When it comes to buying baby equipment, invest in multi-functional products. Most experienced parents would tell you so. This way, you are not left with umpteen products your child has outgrown and have no use for. And it is for this reason, why you must consider investing in a baby travel system.
A travel system or a travel system stroller can help you strike two birds with one stone. You'll be getting both an infant car seat and a stroller with one buy. Not to mention it's also more cost-effective. Which brings us to the next question- "which is the best travel system to buy?" This comprehensive review of the top baby travel systems of 2021 holds the answer.
What Is A Baby Travel System?
A travel system is a 2-in-1 combination of an infant car seat and stroller. How? By using a pushchair frame that can accommodate both a car seat, toddler seat, and even a carrycot. The highlight of this unit is that allows you to transport your child using the same unit.
Why Buy A Baby Travel System?
Here are some reasons why you should consider investing in a travel system stroller:
Babies tend to wake up when they are being transferred from their car seat to stroller or vice versa. With a travel system, you can attach and detach the carrier with your baby still sleeping in it.
This versatile stroller car seat combo can keep your child safe at all times. Some models have reclinable seats. This is more suited for newborns as they have poor head and postural control.
Economical and saves time and energy:
Think of all the time, energy, and money you save on research and purchase with this 2-in-1 model. A travel system consists of a stroller that grows with your child, giving you value for your money.
In short, a travel system is all you need from birth through toddlerhood to transport your little one.
Types of Stroller Travel Systems:
Common types of travel systems include:
Lightweight Travel System:
As the name suggests these travel systems weigh light, around 25-30 pounds. Ideally, your stroller must weigh around 15 pounds or less, and the car seat 5 pounds for easy handling. The lightweight factor is what makes these systems appealing for use on public transit and for those with poor arm strength.
Rugged Travel System:
These are ideal for nature lovers who want to take their kids along with them on their hikes. It has larger wheels that can handle different types of terrain like tracks and gravel,
Jogging Travel Systems:
Runners invest in the jogging travel system. These are light and easy to maneuver. With its easy push feature, you can get back to jogging, with your little one for the company.
But it should be noted that a jogging travel system is different from a jogging stroller. The latter has extra features to keep children safe such as safety tethers, locking front wheels, and brakes. Even so, some jogging strollers are compatible with car seats and can double up as a travel system.
Deluxe Travel System:
These are high-quality models with features that enhance their durability, versatility, and reliability.
Buying A Travel System:
You can buy a travel system in two ways:
- As part of a package deal. This is more economical. It also guarantees the compatibility of the car seat and stroller as they belong to the same brand.
- Create your system. Using adaptors, we can combine individual strollers and car seats from different brands. While this method allows you to mix and match brands, you should know that some brands may not be compatible. Also, it's costlier than getting the 2-in-1 model.
Creating Your Travel System:
When creating a travel system, keep in mind the following factors:
If you are using your car seat, check for its compatibility with your travel system chassis. You might also need to figure out how to fit it onto the chassis. Check to see if you need adaptors to secure the car seat onto the frame. Additionally, consider the:
- The type of car seat to get. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you use a rear-facing car seat up to 1 year of age.
- Seat weight and dimensions and maximum weight recommendations for the child.
- Compatibility with your car.
Check the stroller dimensions and make sure the car seat fits within the frame. Check to see how many adaptors you will need to install the car seat onto the frame.
Selecting A Travel System:
If you're purchasing a regular travel system, here's what you need to look out for:
Comfort and Safety: Look for models with:
- Adjustable and convertible seats.
- A carrycot that can serve as an alternate sleeping area for your child outside.
- Canopies for protection from sun and other weather. You can choose from a wide range of canopies for sun protection. It ranges from full coverage to partial range coverage. Canopies also have a mesh window to increase air circulation and visibility.
- JPMA safety seal, which indicates that the model adheres to the safety standards. The model must not have received a recall notice from either the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
- A five-point harness system. The harness helps to secure your baby at all the key points. This includes the shoulders, waist, and between legs, preventing the baby from sliding, or falling out.
Dimensions: The car seat must fit the baby until they are 32 inches tall or weigh 35 pounds. Strollers must accommodate children until they are around 50 pounds. Checking the height and weight limit of the unit can help you determine its period of usefulness.
Frame: Choose a model with a small lightweight foldable frame for easy storage and transport.
Ease of use: The model must be easy to install, and use. You're less likely to use a model that is difficult to open or fold, or takes up time when you reattach the seat to the base. Choose units with a LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). This enables easy attachment and detachment of the car seat from the base and stroller frame.
Purpose: This can influence your choice of a system. For use on uneven terrain, you will need a model that has large, lockable, swiveling front wheels. For a smooth ride, you must choose between an air-filled, foam-filled tire, or models with a suspension system. Unlike foam-filled tires, air-filled tires require refilling.
Customer reviews: Choose a model with high customer ratings and safety ratings. It can give you a better idea of the pros, cons, and worth of the model in question.
