Updated on April 4, 2018 by Lyric Fergusson
What is a travel stroller?
A travel stroller is a lightweight, easily portable and compact folding stroller that is perfect for air, train, subway, or car travel. Travel strollers are easy to open, comfortable for your child, and don’t take up much space, so they are convenient to store when not in use. Travel strollers can easily be found for newborns to children weighing about 50 lbs (23 kg).
Important note: Airport security rules state that any stroller that weighs over 20 lbs (9 kg), is too big, or which is non-collapsible must be checked at the ticket counter. Parents, this means no stroller from check-in to your final destination if your stroller is huge, weighs more than 20 lbs, or cannot fold up!
Why do you need one for travel?
While you might already own an awesome jogging stroller or another bulky standard-size stroller, there are a lot of good reasons that a travel stroller is a must-have:
1) Because Airport Security simply won’t let you gate check a heavy or bulky stroller. As explained up top, any stroller that weighs over 20 lbs (9 kg), is too big, or which is non-collapsible must be checked at the ticket counter. I actually know a mama who got into a literal tug of war with the check-in-agent who forced her to check her jogging stroller at the ticket counter. This is really traumatic if you are traveling alone or have to make connections. Avoid this entirely. It’s not worth the stress.
2) You do not want to lug a hefty (and expensive!) jogging stroller on your next family vacation. Even though it might have a smooth ride and luxurious accessories, bringing your bulky stroller on a trip is not a walk in the park. First, the airlines are not delicate with baggage and it is likely to get some damage. Second, most rental car trunks are small. And finally, it’s just not worth lugging around such a massive piece of equipment.
We simply won’t fly without our travel stroller—we love it!
Here are my top 7 picks for the best travel stroller (you might wish you had them all!)
1) Summer Infant 3D Lite Stroller
(Best Budget Buy – $)
Why it’s great: The 3D Lite is the stroller my husband and I personally own and love. It is inexpensive, a lightweight 15 lbs (7 kg), and folds up compactly. Even with its compactness and light weight, it also has a great basket for storage and the seat reclines into several positions (including almost flat), so it’s great for on-the-go napping.
It also has decent shocks for a relatively smooth ride. We have taken it across Europe, to South America, and to the Caribbean, and it has yet to have any damage (partially thanks to this stroller bag!). But because of the low price point, you won’t get too mad if the baggage handlers aren’t as gentle with your cargo as they should be!
Keep in mind: Some moms have complained that the low ride prevents older children from being as comfortable as a young toddler. The canopy is also not the greatest but we often use blankets and stroller clips to keep the sun out of his eyes when he is napping without much trouble. When it is fully reclined the storage basket is unfortunately not easily accessible. But I have to say this is the best travel stroller for the price and we won’t travel without it.
Good for: Babies who can hold their head up unassisted to children weighing 50 lbs (23 kg).
2) ZOE XL1 Stroller
(Most Loved By Parents – $$)
Why it’s great: Parents simply love this stroller. It’s under 10 lbs (4.5 kg), and has an almost flat recline that’s great for napping, a large storage basket, a huge sun canopy, and a lifetime replacement guarantee on the wheels. It also maneuvers like a dream and can be collapsed and opened super easily with one hand. And don’t forget it fits in the overhead bin on the plane!
Keep in mind: The main complaint is that the cup-holders come off easily and the suspension could be a bit better for really bumpy terrain, but almost all feel its shock absorption is great for city streets and travel use alike.
Good for: Babies 6 months and older to children weighing 50 lbs (23 kg).
3) gb Pockit Stroller
(Guinness World Record Holder – $$)
Why it’s great: Well, the gb Pockit holds the Guiness World Record for most compact stroller. Weighing in at only 9.5 lbs (4 kg), it is by far the most streamlined travel stroller out there. It’s super easy to fold and unfold, saving you a lot of hassle when you have tight connections, need to throw it in the car, or are going on a subway. And it FITS IN YOUR PURSE — or more importantly, the overhead bin on the plane. Don’t believe me? Watch the video on Amazon!
Keep in mind: It doesn’t recline (although most say it’s comfortable enough for napping). It also doesn’t have very much storage space for your belongings, or a huge canopy. Many parents also feel the shock absorption isn’t so great.
Good for: Babies 6 months and older to children weighing 55 lbs (25 kg).
4) Mountain Buggy Nano Stroller
(Most Features and Even Good for Newborns – $$$)
Why it’s great: The Mountain Buggy Nano is awesome & unique for several reasons… It’s super compact and light at 13 lbs (6 kg), and can fold up small enough to fit in a small backpack carrier that can be placed into the overhead bin on the plane.
Unlike most ultra-compact strollers it reclines, has awesome shock absorption, a solid canopy, a neat feature called “curb pop” which makes it easy to go on and off of city streets, and most importantly you can attach your infant car seat to it without a bulky adapter. This means the Mountain Buggy Nano could be your travel stroller from the moment baby is born until they are about 4 years of age. There is no other ultra-compact travel stroller on the market that boasts all of those features.
Keep in mind: There is no cup holder, it will take two hands to open and close the stroller, and some feel that the narrow design makes it a bit snug for older children.
Good for: Newborns to children weighing 50 lbs (23 kg).
5) Besrey Airplane Stroller
(Compact and Comfortable – $$)
Why it’s great: At only 10.8 lbs (5 kg), the Besrey Airplane Stroller is the second-most compact stroller on the market behind the gb Pockit. And like the Mountain Buggy Nano, it comes with a nifty backpack carrier that makes storing it in a rental car trunk or the airplane overhead bins a breeze. It has a chic design, is easy to collapse one-handed, has a 5-point adjustable harness, a good sized sun-blocking canopy, and a pretty decent-sized basket for its size.
