7 Tips for Traveling with Car Seats and Strollers

Packing for a trip with children is no easy feat, especially when you factor in all the necessary baby gear like car seats and strollers. While these items are essential for keeping your little ones safe and comfortable, they can also be a hassle to lug through airports and onto planes.

7 Tips for Traveling with Car Seats and Strollers

However, with proper planning and preparation, traveling with car seats and strollers doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In this article, we’ll share seven proven tips to help make your journey as smooth as possible.

Key Takeaways

  • Research airline policies on car seats and strollers in advance
  • Prepare your gear by removi7 Tips for Traveling with Car Seats and Strollers
  • ng accessories and getting luggage tags early
  • Ensure your car seat meets FAA approval for air travel
  • Utilize strollers to navigate airports with ease
  • Have backup plans and alternate options ready
  • Understand the airline’s process for retrieving checked items
  • Review car seat installation instructions for airplanes

7 Tips for Traveling with Car Seats and Strollers

These Car Seats and strollers are essential items that ensure your child’s safety and comfort, but they can also add to the stress of your journey. Here are seven practical tips to make traveling with car seats and strollers easier and more efficient.

Tip 1 – Check Airline Regulations Ahead of Time

One of the most important things to do when planning to travel with car seats and strollers is to research your airline’s specific policies. Each carrier has different rules regarding size and weight limitations, approval requirements, and whether these items can be checked or carried on board.

For example, American Airlines allows each ticketed customer to check one stroller and one car seat for free, but strollers weighing more than 20 pounds must be checked at the ticket counter rather than gate-checked. Delta, on the other hand, permits both strollers and car seats to be gate-checked or checked before going through security, as long as the strollers are fully collapsible.

To avoid any surprises or additional fees, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with your airline’s regulations well in advance. This will help you choose the most compact and airline-approved options, ensuring a smoother travel experience.

Tip 2 – Remove Accessories and Get Tags Early

Before heading to the airport, take some time to prepare your car seat and stroller by removing any unnecessary attachments or accessories. Detaching toys, securing straps, and eliminating any loose items will not only make it easier to navigate through the airport but also prevent potential damage or loss during the journey.

Additionally, if you plan to check these items, it’s recommended to get your luggage tags as soon as you arrive at the gate. This simple step can save you valuable time and prevent delays during the boarding process. If you wait until the last minute, the attendant may need to go elsewhere to locate tags, adding unnecessary stress to an already hectic situation.

To further protect your gear, consider investing in a car seat travel bag or a durable, waterproof cover. These protective cases can help keep your items clean and scratch-free during transit.

Tip 3 – Ensure Car Seat is FAA-Approved for Air Travel

If you plan to use your car seat on the plane, it’s crucial to ensure that it meets the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval requirements. In the United States, car seats with aircraft approval will have a sticker with red lettering indicating that the seat is certified for use in both motor vehicles and aircraft.

For infant or convertible seats, the sticker should state, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” It’s important to note that booster seats are not certified for use on airplanes, including all-in-one models or combination seats in booster mode.

Before your trip, locate the FAA approval sticker on your car seat and familiarize yourself with its location and wording. Flight attendants may ask to see this sticker during the boarding process, so being prepared will save you from unnecessary stress.

Additionally, measure your car seat to ensure it fits within the dimensions of the airplane seats, as most coach seats are approximately 16 inches wide. Consulting your car seat manual and following the manufacturer’s instructions for installation on airplanes is also recommended.

Tip 4 – Use Stroller Through Airport

One of the biggest advantages of bringing your own stroller is the convenience it provides when navigating airports with young children. From waiting in lines to reaching your gate, a stroller can be a lifesaver, especially if your child is too heavy or too tired to be carried for long periods.

Most airlines allow you to gate-check your stroller, meaning you can use it all the way up until boarding the plane. This can be particularly helpful if you have a layover or need to navigate through multiple terminals.

To make the most of your stroller during air travel, consider investing in a lightweight, compact model. These strollers are easier to maneuver through crowded areas and often meet the size and weight requirements of most airlines.

Alternatively, you can opt to wear your baby in a carrier during the boarding process and gate-check the stroller, retrieving it once you reach your destination.

Tip 5 – Have Alternate Plans Ready

Despite your best efforts, unexpected situations can arise during travel, such as lost or damaged gear. To minimize stress and ensure a smoother journey, it’s wise to have alternate plans in place.

Before your trip, research local rental options for car seats and strollers at your destination. This information will come in handy if you need to quickly acquire replacement items upon arrival.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to take photographs of your car seat and stroller before leaving home. These images can serve as proof of their condition if replacements are needed and your airline is responsible for the damage or loss.

Finally, consider bringing a baby carrier or wearable sling as a backup option. Not only can this come in handy if you need to navigate the airport without a stroller temporarily, but it can also provide a comfortable and convenient way to carry your child if your car seat becomes unavailable.

Tip 6 – Know Airline’s Pick-Up Process

After a long flight, the last thing any parent wants is to spend valuable time hunting for their checked car seat or stroller. To avoid this frustration, call your airline ahead of time to understand their process for retrieving checked items upon arrival.

Some airlines place these items on the baggage claim carousel, while others have a separate oversized luggage counter. Knowing where to go in advance will save you from unnecessary stress and allow you to quickly retrieve your gear and continue your journey.

Tip 7 – Review Car Seat Installation on Planes

While installing a car seat in a vehicle is second nature for most parents, the process can be slightly different when it comes to airplanes. Before your flight, take a moment to review your car seat manual and familiarize yourself with any special instructions for installation on planes.

For example, most infant seats can be brought onto the plane without the base, as bases are typically not approved for air travel. On the other hand, rear-facing convertible seats may need to be installed at a different recline angle than what is permitted in a car.

If your car seat includes a tensioning plate or other unique features, carefully review the instructions to ensure proper installation on the aircraft. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines will not only ensure your child’s safety but also prevent any delays or issues during the boarding process.


Traveling with young children can be a daunting task, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. By following these seven tips for flying with car seats and strollers, you can minimize stress, avoid unnecessary hassles, and focus on enjoying your journey as a family.

Remember, researching airline policies, preparing your gear, ensuring FAA approval, utilizing strollers strategically, having backup plans, understanding retrieval processes, and reviewing car seat installation instructions are all crucial steps to a smoother travel experience.

With the proper mindset and a little extra planning, you can confidently navigate airports and airplanes with your little ones, creating cherished memories along the way.

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