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The Best Compact Car Seats For Travel I have Used to Over 10 countries

If you travel as much as me, one of the things you worry about when you have a baby is how you are going to manage to find a lightweight travel car seat that protects your child and doesn’t weigh a ton. 

Literally, this has been the most time-consuming and expensive part of motherhood for me. I have spent hours researching the best portable car seats on the market to make my life easier. 

I travel a lot alone with my daughter, which means I have to also carry myself all our luggage as well as the travel car seat and her pram. 

So from an experienced mum who has spent hours researching, these are the best most portable and lightest car seats I have used and loved. 

What do I look for in a travel car seat?

The things I look for in a travel car seat in order to make the cut for me as been versatility, safety for my child as well as comfort, how much it weighs and also how easy it is to carry around. 

My favourite infant car seat for travelling

Doona Car seat

My favourite, most compact, convertible car seat for those who want to travel or don’t have a car and use a lot of taxis with their baby is the Doona car seat. 

Doona airport travel is so easy compact car seat for travel
airport travel is a breeze

I bought the doona when we lived in Qatar because we didn’t have a car, and I needed to ensure she was safe. Using our Doona, I almost very used my pram. 

I have a complete list of my favourite travel accessories for babies here. 

Another thing I loved about the Doona is that I could convert to a car seat if I was in the mall and there was a queue for the lift. Total transformer and so easy to do on the go. 

The Doona is lightweight; I used to travel with her on the plane when paying for an extra seat. It is highly convertible and, honestly, the best thing I could have bought for my child. 

It made travelling solo with an infant a breeze since I could use the Doona as a pram and car seat. 

doona convertable car seat

The Doona Car Seat has a maximum weight capacity of 35 lbs (15.9 kg). My daughter was a tall baby so we could only use it until she was about 1 year and a few months. I wish she didn’t outgrow the Doona ever, and I could still use it today. 🙂 

Best Travel Car Seat for toddlers 1 yrs to 3yrs 

Urban Kanga compact car seat 

After outgrowing our Doona, I started looking for a car seat that I could use that is lightweight, easy to carry and safe. A friend suggested I look at the Urban Kanga car seat, which was the best purchase I had ever made. 

Urban kanga light weight travel car seat
Urban Kanga

The Urban Kanga car seat is super portable and lightweight to travel with. I have used this car seat for the past two and a half years and travelling with it to more than 6 countries, countless of taxis and car rentals. 

Not only has it saved us a lot of money when renting cars, since renting a car seat costs almost the daily rate of the car, but it has also been very comfortable for my daughter on long trips. 

The Kanga comes with its own carry-on bag, which is sturdy and easy to carry on your shoulder.

Since we use it as a holiday car seat, especially in the Middle East, I take it with us when I take taxis because I don’t trust the driving style. My travel pram is the GB Pocket city, another absolutely brilliant travel buy, and I actually can put the Kanga in the basket of the Pocket. 

The Urban Kanga car seat weighs 5.5 kilograms, and I have managed to carry it on board the plane as carry-on as well as in my luggage when not full. 

We have used the car seat since my daughter was about 1,5 years old until now when she is almost 4 but sadly over the 18kg limit as well as the height of the Kanga. 

If you are looking for a car seat for infants and toddlers, then I would definitely recommend you take a look at the Kanga. 

Best Travel Booster Car Seat for Toddlers 

Here I am, again, looking at comfortable and foldable booster car seats because now, I am dealing with a big heavy child who also happens to be much more opinionated about what car seat she likes! 

There are so many booster seats on the market that I really got dizzy looking. I didn’t feel comfortable just having her in a booster car seat without high-back support, especially with the amount of travelling and car rental we do. 

I know I can control my driving but not others, so I just wanted to be as safe as possible. 

After researching, I found two car seats I liked and decided to give them a go. 

Since my daughter is getting bigger, having the car seat be light, compact, easy to carry and with good protection is like looking for diamonds. 

Urban Kanga Wallaroo

Urban Kanga came up with their new car seat called Urban Kanga Wallaroo, which is for children above 100cm to 150cm Group 2/3 and can be used up to 36kg. 

urban kanga wallaroo booster travel car seat

It is also ISOFIX based, which was a big selling point for me. 

The car seat is very well made and folds compactly, but due to the ISOFIX and the well-made padding, it is a large and heavy car seat. 

It does come with a backpack but I honestly was really disappointed in it. It is cheaply made and not as nice as the Urban Kanga one, and it also didn’t hold the weight of the car seat since the straps snapped. 

At 7kg, it is not the lightest travel car seat, but it is very well made and definitely my favourite, especially if used every day as well It is very close to the Cybex M Fix I use. 

HiFold Mi Fold compact Booster car seat for toddlers

The HiFold and Mi fold car seats have been on the market for many years, and I have seen the original several times. 

I believe the car seat has been discontinued in the UK, but I bought it on eBay. It is still under regulation, but I believe the EU changed their regulations, and it probably needs to be redesigned. It is still safe to use since it is still valid under the regulations for which it was approved. 

HIFold convertabel booster high back car seat

The Hifold is a super compact car seat, offers protection in all the places it should be, and is easy to install. It does use the seatbelt of the car, but it was the same with the Urban Kanga. Once installed, it is stable, and my daughter was very comfortable on the drive. 

It weighs only 4kg, folds small for travelling with it, it does come with a strap for your shoulder, and I can definitely see myself being able to travel solo, on trains and planes with it. I believe you can also buy a travel bag for it, but it could easily fit in a large tote. 

Now I compare the two car seats (HiFold and Wallaroo) since I had to decide between the two choices which seemed the best of all the other car seats with back support. 

comparison hifold and wallaroo travel car seats for toddlers
my daughter compared both car seats

My daughter, of course, has an opinion and decided she likes the HiFold better and, after our test drive, didn’t want to use the Wallaroo. 

Personally, as a parent, I liked the Wallaroo due to the more solid build. However, it is much harder to travel with it, to be honest, unless you always park your car at the airport and travel from A to B. I cannot see myself taking this to Dubai and using it in taxis.

Yes, I can use it if I rent a car, but realistically, I want flexibility and compactness on holiday. If you need a car seat that offers safety features like the ISOFIX and also as a regular car seat for your car, then the Wallaroo is a great choice. If I didn’t already have an everyday car seat, I would definitely be less inclined to take my daughter’s opinion this seriously. 

So, in the end, I decided that the best convertible, safe and best travel car seat for toddlers over 4 years old is the Hifold, which is the one we are sticking with. 

It provides protection in all points of impact, it is comfortable for her to rest her head and sleep, I can travel solo with her and still take the car seat with me, which is a big bonus and also I could take it on the plane as carry on if I don’t want to check it in. 

Since the HiFold can be used until 45kg, we should be good until she outgrows the need for any booster car seats. So if you, like me, are looking for the best lightweight high-back booster car seat when travelling with kids, definitely give it consideration. 

I hope this article and my experience helped you with making a decision or getting closer to one about the best compact car seats for travel.

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Monday 19th of February 2024

Very clear article. Thank you ! Can you advise what have you used for 2/3 year old on the plane?

Muslim Travel Girl

Monday 19th of February 2024

We use the plane seatbelt. At that age they move too much and will get agitated, i usually walk the plane for a bit.