Top 5 Booster Seat Alternative You Need for Your Next Trip (2022 Guide)

Did you know your trip does not have to include carrying the bulky booster everywhere you go? We examine the top booster seat alternative models that are travel-friendly!

If you want to learn why rental car seat service is not the best, consider these booster seat alternatives for your next adventure.


Take away key points:

  • Booster seat alternatives offer the advantage of portability and space-saving.
  • Avoid using car seat rentals. Not all rented car seats are safe, and the total cost is pricey.
  • Booster seat alternatives are suitable for parents who often travel or for car-free families.

Why Should You Consider a Booster Seat Alternative?

alternative to car booster seat

Booster seats, especially backless models, are known for their lightweight design. So, why should you consider a booster seat alternative if you can find a traditional model with travel-friendly features?

Here's the deal:

When traveling, even the most lightweight traditional booster becomes too heavy. For example, imagine trying to hail a taxi while your child is fussy and your hands are full of luggage. On top of that, you need the booster seat always at hand, as you need to enter the vehicle and quickly install it.

For this reason, parents often opt for travel-friendly booster alternatives. Many of them, such as travel harnesses, can be carried in a pocket! Due to the small size of travel car seats and harnesses, you won't have to stress about lack of space!

How Do Booster Seat Alternatives Offer Advantage Over Traditional Boosters?

The main advantage of booster seat alternatives, such as travel vests over standard boosters, is portability! Most booster seat alternatives weigh less than three pounds, while some models are less than one pound heavy.

If you live in the city and often take public transport, carrying a regular booster or bulky car seats can be tiring. Many parents find travel vest and harness helpful for traveling and carpooling.

The booster seat alternatives are fantastic if you are a city parent without a car! Instead of bringing a cumbersome booster, you can easily pack a three-pound travel vest in your purse.

Why Bringing Your Own Booster/ Car Seat is Not Always a Good Idea When Traveling?

what can i use instead of a booster seat

Traveling with a booster seat is a straightforward procedure on an airplane. Many airline companies will allow you to check the booster seat as a carry-on. However, a traditional booster seat, even an inflatable one, cannot be used on an airplane.

Traditional booster seats are designed to be used with a car seat belt which consists of a lap-shoulder seat belt system. However, the booster seats are not acceptable because the airplane seats have lap-only seat belt designs.

But here is how you can use a booster seat on an airplane:

Opt for booster seat alternatives! Booster seat alternatives offer a safe ride to kids who have outgrown their forward-facing seats but are not mature for a booster seat. If you are uncomfortable with your child sitting in an airplane seat with a lap belt only, a traveling harness can fix your worries!

Some of the best alternatives for traveling boosters are listed below!

2. Public transportation (trains, buses, taxis, Uber)

Taking public transport with your car seat or a booster can quickly become a nightmare. Transport vehicles like buses are not all designed with child safety in mind. Most of them would not have a lap belt, so even if you brought your booster, you could not install it.

As three-point seat belts are designed for adults, children need booster seat alternatives when traveling. This way, the shoulder belt will not cut into the child's neck and risk safety.

A travel vest or a travel harness can replace a backless booster in offering all extra safety for children who have outgrown their forward-facing seat.

Why Not Use Car Seat Rental Instead?

The number one thing an experienced traveling parent will tell you is to avoid using car seat rental at all costs! Here is why renting a car seat should not be your first option:

  • Safety: Renting car seats is available in all countries, making this option appealing to parents traveling for the first time. But you don't know that rented car seats are always safe. When renting car seats, you don't know the full history of the seat in question. Nobody can guarantee that the car seat or a booster has not been in an accident or is damaged or expired.
  • Hygiene: A car seat rental company will tell you that each car seat is cleaned after every use. Considering kids are crafty and always manage to sneak in a few cookie crumbs in the car seat; it's unlikely the rented car seat is completely clean.
  • Price: renting car seats is pricey. Car seat rental companies take advantage of overcharging for some car seats or boosters. According to Consumer Reports, the average cost of renting a car seat is around $13 daily.

Top 5 Best Booster Seat Alternatives

Cares Safety Restraint System

A traditional booster seat is not suitable for airplane rides. However, this Cares Safety restraint system is the perfect device for airplane seats.

The Cares Safety harness is FAA approved and includes a 4-belt harness. Instead of a regular lap-shoulder seat belt system, Cares alters the airplane seat and creates a suitable restraint for children weighing between 22-44 pounds.

The belt is lightweight and weighs only 1 pound, meaning you can easily pack it in your carry-on. The installation process requires you to use the red belt and tie it around the airplane seat. Next, connect the shoulder straps to the connector on the airplane seat belt and buckle the seat belt.

The main downside of the Cares Safety restraint system is comfort. The harness straps are not too comfortable for longer flights. The lack of a crotch strap makes this harness system unsuitable for small and squirmy toddlers.

You need to know that the Cares Safety system can be used in the airplane but not in the car. The options below may be helpful if you are looking for a booster seat alternative for a vehicle seat.

Ride Safer Travel Vest

The RideSafer travel vest is the most popular booster seat alternative! The lightweight travel car seat vest is suitable for children older than three years old from 33-110 lbs. 

The Ride Safer travel vest is a fantastic alternative for carpooling as well! If your traditional boosters seats take up too much room in the back, the RideSafer travel vest will save precious space.

