As a first time mom, I did not realize how much our lifestyle should be a major consideration in our decision to buy a stroller. I thought all strollers were created the same. They are just for transporting babies.
Knowing nothing about strollers, my husband and I were smooth talked by a salesman to buy a full-size, travel system that had all the features that we would ever need.
I thought he knew better so we paid a couple of hundred dollars and took it home. Fast forward to 6 months, nobody in the family wanted to bring the bulky and heavy stroller. We realized that it was an expensive rolling piece of mistake.
When we flew to Hong Kong days before my daughter turned 2, we hurriedly bought a cheap umbrella stroller and we never looked back ever since.
I don’t want you to make the same mistake, so if you love to travel, here are some tips to help you narrow down your options. I encourage you to look at the figures and features closely so you can get the most out of your money.
Here’s a Checklist to Help you Search For the Perfect Travel Stroller
1) Is it Small and Lightweight?
Lightweight is a term that is used loosely these days. One of the lightest ones as of this writing is the GB Pockit which is less than 12 lbs. To spare your back and shoulders from carrying a supposedly lightweight-but-otherwise-heavy stroller, consider buying one that is about 12-15 lbs only.
If you are a frequent flyer and you are looking for a stroller that can roll with your globetrotting lifestyle, it’s best to get a stroller that folds small so you can hand carry it inside the airplane. Again, GB Pockit has the tiniest fold of all with a size of 11.8 x 7 x 13.7 inches. There are other strollers that are also small enough to fit inside airplane overhead bins. You can consider them too, just try to limit your choices to the ones that are more or less 20 inches in length and height and less than 11 inches in width. A smaller fold gives your stroller a bigger chance to be approved as a carry-on luggage in most airplanes.
2) Is it travel-system ready?
Buying a travel system is different from buying a travel-system ready stroller. A travel system is a stroller set that comes with its own infant car seat and base. Most of these travel systems are loaded with features, such as a snack tray, a parent tray, a cup holder, a leg rest, a foot rest etc. Those things make it heavy and huge and that’s the last thing you want to bring when you are traveling.
I recommend that you buy a travel-system ready stroller instead. Travel-system ready strollers are designed to accommodate a
bassinet and an infant car seat that you only have to buy when you need to. If you like to add the features that I mentioned earlier, most of them can be bought online as attachable accessories.
If you intend to buy a bassinet for your newborn, know that bassinets cannot be used interchangeably with other stroller brands, at least for now. For example, if you buy a Mountain Buggy stroller, the bassinet must also come from the same brand.
You have more freedom to choose infant car seats because many travel-system ready strollers are compatible with most car seat brands. The Mountain Buggy Nano is one good example because of its universal adapter that comes with the stroller. You just have to choose which car seat you like, know if it is compatible with the stroller and check if it requires additional adapters to be installed.
I always advise first-time parents to not settle when it comes to buying a stroller. After all, the bassinet and the infant car seat will only be used for a few months but the stroller is what’s going to be stuck with you for the long haul.
3) Does it Have a High Weight Limit?
This is very important in determining how long you will be able to use your stroller. A stroller with a higher weight limit is perceived to be stronger and more durable. Ideally, you should look for a stroller that can carry a maximum weight limit of at least 40 lbs or higher. A good example of this is the Uppababy Minu, which has a weight capacity of 50 lbs.
4) Is it Portable and Easy to Fold?
Fold is one of the first things i look for in a stroller. If a stroller’s fold is too complicated, I usually do not recommend it. There are many options in the market that have folds that require less learning curve and less handwork too. I go for strollers that have a one-hand fold feature like the Uppababy Minu, and the Baby Jogger City Tour 2.
These features are so convenient to use especially when you’re rushing in an airport or just trying to make a grab of your active toddler.
5) Is it an All-Terrain Stroller?
Exploring different places with your baby calls for a stroller that is adaptable to all terrains. Unlike jogging strollers, most all-terrain strollers have front swivel wheels that make them agile. However, small strollers usually comes with a small set of wheels that are about 5 inches or less. The problem with small wheels is that they tend to be shakier on rough surfaces while bigger wheels drive steadier on rough surfaces.
Some manufacturers make up for the small wheels by installing built-in suspensions on the wheels to absorb mild shocks. To ensure that your baby enjoys a steadier ride, I recommend that you go for a stroller with front or rear-wheel suspensions. Even better if it has suspension on all 4 wheels. As a general rule, the more suspensions there are, the steadier the ride will be. The best option in terms or maneuverability in my opinion is the Babyzen Yoyo Plus.
6. Is it Comfortable for the Baby?
Sometimes even the most exciting sights won’t be enough to keep your baby awake during your trips. A stroller with a low-recline that is about 140 degrees to a near-flat position will give your little one a comfortable sleep while you proceed with your itinerary. An adjustable leg rest like the one in Baby Jogger City Tour 2 is also a bonus.
Check if the stroller also has an adequately-sized canopy. This is important if you intend to stroll for long hours outdoors. You may also want to get a stroller with a canopy which is made of UPF50 fabric. That would give your little one extra protection from the sun’s UV rays. Additional accessories like parasols or other canopy extensions can also be bought online.
Strollers vary in seat padding. Some are thick and cushiony, which are great when you are traveling to cold places like Europe, Canada or the US. Some strollers have thinner and more breathable padding that is perfect for travel in Asia and other countries with warmer climates. Depending on your location and where you will mostly travel, it’s really up to you to decide which will best suit your baby’s needs.
With that checklist in mind, know that you may or may not find all those things in one stroller. No stroller is perfect but determining your priorities and non-negotiables will help you find the stroller that’s perfect for you.