If your family is ready to travel again, it might also mean it’s time to upgrade your travel gear, from suitcases and carry-on luggage to neck pillows. But families with young kids are likely shopping for the best travel strollers to get them to the gate with ease.
Traveling with kids can be complicated. That’s why there’s that depressing family travel adage: It’s a ‘vacation’ when traveling without kids, but it’s a ‘trip’ with them. But traveling with children is also an incredible opportunity to make memories and introduce them to new experiences. There are many tools these days to help ease the complications of family travel, and item No. 1 is the modern, lightweight travel stroller.
I spoke with parents and parenting experts to find the best travel strollers depending on your needs, from the most compact travel strollers to travel stroller systems that take infants from the car seat through security and into their airplane seat with the least amount of fuss.
And remember that your travel stroller requirements will be different than what you need in an everyday stroller or more rugged jogging stroller. Check out the buying guide at the end of this article for more details, but in general, look for a lightweight stroller that folds down in a snap, possibly small enough to be carried onto the plane to avoid waiting upon arrival with a cranky, squirmy tot for gate-checked items.
“Even when you travel with another adult who can help, traveling [with children] always feels hectic,” says Chelsea Stivers, mom, postpartum and motherhood expert and founder of The Balance After Baby. She opts to travel with a travel stroller because, as she says, “I need something lightweight that can fold up in one or two quick motions. You don’t realize how often you have to do this when traveling, but it’s a lifesaver.”
The gb Pockit+ All City stands out as the lightest of all the best travel strollers. If you’re looking for a travel stroller to zip you through the airport and to your destination, the lightweight gb Pockit is worth considering. This travel stroller folds up as small as a handbag in seconds, making it TSA carry-on compliant.
“I can’t imagine going anywhere without first putting our gb Pockit in my trunk,” says Alex Powers, mom of two and avid traveler. “It’s lightweight, so easy to break down and can fit into any overhead compartment. Plus—major bonus—you can also use it while walking down the airplane aisles. No gate check needed.” Skipping the wait for your gate checked items is a win for most of us, but for overloaded parents with cranky travelers, it’s a coup.
Not every car seat attaches to the Pockit, but a separate (included) adapter does make it baby-ready with any Cybex infant car seat. The All City version reclines at multiple levels, although not flat.
The storage basket offers an 11-pound capacity, so you can throw a small diaper bag underneath with tot essentials. The fabric is removable and machine washable, and the sun canopy includes a 50+ UPF rating. Given that the gb Pockit+ All City travel stroller holds children up to 55 pounds, parents can use it for many years.
Poll any group of new parents, which I did, and many will tell you they absolutely love the Babyzen YoYo2. Anne Bransky, frequent cross-country traveler and mom of two, swears by the YoYo, because it’s easy to use and fits in the overhead bin like a dream. And, at just 14 pounds, you won’t throw your back out lifting it up. However, its selling point isn’t just that it’s easily stored in the overhead bin. It also folds up so compactly that you can carry it like a handbag, and this lightweight travel stroller can be steered with one hand, which is a favorite parenting perk. Bransky also appreciates the board attachment, so that another sibling can hop on for a faster stroll through the airport.
While it’s a bit lightweight for everyday use, the padded seat, four-wheel suspension and shock absorption make for a comfortable ride for your child. Unfortunately, the seat is typically purchased separately. Parents can choose from a newborn bassinet or a regular seat. The Babyzen YoYo2 also has an adjustable leg rest and is compatible with most car seats with the right adapter. There is a back pocket for storage, which is great for passports, wallets, phones and snacks, and a 50+ UPF solar screen so parents can rest easy.
Best Budget Travel Stroller
Cost-Efficient And Easy To Use
Weight: 15 pounds | Car Seat Compatible: Yes | Carry-On Potential: No | One-Handed Fold: No | Weight Limit: 50 pounds
As with anything baby related, travel strollers can get really expensive. Leave it to Graco to craft an option that’s budget friendly and versatile.
Aside from the price, parents love this travel stroller, because it attaches to all the (uber popular) Graco infant carseats in a mere second, so you don’t have to wake baby to transfer them. It folds compactly in one step and includes a parent tray with cupholder and a child’s belly bar with cup holders so they can have snacks sand drinks easily accessible. Everyone knows a fed baby is a happy baby. Ditto for an adequately caffeinated parent. The multi-reclining seat includes a 5-point harness for optimal safety. The storage basket is more than adequate. I love its generous weight limit, making this a toddler and even kindergartner appropriate travel stroller, depending on your child.
