An Expert Guide to Travel System StrollersPublished on 04/21/2023 · 12 min readStroller travel systems include a car seat, car seat base, and stroller that all interface with one another, making for easy transitions. This article will help both old and new parents decide if a stroller travel system is right for you and your family!
Photo by Steven Abraham
When I began to look into our family’s first stroller, I very quickly realized there are a plethora of options available and became quickly overwhelmed. After reading a few articles and calming down (knowledge is power!), I came to the conclusion that a travel system stroller not only provided the best value for our family—typically, system stroller packages are cheaper than buying each item individually—but also the maximum convenience. Being able to strap our newborn son into the rear-facing infant car seat in the warmth and comfort of our home and click him into our stroller or car made leaving our home with our new baby a breeze.
What Is a Travel System Stroller?
Stroller travel systems are an excellent solution for anyone looking to purchase a stroller, infant car seat/carrier, and car adapter that interface with one another for a seamless experience. The stroller is typically the main component of the system, and, for my wife and me, was the main deciding factor on which brand to use (more to come on that in the next section).
Most systems include a rear-facing (as opposed to a front-facing) infant car seat that also acts as an infant carrier, with an industry-standard five-point harness to secure your child. Some brands design their car seats to be compatible with other branded strollers (with or without adapters), while other brands remain exclusive to their own branded strollers. The rear-facing infant car seats usually have an adjustable handlebar for carrying your baby as well as a large canopy to keep your child protected from the elements both in the stroller and in the car.
To complete the convertible travel system, most come with a car seat base that is installed in your vehicle utilizing LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) or a standard seatbelt. The benefit of the base is it only needs to be installed once as opposed to installing and uninstalling the infant car seat with each use. Simply pushing a button or pulling a lever allows the infant car seat to be removed with ease from the base, which can be a lifesaver when you’re in a hurry or your hands are full. The car seat to base combination is a very handy feature that allowed me and my wife many successful transfers with our sleeping baby.
As mentioned above, typically, purchasing the three items as a system is more cost-effective than buying each item separately, so keep that in mind when you begin your search for a travel system.
What to Consider When Buying a Stroller Travel System?
The most important thing to consider when buying a stroller travel system is your family’s lifestyle. Do you travel a lot? Are you very outdoorsy and like to go for long walks or hikes? Do you mainly go to and from certain locations? All of these questions can help point you in the right direction regarding which type of stroller travel system you should buy. Just because a friend or relative swears by a particular stroller doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for you!
Size of Stroller and Car Seat
Strollers and car seats come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s important to know how large they are before buying. The main constraint most people encounter is their vehicle, either in trunk space or rear seat space. Some larger stroller travel systems may not fit in your car; most stroller and car seat manufacturers have dimensions of their products available on their websites for reference.
Like most items, there is a wide spread of stroller travel systems. With a starting price point of $200, all the way up to $1500+, price and your budget are important things to consider. Nicer quality fabrics and materials are generally one of the main reasons a travel system stroller may have a higher cost. Just because a stroller costs two times as much as another doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s two times better!
Car Seat Compatibility
More so when buying a stroller solo than in a travel system, it’s important to understand that not all strollers are compatible with all car seats. If you have a particular stroller or car seat that you’re passionate about, look online or speak with a Curated expert to get a better understanding of options to pair with it.
Some stroller systems have a plethora of accessories available. Cup holders, child trays, parent trays, skateboard attachments, and car seat adapters are examples of potential accessories. Compare and contrast multiple stroller travel systems you’re interested in with the accessories available for each…you may find that the snack tray is a deal breaker.
Types of Stroller Systems
There are several types of car seat stroller combos to consider: lightweight, full-size, jogger, and convertible (or double tandem).
These strollers are made for people who want a lighter and more easily transportable option. Lightweight travel system strollers are also typically easier to maneuver. The Nuna Tavo Next, Maxi-Cosi Zelia, and the Graco NimbleLite travel systems are three great examples of this type of stroller. Each incorporates a smaller wheelbase, lighter frame, and easy folding mechanisms that make traveling with this stroller incredibly easy. Lightweight and smaller than other options, lightweight strollers are a good option for parents with smaller vehicles or those using public transportation.
One unique example of a lightweight stroller is the Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller. This stroller is actually a car seat with built-in folding wheels which makes for a great solution for people getting in and out of taxis or public transportation daily with their kids.
- Easy to fold and transport when not in stroller mode
- Folds down into a smaller size
- Lighter than a full-size or jogging stroller
- May not accommodate large kiddos
- Might have less storage space
Full-size strollers can be viewed as the mini-van of strollers. They’re typically larger in size and heavier but include a lot more features, such as an adjustable handle, a bigger stroller seat, and an extra-large storage basket and/or storage pockets to store toys and snacks. They also tend to have a higher weight limit for your kids, meaning they can use the stroller for longer. The Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System with the Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat is a prime example of this category of a stroller travel system.
Another good example of a full-size stroller travel system is the Britax B-Free stroller with the Britax B-Safe car seat. This combo features a three-wheeled design (in my experience, it’s much more maneuverable than four) with no-flat rubber tires, giving a more all-terrain approach to larger strollers.
- Large storage space
- Larger seat for older kids
- More features and add-ons available
- Will be relatively heavy
- May not have all-terrain wheels or suspension depending on the models
For people who plan to run with their kids, a jogger stroller is a great choice. Even if you’re not a runner, a jogger may still be a good choice for you as the larger tires and lockable front wheel make for much less effort when pushing the stroller. Most jogger strollers come with a nice wheel suspension system as well, making them a great choice for rougher terrain, ensuring a smooth ride for your kiddo.
