With all the options out there, it can seem difficult to choose which best travel system is right for your young family. It’s definitely a great investment since most offer a stroller–car seat combo that will make life a lot easier for moms and dads on the go.
The best part is, choosing a good travel system makes it less stressful for everyone when you take your little out and about. Visits to relatives, shopping trips or family adventures all become easier. Plus, you’ll help your child enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle, starting early.
It took me a lot of research to find the right travel system for my family. To make your life easier, I’m happy to share what I found. Here’s our go-to guide about why you’ll need one, and how to select the best travel system for you.
What Is a Travel System?
Most parents of newborns or young infants will often need a bassinet, a car seat, and a stroller. These are to transport baby around town, or for travel. A travel system allows you to buy all three in one go, which saves you time and money compared to selecting separate products.
While travel systems might seem expensive, when you buy one you’ll be saving a lot more than if you had bought everything separately. Also, you’ll know that all three are compatible products from the same brand.
So when your baby falls asleep in the car seat on your way somewhere, there’s no need to wake them when you arrive at your destination. You can just click the car seat into the stroller and you’re ready to go!
Required adaptors come as part of the pre-packaged bundle, but you can also make your own travel system if you already have either a car seat or stroller.
Some products from different brands are compatible with each other. Alternately, you can buy adaptors, so there’s no need to worry about buying a new system from scratch if you don’t need to.
I would say that owning a travel system is essential for every new family. But before you settle on one, make sure to consider various factors.
- The age it’s suitable for (some car seats, for example, are best for newborns aged up to six months, but not older babies).
- The type of area you’ll mostly use it in (urban or rural).
- Whether you’ll need it a lot for vacations (such as road trips or international travel).
Wherever life is taking you, picking a suitable travel system ensures your baby can experience it all, with more convenience to you.
Benefits of Travel Systems
There are many advantages to purchasing a travel system, including:
- You’ll get at least a compatible car seat and stroller, so you know both are well-suited. Usually, there’ll be a stay-in-car base that makes it easy to place the car seat in the car, safely and in just a few seconds.
- Many travel systems have cool extra features, such as cup holders, storage space, reclining seats, and even one-hand folding.
- The travel system often grows with your child. You can use the carrycot in place of a stroller seat when the baby is younger than six months, while the car seat and the stroller seat often last until they’re much older, depending on the brand and model.
- You may be able to alternate the car seat with one from a different brand than the rest of the stroller system, if your baby outgrows it. Popular models are often compatible, but you’ll need to check with the manufacturer before purchase.
Although there are plenty of brands offering travel systems, most come with these basic benefits. Depending on your priorities, be it budget or user-friendliness, there’s a great choice out there for you.
Different Types of Travel Systems
There aren’t exactly clear-cut categories of travel systems, but the best ones can usually fit into one of the following:
- Jogging Strollers: For the athletic parents who don’t want to compromise staying in shape, these are great. Various models keep your baby safe and make scheduling that routine run easy, so your child gets to enjoy some fresh air while you’re at it.
- Compact Travel Systems: Great for travel and storage, these travel systems are advertised as not being particularly heavy, and a fit for parents who take trips often, or own a small car.
- Budget Travel Systems: Many brands out there offer well-designed travel systems at a fraction of the cost that other models might offer. If you don’t have a lot of cash to spare, speak to friends or read up on reviews first, as not all budget options are created equal.
- Premium Travel Systems: Pricier options out there are on the dream lists of many. It sounds great: a sleek stylish look, optimum comfort for your baby, and all your needs in one pack. The only downside is the price tag!
Key Features to Look For
Different travel systems may have at least a few different types of these great features. Here are a few key ones to watch out for:
- Adjustable Handles: If more than one family member will be using the stroller, adjustable handles are important so that they can adjust to each person’s height.
- Reversible Handles and Seats: If you want the option of both parent-facing and forward-facing seats, many travel systems will allow for both setups. I liked being able to see my little one as a young baby, but as they grow, older babies and toddlers prefer to be looking at the world around them.