Two downsides to note: The fabric of the stroller can’t be removed, so you’ll have to spot clean with soap and water. And while lightweight at 15 pounds, the Graco NimbleLite won’t fit in the overhead bin, so you’ll need to gate-check it.
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Best Travel System Stroller
A Compact Stroller That Works From Infancy to Preschool
The newly introduced Nuna TRVL travel stroller came close to snagging the overall best travel stroller moniker, but I think it fits better as the Best Travel System Stroller for several reasons. For one, the TRVL connects directly to Nuna Pipa car seats with no adapter. As many overtired and stressed out parents know, there’s a unique kind of panic that comes with forgetting a key part of any baby gear. As someone who has forgotten a stroller and car seat adapter while traveling, the fact that this travel system doesn’t require one is a major plus. The Nuna Pipa car seat has become ubiquitous over the years in part because it’s extremely lightweight, comfortable and adaptable.
Separately, the Nuna TRVL checks all the boxes in terms of the best travel strollers expected features. It folds with one hand, fits in the overhead bin, comes with a carrying case and accommodates children up to 50 pounds, making it a wonderful long-term stroller option. Its all-wheel suspension offers a smooth ride.
I also like the one-touch break, adjustable leg support, a customizable recline, ease of the self-guiding magnetic buckle and a removable and adjustable push bar. The storage basket holds up to 10 pounds and the 50+ UPF and water-repellent canopy further its travel sidekick potential.
The Colugo Compact stroller is another mom-favorite because of the price, its one-handed two-second fold and its extremely handy carrier backpack. The Colugo Compact is a particularly smart choice for parents looking for a long-term travel stroller investment because it holds children from ages 6 months (or whenever they’re able to sit up unassisted) all the way up to 55 pounds, which is about 5 or 6 years old.
It features no-puncture foam filled tires with all-wheel suspension for a smooth ride and reclines fully, so it’s optimized for on-the-go naps or long layovers. It’s also 100 percent polyester, which means you can throw the top layer into the washing machine. We also like the 5-point magnetic buckle and an extendable 50+ UPF and rain cover, as well as a parent cup holder. Overall, it’s a great option for families looking to get bang for their buck, because you can stretch this travel stroller option from the baby years to possibly kindergarten and a bit beyond.
Best Lightweight Travel Stroller
Umbrella Travel Stroller With An Extendable Canopy
Like other greats in the travel stroller game, the Maxi-Cosi Lara has a one-hand-fold option and it fits in the overhead bin. This umbrella travel stroller is best for toddlers who can already sit up on their own and up to 50 pounds. There is no car seat option either.
However, I do love the basics of this super lightweight stroller and the perks, such as an extended umbrella canopy for sun and rain protection. Many travel strollers fall short in this area. The Maxi-Cosi Lara canopy extends to cover most of your child’s trunk so you can explore the great outdoors without worrying about them overheating or getting wet from a mid-day sprinkle. It also creates a cozy nap environment for tired children and privacy if they’re feeling overstimulated.
It is spot clean only and there are just two recline positions. The Maxi-Cosi is best for airport runs vs. everyday city exploring.
The Joovy KooperX2 double stroller is about as compact as you can go with a double stroller. It fits babies from 3 months old up to 50 pounds in each seat. I love the recline, standing fold and additional perks, such as the lockable front wheels for faster strolling and the leg rests that adjust to growing kids.
If you have to take the double stroller along on your trip, this Joovy double travel stroller is worth considering. It’s also machine-washable, includes two snack trays, matching canopies with peekaboo window, under-carriage storage and a linked rear break for stopping quickly. I also prefer the single handlebar for pushing significant weight as it just feels easier.
How To Choose The Best Travel Stroller For You
Katie Long, director of strategy at The Mom Complex and mom of two under 5 (the equivalent of a parental PhD), explains that when it comes to purchasing a travel stroller, there are several key factors to keep in mind: “Look for one that packs down really small. Can it go in another bag or be worn by a strap? This is crucial for when a child needs to be carried. Parents often need both hands.”
Long says it’s especially helpful if the travel stroller fits in the overhead compartment to ease the transition from airport to airplane and back again. A travel stroller that reclines is a boon for kids who might just nap on the go.
Stivers recommends a travel stroller with storage space underneath. “It’s always a huge plus to not have to have a diaper bag or carry-on strapped to you constantly,” she says. “It’s worth the investment, and your back will thank you later.”
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