7 best travel car seats – portable and foldable

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When it comes to holidaying abroad, it’s hard to know what’s best to do about your kids and car seats. The thought of not having appropriate car seats makes us really anxious so I researched and tried out a few portable car seats. In this blog post I compare 7 options of portable travel car seats and tell you which we bought and why.

Travel car seat options

We don’t mess about when it comes to our kids’ car seats. We take it seriously and do our research, following whatever is the best guidance at the time.

It is one area where we don’t try to scrimp, even for grandparent’s cars. To us, it’s just not worth it.

Our three year old has good extended rear facing car seats in both our car (Cybex Sirona, you can see our review here) and in her grandad’s car (Concord Reverso – see our video review here).

But for our recent trip to Spain we chose to take portable car seats.

Our daughter is too young for a booster seat at 3 and I would never put our 6 year old in a booster seat without a high back at home (they should be for over 22kg and 125cm tall).

However, following personal research I felt a travel car seat option would be better for both than nothing at all.

Please note - this blog post summarises our choices and research for our circumstances, it does not constitute advice, please do you own safety and legal research in addition to this. None of these seats are the safest seats on the market but they are the best portable and foldable car seats I have found specifically for occasional use when travelling compared to using nothing at all. 
What to do about car seats for holiday transfers in Europe? Travel car seat comparisons
My son when he was 6 trying out the Bubblebum for the first time.

Portable car seats in the UK

After asking around and doing some research and it seems there are 7 options for travel car seats on the UK market at the moment:

  1. The BubbleBum (affiliate link) – this is an inflatable booster seat that you blow up for them and then deflate to put in luggage. From the limited amount of safety reviews I’ve been able to find on travel car seats, this one seems to score the best. BubbleBum is crash test approved and meets and exceeds the EU ECE R44. 04 and the US FMVSS 213 safety regulations. This means we are able to use this one for our trip to Iceland. See below for more reasons we liked the Bubblebum seat and how we tested it. Bubblebum has not been reviewed by Which? at the time of writing.
  2. The Trunki BoostApak (affiliate link) – this is a hard shelled back pack that transforms into a booster seat. The hard shell means that whatever you have put in the backpack can remain in it meaning it’s a good ‘two for one’ option. I’ve read some reviews that say it can be a bit heavy (3lbs without anything in it) for younger kids though and I know mine would complain about carrying it. ECE R44.04 – EU Certified for Group 2 and 3 (girls and boys weighing 15kg-36kg approx. 4 – 12 years old). Trunki BoostApak has not been reviewed by Which? at the time of writing.
  3. The mifold grab and go booster seat (affiliate link) – this is a foldable car seat that guides the seat belt into a more optimum position on the child. If you are looking for the most compact travel seat then this is the smallest I’ve seen on the UK market. These seem to be hard to get a hold of at the moment following a Which? safety warning review scoring 0% that says: ‘The MiFold backless booster seat is legal to be sold but offers virtually no side-impact protection. The regulation this car seat is approved to does not include a side-impact crash test.’
  4. The same company have also now launched the HiFold (below) which transforms into a higher back booster. This looks good but we haven’t personally tested it as it wasn’t available when I wrote this post originally. These also seem to be hard to get a hold of at the moment. The HiFold scored 50% on Which? safety testing with average to poor crash test results and is only recommended for occasional holiday use.
  5. NEW to the UK market is the Maxi-Cosi Nomad Plus (affiliate link) foldable car seat – this seat is for children aged 15 months to 4 years (or 67-105cm). It weighs 4.26kg so one of the heavier options however it is more like a traditional car seat with a high back and side impact protection which may make you feel less worried about using it compared to a backless option. You can adjust the safety harness and headrest as your child grows. It fits any car with best installation. It comes with it’s own (water repellant but not waterproof) carry bag. There is no Which? review of the Maxi-Cosi Nomad Plus yet but it is I-Size-compliant and conforms to the latest R129 regulations. The cover and harness shoulder pads are removable so you can machine wash when (not if) it gets dirty. Currently priced at £109.
  6. NEW to the UK market is the Urban Kanga Wallaroo Portable and Foldable Car Seat (affiliate link). This seat is ISOFIX i-Size 100-150cm meaning it lasts from about 4 to 12 years (or 15-36 kg). Its one of the heaviest seat in my list at 6kg which is a substantial weight if you are carrying around exploring. Like the Maxi-Cosi Nomad Plus it has side impact protection. The Urban Kanga Wallaroo is tested to ECE regulation R129/03 for 100-150 cm (i-Size). It has ISOfix or seatbelt installation. There are 8 adjustable height positions, recline options and memory foam seat padding. The included backpack-style carry bag ensures effortless portability. The most expensive car seat on the list at the moment at £129.90 at the time of writing. This car seat hasn’t been reviewed by Which? but the similar The Urban Kanga Uptown TV107 got a Which? don’t buy rating with 15% score for scoring poorly for side impact tests.
  7. NEW to the UK market is the Jovikids Portable Folding i-Size Highback Booster with ISOFIX (affiliate link). Like the previous seat this is heavy – weighing 7kg which isn’t going to be ideal if you are taking it out for a day of exploring. However, Jovikids’ highback child seat is certified to the latest European i-Size standard (ECE R129). Quality is strictly controlled, with a one-piece injection-molded frame, and has passed front, side, and rear collision tests, ensuring the safety seat provides all-around protection for your child, reducing the risk of injury to the head, neck, and shoulders. You can secure with ISOfix or seatbelt installation. The Jovikids seat can grow with your child. It’s suitable for children from 100-150 cm in height (approximately 3-12 years old). The backrest’s recline angle can be slightly adjusted for more comfortable support. The headrest is cushioned for extra comfort. The soft and breathable fabric cover of the booster seat is fully removable and easy to clean. This seat has not been Which? tested.

