When you have a baby and love to travel like we do, then a quality, maximally portable travel stroller is an essential piece of your travel kit.
The ideal travel stroller system has the following features:
Ease of Fold
Visiting New York on multiple occasions and going up and down the subway stairs has taught us the importance of this feature. Whether it’s entering or exiting the subway, a bus, taxi or airport shuttle, you’ll need to be able to get your baby in and out of the stroller efficiently, so a quick and easy fold is essential. The best folding stroller for travel can ideally be folded with one hand. Here’s a typical scenario to prove my point – You are carrying a shopping bag in addition to pushing the stroller. You’ve just reached the entrance to the subway steps, and you’re on your own so you have no one to assist you. Meanwhile hundreds of commuters are jostling and pushing past you. You have to hold the baby and the bag in one hand while you fold the stroller with your other free hand!
Fold to a compact size that is easy to carry
When traveling you’ll be carrying suitcases and/or backpacks as well as transporting your baby safely from A to B. The last thing you want is a large bulky stroller that is cumbersome to carry when folded, or that unfolds unexpectedly (e.g when you’re standing in a crowded carriage on the New York subway). The best designed umbrella strollers have a built in auto lock or latch to keep them in the folded position, and better still can stand alone.
Along the same lines, there will be many times when you’ll need to carry the folded stroller longer distances or up a flight of steps. Therefore it needs to be a lightweight stroller. Because of this I don’t travel with a typical home-based or jogging stroller which are much more bulky and heavy.
Because we travel frequently with our baby, weight is a big deal to us. That is why in mind this review I will only include strollers under 20 lb.
Here is where some compromise is needed. Sturdy is generally synonomous with heavy, and heavy is just not practical when traveling. You certainly don’t want something that is flimsy and going to fall apart with the smallest knock, but personally I would prefer to replace a damaged lightweight stroller occasionally rather than carry an indestructible but excessively hefty one.
Canopy for sun protection.
A canopy is useful both to protect your child’s face from sunburn and wind, but also to help keep the sun out of his/her eyes while they are asleep. The canopies on most strollers only give partial cover but this is certainly better than nothing.
A storage compartment is extremely useful because, let’s face it, we never have enough hands to hold everything we need to carry with us. Most travel strollers have a small storage area under the seat that will hold a few essential items.
Some people prefer a seat back that can recline so their baby sleeps more comfortably but this has not been a deal breaker for me. When my baby is tired she’ll sleep in any position! If a reclining stroller is important to you then look for a system that is easy to adjust and not too fiddly.
Any easy foot controlled brake system is all important for safety, especially when your hands are full and you’ve stopped on an incline, or are waiting for a train on the platform.
Height of Stroller for taller parents
For taller people this can definitely be an important issue. They often report that pushing a stroller with low handle bars for some time causes them shoulder and/or back ache. The typical compact travel stroller is only 39-42″ high which is shorter than full size and jogging strollers. It is common to kick the back wheels when one is walking which is a nuisance. So you may well want to consider the height when you choosing which stroller to buy. Taller persons would be looking for something >42″.
Consider the battering strollers get when you travel: frequent gate checks when flying, negotiating cratered footpaths and gravel pathways, escalators and steps. There is a fair chance that a stroller will get damaged at some point. This is where good customer service comes in. If you do need to replace a stroller, you don’t want it to cost the earth. Also when traveling internationally some people choose to purchase a stroller when they get to their destination, tour the country/continent and then leave it behind. This is why I have only reviewed strollers under US$200. They all have a 4-4.5 rating so you know you’re getting value for money.
- 1 Summer Infant 3Dlite Convenience Stroller
- 2 Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller, Fire Red
- 3 Summer Infant 3D Flip Convenience Stroller, Double Take
- 4 Joovy Groove Ultralight Lightweight Travel Umbrella Stroller
- 5 Graco LiteRider Click Connect Travel System, Sully
- 6 Graco LiteRider Click Connect Stroller
- 7 Graco Breaze Click Connect Stroller
- 8 GB Pockit Stroller, Monument Black
- 9 GB Qbit LTE Travel Stroller, Charcoal
A popular choice. This stroller weighs 12 lb which is heavier than some of the lightweight flimsy umbrella travel strollers out there but still considerably lighter than the average stroller. It has a great design with a larger, more open storage area under the seat, and another small pocket at the back where you can put your keys. This model is 43″ tall which is better for taller people who find it more comfortable to push than the shorter $20 umbrella strollers on the market. It can recline to near flat too which is a plus.
This is truly a lightweight travel stroller at only 11.8 lb. It’s sun canopy is larger than many strollers and it has a permanent peek-a-boo window through which you can see your child. A few people say that their child could get sunburnt through this window when the sun is coming from behind.
