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Ride Safer travel vest: it will change the way you travel with kids

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We all know that the laws of physics don’t change when you travel to a different country or ride in a taxi or fly abroad. That means that the only safe way for a child to ride in a car is in an approved, age-appropriate restraint. We’ve certainly spent our fair share of time lugging car seats through airports, which is why we’re “delighted” (see what I did there?) to introduce the Safe Traffic Systems Ride Safer Delight travel vest to your family. The Ride Safer travel vest is a great choice for preschoolers for travel, taxi rides in the city or even three-across situations at home. We even spent a full year using the Ridesafer vest as we traveled around the world. Read on for our complete Ride Safer travel vest review! (Once you’re ready to order, you can get it here at a discount using coupon BESTPRICE).

What is the Ride Safer travel vest and who is it for?

The Delight travel vest is a booster seat alternative for kids who are at least 3 years old and at least 30lbs – that’s a true minimum, and continue reading for my personal size recommendations after extensive use. It meets or exceeds all crash test requirements and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for harness restraints, meaning the Ride Safer travel vest is legal throughout the US. It is still a booster seat, allowing much more mobility than a harnessed seat, so you’ll have to use your judgement regarding your young child’s maturity and ability to stay in the proper position for the whole car ride.

There’s also an optional top tether that, in practice, should be used whenever possible to limit head excursion in an accident; that should also help to keep younger riders from reaching for a toy or slumping when asleep (even more so than a traditional booster seat).

We originally tested the Ridesafer travel vest for Jacob, who is 5.5yo, 40lbs and 41” – perfectly in range for the size small vest (size large is also available, but I expect that we’ll have several years in the small). He practiced some short rides at home in a high-back booster, so he knew the rules about staying in position and followed them. 

When we left for our family’s year-long trip around the world, we faced a major dilemma. Our daughter was 3 years and 4 months old and weighed in at 35lbs. She was also below-average in height. We strongly considered bringing our favorite travel convertible car seat for her to use on the trip, but in the end decided that it just wasn’t practical. We opted to bring the Ride Safer travel vest for her and this amazing booster seat for Jacob (check out our full review). The combination worked well overall, but read on for the highs and lows of using the Ride Safer Delight nearly every day for a year.

Not ready for the Ride Safer yet? Choose the best convertible car seats for travel for your family.

How to put on the Ridesafer vest for kids

The first time you put the Ridesafer Delight travel vest car seat on your kid, you’ll see a few different parts and you’ll need to make some adjustments. The components included in the box are the vest, a sometimes-optional crotch strap, the optional-but-highly-recommended top tether and the truly optional headrest. The headrest is mostly necessary if you think your child will fall asleep on a long ride and needs extra support (in reality, we did not find it helpful).

Putting the vest on is pretty intuitive: open the buckle very sturdy Velcro panel in the front, have your child slip his arms in. Fasten the Velcro so that it’s snug but not uncomfortable and then do the same with the buckle – there’s no way that vest is coming undone on its own! To get the length right, turn your child around and open the Velcro on the crossing straps on his back. Adjust the vest until the bottom flap on the front is resting on top of his thighs (since it will hold the lap portion of the seatbelt in the proper position), then refasten the Velcro.

Ride Safer travel vest on our test model at 41" and 40lbs. This picture shows the optional crotch strap in use.
Ride Safer travel vest on our test model at 41″ and 40lbs. This picture shows the optional crotch strap in use.

The final step is to the thread the Y-shaped crotch strap through the two slots on the back of the vest on the bottom (one on each side), then pull between the legs and fasten snugly through the slot at the bottom of the front. While the crotch strap is technically optional, it’s important for preventing younger riders from “submarining” (sliding down and out of the vest).

The crotch strap was almost too short for Jacob at 41”, though its use is not required so this isn’t a huge concern. We generally opted to use the crotch strap for Shoshana, as she’s at the lower end of the size range. You can see a hands-on demo of fitting the Ride Safer Delight vest below:

How to use the Ride Safer vest in the car

Due to our tight schedules and cars full of car seats, we didn’t get a chance to practice using the vest at home. Oops! I did spend some time familiarizing myself with the manual (conveniently tucked inside the tummy panel label), the parts and their connections at home and I suggest that other parents do the same to avoid kids growing impatient. If you’re taking a taxi, I’d also recommend having your kid already wearing the vest when it pulls up to avoid an impatient driver!

