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A Tale of Two Travel Car Seats: Reviewing the $450 Nuna Rava and the $45 Cosco Scenera Next | travelhappier with a tot

A Tale of Two Travel Car Seats: Reviewing the $450 Nuna Rava and the $45 Cosco Scenera Next | travelhappier with a tot

When it comes to travel car seats, infants are easy. Your regular infant car seat (you know, the one that snaps right into your stroller!) is perfect! But when Jules outgrew her beloved Nuna Pipa and we had a mainland road trip planned (requiring both a flight and then driving around with a baby in the car) we had to decide whether to buy a travel carseat or just use her new everyday car seat, the Nuna Rava convertible car seat. We took the Nuna Rava with us for our big June trip but later bought the Cosco Scenera Next travel car seat and are loving it. Both are aircraft-certified.

Review: Travel with the Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat

Rear-Facing: 5 to 50 lbs | 49 in or less, suggested usage up to at least 2 years
Forward-Facing: 25 to 65 lbs | 49 in or less, suggested usage 2+
Size: h 25 x w 19 x l 16 in / Weight: 27.2 lbs
No-rethread harness; Side Impact Protection wings; certified for use on aircraft; LATCH or belt installation

Installation is ridiculously easy for both rear and forward-facing with the Rava’s “simply secure” belt installation. (Photo from  Nuna.com/usa/rava )

Installation is ridiculously easy for both rear and forward-facing with the Rava’s “simply secure” belt installation. (Photo from Nuna.com/usa/rava)

The Nuna Rava is amazing because it is ridiculously easy to install both safely and quickly, and it is SO padded and comfortable that my daughter actually enjoys car rides. Plus, the Rava has 2 fold-out cup-holders, padded head support wings, and even a fold-out “thigh support” for comfort (sweet!). It has 5 recline positions forward facing and 5 for rear facing, all adjustable with the push of a button. It has a no-rethread harness and crotch strap, making adjustments for growth super easy.

Also - the Nuna Rava takes kids rear-facing until 50 pounds! The AAP recommends rear-facing your kids as long as possible, so this is great.

Although I like that the Nuna Rava is big and heavy/sturdy in real life— where it never leaves the center of the backseat of my car— there were times while we were traveling when the Rava was too big and too heavy. It was difficult to tote through airports and clunky when getting in and out of a cab. In New York, we ended up paying the ridesharing company $10 more per ride to come with a carseat (SO worth it for the convenience).

For our trip to Europe in September, we knew that we weren’t going to do much driving, so I was comfortable leaving the Rava at home in Hawaii. We were doing 3 intra-European flights for which we’d purchased her a seat, so we needed something lightweight and portable to take through the airport.


Review: Travel with the Cosco Scenera Travel Car Seat

After researching our options, I sent my husband off to buy the Cosco Scenera - a really cheap “travel car seat” that passes all national car seat safety standards and is FAA certified (i.e., it rides and flies), but which looks neither comfortable nor chic. Like seriously. It has ZERO padding, and I felt bad when the buckles of the seatbelts on the plane were visible through the cheap fabric of the seat. But ultimately Jules did not even notice the seatbelt clasp and was an angel on all of the flights.

Rear-Facing: 5 to 40 lbs | 40 in or less
Forward-Facing: 22 to 40 lbs | 43 in or less
Size: h 23.5 x w 22 x l 17 in / Weight: less than 8 pounds
3-point (rethread) harness; certified for use on aircraft; LATCH or belt installation; made in America

In her Nuna Rava on her first flight in her own seat! She loves this seat (it’s her everyday carseat)

In her Nuna Rava on her first flight in her own seat! She loves this seat (it’s her everyday carseat)

Perfectly content in her Cosco Scenera Next travel car seat on the flight from Rome to Copenhagen. I love that she can’t really open and close the windows or touch the seatback magazines (dirty!) when she’s in her car seat :)

Perfectly content in her Cosco Scenera Next travel car seat on the flight from Rome to Copenhagen. I love that she can’t really open and close the windows or touch the seatback magazines (dirty!) when she’s in her car seat :)

I had read a bunch of reviews about how great the Cosco Scenera was as a travel car seat (see recs from Lucie’s List and Trips with Tykes) was, and after using the car seat on our last trip, I could not agree more with their assessments.

The Cosco Scenera is lightweight (less than 10 pounds), portable (it fit perfectly onto/into our tri-fold Zoe umbrella stroller), and super narrow (it fit even into bulkhead seats, which are smaller due to the traytable-in-the-armrest situation). That is a trifecta of winning qualities, people!

Look at how nicely the Cosco Scenera fits in with the rest of our luggage, ha! (We could never do this kind of stacking with the Nuna Rava, which requires its own massive carrying bag). This was in the Copenhagen airport (one of our final stops on this summer’s Europe trip).

Look at how nicely the Cosco Scenera fits in with the rest of our luggage, ha! (We could never do this kind of stacking with the Nuna Rava, which requires its own massive carrying bag). This was in the Copenhagen airport (one of our final stops on this summer’s Europe trip).

Bottom Line: We are SUPER happy with Cosco Scenera as a travel car seat and will be using it until Jules reaches the height and weight limits. (Unless of course, we are going on a road trip, in which case we will tote along the Rava).

Other Alternatives

Before settling on the Cosco Scenera, we also looked into separate options for the flight and car travel that you might want to look into, too:

(1) The CARES safety harness ($75) is lightweight (literally one pound!) and FAA certified, but it’s only for use on an airplane (not in a car).

(2) We also looked at the IMMI GO portable car seat ($249) — the same one being used by Uber in New York. It’s like 10 pounds or something and is much less bulky than a traditional car seat, but it’s not certified for use in a plane.

I’ve been seeing a lot of the Pico travel car seat by WAYB on my instagram feed (that algorithm just knows what I am up to!) and I’m excited to hear others’ experiences with it once it launches!


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