Best Toddler Carriers for Travel (2022)


Why would I want a toddler carrier for travel when I can just continue to carry my toddler in the regular baby carrier for travel? The toddler carriers are made specifically for toddlers. They are wider and taller making it more comfortable for your toddler. When your toddler is well supported, it’s also much more comfortable for you.

I can speak from experience when I say, if you still carry your toddler frequently you won’t regret getting an appropriate toddler carrier! What I love most is that I can bring it along when traveling with our toddler, just in case my toddler gets tired. I throw him up on my back and we are on our way.

Two of the best toddler carriers for travel below even have a maximum weight that goes to 60+ lbs! So even though it seems like you might not get as much use out of a toddler travel carrier, with a max weight that high you still have plenty of time to use a toddler carrier!

toddler carriers vs stroller for travel with a toddler

Best Toddler Carriers for Travel

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Types of Toddler Carriers for Travel

There are so many different types, brands and models of toddler carriers available in the market, that picking the right one can be quite the task. With no “one size fits all” approach to this, it depends on us to choose the right type of toddler carrier that will suit all our individual needs the best.

Using backpack carrier for toddler for hiking in Alesund Norway

Understanding what those different types of carriers are is the first step to narrowing down your choices to a few options: 

Wraps

 Wraps are the most basic form of carrier, best known for being the most versatile. They’re made from a variety of materials, come in a wide range of styles, and are essentially long pieces of fabric that you tie around your body to secure your toddler safely in place. Wraps are most ideal for carrying your toddler around when you are doing simple chores around the house, and since they are very adaptable too, they can be tied around your body in different ways to best suit your preferences, needs and body type.

Getting a hang of the specific tying technique that is most comfortable to you can take some time, but with practice, it gets easier! Keep in mind that wraps made of sturdier materials like cotton, hemp, wool and linen are best used for carrying toddlers and older kids who weigh more on the back, while stretchy wraps are used for newborns.  

Soft Structured Carriers

 Soft structured carriers or buckle carriers are carriers that come with padded waistbands and shoulder straps. This type of carrier is easy to use, adjust and can generally be worn in a variety of different ways as well; you can use them on your front, back and even your hip. It is due to these reasons that they are ideal for parents who love spending time in the great outdoors, hiking, camping and doing other active things.

Most of the best baby carriers for toddlers allow you to use the same soft structured carrier from infancy right into toddlerhood without any problems. Depending on your child’s weight, switching to toddler specific carriers may give you both more comfort.   

using a toddler carrier instead of stroller for travel

Mei Tai

 Mei Tai carriers work great for toddlers, because they are a hybrid type that combines the best features of both the buckle carrier and wrap style carrier. It has two padded shoulder straps, two straps that tie around your waist, and a long piece of fabric that ties around your body. Because it uses ties in the place of buckles, it provides infinite adjustability. 

Backpacks

Toddler backpack carriers are great for parents and toddlers who enjoy going on outdoor adventures together. This style of hiking carriers comes with a lot of heavy boning and additional padding to secure your toddler safely in place. However, it does well to note that this additional security does tend to add weight to the carrier, resulting in it being heavier to carry than the other types.

They are also only made for carrying toddlers on your back, so if your little one is not comfortable sitting up on their own just yet, this one might not be for you. 

Keep in mind that while the best toddler backpack carrier is amazing for hiking, you can also still use it for travel! They can be a bit bulky for cities but flying with a hiking backpack carrier will be worth it if you plan to do a lot of hiking.

best toddler backpack carrier

Benefits of Using a Toddler Carrier for Travel

While using a toddler travel stroller definitely has its benefits, there are also many benefits to using toddler carriers for travel.

  • There may be places that are easier to sightsee around without a stroller. Especially places like Cinque Terre with a toddler.
  • If you enjoy hiking, having a back carrier for toddlers will enable you to go on all your adventures. Toddlers will want to be doing some of the walking.
  • By using a travel carrier for toddlers, you still have free hands to chase your toddler instead of pushing a stroller.
  • When your toddler is tired of walking, back in the carrier they go!
  • Snuggled in close to mom or dad helps some toddlers sleep. You will also be especially grateful when you glance down and see them snoozing, saving you the time and effort you would have otherwise had to spend trying to get them to sleep in an unfamiliar location.
Using backpack carrier for toddlers in Cinque Terre

Picking the Best Toddler Carrier for Travel

Since there are so many options for toddler carriers in the market, choosing the best one comes down to your budget, lifestyle, body type, and last but not the least, your toddler.

Price

Prices for toddler carriers vary significantly from model to model. Models that come with all the bells and whistles available in the market can easily cost you up to $400 or more. Other models with more basic features can cost no more than $50. Just make sure that price isn’t the only factor in your decision. Always remember to verify the carrier’s comfort, safety, and fit before making your purchase. 