Here are the basic steps to install the Ride Safer vest:

  1. Put the vest on the child, making sure that the lower panel is over the tops of the thighs
  2. Have child sit in the car and fasten seatbelt as normal
  3. Feed the lap belt through both metal guides in the lap panel of the vest, then pull snug across the lap
  4. Open the Velcro shoulder pad on the side where the should belt crosses and feed the shoulder belt through that metal guide, then pull snug and close the shoulder pad
  5. Attach the optional but highly recommended top tether to the shoulder straps using the two metal hooks (above the pads), then attach the other end to the car’s top tether point and pull the tail to remove slack

Impressions of the Ride Safer Delight vest

Bottom-line upfront: we liked it enough to take it with us for a full year of travel. Yes, its that much of a game-changer. Get yours today and save $8 with coupon BESTPRICE.

Now for my full thoughts: The Ride Safer Delight vest is an awesome product that really delivers on its promise to make traveling with preschoolers and older kids easier without compromising safety. We took it to Europe without ever testing it at home, which was a risk for sure, but I figured it out pretty quickly. Jacob barely complained during any of our car rides, though he’s generally pretty easygoing about car seat safety and is accustomed to riding in a forward-facing harness most of the time at home.

When we used it during our gap year trip, it was perfect for taxi rides in the cities because I could just roll it up and put it in our day bag. We also used it for some very long road trip stretches, and found it to be solid overall. There were times when she slumped more than we would have liked when sleeping, and early in the trip the shoulder straps seemed a hair too long for her; however, a little gap at the shoulders isn’t necessarily a concern. In our long-term testing, Shoshana never complained about comfort despite some drives of 6 hours in a single day.

portable car seat for travel
Ride Safer Travel Vest (3yo) and Bubblebum (6yo)

Overall we’re very satisfied with our decision to bring the Ride Safer Delight rather than our usual travel car seat and we stand by our recommendation for its use on children 3.5yo and up who are mature enough to follow the rules of booster riding in situations like ours where traveling light is the only practical solution.

So it’s a great alternative to a booster seat for taxi riders living in major cities or families on extended trips at age 3 – especially when many families would otherwise allow their children to ride unrestrained – but I’d hold out until closer to 4yo for daily use or more “normal” trips if you can. If you need a different solution for traveling with a car seat, click here for more recommendations.

What we like:

-Feels very well made

-Design has multiple fail-safe mechanisms

-Extremely compact (takes up less than half of Jacob’s preschool-sized backpack)

-Easy to use, takes less than 3min to put on the vest and get the seatbelt in place (assuming your kid is a willing participant)

-More torso support than a backless booster, avoids booster rider slumping when asleep

-Adjustable sizing so it can last for several years

The somewhat rigid torso of the Ride Safer Delight travel vest and the top tether strap minimize slump if your child falls asleep.
The somewhat rigid torso of the Ride Safer Delight travel vest and the top tether strap minimize slump if your child falls asleep.

What we don’t love:

-Can take some practice and tweaking to get the fit of the car seat vest just right

-Crotch strap is almost too short for Jacob at 41”, though its use is not required

-Fit on kids at the bottom end of the stated range isn’t great

-Getting the vest on the kid and then the kid in the car can get to be tiresome if you’re doing it several times per day, every day, for a whole year

-Lots of parts to keep track of (for a city family using the vest in a taxi, you can leave the headrest at home and save tons of space)

-The optional headrest seems more trouble than it’s worth and takes up valuable luggage space; it won’t travel with us again

-Not permitted to use on an airplane, so for a child under 40lbs you’d need to buy a CARES harness to make the airplane seatbelt safe

-The included carry bag lets the vest flop around rather than compressing to a compact shape – I recommend basically anything else (medium wetbag, medium packing cube, or mesh stuff sack). For our Europe trip, I slid it into the front elasticized pocket of my new travel backpack (it buckles shut, so I wasn’t afraid that it would slide out).

