We all know how important a car seat is for safety. In actual fact it might even be the most important toddler travel item that you could possibly invest in. But finding the best travel car seat for 3-year-old toddler can be tricky, especially when you need one that is suitable for both, cars and for plane travel.
This type of car seat needs to tick a lot of boxes such as; the car seat needs to be lightweight, easy to carry and has to be FAA approved.
After extensive research, we have found just the right ones! Below you will find a review for the best travel car seats for your 3-year-old.
If you are in a hurry to get to the best of the best, here is our top recommendation:
Click here to see our pick for the best travel car seat for 3 year old toddlers
What to Look for in The Best Travel Car Seat for 3 Year Old
Here are some of the most important things to look at before you choose the right car seat for your toddler:
1. Using a Car Seat Overseas in Cars
One of the most important things to check out for when you travel overseas with a toddler car seat is to find out what type of anchoring system is required in the country that you going to. Yes, not every country has the same way of installing the car seat.
Some of the countries, such as Italy, have a two-point anchoring system at the base of the seat, whilst countries like Australia, have only one anchor point at the back of the seat. Choosing the right seat for the destination that you are going to can and will save you money.
Although the alternative option of hiring a car seat together with the car hire is there, the daily car seat hire price can add up and very quickly exceed the price of a brand new car seat in the first place. Something to think about here.
2. Using a Car Seat on a Plane
Does a 3 year old need a car seat on a plane? The answer is yes, and it also needs to be the right car seat! With all the different options out there, it is important to know exactly what you need to look for in the best and safest car seat for 3-year-old airplane travelers.
First of all, any toddler car seat on plane travel needs to be FAA certified. Once you find a seat with this rating, you will need to make sure it is compact, slim and lightweight. The best car seat on plane for 3 year old passengers will need to be easy to carry on board, and slim enough to comfortably fit on the seat.
From our extensive reviews of the best car seat for travel, we have found the ideal product for use on a plane with 3 year olds.
3. What to Look Out For
Here are some of the most important things to look out for:
Compact and Slim Design
When you are flying with your 3 year old and you plan to take a car seat that is best suitable for her/his weight and height, there are also other things to consider, such as the size of the actual travel car seat.
If you do your research, plane seats can vary in size from around 16″ to 22″, whilst most are around the 17 or 18″. Saying that, make sure to check out the sizes of the seats on the plane that you are flying on.
You can check to see if your plane is on a list on the SeatGuru seat chart table to see what size your seat will be ahead of time.
Lightweight and Easy to Carry
Choosing a car seat that is both; easy-to-carry around and lightweight is very important.
This will save you a lot of hustle along the way. Most of the lightweight toddler car seats for a 3-year-old are around 15 lbs.
Suitable for Toddler Weight and Height
Make sure to find a car seat that is best suitable for both; your toddler's height and weight:
- The average weight for a 3-year-old is around 31 lb and by 4 years of age, they could be around 36 lb.
- The average height for a 3-year-old is around 37.5″ and by 4 years of age, they could be around 40.3″.
Comfort and Durability
Many of us always tend to go with only manufacturers' recommendations, and it is easy to forget, what is the actual comfort level of the car seat and how durable it is for upcoming travel.
Saying that always make sure to look at what are the features of the car seat, or booster that you are buying. Although our 3 year old traveler can make traveling much easier, it is important to check out the padding, harness system and what positions can the seat be adjusted to.
When it comes to durability. It is obvious here. When you purchase the travel car seat for your 3 year old, the seat needs to be quite sturdy and well built.
This is important for both; the safety of your child, of course, and for how well it will perform in transit during all of the travel you will be doing.
The Best Travel Car Seat for 3 Year Old Travelers
Taking into consideration all of the above criteria, we have found some of the best car seat on a plane for your 3 year old passengers options for you. These are our picks for the best toddler seat for both cars and for flying with.
So, without further ado, here is our top recommendation for the best car seat for 3 year old passenger:
Wayb Pico Car Seat
If you looking for the best car seat for plane travel for your 3-year-old, then this is our best pick by far. Why? Because it simply ticks off all of the boxes.
Here is why you are going to love Wayb Pico Car Seat:
- This is a forward-facing only car seat, specially designed for kids 22-50 lbs and 30-45″ tall.