Travel car seat product comparison – pros and cons

Our top pick – BubbleBum as a portable travel car seat

We chose to go with the BubbleBum for a several reasons:

  1. It seems good for safety (as I read here) and meets EU and US safety testing regulations as described here.
  2. My kids both seemed better positioned with it than the mifold when testing them in it
  3. My kids said it was the most comfortable to sit on (as compared to the mifold)
  4. I liked that it had a case unlike the others. You can pay £15 for a case for the mifold but I think that’s a bit of a cheek when you just paid £50 for the seat itself.
  5. It was the lightest product at only 1lb. The mifold is 1.5lbs and Trunki BoostApak is 3lbs. If you have multiple children and therefore multiple seats to carry and are going to be out exploring all day and relying on taxis then this is going to really really matter.
  6. It was the cheapest product on the UK Market, coming in at around £30. The mifold is around £50 and the Trunki BoostApak is around £60. For the high back foldable travel seats you are looking at close the the £100 price range which is expensive if its not going to be their main seat and if you have multiple children. To get a safe product for the cheapest price seemed like a solid option.
  7. It lasts longer than the Maxi-Cosi Nomad Plus which you can only use until around 4, whilst being a lot lighter than the Jovikids and Urban Kanga seats that do last until around 12 years. (Updated to add: My children are now 9 and 12 and we are still using the Bubblebum for them in taxis etc.)
What to do about car seats for holiday transfers in Europe? Travel car seat comparisons

BubbleBum travel car seat – holiday review

We have now taken the BubbleBum with us to Lanzarote, Florida and Iceland when my children were a range of ages. They aren’t heavy at all and they fit inside the kid’s carry on luggage (kid’s size character suitcases). We’ve also used it on a number of UK trips for taxi rides.

We tried both the BubbleBum and the Mifold out in our car to see which we preferred. The kids seemed positioned better on the BubbleBum and told us it was much more comfortable.

I was surprised that something so small and light could make such a difference. It reassured me that whilst it’s not as safe as a high backed proper car seat, it’s certainly a lot better than just putting a seat belt on them.

If you usually don’t take car seats on holiday because of the hassle, then I would personally recommend the BubbleBum as a travel car seat for young children. Sure its not as good as a proper car seat but compared to using nothing, it’s an easy option to make their car journeys safer and give you some peace of mind.

What to do about car seats for holiday transfers in Europe? Travel car seat comparisons

Buy our recommendation for travel car seats

You can buy the BubbleBum for £34.99 on Amazon here (affiliate link). This is a bargain to keep your kids safer.

