Even when it pushes back bedtime and includes daily ice cream cones, vacation shouldn't interfere with your child's safety. A booster seat is an essential travel item for a kid who's too big for a car seat but not yet big enough for a car's seat belt to fit properly. Booster seats are significantly easier to travel with than bulky car seats. Opt for a backless version, which is more portable than a high-back seat, and hit the road.
Prepping for Travel
No matter the destination or mode of transportation, travel with the booster seat inside a protective bag. It will make contact with any number of dirty, germy surfaces during the trip, and keeping the seat in a bag protects your child from coming into contact with those germs. Just as important is that putting the booster seat in a bag makes it easy to carry – a major bonus, because these seats can be unwieldy. Buy a bag intended for this purpose, or put the seat in a nylon tote bag or a clear plastic garbage bag. If the bag doesn't have handles, pack a bungee cord and strap the seat to a suitcase while moving luggage from place to place.
Flying With a Booster Seat
The TSA and the airlines have no objections to passengers traveling with booster seats. They can't be used on the plane, which shouldn't be a problem; a kid big enough to need a booster seat is big enough to use a plane's seat belt. Luckily, major airlines will generally check a booster seat at no cost to the passenger. Check it at the ticket counter upon arriving at the airport to pick up on the baggage carousel at your final destination, or carry it all the way to the plane and ask a gate agent about gate-checking the seat. The airline may allow you to bring the booster seat into the cabin as a free carry-on, provided it fits into the overhead compartment – but airline policies differ.
Buy When You Get There
If the trip itself doesn't require the use of a booster seat – if you're flying to a destination and taking public transportation to reach the hotel – it might make more sense to pick up a cheap booster seat in the destination city than to haul it there with you. High-quality backless booster seats are available in many stores for as little as $20. Donate the seat to a women's shelter when it's time to go home.
Booster Seats on the Road
Because a booster seat doesn't have to be attached to the seat at all, it's easy to pop into the back seat of a rental car, taxi or ride-sharing car. As long as it goes in the back seat and the child can be belted in properly (with the shoulder strap across the shoulder instead of the neck, and the lap belt fitting low and tight across the lap), you're good to go. Routinely remind everyone in the group to help make sure that the booster seat doesn't get left behind in a taxi or other car; it can be easy to make this oversight while rushing around in an unfamiliar city.