- One-Hand Fold: Most parents, especially those who also have small children, often have their hands busy with the hectic demands of caring for their baby. The one-hand fold is a major plus, as it means folding the stroller takes just seconds.
- Storage Space: Some of the more compact travel systems provide minimal storage space in the basket under the stroller and few cup holders. Others have plenty of space for the random items you and your baby need.
Stroller Wheels and Car Seat Safety
Travel system manufacturers usually mention how the stroller wheels and car seat help protect your baby.
Make sure to check, as different brands offer different safety levels. Plus, the build could affect whether your baby feels road bumps or uneven terrain. The best travel system is the one that provides optimum convenience and disrupts your baby’s rest as little as possible.
Some travel systems have wheels with a 360-degree rotation feature, allowing optimum flexibility no matter where you’re going. It makes a big difference when pushing!
The Best Travel Systems of 2020
Now that you know all about these great pre-packaged sets, you might get overwhelmed by the variety out there. But choosing the right one doesn’t need to be a hassle! Depending on your family’s lifestyle and budget, making the right choice is easy.
Here are some of the best travel systems available on the market.
1. Graco Modes Sport Travel System
Graco has had top reviews for many years. Although the company offers a range of options, pick one that’s best suited for your needs and offers value and style.
The brand is a globally renowned name in travel systems. The new Modes models are simply wonderful to use, especially with the car seat’s front-adjust harness.
The reclining, reversible stroller seat from Graco’s Modes is a favorite. I love how easy everything is, and I love the many different seat options.
The stroller seat also converts into a comfortable bassinet for your baby, with the footrest aligned up and the back reclined. This system comes with the Graco Snug Ride Click Connect 35 infant car seat, which has a secure lock-off for seatbelts.
While it isn’t the best in terms of portability, this is still one of the more durable and top quality travel systems from Graco.
- A long-lasting product.
- Easy to use.
- The car seat and car seat base are easy to install.
- The stroller turns into a bassinet; it’s versatile enough to recline completely.
- Graco’s customer service is responsive, should you have any issues.
- Suitable from newborn to toddler.
- The stroller is bulky, and might not fit into all car trunks.
2. Peg Perego Booklet Travel System
We all like to feel pampered, and be assured the product we’re using is top notch. Look for a brand with a great reputation and a chic look that will turn heads.
The Peg Perego Booklet is a particularly stellar choice. It’s highly adaptable, from traveling in the car to giving your little one some fresh air in the park. It folds up easily in a unique “book-like” folding mechanism.
With a sturdy suspension on the back wheels, this is a great option for urban dwellers, and also has an attractive design. It’s easy to assemble and you won’t have any trouble maneuvering it.
The storage basket under the stroller is a lot more spacious than most. Best of all, this is one you can trust — it’s manufactured in line with the highest safety standards.
- Wheels allow for 360-degree agility which makes pushing easy.
- One-hand fold.
- Stylish and sophisticated design.
- Multi-recline seat keeps your baby comfortable.
- No need for adaptors to replace the car seat with the stroller seat.
- UPF 50+ visor will keep your baby protected.
- Some users complain it shakes a bit on smooth surfaces.
- The car seat is quite large and might be challenging to fit in small cars.
3. UPPAbaby Infant Baby Stroller & Car Seat Bundle
For those of us with more than one young child, a quality 3-in-1 travel system will be such a relief you’ll wonder how you ever got around without it. Even for a mother-of-one, it’s certainly one of the longer-lasting options out there.
While you may spend a bit more on the UPPAbaby infant bundle, it lasts well until your child’s toddler years. It can also be adapted to accommodate up to three kids. Chic, high-quality, and comfortable, this is a wonderful pick if you’re willing to splurge.
The UPPAbaby infant bundle is a breeze for both parents and children, particularly given its easy installation and comfort. Users praise both the car seat and stroller modes, especially with their great back and neck support, ensuring your little one stays asleep no matter what you’re up to.
My husband jokingly calls this the “Ferrari” of baby strollers and car seats. While we haven’t taken the plunge yet, this is certainly one I’m keeping an eye out for.