The manufacturer says it is a one hand fold but many purchasers say they need two hands. It has a snap to keep it folded and it can stand unsupported. The seat can recline to about 45 degrees. In it’s most upright position the child is still leaning back somewhat and slouched because the seat back is a hammock style i.e not solid support. The seat has a 5 point harness. We have found that the foam handle bars have split after a while so we have needed to strap them up with tape. I think this would happen with any stroller that has foam handle bars – they just don’t last. The underseat storage is generous and accessible. Both the child and parent have trays with cup/bottle holders. The child’s one is removable and snaps into place. The parent’s one can be removed with a screwdriver if wished. It’s handle bars are 39″ tall and it can carry a child up to 50 lb in weight.
This is a great option for traveling with a child from birth right through to toddler age. This is because it is both a reversible and reclining stroller which means you can have your baby facing toward you in a stable reclined position until he/she has gained good head control (and maximum 25 lb), when he/she can switch to the forward facing position. Even then there is a convenient peek-a-boo window so you can check that they are OK without having to walk around to the front of the stroller. This stroller weighs 14 lb, is 43″ in height. auto locks in folded position (but is not stand alone), and has a carrying strap which is very usefu though not long enough to carry over your shoulder.
The main criticisms of this stroller are that it’s cup holder is flimsy ( but I find this with many lightweight strollers), it’s under seat storage area is small and hard to access, and the consensus is that you do need 2 hands to fold/unfold it so you really need someone to help you if you’re holding the baby.
This folding travel stroller is mid-range in price at about $150. For this you get a quality stroller that is sturdy and has lots of great features yet still weighs only 13.9 lbs. It is easy to fold/unfold and has a useful carry strap. It has one of the best canopies for sun protection which is a real plus. It’s almost fully reclinable and is able to be used from 3 months of age right up to 55 lb. It’s height at the handle is 42.5 inches. The back of the stroller has a mesh bottle holder and a generous zippered pocket which is very useful for keys etc. There are 2 mesh pockets on the inside of the seat for a drink bottle and small toy. The under seat storage area is fairly generous too.
This is great value for what you get: a combined infant car seat + base (4-30lb), as well as a travel stroller system for an infant through to toddler (max 40 lb). When clicked into the stroller the car seat faces towards you. The stroller is forward facing. The weight of the car seat without the base is 7.5 lb and the stroller weight without the car seat is 19.5 lb. It isn’t the lightest stroller out there and when folded it isn’t as compact as a typical umbrella travel stroller, but this is because it full size. It has 2 recline settings. It can be folded with one hand if necessary but two is easier. There is no carry strap: when folded it is carried by the tray. The greatest benefit of this set is that you can move your small baby from the car to the stroller without disturbing him/her. Both the stroller and the car seat have sun canopies, and the stroller has a child’s tray (removable) that pivots for easy entry, and another drink holder for the parent. The storage basket is quite generous. Some customers have complained that the car seat straps can only be adjusted from the back but this is typical of many car seats.
If you like the idea of the Graco stroller above but you don’t need the baby car seat, then this one’s for you because it is essentially the same stroller. However any Graco Click Connect infant car seat will click into this stroller if need be. It has 2 recline positions, one a minor recline and the lowest being about 75 degrees. Again it is larger than your typical umbrella stroller and is wider when folded. It has a latch to keep it folded which I think is very useful. It weighs 16.8 lbs and the handle bars are 40″ tall.
Like the LiteRider above the Breaze is compatible with any Graco Click Connect infant car seat. Weighing in at 17.8 lb the stroller has a height of 40″ and is easily folded with one hand. It auto locks when folded and has a handy carrying strap. The seat has multiple recline positions including flat which is excellent for naps and quick diaper changes when a bathroom is not available. This stroller has a sun canopy which, like most in it’s class, is only effective when the sun is high.
This is the most compact travel stroller on the market and weighs only 9.5 lb! It does not come with it’s own carry bag or strap but you can easily customize a carrying strap for it or fit it in a carry on bag. When folded it is only 12″ by 7″ by 20″ so it can fit in the overhead compartment of most airliners unlike all other travel strollers that need to be gate checked. When folded it is self-standing unlike most others that need to be leaned against something or held. The underseat storage area is easily accessible from the back. The cons of this stroller are that it does not recline and it’s sun canopy is very small. Many purchasers have commented that this is an excellent travel stroller but is perhaps not robust enough for everyday city use because of it’s smaller wheels. Despite this it carries children up to 55lb in weight.
This is true a one handed easy folding travel stroller that has a full size seat but still folds to a compact size. It weighs 14 lb and carries children up to 50 lb easily. Unlike the Pockit this one has a decent sun canopy, and a seat that reclines (but not fully flat). The seat back is solid and supportive, unlike the GB Pockit which is a hammock style. Like the Pockit above it’s wheels are smaller and this can be a slight issue on rutted streets. It is compatible with the GB Asana car seat and several other brands, and has an adaptor for this.
Image: Unsplash CC0.