How to Attach Car Seats to Rolling Luggage

JoniTravel6 Comments

We’ve been traveling a lot lately. I’ve got a whole post coming on traveling with small kids but for now I want to talk about something very specific and important to anyone who has ever tried to fly with kids. Car seats, planes and how to get car seats through airports and onto planes.

This isn’t a post about organizing so much as it is a post about relieving stress and being prepared. Nothing is more stressful than trying to lug kids and your crap through an airport.

Unless you’re traveling to a destination that has a mass transit system you will need a car seat when you get there. This leaves you with one of two options:

  1. Rent a car seat (most rental car companies will rent car seats, though I’m not sure I trust my kid’s life to a car seat I know nothing about)
  2. Bring your own car seat

If you choose to bring your own car seat then you have even more options:

  1. Check it and risk it getting damaged or lost and not having it when you get to your destination
  2. Haul it around the airport and gate check it/take it on the plane

{The good news is that almost every airline will check your car seat and stroller for you for free regardless if it’s checked at the check-in or at the gate. Win for parents everywhere!}

In our case, we were visiting with family who was picking us up from the airport so renting car seats wasn’t an option.

I didn’t feel comfortable checking the seats when we checked in and I wanted to take Alvy’s car seat on the plane anyway so hauling the car seats through the airport became a very hot topic around our house. How do you haul the silly things around? If you’re pulling a carry on how do you carry your car seat?

You could buy one of these but at $50 a piece I just couldn’t justify spending $100 (we would need two) on something we would probably only use once. Then you’re having to pull your carry on luggage AND a car seat. That just doesn’t sound fun.

Then there’s this which appears to be totally genius. I was prepared to shell out $25 for two of these little gizmos until I read a review where someone mentioned you could do this yourself with some stuff from the hardware store.

YES! YES YOU CAN!

Here you go friends, a little tutorial on how to attach car seats to rolling luggage.

PinterestWe have two car seats (which are identical) and two different rolling carry on suitcases. For the record the car seats we use are the Britax Boulevard 70 and the luggage is an Eagle Creek 22 inch carry on (which is brand new) and a 22 inch Samsonite (it is probably 10 years old, I don’t know the model). The Eagle Creek is mine and is kind of a hybrid of hard and soft sided and Jason’s (the Samsonite) is hard sided all the way around with a flexible top. This little tricks works equally as well on both suitcases.

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Both of our suitcases are the two wheeled kind. I don’t know if this would work with the four-wheeled luggage. You need to be able to tip it back and either pull it behind you or push it like a stroller. The added weight of the car seat and the kid might tip a four wheeled suitcase over.

Now go shopping. For the record, I bought all my supplies at Lowes.

For each suitcase/car seat combination you will need two 2-inch diameter o-rings and one 3/16 inch quick link. The o-rings I bought have a 200 pound working load and the quick link has an 800 pound working load…I think that’ll do just fine.

I spent a grand total of $9 on all the hardware I needed to attach two car seats to two carry on suitcases.

Now time to assemble.

Go ahead and attach the two rings together with the quick link.

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Lay the car seat face down and completely loosen the LATCH straps and lay them off to the sides. Lay your tether over the top of the seat to get it out of the way.

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Clip one of your latch buckles to one of the rings.

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Lay the suitcase on top of the car seat with back facing out (the front where the pockets are go up against the car seat. Make sure the bottom of the car seat is flush with the bottom of the luggage.

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Bring the two latch buckles around the back of the suitcase (remember one of them already has the hardware attached) and clip the other latch buckle to the other ring. Pull the belts as tightly as you can.

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Stand the car seat/luggage up and then thread the tether through the luggage handle and clip the tether to the quick link. Pull the tether tight, then roll up the rest of the tether strap.

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Ta Da! You’re done!

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Insert the kid and you’ve got a great way to carry the car seat and your kid through the airport.

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Both the kids loved riding in our car seat rig. It was about 1000 times cooler than a stroller and easier on mom and dad too.

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All that being said, you can learn from a few of our mistakes. Here’s a few helpful tips.

  1. The car seat straps need to be tight. I mean TIGHT. As tight as you can possibly make them. When you put your kid in the car seat and then start going over bumps in the airport flooring (i.e. transition from carpet to tile, grout lines, over lips in elevators, etc) the car seat will settle if it’s not tightened enough. You will end up having to pull the suitcase almost horizontally to keep it from drooping to far. Trust me on this. I’m pretty sure Alvy spent the entire time we were at the Newark airport staring at the ceiling.
  2. I would highly encourage you to try this out at home in the street/driveway before you take it to the airport. The airport is not the place you want experiment. Roll the kid around, turn in circles, push it, pull it, tip it forward and then backward. Practice!
  3. You will have to take your rig apart at security and again at the gate. The stress of the security line isn’t the place you want to be learning how to disassemble and reassemble your rig. PRACTICE IT AT HOME FIRST. More than once if possible.
  4. This works best if your suitcases are very full. I would assume since you’re traveling with kids you’ve packed everything you own – so this shouldn’t be a problem.

That being said, once we got it figured out, this worked extremely well for us. We got a ton of comments as we were walking through the airport asking if we had special suitcases or special car seats. As we walked I heard more than one person say, “Oh that’s a good idea.” We didn’t need to take a stroller and we got to use our own car seats at our destination. If only they were this easy to get on the plane…

Happy travels!

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6 Comments on “How to Attach Car Seats to Rolling Luggage”

  1. Josclyn Taylor

    Thank you for posting! I’m curious what your thoughts are. I am going on a trip with my two toddlers (21 months and 3 1/2) by myself. I was thinking about trying this because is seems way easier than trying to haul everything with a stroller. Not sure how I would do that on my own with my two kids. This seems so much more manageable. What are your thoughts on doing this with two kids and only one me. Thanks for your feedback!

  2. Pingback: Tips for Traveling With Tots - Andrea Dekker

  3. Kathleen

    Thank you!!!!! You have saved my life/wallet/sanity with this post!! You are the BEST!! Thank you!!!

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