Customer Support: Buying a product from a reputable company and with good customer service is invaluable when it comes to returning damaged or incorrect products. Also, ensure that the product has a warranty or return policy in place. This will protect you in case of receiving a damaged product.
The Best Travel Systems Of 2021
Bearing in mind these factors, we have reviewed and compiled a list of some of the best travel systems available to you:
|Frame material: Aluminium||Weight recommendations: 4-50 pounds|
|Item weight: 30 pounds|
Car seat weight: 9.6 pounds
Stroller weight: 23 pounds
| Car seat age range: 4-30 pounds|
Stroller age range: 6 months to 50 pounds
The Chicco Bravo Trio travel system is the most sought-after model at present. Why? Because it ticks all the boxes on our list. It is versatile and doubles as either a car seat or stroller. You can use it right until your child's toddler years, as it can accommodate a weight of 4-50 pounds.
Made out of aluminum the model is both sturdy and lightweight. It has an innovative one-hand fold to help you single-handedly fold the unit. Once folded, self-prop the model or store it away in your trunk.
With reclinable seats (into three positions), adjustable canopy, and large storage space, the Bravo Trio is designed for comfort. Not only for kids, but it also caters to parents' comfort with a parent tray and an easy-to-grip handle adjustable in three positions.
About safety, the Chicco system comes with excellent safety features. It has a 5-point harness system for securing the child and a LATCH system for secure attachment of infant seats onto the base. Energy-absorbing foam and side-impact protection reduce the impact of a collision. Its front swivel wheels (with suspension) and a one-touch brake system make it easy to maneuver the unit.
If you own the Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat, you can easily install it onto the stroller frame and create your DIY travel system.
Loaded with features for convenience, the Chicco Bravo Trio Travel system is the best overall travel system currently available.
|Frame material: Aluminium||Weight recommendation:50 pounds|
|Item weight: 40 pounds|
Car seat weight: 9.9 lbs
Stroller weight: 26.6 lbs
|Car seat age range: 4-35 lbs|
Stroller age range: birth to 50 lbs per seat.
If you’re into sleek and elegant designs, the UPPAbaby Mesa may interest you. Although pricey, bear in mind that the cost is inclusive of the VISTA V2 stroller and Mesa infant car seat. And both these products are high-quality products on their own.
The VISTA V2 is easy to install as it has a LATCH system, with an auto-tightening feature. The adjustable reclining base comes with level indicators to help you position the baby at the right height. It has a sliding shoulder harness for smooth, and quick positioning of the harness on the child.
Not to mention the other design features that add to its appeal. These include the breathable merino wool covering on the seat, high back, and deep footrest, large adjustable canopy for adequate sun protection, and mesh windows for air circulation.
As for safety, the UPPAbaby VISTA is equipped with energy-absorbing foam for side-impact protection; shock-absorbing front and rear suspension wheels to handle rough terrain, and soft tires for a comfortable ride.
The best part, this model is designed with multiple configuration options especially for growing families. The seat systems allow for two selections, forward or parent facing, and can recline into a flat position. You can use the reversible seating system with a carriage, toddler seat, or car seat and it can be doubled to include two children. That’s right, with the VISTA V2, you can double the car seats, toddler seats, and many more.
Our Verdict: The UPPAbaby VISTA V2 is definitely an expensive buy, but if you are particular about aesthetics along with functionality, then this is the best aesthetically designed model.
- Safety features that reduce the risk of injury.
- Convertible model, into a double stroller
- No need for adaptors
- Heavy and bulky.
- Thin tires.
- Shoulder harness adjustment is difficult.
- Fails to accommodate for child height.
|Frame material:||Weight recommendation: 4-35 pounds|
|Item weight:42.6 pounds|
Car seat weight: 7.6 lbs
Stroller weight: 20 lbs
| Car seat age: 4-35 lbs|
Stroller seat age: birth to 50 lbs
The Evenflo Pivot Xpand Travel system is ideal for those looking for a double stroller at affordable pricing. Although the UPPAbaby is equally useful, it is way more expensive. That doesn’t mean the Evenflo Xpand is sub-par.
No indeed. In fact, this system combines the unique Evenflo SafeMax infant car seat with the Pivot Xpand stroller system. Add in super-rich features like adjustable handlebars (3 positions), self-standing fold, front swivel wheels, rear-wheel suspension, and 22 different modes and functions, you have an efficient, effective travel system in hand.
The multiple configuration options enable this model to double up as a stroller using both the infant car seat and toddler seat, ergo its name ‘the Xpand system.’ That’s not all, it has a reversible (forward and parent facing), adjustable seat, with multiple recline positions making this unit ideal for newborns. Secondly, this is one model that allows for car seat attachment without any adaptor. How? The adaptors are inbuilt into the system, therefore eliminating the extra cost of purchasing additional ones. Let’s not forget the ample storage space (2 feet) under the seat, cup holders, large canopies for sun protection, peek-a-boo windows for increased visibility, and the thick padding and soft fabric that add to the convenience factor of the unit.