Updated to add: This year we have used the Bubblebum for my 8 year old daughter on a 2 week holiday in America and for a trip to Iceland whilst there and it really helped position the seatbelt better for her and gave us reassurance. It was also very portable for carrying around with us when not in a car or taxis. We have really got years of our money’s worth out of this product.

Other options for kids portable car seats when travelling abroad

Just risk it

It’s legal to not have car seats for taxis/transfers for many places in the EU so you won’t get into trouble for not using one.

Lots of people do this and generally it’s fine, after all, crashes aren’t super common.

We decided against this option though as we spend all this money to keep them safe at home, why risk it when abroad?!

Arrange for the travel company to provide seats

Our first port of call was to contact the travel operator to ask if they could provide car seats. After 2 emails, we weren’t making much progress though and there was a language barrier.

I was left with no confidence that there would be seats provided, and if they were, that they would be the right ones for the size of my children. This would be my preferred option though.

If anyone knows of any great European transfer companies that are good at providing car seats please let me know in the comments.

Take your own seats

Our second consideration, was whether or not we should take our own seats. This is something we decided against. We have our hands full with 2 kids and luggage at the airport anyway. The kids’ car seats are really bulky and heavy. Plus they are expensive and I don’t want to risk them getting damaged in the hold. There is also the issue that you aren’t going to be able to take them out and about on your daily excursions and taxi rides.

Buy cheap car seats to travel with

This is certainly an option, be it booster seats or just cheaper, more travel friendly seats than we have but for some of the reasons above, this again is something that we chose not to do.

Summary of the best portable travel car seat

There are 7 main options for portable car seats on the UK market – the BubbleBum, MiFold, HiFold, the Trunki BoostApak, Maxi-Cosi Nomad Plus and the Jovikids.

We recommend the BubbleBum as our kids preferred it for comfort, it scored well on the safety scores we read, it was the lightest and cheapest. We were pleasantly surprised at the difference it made compared to belt only.

Are there any new options I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments if so.

If you liked this post about travel car seats you might also like:

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What to do about car seats for holiday transfers in Europe: Travel car seat comparisons

Please note this post was originally written in May 2018 and was last updated April 2024. Some products in this post were press samples.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through an affiliate link you will not be charged any more for your purchase, but I will receive a small fee for referring you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For my full disclosure policy, please see my about page.

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9 thoughts on “7 best travel car seats – portable and foldable”

  1. This was really interest. I’m on the hunt for stage two car seats for my twins and traveling in Europe wasn’t something I’d considered!

  2. Confused as bubblebum seat says from 4yo and your child was 3, which is how I came to this page by searching for travel seats for my 3yo. Can it be used for 3yo? Can’t see a weight guide.

    • Bubblebum’s FAQs says ‘EU law varies slightly between 135cm-150cm. Best practice for your child is to remain in a booster seat until the age of eleven AND/OR until they reach a height of 4ft 9 inches. This is when their body proportions are starting to be more like that of a small adult and they can sit properly in the vehicle seat. Never transition your child to a booster seat until at least the age of four AND weight of 15kg.’ But for us it was a case of Bubblebum or nothing at all and we felt that the Bubblebum provided a bit more protection than nothing for our 3 year old. We’d not have used it for her in the UK as a regular seat but it was better than nothing when travelling. The weight range from what I can see is from 15KG-36KG.

  3. You fail to mention that backless booster seats can only be used from 22kgs and above. Also the Milfold has a safety alert on the which.com review. I guess you’re just in the blogging game for the commissions from your affiliate links. None of these seats offer side impact protection.

    • Hi, I wasn’t aware of the Which? safety notice for the Mifold as my membership had lapsed but I renewed it to see and have added all the available Which? safety reviews to the piece. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I have also added a new statement about backless booster seats being for children over 22kg. Several of the seats do offer side impact protection, obviously none of these seats will be as effective or safe as a regular car seat used for everyday use. We do not use these seats as our main car seats. This post doesn’t constitute advice for a reader’s own personal circumstances but is talking about what we have done for occasional travel abroad where we need something very portable. It compares using a seat like these over using nothing at all (rather than regular car seats) which is the choice many are faced with when travelling.


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