Weather-suitability

Always consider the weather conditions of the place you’ll be using your toddler carrier. in when making your purchase. For example, if you are traveling to a warm climate, choose one that’s made of lighter fabric as some others can get a little warm when it’s hot out. 

toddlers sitting in hiking backpack carriers for toddlers

Versatility

Instead of buying a one-size carrier, consider buying a carrier that’s adjustable. Look for an adjustable model so you can make the necessary adjustments as your child grows. 

hiking with toddler in Japan

Features to Look for in Toddler Travel Carrier

Here are the top features to consider when buying a toddler travel carrier: 

Child comfort and safety

Choose a carrier that provides good head and body support for your child. Make sure the leg holes are loose enough for your toddler’s thighs, but not so loose that they feel they might slip through.  

A toddler laughs while hiking in a Deuter Kid Comfort 3 backpack carrier

Parent comfort

The carrier you choose should fit your size and body type, and allow you to carry your toddler without strain. Look for one with padded shoulder straps, as they provide a firmness that is both comfortable for the wearer and also sturdy enough to carry the weight of the toddler. Other things to keep an eye out for are waist belts and sternum straps. These help reduce the pressure on your back by evenly distributing your toddler’s weight across your lumbar region. 

international travel to Norway and flying with a hiking baby carrier

Some toddler carriers like soft structured carriers and backpacks offer a bunch of extra features like additional storage options, sunshades, rain covers, and toy attachment loops for practical use. While these features can seem cool, not every parent toddler duo needs them, so factor in your exact needs before making your purchase. 

Ease of cleaning

Children can be messy. That’s why it’s best to choose a carrier that is machine-washable. While most carriers available in the market today are machine-washable, some can still only be washed by hand or dry-cleaning, so be sure to double-check! 

Security

Pick carriers with fasteners that have complex clasps or buckles, so that it is difficult for your child to undo them. Since the straps and buckles are the primary safety features of a toddler carrier for travel, it’s important to ensure that they are made of the best quality materials. 

Best Toddler Travel Carriers

Our Toddler Carrier for Travel Recommendation

We’ve had plenty of experience with baby and toddler carriers over the years. We have used a Baby K’Tan, Ergo Original, Ergo Performance Original with & without infant insert, Onya Baby Nexstep, LILLEBaby CarryOn Toddler Carrier, Deuter Kid Comfort III, and the Piggyback Rider. We also rented a Kelty backpack carrier, but it wasn’t clear what model it was (or we forgot to check). We’ve used our carriers for around the house, hiking, city sightseeing and everything in between.

Visiting Rome with a baby and toddler

If carrying is still an option once your toddler is 2.5-3 yrs old, I would highly recommend a toddler carrier, like the LÍLLÉbaby Carryon Toddler Carrier. Though the baby carriers for toddlers are rated to 45 lbs, the toddler carrier is wider and taller, making it so much more comfortable for both toddler and parent.

Lillebaby Toddler Carryon for travel with toddler
LILLEBaby Carryon Toddler used in Norway.

I’ve carried my 4 year old in my Ergo and was surprised how much more comfortable the LÍLLÉbaby Carryon Toddler Carrier was. This is definitely one of the best carriers for toddlers I’ve used. I love being able to carry it around my waist or in my backpack and throw my toddler in it easily on-the-go. When he chooses to walk, I’m not still pushing around a stroller. I’m free to chase him!

hiking in Cinque Terre Italy with a baby or toddler

Finally, if you plan to spend a lot of time hiking with toddlers, look into a hiking backpack carrier. Both of my kids were happier for so much longer in the backpack carrier. They sat up higher, could see more and were cooler. We had two Deuter Kid Comfort toddler backpack carriers and traveled with them frequently.

Baby-Can-Travel---Deuter-Kid-Comfort-3-Review---Japan-Bus-with-baby-and-toddler

If traveling with a backpack carrier is out of the question or you don’t plan to carry your toddler for extended periods, the Piggyback Rider is a great option. This standing carrier for toddlers packs up small, so you don’t have to worry about how much space it will take and it’s easy to carry around for the day.

Piggyback Rider Carrier for travel with toddlers

It’s great for toddlers or preschoolers who want to do the majority of the walking but still need to be picked up every once in a while.

Toddler Travel Carrier FAQs

How do you carry a 2 year old?

You can continue to carry a 2 year old in much the same way you carried a baby. While most baby carriers will continue to work for toddlers up to 45 lbs, a toddler specific carrier will have a wider seat and longer torse for added comfort for both you and your toddler.

Can you put a 3 year old in a carrier?

You absolutely can put a 3 year old in a carrier. For 3 year olds, a toddler specific carrier or a backpack carrier will be your best options.

What is the best toddler back carrier?

While there are more budget friendly options, the best toddler backpack carrier is either the Osprey Poco Child Carrier or the Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier. Both come with a Pro version, the Standard version and a Lite version to suit the needs of parents. The different versions will vary in price, weight and other features.

How is a toddler carrier different from a baby carrier?

Toddler specific carriers are different from baby carriers in that they have a wider seat and longer torso to ensure the added comfort of both toddler and parent.

Do I need a toddler carrier?

Depending on the weight of your toddler, you may start to hit the max weight on your favorite baby carrier. If you want to continue to carry your toddler past 45 lbs, then a toddler carrier is the perfect option. The best toddler carriers have a max weight of 60 lbs.

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The Best Toddler Carriers for Travel



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