The travel vest can be used with two installation methods. The first method includes using a top tether strap and a vehicle lap belt to secure the vest. The other way allows you to use the vest without the top tether. In both cases, the RideSafer travel vest can only be used with a shoulder belt and a lap belt.

The numerous crash tests and Federal approval make the RideSafer travel vest a safe booster alternative.

The unique 4-point harness design protects the child's chest, shoulders, and hips against crash forces. The travel vest positions the vehicle seat belt and works by maintaining the proper belt positioning.

The inside of the travel vest is filled with crash-absorbing memory foam. The only downside of this travel vest is that it's not FAA-approved.

Newroutes Child Airplane Safety Travel Harness

The Newroutes travel harness is another airplane-favorite backless boosters alternative. The Newroutes harness is suitable for young kids between 22-44 lbs.

Thanks to the lightweight design that weighs about one pound, the harness easily fits into any diaper bag, stroller, travel bag, or luggage. Like the Cares harness, the Newroutes harness is suitable only for airplane use.

The child airplane safety harness is easily installed in under one minute! It can easily replace the forward-facing car seat during all your flights while ensuring your child's safety. The travel harness system includes a slide-through loop that connects to the airplane's seat belt for maximum security.

Plus, the harness fits onto every airplane seat, so you won't have to worry about compatibility. The premium materials of the travel harness allow for long-term use. Therefore, you should not worry about the harness ripping apart in turbulence or any other case.

On top of all, the travel harness includes a full year of warranty and a monthly refund for unsatisfied customers.

We listed all the advantages of the travel harness, but there is one significant disadvantage. Apart from the fact this travel harness cannot be used in cars, it's also not the most comfortable.

comfiGO® - Kid Friendly Car Booster Seat

The coming is a kid and travel-friendly booster seat alternative for all unforgettable trips! The booster seat offers advanced safety features that ease every parent's mind. Let's see how the design differs from a standard booster seat.

Unlike regular boosters that offer foam padding, the Comfigo alternative includes a thin rubber seat with anti-slip bottom. The anti-slip bottom helps the booster not to slide from side to side and ensures a proper fit.

Installing it in a different vehicle, such as a rental or a taxi, will make it so much easier since the bottom sticks right to the vehicle seat.

In addition, the elastic band on the booster seat helps maintain the child's proper seating position. The ComfiGo ensures minimal slouching and keeps the lap belt positioned below the hips.

But how easy is it to travel with ComfiGo?

The lightweight design and the low-profile style allow every parent to easily pack the ComfiGo in a backpack, purse, or luggage.

The booster seat alternative is suitable for children ages 4-12, weighing up to 40 pounds. The seat can be installed in the vehicle with a LATCH connector or simply placed on the vehicle seat.

WhizRider Portable Car Seat

The WhizRider is a unique portable car seat vest. With its compact and foldable design, the WhizRider vest is suitable for travel and every use. Children between the ages of 3-10 can safely be restrained in the WhizRides portable car seat vest.

There is no need to doubt the safety of this travel vest. The WhizRider is an award-winning harness-style booster alternative.

The harness vest is secured to the vehicle seat by using belt guides. The belt guides work with the vehicle seat belt to ensure a correct fit. For example, the harness style can bring down the shoulder belt to the right shoulder level, which will keep the child in a good seating position.

The portable and lightweight installation in under 20 seconds is perfect for families on the go! Additionally, the Whiz Rider allows the parent to install two car seats in the back without too much space.

This booster seat alternative has been rigorously tested under the US and European safety requirements while exceeding US child restraint safety standards.

Lastly, the WhizRides is designed with reflective bindings, which ensure kids have a safe night ride. 


What can I use instead of a booster seat?

Instead of using a booster seat, parents can opt for a booster seat alternative, such as a traveling safety harness or a vest. The booster seat alternatives are mainly suitable for kids older than three years old and offer the safety of restraining your child correctly.

Many alternative booster seat options are FAA approved, following crash test requirements for safe use.

Can you use a seatbelt adjuster instead of a booster?

No, a seatbelt adjuster is not an appropriate booster alternative. Seat belt adjusters often alter the optimal performance of a seat belt and do not guarantee safety.

Is a booster seat necessary?

booster seat vs booster cushion

Yes, a booster seat is necessary, and kids should remain using booster seats until they have reached the height and weight of 4 feet and nine inches. Booster seats offer your child a lift from the vehicle seat to reach the appropriate seat belt fit.

What do you do with a toddler if you don't have a car seat?

A toddler must be restrained in the appropriate car seat throughout the Ride. However, if you do not have a car seat, you can secure the child with the vehicle seat belt. Securing the child passenger with a seat belt at a young age is not safe, and you need to provide an adequate child's car seat as soon as possible.

Never let the toddler ride in your lap with a seat belt. A seat belt is designed to protect only one person at a time.

Can you use a cushion as a booster seat?

No, a cushion is not a safe substitute for a booster seat. Additionally, no products such as pillows and cushions are not adequate alternatives as they do not offer your child a safe ride.

Final Words

Traveling with children is not easy, but these few travel booster alternatives are bound to make your next trip a bit less tedious.

We recommend you avoid car seat rentals if you want to ensure car seat safety at all times. Instead, booster seat alternatives are perfect for all your travels and busy days in the city.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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