- Easy one-step fold.
- Big storage space.
- Comfy seat with soft padding.
- Canopy comes with a sun visor to protect your baby from harmful UV rays.
- Handles both rough and even terrain.
- Extendable handlebar makes it a suitable choice for parents of different heights.
- Some users complain that the suspension isn’t great.
4. Baby Trend Sit n’ Stand Travel System
Caring for twins can be, at best, overwhelming. But there’s no need to fret, we have you covered. We found a travel system that makes a fun family adventure with your duo more than possible.
If you have twins or two babies close in age, the Baby Trend Travel System won’t disappoint. The twin stroller frame makes traveling with two young children stylish and practical.
Known to be sturdy, this model from Baby Trend is extremely comfortable and safe when you’re out and about with your little ones. It’s well-built, affordable, and great value for money. Another plus is that the stroller seats will fit both your children until they’re about 35 pounds.
Despite its large size, it’s easy to assemble into both car seat and stroller modes. Did I mention that it comes with TWO car seats? Now that’s a pretty good deal!
On the downside, clicking either of the car seats in and out of the stroller mode can be a bit tricky.
- Stylish look, even when you’re traveling with two young children.
- Easy to maneuver, despite the large size.
- Made of quality, durable materials.
- Canopy size is quite large, suitable for different travel conditions.
- Locking and unlocking the car seat can be frustrating.
- The stroller mode has a large frame, which may not fit into the trunk of small cars.
5. Safety 1st Riva 6-in-1 Flex Modular Travel System
It’s important to consider the weight of your travel system if you’ll be on the move a lot. Look for a stroller that’s light, so it can be carried around easily.
For the nomadic family who is always on the go, the Safety 1st Riva travel system is ideal. This one has been on my wishlist for a while now.
It’s a more than worthwhile investment if you’re seeking something light to move around with. Not only is the stroller less than 18 pounds and easy to fold, but it also allows for various forward facing and parent-facing positions.
Best of all, the stroller is the first of its kind in the USA to be made of recycled materials, so it’s an absolute must for environmentally conscious parents. It’s not all that clear exactly what percentage of the product is recycled, though.
The canopy is quite large, which will keep your baby protected from the sun, and the build is high impact enough to keep your little one safe at all times. The wheels are a bit on the weaker side, and not great on uneven surfaces.
This is definitely one of the more versatile travel systems out there, though, and it’s great that it comes with so many seating modes. But the downsides mean that while it’s a great buy, it’s not the absolute best if you’ll be on rough terrain.
- Six different forward and parent-facing positions.
- Fabrics are machine washable.
- High safety and impact protection keep your baby safe.
- Adjustable base ensures you get the right fit for your car.
- Sleek enough to manoeuver through tight spaces.
- Stroller conveniently stands on its own when folded.
- Some say the car seat isn’t as sturdy as that of comparable travel systems.
- Buckle straps are a little short, which can be uncomfortable.
- Wheels don’t absorb shock.
6. Doona Infant Car Seat & Stroller
Like the best lightweight option, if you’re looking for a compact choice you want something that’s easy to store almost anywhere. Parents who are always on the go will probably be relieved to discover this creative solution.
For the modern mom, the Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller is more perfect than you can imagine. Exploring your town and the world at large with your little is a simple affair with this convenient choice.
The Doona infant car seat and stroller is a popular and innovative choice. Maybe you’re jet setting a few times a year or running errands regularly. Or perhaps you’re simply managing a hectic lifestyle, where you often need to head off to different venues in a short time frame.
Primarily used as a car seat, it converts into a stroller, in a few easy steps. No matter how you get around or what the weather is like, alternating between modes takes mere seconds.
Easy to carry, lightweight, and comfortable for your baby, the Donna is well worth the investment. It can accommodate babies from 4 pounds in weight and up to 32 inches long.
- Suitable for preemies.
- Versatile and safe.
- Ideal for urban dwellers, quickly transforming between stroller and car seat mode.
- Certified for air travel.
- Strong safety features, including one-touch brake.
- Stylish, simple look.
