If the thought of trying to wrangle your full-size stroller on your next family adventure feels daunting, it’s time to consider a travel stroller.
Travel strollers make leaving home with your little one a little bit easier and a lot more convenient. Today’s travel stroller is a minimalist’s dream. Most have many of the same high-end features as traditional strollers all rolled into a compact, portable package. Many travel strollers break down to fit in the overhead bin of a plane or can be folded down quickly and slung over your shoulder. Some can even be used as a day-to-day stroller too.
If you’re a family who’s frequently on the go, a travel stroller may be the answer to help lighten your load and simplify your life.
Babylist’s Top Picks for the Best Travel Strollers
- Best Travel System: Nuna PIPA urbn + TRVL Travel System
- Best for Toddlers: Bugaboo Butterfly Complete Stroller
- Best Budget: Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller
- Best for Everyday Use: UPPAbaby MINU V2 Stroller
- Best Customizable: Babyzen YOYO2 6+ Stroller
- Best Compact: Joolz Aer+ Lightweight Stroller
- Best for Flying: GB Pockit Stroller
- Three Ways to Ride: Baby Jogger City Tour 2 Single Stroller
- Best for Infants: Mountain Buggy Nano V3 Stroller
- Best Umbrella: Summer 3D Lite Convenience Stroller
- Best Lightweight: Zoe The Traveler
Babylist’s Picks for the Best Travel Strollers
Also Worth a Look…
The world of compact travel strollers has exploded recently, flooding the market with lots of options. Here are a few other travel strollers worth a look:
- The Bumprider Connect 3 Stroller ($599.99) is totally unique. It features a magnetic lock system that allows you to join two or more strollers together. It’s pricey, though, especially if you need more than one.
- Evenflo Gold’s Otto ($199.99) is a competitively priced self-folding, lightweight stroller with a high weight limit (55 pounds) and a two-position adjustable footrest.
- The Inglesina Quid ($299.00) fits in an overhead bin and offers thoughtful features like a self-standing fold, an extendable canopy and a large flap on the hood that fully retracts for ventilation on warm days. The Quid weighs in at only 13 pounds.
- Feeling royal? The Silver Cross Jet 3 Eclipse Ultra Compact Stroller ($499.99) works from birth up to 55 pounds and weighs only 13 pounds. It features a quick, one-handed fold and fits in the overhead bin of an airplane. It can also be wheeled like a small suitcase using the bumper bar as a handle, making it ideal for travel.
How We Chose the Best Travel Strollers
- We analyzed results from Babylist’s Best Baby Products survey, which polled 6,000 Babylist users and asked them to share the baby products they love the most and why.
- We utilized insight from the Babylist editorial team, including Gear Editor Jen LaBracio, an expert in the baby space for over six years and a mom of two who has written hundreds of baby gear guides and personally researched and tested hundreds of baby products, including many travel strollers.
- We reviewed customer reviews from hundreds of real Babylist parents.
Which Stroller Is Best for Travel?
Some families use a traditional stroller for everything, even traveling. But having a lighter, more nimble travel stroller pays off when you really need it: for airports, narrow city sidewalks, public transportation or just to lighten the load.
Here are some of the pros and cons of using different types of strollers for travel:
- Traditional stroller: Everyday strollers typically have convenient features like lots of storage space, cup holders and trays, and large canopies. Some may also have all-terrain wheels and accommodate an infant car seat. But they’re heavier and bulkier to fold, which makes using and storing them in tight spaces more difficult (think: narrow doorways, airplane overhead bins, small car trunks).
- Umbrella stroller: Bare-boned and exceptionally lightweight, umbrella strollers often lack many amenities you find in traditional strollers like adjustable seats and cup holders. They have skimpy canopies, minimal cushioning and seat support and don’t fold small enough to fit in airport storage bins. You also can’t push an umbrella stroller with one hand. Umbrella strollers are good for when you occasionally need a slimmer, fast-fold stroller.
- Travel stroller: Sometimes also called a lightweight stroller, travel strollers strike a balance between traditional and umbrella stroller styles. They’re lighter than the standard stroller, easy to fold and compact in size when collapsed. (Some travel strollers fold in half, called a square fold, while others feature a more compact tri-fold.) Travel strollers have some full-size amenities like large sun canopies and a storage basket and most even have extras like cup holders.
Figuring out which type of stroller you want to use for travel often comes down to what type of trade-offs you want to make around budget, space and personal preference.
- Some traditional strollers offer a compact fold that’s great for travel, but the stroller weighs a ton.