The BOB Revolution 3.0 is the top of the industry standard for this type of stroller travel system, sometimes paired with the compatible Britax B-Safe car seat. A cheaper example of a jogging stroller is the Baby Trend Expedition Travel System, providing a similar option to the BOB at a more affordable price.
- Usually have suspension systems, good for off-roading
- Designed to be used when running
- Easier to push than full-size strollers
- Some joggers aren’t compatible with car seats; make sure you double-check if you’re looking to make it a stroller travel system
One of the most recent entries to the stroller world, convertible strollers can make for a one-and-done stroller purchase. These high-tech designs utilize multiple adapters to allow for flexibility with many different configurations and types of seats (forward-facing or parent-facing) and can be a great stroller system if you have twins. The system allows for an infant car seat (sometimes bassinet), toddler seat, and even a skateboard-like attachment to be used individually or all together.
Though more expensive and a little larger, they are typically chock-full of features and allow for your family to grow with the stroller, allowing it to be a single or double stroller. In hindsight, my wife and I wish we had gone with this type of stroller as it would have been the only one we would need. The Evenflo Pivot Xpand, UppaBaby Vista, and Baby Jogger City Select are all examples of this type of stroller travel system.
- Adapt to your kid as they grow
- Have tons of accessories available to help you grow your family (extra seats, cupholders, parent units, etc.)
- Tend to be larger in size
- May not be compatible with all car seats
Features to Look for When Buying a Stroller Travel System
Simple Fold Mechanisms
When you’re holding your baby in one arm, you hope that your stroller will fold easily. I look for a one-hand fold stroller for simplicity. However, not all strollers are able to offer this option (especially modular strollers with multiple seats). Check out Youtube reviews showcasing the folding mechanism to determine if it’s right for you. If you plan to take your baby in the car or have tight storage in your home, the folding mechanism should be important to you!
Easy Car Seat Insertion and Removal
One of the main reasons to buy a stroller travel system is the car seat-to-stroller compatibility. If it’s difficult to insert or remove the car seat from the stroller, it defeats the purpose. Most manufacturers have made this process fairly simple, but do a little research upfront to understand how the models you’re interested in work. Most manufacturers provide instruction manuals online for free, which is a great place to look!
Wheel/Tire Size and Materials
For something as simple and out of the way as a stroller wheel, the size and the material it is made from can make a big difference in the maneuverability, pushability, and ride quality of the stroller. Cheaper strollers tend to have small plastic wheels, which are fine for pushing through the grocery store or sidewalks but may have a tough time on gravel paths, snow, or other non-smooth surfaces. Air-inflated or foam-filled tires add a little weight but result in less push resistance on smooth surfaces and better “off-roadability” on other surfaces.
Size and Weight of Folded Stroller
It would be very unfortunate if the new modular stroller you were so excited about didn’t fit in the trunk of your vehicle. Check the folded dimensions of the stroller and then measure your vehicle’s trunk to ensure it will fit before you buy. Another stroller dimension to consider is its weight. If you are a smaller individual, a bulky 30lb stroller may not be the easiest to put into a car, whereas a 15-20lb stroller may be a better fit.
Car Seat Safety Features
Depending on the stroller travel system, the included car seat may have various features. Look for safety features such as anti-rebound bars, load legs, and easy installation methods. A car seat is only safe if it is properly installed!
How to Choose the Right Stroller Travel System for You
With so many stroller travel systems available, picking one can be a challenge. To hopefully point you in the right direction, I’ve highlighted three scenarios of different parents searching for a stroller travel system.
Katie is a petite mom at 5’1” who plans to take her newborn with her to the store, on walks through the park, and even plans to travel via air with her baby. She has a smaller vehicle and wants to ensure that her stroller fits in the trunk of her car.
Features Katie should look for:
- Lightweight stroller travel system
- Easy folding mechanism
- Small folded stroller dimensions
- Lightweight car seat
Examples: Nuna Tavo Next, Doona Car Seat and Stroller
Noah and his partner plan to have multiple children in the next few years. He drives a large vehicle where space is not a concern, and his budget matches his vehicle size. Noah and his family are already planning long days at the zoo and amusement parks.
Features Noah should look for:
- Modular stroller travel system
- Stroller that can have two seats
- Many available accessories
- Large storage space
- Additional car seat/car seat base
Examples: UppaBaby Vista, Baby Jogger City Select 2
Shelly is super active and loves to run and hike. She drives an SUV that helps her get to her activities and has plenty of space in the trunk. Shelly typically carries a small running backpack and isn’t concerned with storage in the stroller.
Features Shelly should look for:
- Jogging stroller travel system
- Stroller with large tires and suspension
- Ensure stroller comes with car seat; not all joggers are car seat compatible
- Double-check folded dimensions; joggers tend to be larger
Examples: Bob Revolution Flex 3.0, Chicco Activ3, GracoModes Jogger 2.0
My Closing Thoughts on Stroller Travel Systems
Travel system strollers and car seats are excellent choices if you’re looking to get the best value and capability out of your stroller and infant car seat. The number of options available can be overwhelming. However, Curated is here to help with your decision. Our Baby & Toddler Experts are more than willing to help talk through different options along with the pros and cons of each to help find you the best travel system stroller travel system and other baby gear for you and your family. Reach out to one of our Baby & Toddler Experts today to get started!
This content is meant to be informative and add to your understanding of this subject, but it is not definitive nor a replacement for your own sensibility. Neither Curated nor any Curated Expert is responsible for any liability resulting from information or advice shared here. Please consult with a medical professional for any health concerns.