I learned something after traveling with my daughter for the first time: it is no longer a "vacation," but a "trip." Going places with a little one is hard work, from start to finish, but seasoned travelers will tell you that there are plenty of things that can make your life easier, and one of those things is picking the right car seat. These are the 8 best car seats for flying with toddlers, so you can focus more on the fun that awaits you at your destination and less about what your child is strapped in.
While parents know that children under two can fly for free on their lap, the experts are quick to point out that this isn't actually the safest option. "Flying with a baby — no matter how small — in your lap puts him at risk of injury or even death if the plane hits severe turbulence," wrote William McGee for Consumer Reports. "So it’s worth paying for the additional seat, even if there’s no discount for infants." McGee worked in airline flight operations management prior to becoming a journalist. And, terrifyingly, incidents of turbulence may be increasing. "Severe turbulence is expected to increase by several hundred percent in the crowded airspace over North America, Europe and the North Pacific by mid-century, when the CO2 in the atmosphere is double its pre-industrial concentration," explained an article in Forbes. Even if your baby is under two, it's wise to purchase a ticket for them and secure them in a car seat. After all, there is no price tag on your child's safety.
Before you head to the airport with your car seat in tow, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, your car seat needs to be approved by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA). You can find this information on your child's car seat in red lettering. If the sticker has been removed or it's illegible, I'd recommend bringing something as proof that your seat is FAA-approved, like an owner's manual. Finally, bring a print-out of the FAA's official word regarding car seats in airplanes, just in case a flight attendant is misinformed about car seat protocol (which has been known to happen). As long as you've got one of these well-reviewed car seats in tow, you can take comfort in the knowledge that you'll be starting your trip off on the right foot.