One of the biggest hassles in traveling with young kids is the car seat. Car seats are heavy, bulky, and a pain to lug around. Since many places state that kids have to legally be in child restraints until age eight or older, they are a major consideration during travel for years. Well, until now.
Enter the RideSafer Travel Vest. Designed to meet federal guidelines for child restraints for ages three and up, the vest provides an alternative to the clunky car seat and bulky booster. With an almost six-year-old who would rather not be in his car seat, we were excited to try out the RideSafer Travel Vest to see if it would be an good alternative.
The RideSafer Travel vest comes in a package with the vest, three adjustable attachments (a tether, crotch strap, and head rest), and two bags to hold the vest and components. When we first took it out of the box, my son was excited to put it on. The vest looked really cool to a Kindergartener. The vest holds the child in with a Velcro closure and a car seat-like buckle, much like a life preserver. My husband and I appreciated that it could be used in seats with either a lap-belt only (with included tether) or a shoulder and lap belt combination. My son put on the vest, and then we strapped him into the car.
Function: We found that it was easy to figure out how to properly fit and install the vest. Both the instructions that came with the vest as well as the website were helpful. The company also had car seat technicians available to help with installation questions if needed. At first we questioned whether the vest would be able to contain our very wiggly kid or if it would allow him too much movement to be safe. We were pleasantly surprised that once the seat belt was locked, he didn’t have enough movement to slouch.
Size and Portability: We found that the RideSafer Travel Vest took up much less room than either a 5-point harness car seat or a traditional booster seat. It felt so light. It wasn’t too heavy for my son to carry or wear while walking. I didn’t see a need for it to be checked separately like a regular car seat as it easily fit into both my carry-on and checked bag. We found it to be the perfect size for travel when a car seat was not practical or available, and a fantastic option for car-pooling. An added bonus: it came with its own carrying bag, and a separate bag for the attachments.
Kid-Friendly: My kiddo was thrilled with the look of his vest. He immediately decided that he looked like a pilot while wearing it. He felt like a big kid. He loved putting the vest on. He liked that he could go into any car without mom or dad having to move his big car seat. He liked that he could use the regular seat belt. He felt more freedom in it than in his traditional seat, despite not being able to wiggle.
Air Travel: It is not certified for air travel as it cannot be used with a lap belt without a tether. For most kids in this demographic, traveling in a regular plane seat is just fine. However, it could be useful for kids who appreciate familiarity. Using a vest on an airplane that they are used to using in a car, might be helpful.
Line of sight: Since the vest doesn’t use a booster seat, the child sits on the regular seat cushion, and is lower to the floor, and in some cases below the window. This could be a problem for kids who are prone to carsickness. (I should say that my son, who does get easily carsick, didn’t mind the vest or feel sick while using the vest.)
Installation: While the vest’s installation process is straight-forward for adults, kids are not to strap themselves into the car to ensure that the seat is properly installed. This makes it a little less convenient for everyday errand use. However, its design makes it easy for the kids to put the vest on themselves, and then have an adult ensure the seatbelt is in the proper position.
Bottom Line: The RideSafer Travel Vest is a great option for traveling families, especially families who need to carry a car seat or booster with them in order to use various vehicles or who are traveling by air and would need a car seat at the destination.
*Disclosure: I was given a RideSafer Travel Vest in order to complete this review. I was not asked to express a particular point of view. My opinions are all my own.
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