Traveling with toddlers is not easy under the best of circumstances. If you’re really lucky, the flight is smooth, you packed enough snacks, the in-flight movie doesn’t include scary stuff, and you’ve scored a SkyMall catalog perfect for I Spy. Lugging car seats on airplanes makes a rough situation harder.
After Holden turned about 8 months old, he was so darn squirmy that we vowed to buy him his own seat if we were to ever fly with him again. We did fly with him and we carried that huge Britax for a 13-month old, a seat-kicking 18-month old, a still-kicky 20-month old, and on and on. Then with two little guys (20 months and 42 months if we count that way), we were dragging TWO CAR SEATS onto an airplane. Ugh.
On our family trip to Hawaii, we tried something different. Holden wore the strappy CARES (Child Aviation Restraint) system. It’s an FDA-approved restraint system that loops around the seat back and the seat belt to give him more security than a regular airplane seatbelt while also:
- giving us one less huge thing to lug on board (fitting in my carry-on easily)
- making it that much harder for him to kick the seat in front of him (legs too short – ha ha!)
- impressing the woman in front of us also traveling with 2 little ones
On our subsequent cross-country trips, we went one step further and let Holden try out the regular seat belt and put seat-kicking Milo in the CARES unit. This was also our strategy on the flight to Denmark from San Francisco.
When I check my car seats, I LOVE to use this handy padded backpack designed for car seats; it always has a little bit of extra space to throw a jacket or five inside and it is considered FREE checked item.
If you’re still carrying car seats onboard airplanes, check out the lower profile nylon backpack for car seats: this is the thin bag thingie still converts your mammoth car seat into a backpack but it also packs up tiny. Get this if you have to bring car seats on board.
There is lots more info on the CARES Child Airplane Travel Harness – Cares Safety Restraint System – The Only FAA Approved Child Flying Safety Device if you check it on Amazon.
I got one for $0 to test out, but would pay the $69 they’re charging on Amazon. Great if you like to travel and you have a toddler who likes to come along.