- It is a lightweight (only 8 lbs), very compact, quick to fold and easy-to-carry travel car seat.
- The aerospace-grade aluminum frame makes this chair super strong.
- This is the best travel car seat for a 3 year old.
- It comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
Wayb Pico Car Seat passes all of the safety testings in accordance with the U.S. standards regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and it is FAA approved as well. This of course means, that this car seat is approved for both cars and flying with.
How to Install the WAYB Pico car seat?
Here are short videos to help you with the installation of the car seat both in the car and on the plane:
How to Install the car seat in the car:
Check out easy-to-follow steps of how to set up the Pico in the car:
How to Install the car seat on the plane:
Check out easy-to-follow steps of how to set up the Pico on the plane:
WAYB Pico is made with ultralight aerospace-grade aluminum, and with minimal use of plastic components. Keeping the planet in mind, there is no PU foam used at all.
When it comes to padding, Pico comes with a wool/polyester blend ASTROKNIT™, which is extremely ergonomic, very breathable and, of course, very comfortable.
This car seat is very easy to spot clean using warm water and wool-safe detergent. You can also remove the fabric pads and thoroughly clean as well.
As you have seen in the above installation videos, Pico is easily installed using a car’s LATCH system or a car or plane seatbelt.
You can also read through our popular guide to finding a booster seat for travel here.
Click here to purchase the popular Wayb Pico Car Seat
Other Recommended Portable Car Seat for 3 Year Olds
Here is an alternative option for, in our opinion, the best travel car seat 3 year old:
Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Combination Booster Car Seat
If you are looking for one of the overall best car seats for toddlers, and our favorite choice for 3-year-olds, then the Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 is it! This car seat packs brilliant features into a simple and compact design, making your travels a whole lot easier.
With a weight of only 11.5 lbs, carrying this seat onto the plane and around the airport is easy. The seat dimensions are 18.25 x 19 x 29.75 in – meaning it is slim enough to comfortably fit into airplane seats and down the aisle.
This product is a smart choice for your 3 year old, as it has a five-point safety harness that can convert into a belt-positioning booster seat as your child grows bigger.
When used forward-facing with a harness, the seat can accommodate a weight of 30 – 65 pounds. As a belt-positioning booster, it can hold 40 to 100 pounds. Bear in mind that you can’t use the booster function of this seat on the plane though.
Of course, your little one will be secure in this seat, with it meeting ASTM and JPMA safety standards. A removable cup holder is also included, however it cannot be used when on the plane.
The Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 car seat is perfect for flying with a 3 year old. Between its smart size and weight, as well as its ability to accommodate your child's growth, this has got to be the best FAA car seat for 3-year-old passengers!
Not sure that the travel toddler car seat above is the one for you? Here are two other travel car seats that we can recommend for toddlers.
It is another popular seat and sells really well on Amazon.
>> Click here to grab this awesome toddler travel car seat here.
Alternatives to Traveling with a Car Seat on Airplane for 3 Year Old Kids
What are the alternatives to traveling with a car seat on plane for 3 year old toddlers? On our travels, we have used the Newroutes Child Airplane Safety Travel harness, which has proven itself many times.
Please note that this CARES Child Safety Device is the only FAA-approved harness restraint for children weighing between 22 and 44 lbs (kids 1-year and older).
One of the positives of traveling with a harness is that it can fold into a 6″ stuff-sack and be put away into your backpack with ease. Weighing only 1 lbs does not add to your luggage weight allowance, and it is far easier to travel with than the car seat.
The only issue I have is that the harness does not allow for comfortable sleeping. The harness will keep your toddler upright at all times.
Although we do love the harness now that she is older, I do prefer a car seat for 3 year olds.
>> Check prices for the Newroutes Child Airplane Safety Travel Harness here.
Final Thoughts on Flying With a 3 Year Old
Traveling with a 3 year old can be challenging, and if you will be catching flights it can get even more complicated! You will need an FAA car seat that is both lightweight, compact, and will safely hold your growing 3 year old.
This is why we have chosen the Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 as our favorite airplane car seat for 3 year old passengers. Consider making your travels even easier with some useful car seat travel accessories. Flying with a 3 year old has never been easier!
Tip: You might also be interested in checking out:
- which are the best accessories for long flights
- where to find the best kids luggage for traveling with