Keep in mind: It doesn’t recline, and it takes two hands to remove from the backpack and unfold.
Good for: Babies 6 months and older to children weighing 33 lbs (15 kg).
6) Baby Home Emotion Stroller
(Most Luxurious – $$)
Why it’s great: The Emotion is really well-made and very luxurious for your baby. It’s a light 13 lbs (6 kg) and super maneuverable, making it great for travel, errand running, and keeping up with lots of ins and outs. Even with its compact and maneuverable build, this stroller still gives your child the comfort and amenities associated with a full-sized everyday stroller. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also got a fully adjustable 5-point harness and 150-degree adjustable reclining back so that your bub can nap on-the-go.
The wheels are large enough to handle just about any surface, and have shock-absorbers and ball-bearing mounts to ensure a smooth ride and incredible maneuverability. You’ll be able to turn it on a dime in the tightest of spaces, even when pushing one-handed!
Keep in mind: It’s a bit bulkier than other travel strollers when folded, and taller parents feel the handlebars are a little too low.
Good for: Babies 6 months and older to children weighing 55 lbs (25 kg).
7) ZOE XL2 Double Travel Stroller
(Best Double Travel Stroller – $$$)
Why it’s great: The Zoe XL2 Best Double Travel Stroller reclines and has two huge four-panel sun canopies, magnetic peek-a-boo windows, a large expandable elastic storage bin, snack cups and cup holders for baby, a parent cup holder, and front wheel suspension, and with all of this it still weighs only 17 lbs (8 kg). This means you can still keep this stroller with you all the way to your destination without having to check it at the ticket counter.
It also has an amazingly easy one-hand collapse feature that kinda blew my mind. You can also buy a carry backpack/cover directly through the manufacturer, which is great for protecting the stroller when you check it at the gate or toss it into the trunk of a car.
Keep in mind: All side-by-side double strollers are wide, so maneuvering them in large crowds is always a challenge. Also, the buckles on this specific stroller aren’t the most intuitive until you get the hang of them.
Good for: Babies 3 months and older to children weighing 50 lbs (23 kg) per seat.
Don’t forget these must-have accessories:
FAQs about Travel Strollers
1) Is it better to check your stroller at the gate or during check-in time?
This one will definitely depend on your needs. If you are traveling solo with the kiddo, you may want to keep the stroller until you get on the plane, checking it at the gate at the last minute. This way you can use it to help contain your child and even help store your things as you have to wait in line at various points. If you don’t need the extra helping hand, then consider checking it in at the counter with your luggage so it will be waiting for you when you go pick up your bags after a long flight.
2) I’m worried about the weight of these strollers. Will it be too much for me to handle when I am traveling with my child?
These strollers are all incredibly lightweight, especially compared to a traditional stroller or jogger. Think of it this way: a lot of stuffed diaper bags weigh in heavier than these strollers! If you can carry a packed purse, you can handle a travel stroller.
3) Isn’t it easier to just rent a stroller at my destination?
Not for most people. When you rent at your destination, you never know exactly what you will get. Rental companies can often run out of the stroller you thought you reserved, and then what? You are just plain out of luck. Strollers – especially lightweight, travel-specific ones – also make airports, rental car pick ups, and long walks through the city to get to your hotel a whole lot easier, so for most people, the convenience is worth it.
4) Should I have a separate stroller for home and for travel?
This really depends on your needs and where you live. Most of the strollers listed here would work just as well as an everyday option, so if you can only afford to buy one, it makes a lot of sense to get an ultralight travel stroller instead of a bulky jogger. If you are a mom who opted to invest a lot in a fancy luxury stroller, you probably don’t want to risk damaging it on an airplane, and it will be best to have a travel stroller as backup.
5) If I’m traveling with a young infant, do I really need a stroller?
Even avid baby-wearing mamas will enjoy having the option to lay baby down and allow them to nap in the stroller once in a while. Strollers also have storage pockets and even drink holder accessories, something that wraps and carriers just can’t offer. When traveling you always want to be prepa#ef4350, and you’ll want to take advantage of opportunities to rest your own body as well so that you don’t get burnt out.
6) Will I need to pay extra to check my stroller?
Not likely, as almost every US airline will check a stroller, car seat, and baby crib for free! Definitely check with your airline before you go, and be prepa#ef4350 for different rules when out of the country.
7) Can I take my stroller directly onto the airplane?
Unfortunately, with most strollers, this is not an option. Airlines will require you to check your stroller curbside, at counter check-in, or at the gate, so strollers will not be allowed into the cabin with you. However, if you have one of the travel strollers that folds up into a purse or carry-on size, you will likely be able to place it in the overhead bin!
8) What if I need to check my car seat? Can I check a stroller too?
Yes! Almost every US airline will allow you to check large baby items for free, even if you have more than one. Strollers, car seats, and travel cribs all fit under this guideline.
When looking for a lightweight travel stroller, first make a list of your needs. Do you need it to be on the more affordable side, or are you able to spend a little extra for more features? Will you need it for your newborn, or is this stroller strictly for a toddler or bigger kid? What are your storage needs? Are you traveling primarily to city destinations, or do you need a stroller than can handle more rough terrain or bad weather? By assessing all of these different options, you will be able to make a sound choice on which travel stroller is perfect for you and your family.
When you don’t have to worry about how to get from point A to point B safely, comfortably, and without a fuss, you will be able to relax and really enjoy your vacation, while making priceless memories with your littlest travel companion(s).