- Umbrella strollers tend to be affordable but require two hands for pushing and only offer a vertical fold.
- Compact travel strollers are light, portable and easy to steer but come at a cost.
Before you invest in a travel stroller, think through:
- How often you travel
- How much money you want to spend
- Were you’ll be storing your stroller when it’s not in use
Also note that lots of parents find that a travel stroller can work just as well as a full-size option for everyday use; just keep in mind that unless the travel stroller you choose is compatible with an infant car seat or comes with a separate infant kit, you’ll need to wait to use the stroller until your baby is six months old and can sit up unassisted.
What to Look for in a Travel Stroller
A travel stroller should be easy to take with you on trips and be a comfy spot for your little one, especially since your child will probably spend more hours in it while traveling than at home. Consider these features as you research and shop:
- Size and weight. You’re going to be lifting, carrying and storing your travel stroller often, so the stroller’s size and weight is important. Look for one that’s lightweight and manageable. Also pay attention both to the folded and unfolded size of your travel stroller. Hoping to If you’re planning on using it for an older toddler, also be sure it’s large enough to accommodate them.
- Fold. There’s also a lot of folding and unfolding a stroller during travel, whether it’s to take it in and out of your car, stash it under a table at a restaurant or storing it in the overhead compartment of an airplane. Choose a travel stroller with a quick, easy fold, preferably one you can do one-handed.
- Maneuverability. Not all travel strollers are created equally. Some offer much more maneuverability and a better suspension system than others; however, these features often come at a cost. Thinking through how often you’ll be using your travel stroller and what types of terrain you’ll encounter most often can be helpful in determining whether or not a more expensive stroller is worthwhile.
- Canopy size. Most travel involves at least some, if not a lot, of outdoor time. A large canopy is essential for protecting your little one from the elements, especially the sun.
- Comfort and convenience features. Similar to a full-size stroller, look for features that will make you and your little one more comfortable, especially while traveling. Things like an adjustable seat with a full or nearly full recline, an ample storage basket, an adjustable handlebar and easy to clean fabrics are all important. And don’t forget a built-in strap or a separate carrying case for easy transport.
How Do You Travel with a Stroller on a Plane?
Bringing a stroller with you on trips can seem daunting. How do you get it from point A to point B when you’re flying? Will it count toward your carry-on and baggage allotment? And what if you need to use your stroller in the airport? Good news: You can pick how you want to travel with your stroller, depending on your needs. Here are the choices:
- Check the stroller with your baggage: Some parents unload the stroller during check-in and switch to using a baby carrier through the airport instead. Pair a front carrier with a backpack-style diaper bag so your hands will be free to deal with other things. Note that if you have a large stroller, you may be required to check it as baggage anyway. This usually doesn’t count toward your baggage allotment.
- Check the stroller at the gate: Want to use the stroller until you board the plane? You can check the stroller with the gate agent—it just needs to be tagged—and then pick it up outside the aircraft door when you arrive. (Just remember if you have a connecting flight to catch, waiting for your stroller to be placed on the jet bridge can eat up precious time.)
- Stow the stroller on the airplane: Some travel strollers fold up so small they fit in a backpack and can be stored in an overhead bin. Having your stroller with you eliminates the hassle of waiting for it on the jet bridge or at baggage claim (or losing it).
Some other air-travel tips to keep in mind:
- If you check the stroller with baggage, you do run the risk of damage. If you’re not using a travel stroller bag, ask the agent at check-in for a plastic bag to cover and protect it during transport.
- If you’re taking the stroller through security, it will need to be folded and put through the X-ray machine. Don’t stuff the undercarriage basket until after security.
- If your checked stroller doesn’t come out with the suitcases at baggage claim, check the oversized luggage area. It may have been set aside there.
Do you need a travel stroller bag?
How you plan to use your travel stroller will affect whether or not you need a travel stroller bag.
If you plan on flying with your stroller then you’ll probably want to use a travel stroller bag, especially if you don’t plan on stowing your stroller in the overhead compartment of the plane (either because you don’t want to or because it won’t fit). A checked stroller, even one that’s gate checked, may get tossed around quite a bit while in transit, so you’ll want a travel stroller bag to keep it protected.
If you’re not planning on flying much with your stroller or if you’re simply using your travel stroller as a more lightweight day-to-day option, then a travel stroller probably isn’t a must-have.
Some travel strollers come with a travel bag while others require you to purchase one separately, so check with your particular brand. There are generic travel stroller bags that may work, too.