The fun thing about having a 10-year-old child is that apparently 10 years is all it takes for the powers that be to dream up way better baby gear than we had access to when he was born. I come from the dark ages of sippy cups that spilled, non-gliding bassinets, and audio-only baby monitors (yes, video monitors existed, but that shit seemed a little over-the-top).
So when a parent came to our Offspring Facebook group with a question about travel—We’ll be bringing our [toddler] on plane soon and wondering if anyone has used any of the car seat travel carts?—my initial response was, “A car seat … what now?”
A car seat travel cart (it turns out) is basically what it sounds like. You put the baby or toddler in their regular car seat. You place the car seat onto a foldable cart with wheels, strap the seat in, and wheel them all around the airport. When you’re ready to board, the car seat comes off the cart, and the cart folds up to be stored in the overhead bin. This is most handy if you want to travel with your car seat and you won’t need a stroller upon your arrival (or you’re planning to rent one).
The parents in the group who had used the carts were overwhelmingly in favor of them. And as group member Michael points out, “One bonus is it’s not that common, so you get a lot of amused looks.”
The carts themselves can be a bit pricey if purchased new—between around $60-$90. However, before you buy your own, check whether any friends or family already have one you can borrow; one group member says she plans to hang onto hers after her kids outgrow it so friends can borrow it as needed.
And finally, as a cheaper option, some parents also recommended simply purchasing a luggage strap that allows you to strap the car seat to a rolling carry-on suitcase or an umbrella stroller. If you go that route, make sure you check the product’s usage instructions first; some of these straps are only for securing an empty car seat, particularly when it’s strapped to a piece of luggage.
Here’s a car seat travel cart and luggage strap comparison guide to get you started.