- No storage space on the stroller.
- Larger babies may quickly outgrow it.
7. Baby Trend Expedition Jogger Travel System
For those of you who like to stay active, you’ll need a sturdy stroller that keeps you fit and baby safe. Look for something that can double as your everyday stroller. Supermom goals don’t need to be so far off!
At face value, this might seem a tad unrealistic: Get into shape and do cardio while the baby also gets some fresh air. If that seems like an unattainable goal, I’m here to tell you that it’s absolutely possible with the Baby Trend Expedition travel system!
Whether you’re running errands or heading for a jog, this model makes the trip pleasant for both you and your baby.
I think it’s wonderful that it’s built for almost any activity, whether your little one is in the car or coming with you for a long hike.
The tires are similar to bicycle tires, so they’re suitable for almost any terrain. The car seat is built to keep your baby safe, and there are stories of babies coming out of serious car accidents unharmed because of this product’s great build.
It’s easy to assemble this when you first get it — it shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes. Don’t be put off by how large the stroller seems: most jogging strollers are a bit larger than normal ones.
The one other thing to watch out for is that the car seat padding could be a little more comfortable — the benefits here are mostly in the stroller mode.
- All-terrain bicycle tires for easy jogging and strolling.
- Car seat suitable until your child is about 30 pounds.
- Adjustable seat back and canopy offers optimal comfort and protection.
- Abundant storage space, including two cup holders.
- Folds compactly for easy storage and transport.
- Stroller is a bit on the large side.
- Some users complain that the tires and wheels aren’t of the best quality.
8. Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System
Like other travel systems we feature here, some Chicco options have convenient features and easily convert to and from the car seat and stroller modes.
he foam-filled wheels on this versatile and a stylish stroller are ideal for getting around the city, and ensure a safe and smooth ride for your child. This is also a compact fold, making it a great choice for parents with a small car or home.
It has auto-swivel wheels and an easy-to-reach, one-hand fold, and it’s compact and hassle free — great for day-to-day use. It’s also self-standing when folded.
The stroller has a convenient storage basket, complete with cup holder. Both stroller and car seat are lightweight, with the car seat (without base) weighing around nine pounds and the stroller just over 20 pounds.
Despite its light weight, the Chicco car seat keeps your baby safe. Some users claim this travel system is of such high quality and durability that it helped their little one avoid injuries in serious car accidents, and kept the child safe and comfortable during long trips.
It’s suitable for babies and toddlers, with a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds. On the downside, the car seat is only for babies up to 30 inches long. For some babies, this could be as young as six months old.
- Smooth to maneuver, even in tight spaces.
- Easy and fast to assemble.
- Excellent safety features.
- Stroller handle is height adjustable.
- The 5-point stroller harness can be awkward to fasten.
- Your baby might outgrow the car seat quickly.
9. Graco LiteRider Click Connect Travel System
When you’re on a tight budget and have so many things to buy for your baby, every penny counts. You want to make sure you’re getting a quality product, even if you’re not paying much. Otherwise, you’d be compromising your child’s safety and well-being.
The Graco LiteRider is one of the most budget-friendly travel systems on the market. What’s more, it’s quick and easy to fold, and compact to store. If you can’t splash out, but still want to opt for a good, sturdy pick, this one might be for you.
It’s described by many users as a smooth experience, given how simple and lightweight the stroller is. Commuting, traveling, and going out and about with your baby seems a lot less daunting with this great choice.
Storage on the stroller is abundant, with a parent tray at the top, a cup holder, plus an underseat basket. I have friends who use this system and most of them love it. However, some complain that the straps on the car seat come loose quickly and are difficult to adjust.
Despite this, I still think this is one of the best value travel systems out there, particularly since it’s offered by a trusted brand.
- Affordable system.
- Light and compact.
- Stroller has plenty of storage space, including an underseat basket.
- Car seat is easy to install in the car.
- Made of quality, durable materials.
- Car seat harness straps need to be adjusted from the back.
- Stroller assembly is not straightforward.
- Only two positions on the stroller, either horizontal or upright.
