental companies or request an Uber or driver with a car seat if you’re going through a private transfer service. This is somewhat risky though as you have no idea what quality of seat you’re getting or if it’s been in an accident before.
For older kids, the SafeRider vest is a great car seat option that is compact, lightweight, and safety tested.
The truth of the matter is that transporting a car seat while traveling is inconvenient. We’re really looking forward to the day when we don’t have to cart multiple car seats around with us when we travel.
However, keeping our kids safe is our top priority, so we’re glad that there are ways to make bringing a car seat (or two) along a lot less of a hassle. Car seat bags are a convenient way to transport your car seat and protect your seat from damage.
Finding the right car seat bag can be a huge help in making your trip with your child go a bit more smoothly.
Other posts you might be interested in:
The Best Portable Toddler Beds for Travel!
How to Fight Jet Lag in Babies and Toddlers
27 Best Travel Gifts for Kids (That They Will Actually Like!)