Final Thoughts on the Ride Safer Delight

As you can see from my impressions above, there is room for small changes or additional features; however, our impression is overwhelmingly positive. I was especially pleased that, when used with the top tether, the Delight prevented slumping out of position while sleeping; if we had just brought a booster seat, he would have been in an unsafe position. Moving from two car seats to one on our trip to Europe was a game-changer, and carrying no bulky carseats at all on our gap year was absolutely epic. I honestly don’t know how we could have managed without the Ride Safer travel vest.

While the Ride Safer Delight vest is a little pricey for an item most families will use only occasionally, if your family travels often with preschoolers or young school age children I can’t recommend it enough. It would be a fantastic choice for car-free families with kids ages 3 and up as well, as you can easily shove it in your purse or backpack for unexpected taxi rides. After extensive use, we’d give a general recommendation of 3.5yo for average size kids and 4yo for smaller size kids.

We feel confident that the Ride Safer offers a safe alternative to either lugging a huge car seat around a city or relying on an unfamiliar car/driver to maybe offer car seats. Ready to buy your own Ride Safer Delight? Get it directly from Safe Ride 4 Kids for amazing customer service and fast, free shipping – use coupon BESTPRICE to save $8 on your Ride Safer vest! You can also purchase the Ride Safer Delight on Amazon with Prime shipping – use coupon SR4KAMAZ for $6 off.

Not sure what car seat to bring for travel? Read our comprehensive guide to travel with car seats

Our friends at Safe Ride 4 Kids sent me a Ride Safer Delight travel vest for kids to review; all opinions are my own. 

Do you think the Ride Safer travel vest is right for your family? Why (or why not)?

Is the Ride Safer Delight travel vest a game-changer for families? Read our review to find out about this car seat alternative to help you travel light with kids. We'll tell you what we loved and what we didn't love during our hands-on testing.
Ride Safer Delight travel vest review

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53 thoughts on “Ride Safer travel vest: it will change the way you travel with kids”

  1. What a greta piece of travel kit. Having just returned from a trip where I had to take a car sat for my two-year-old and a smaller travel booster for my four-year-old I feel your pain having to lug bulky seats around in the past. This type of solution is brilliant for traveling families. It does look very secure too and maybe not so easy to wriggle out of as the travel seat I took with me on my last trip! Thanks for sharing this on #MondayEscapes

    Reply
  2. I really wish they had come out with this when my girls were younger, it certainly seems like such a huge help with travel – especially taxis and such! Excellent idea, and I’ve got to share this with some friends who still have younger kids.

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  3. What a great invention. Definitely a game-changer if you don’t need to carry a car seat or a booster. I’ve been keen on using Hertz with AAA code to get a free car seat with each rental.

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  4. It’s a really interesting idea, but it seems just a wee bit too complicated and uncomfortable to fully replace a booster seat, especially for longer journeys. Also, I worry about it becoming too warm during summertime. Thanks anyway for bringing this to my attention. #FearlessFamTrav

    Reply
    • If a child is truly old enough to use a backless booster, something like a bubble bum would be a great choice; however, my personal minimum for that would be 6yo AND not falling asleep in the car. Sadly I see so many pictures of booster riders who fall asleep and basically lay down sideways – not adequate protection in a crash, not even close.

      The vest is really great for families whose kids are riding in a forward-facing harnessed seat, but who are basically willing not to squirm too much in the car.

      Reply
  5. Do you know if it can be used with only a lapbelt? We are going to Sri Lanka soon and can’t find a van that has shoulder belts so looking into different options since we won’t be able to use the high back booster.

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    • Hi Kaylie, no it needs a shoulder belt. We’re in Panama now and have had a few van rides in which the kids just used the lap belt. Sometimes that’s the reality. We’ve found Uber cars to have better safety features than traditional taxis or vans, but I’m not sure if Uber is available in Sri Lanka. How old is your little one?

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  6. I had no idea anything like this existed! We make yearly trips to visit family and this would be so much better than lugging around a car seat! Thank you so much for this post!

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  7. Thanks for such a comprehensive review! Can you share the dimensions of the item folded up and in a proper stuff sack? ie what is the smallest it can be? THANKS!

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  8. This is not true – a ride safer vest can be used with just a lap belt PROVIDED the tether is used – the clip anchoring between the shoulders and the bolt or latch mandatory in most cars.