10. Evenflo Vive Travel System with Embrace
While many strollers are best for older children, you want your little one to be comfortable from birth. For an infant travel system, you want comfort for your baby, as well as multiple positions and a good sized canopy for protection.
The rear-facing Embrace car seat complies with US Federal safety standards, and suitable from birth upwards, with a 30-inch height limit and 35-pound maximum weight.
The compact stroller is convenient to assemble, fold and unfold, and can be used from newborn until your toddler is older, with a weight and height limit of 50 pounds, 38 inches.
With multiple reclining positions, a 3 to 5 point harness, and a relatively slim fold, this comes with some the same cool features of most travel systems, at an affordable price. For storage, the stroller has a parent tray with integrated cup holder, two pockets, and a basket under the seat.
The manufacturer describes the transition from the car seat to stroller modes as seamless. Since it comes with a 90-day guarantee, you can rest assured that little is likely to go wrong.
With detailed instructions for a user-friendly assembly process, Evenflo is a great choice (1). Most say that, once they get used to assembling the stroller, it becomes quite easy. It might not be the best quality stroller out there, but it’s certainly good value.
- Car seat is approved to twice the federal crash test standards.
- Stroller seat has a multi-position recline.
- Slim, compact folding stroller, compatible with smaller car models.
- Car seat is rear facing on the stroller for young babies.
- Stroller quality is not as good as some other models.
- Not suitable for rugged terrain; it’s best suited for regular urban use.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Choose the Right Travel System?
The best travel system will differ with each family. It depends on the lifestyle, how often they’ll use it, whether they mostly use public transportation or get around by car, their budget, and other factors. Think of the features that are most important to you when shopping for a system.
Can I Find a Suitable Stroller if I Already Have a Car Seat, and Vice Versa?
Possibly, but you’ll need to check the details provided by the manufacturer. Some strollers are compatible with car seats from other brands, depending on the adaptors available.
In the case of many major brands, including Chicco, Graco, and Nuna, there isn’t much flexibility to use their products with those of competing brands. However, Britax strollers, for example, do work pretty well with car seats from other brands.
Are Travel Systems Heavy?
Often they are, and that’s particularly inconvenient if you live in a city and need to move around a lot, sometimes with a folded stroller.
Fortunately, the variety of compact strollers out there means you can get the best of both worlds. There’s a massive range of options and you’ll find some so surprisingly light and compact, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.
What Are Some of the Disadvantages?
Some travel systems are quite heavy and bulky. Also, cheaper options usually compromise key features, and some types might not steer as well as others, or last as long.
Especially if you’re choosing a pricier option, it’s best to keep an eye out for the durability factor. There’s little sense in spending a lot on a travel system if it won’t last long. It’s not just a matter of choosing a decent quality one, since some are only best for newborns and will barely last beyond the first six months.
Since not all travel systems are created equal, our go-to guide gives you everything you need to know to choose one.
How Should I Maintain My Stroller and Car Seat?
Many travel systems come with easily removable fabrics, simplifying the process of washing them. Maintenance will depend on the manufacturer, so make sure to check their instructions.
Will My Baby Wake up When Being Moved From One Part to Another?
Most probably, no. Unless your baby is a light sleeper, travel systems are designed not to interrupt their rest.
How Do They Work?
Travel systems allow you to use one or more adaptors to alternate between using your car seat and stroller without having to move the baby.
If you already have a car seat that you’d like to continue using day-to-day, but are looking for a new stroller to use as part of a travel system, try to find a compatible brand.
On Your Way Out
There’s no reason to wake a sleeping baby when all the logistics of moving your little one around are made incredibly easy with the various travel systems out there!
With so many options on the market, you can find the right fit for you and your baby if do your research. No matter your budget and lifestyle, there’s one to suit you.
My personal favorite is the Graco Modes Sport travel system, for its versatile comfort, ease of use, and long-lasting quality.
Drop us a comment if you have any questions or thoughts on the best travel systems. How do you make moving around with your little one less daunting? Don’t forget to share this article with other moms!