Best Car Seat Travel Bag for Flying
I have personally seen what can happen to bags and how travel strollers, pushchairs etc can be thrown around carelessly by airport baggage handlers. My father used to see it all the time as an aircraft engineer too.
Whilst your car seat is likely covered by your travel insurance, it can take time organising a replacement which could restrict your movements and plans. Using a car seat bag can mean you can store some extra items to help pad it out, like diapers/nappies, a cuddly toy etc. (This way, you get a little bit of extra baggage, but shhhh, keep that quiet!)
If you are flying with a baby or a toddler, and plan on using your car seat abroad, first please do check if it meets that countries rules and regulations. e.g UK and EU car seats are approved for use in the UK and Europe only. Most UK car seats are NOT legally approved for use in the USA, Canada and Australia AND vice versa. More details about this are in the link above. Hiring or buying at your destination might be the best option.
(If you are intending on using your FAA or aviation approved car seat on the flight, then you will need to purchase a seat for your infant.)
However, if you are all set to go, and you have decided to take your own car seat with you and either check it in immediately or gate check, my best advice is DO invest in a car seat travel bag and a stroller travel bag.
If you can find one, I recommend a padded car seat over just a normal bag. Although you could pad a normal bag with nappies/diapers like mentioned above, it would be tricky to cover the entire car seat. A non-padded car seat only really helps keep a car seat clean, but offers little protection.
A padded car seat will offer better protection from over zealous bag handlers. However, even if your car seat looks in great condition after the flight, please do look underneath the car seat cover to check if the polyesterine shock absorbing material is in tact, with no cracks before using.
It is always worth asking around friends if they have one you can borrow, as it is not an item you will use frequently. However, if they don’t have one, here are a few to look out for to buy or to see if you can find secondhand.
J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack Padded Car Seat Travel Bag
The J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack Padded Car Seat Travel Bag is a backpack style bag. It offers thick padding to encase your seat whilst being transported to the aircraft hold. It’s made from heavy-duty fabric, has padded handles too. It does fit most car seats, but check this guide first if you own a USA bought car seat. For latest prices and further information see here.
ZOHZO Car Seat Travel Bag
The ZOHZO is another padded backpack style car seat travel bag. It’s similar to the Childress bag, but it has small plastic protective feet for a bit of added protection. It is also water resistant and similarly priced. For latest prices and more information see here.
Luvdbaby Premium Car Seat Bag
The Luvdbaby Premium Car Seat Bag is a denim padded travel bag, which is large enough to fit most car seats in and ideal for when you little one grows out of a smaller car seat into a bigger one. As it is denim, it is a little easier to spot on the baggage belt at arrivals. For more information and latest prices see see here.
Alternative ideas to help protect your car seat.
If you want to try and pad your car seat yourself and look for cheaper versions, then there are plenty of alternative non padded car seat bags available. You could also ask the airline if they have a durable plastic bag that you could use.
Most airports offer baggage wrapping for a charge, or you could purchase some bubble wrap and use this method instead – just make sure you have enough for the way back!