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    • You are correct that it can technically be used with a lap-only belt in that situation, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a car today that has a lap-only belt AND a top tether. Alternatively, you could buy the EATAL accessory to mimic a tether point, but many cars don’t have a suitable tether point at all. I think that for 99% of parent out there, the best practice is to use it with a lap-shoulder belt if one is available. We found many cars in Thailand and Morocco that have lap-shoulder belts outboard and lap-only in the middle (no top tethers in ANY position), and I would rather not have parents remember only partial information and misuse the product. In that situation, the safest position for the child is outboard with a lap-shoulder belt.

      Reply
  9. Looks like the Amazon Prime code doesn’t work anymore – I’m getting “The promotional code you entered cannot be applied to your purchase.” Any chance you have a new one?

    Reply
  10. How was the comfort level for long drives? Also, it seems like the child wouldn’t be able to see out of the window. Was that an issue?

    Reply
  11. This is a very interesting alternative… My three year old is still rear facing in a convertible, so I am hesitant to downgrade in terms of protection, but It would be extremely convenient when traveling. Something to definitely consider!

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  12. Super excited to have found this option – this + Bubble Bum are good options for my two kids. Will look into the links.

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    • They’re both awesome products! We started using the Bubblebum for our older one at 6yo. We started using the Ride Safer around 3.5yo but only because we were traveling full-time and a regular car seat just wouldn’t have worked. But for a more “normal” family travel schedule, I think the Ride Safer vest is a great choice starting around 4yo 🙂

      Reply
  13. This looks like a smart idea for traveling with
    our 3 year old. We have mifolds for our older kids but they complained that the seat area was uncomfortable. The vest would have solved the uncomfortable seat problem.

    Reply
    • I’ve heard that the mifold can be uncomfortable and that the belt fit for some kids in some cars isn’t great :-/ If your older ones are booster-age and mature, I’d look into the Bubblebum. But for your younger one, the Ride Safer vest should be good (we liked the fit better closer to 4yo than 3yo for what it’s worth).

      Reply
  14. Would love to try this out, likely with our older one. Will need to wait a little for her to grow a little bigger 😉

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  15. I’m a little concerned that my daughter – who is generally uncomfortable in car seats – will not find this comfortable, but am willing to deal with that in exchange for not logging a big car seat around. Thanks!

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  16. Traveling to Spain in October and this will be our first trip my daughter meets the requirements for this product. Excited to see how it compares to lugging a big seat with us.

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  17. Thank you so much for the very thorough review and videos. I am getting ready to take 2 preschoolers on a trip from Atlanta to multiple cities in China for a month. On our way back to Atlanta, we will be in L.A. for a few days with a friend who has 3 kids in car seats, so, I have been looking for suitable child restraints that won’t destroy my back or my sanity. I would love to try the RideSafer Delight on my kids (both are on the taller side) since my youngest will just turn 3 while we are in China. Since I don’t think that we would use them much after the trip and since they are pretty pricey, I’ll try asking around to see if anyone in my area has one that I could borrow to test fit. Thanks again for the post!

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  18. I’m really excited because my oldest just turned 3 last month and we’ve got a Euro trio coming up that this would be great on!

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  19. I live in San Francisco and think just about every friend here has one of these. I’m still holding out, based on price – but really appreciate the lower weight limit than other travel friendly (Uber/Lyft friendly) options for preschoolers, as my little one won’t hit 40 pounds for a long time. When we’ve borrowed one though, she seemed like she was swimming in it (at 34 pounds). You mentioned that too – so seems a common complaint – would be curious to know more from others. Thanks for all the details!

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  20. We got one for our older girl when she was 3, traveled in Kenya with it… Now waiting for our youngest to hit the age/weight requirements so she can start using it too!

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  21. This is such a great option for travel! I really wish we had this when we went away last year instead of lugging our little one and the car seat with us! We are very excited to give this a try.

    Reply
    • I can’t imaging doing a gap year with a regular car seat – you guys are troopers! I’m glad we waited until our daughter was old enough to use the vest. Hopefully you guys will have a Ride Safer vest in your future 🙂

      Reply

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