As for safety features, the Evenflo Pivot is one of the few travel systems that has been roll-over tested. Besides side-impact protection features, it has an anti-bound bar to reduce the impact of rotational forces preventing injuries in a frontal collision, and a flip-flop-friendly rear brake to safely lock the model in place.
Our Verdict: With its integrated belt lock system, multiple base positions and recline indicator, the Evenflo Pivot system is the best affordable double travel system stroller. With this model, you can be assured that your child is safe and secure in their transportations.
|Frame material: Steel and Aluminum||Weight recommendation: 4-55 pounds|
|Item weight: 30 pounds|
Car seat weight: 11 lbs
Stroller weight: 22 lbs
| Car seat age range: 4-35 lbs|
Stroller age range: birth to 65 lbs
The Britax B-Lively is a simple model designed specifically for its function, to transport children safely. And that it does well! The system is inclusive of the Britax B-Safe 35 infant car seat, a B-Lively stroller, and adaptors. It provides maximum child protection, especially their head, neck, and torso, using a layer of side impact protection, crash energy-absorbing base, and a v-shaped tether that minimizes seat rotation.
It utilizes the LATCH system to secure and tighten the car seat to the base and has a harness release button to loosen harness straps easily. While the car seat is steel reinforced to keep it more stabilized, the stroller frame is made with aluminum and is lightweight and sturdy.
The Britax B-Lively offers comfort to the child through its all-wheel suspension system and 3-wheel design for smooth journeys, UV50 canopy for weather protection, ventilation window pockets for increased air circulation, peek-a-boo window for checking on the child, a near-flat infinite recline seat. For parents, the benefits include the one-handed quick fold, lightweight frame for easy maneuvering, large storage basket with front access for conveniently storing the baby’s essentials.
The covers are removable and washable and you can attach the car seating using the car seat adaptors one for each side.
Our Verdict: Sometimes safety 1st is our motto and in such cases, the Britax B-Lively with B-Safe car seat is the best safe high-quality system we need for our kids.
|Frame material: Stainless steel||Weight recommendation: 50 pounds|
|Item weight-46 pounds|
Car seat weight: 9 lbs
Stroller weight: 21.5 lb
| Car seat age range: 4-30 lbs|
Stroller age range: up to 50 lbs
This 5-in-1 Modular Travel system includes the Mico Max infant car seat, Zelia Max stroller, and the car seat base. Designed for both safety and comfort the Maxi-Cosi is equipped with a big inflated side impact protection, an anti-rebound bar, EPP energy-absorbing foam. Being made with soft-textured fabrics, the model is quite comforting for the kids.
With reversible (forward and parent facing) reclinable seat, removable bumper bar, extendable canopy which has an additional flip-out visor for added protection from the weather, mesh peek-a-boo windows to foster connection and increase ventilation.
Lockable swivel all-terrain wheel and all-wheel suspension help to keep the ride smooth.
Our Verdict: Although it lacks too many bells and whistles, the Maxi-Cosi is enterprising enough to make its presence felt. The fact that it has washable fabric along with safety and convenient features, makes a huge case for this model, especially since we know how messy and dirty things can get with kids.
Disadvantages Of The Travel System:
While there are many benefits to using the travel system, there are some cons too, such as:
- These systems are heavier and bulkier and are more difficult to transfer from in and out of the car, and maneuver on uneven roads, and narrow tight spaces like grocery aisles.
- You need to buy a front-facing infant car seat, once your baby outgrows the rear-facing one.
- You will need to buy multiple units (car seat and seat base), if you have different cars, to cut down on time and energy required to unhook and set up the unit each time you use a different car.
Tips For Safe Use:
While it is completely safe to use travel systems for your child, here are some additional safety tips to be aware of:
- Try and ascertain that the model is compatible with your car before purchasing it.
- When assembling the unit, make sure that you use all parts. It is there in the package for a reason.
- Make sure that the car seat is correctly aligned on the seat base or stroller frame before moving, to avoid accidents.
- Check for its expiration date. Some models have an expiration date set after 6 years from the time they are launched. It's good to check this so that you know your product won't expire before your child outgrows its use. Additionally, older models may not adhere to the latest safety standards and may lack the necessary safety features.
- Do not use a travel system as the main sleeping area for your child.
Second Hand Travel Systems:
While it's alright to accept or purchase certain second-hand products, when it comes to travel systems, this is not advised! Only because it might not be safe for your child, especially if it was
- Involved in an accident.
- Misused by the previous owners.
- Has faulty parts or that which do not align properly due to wear and tear.
- Expired warranty, which makes the cost of replacing parts high.
If we’ve been successful in convincing you of the advantages of having a travel system over a standard stroller car seat combo, the next step would be to find your unit. For this, you can use our comprehensive travel system guide to compare different models and find your fit. Or go through our list of travel systems, already reviewed to save you time, and find the one which suits your needs the best.