How to choose the best travel system
By Lisa Galliers
Find out what a travel system is, how much you need to pay for one and whether buying a travel system is a better choice for you than a pushchair
A 'travel system' is essentially a pushchair that can be used with a baby car seat. Some travel systems can take a carrycot as well.
They make it easier to transport sleeping babies without disturbing them too much. But bear in mind you shouldn't leave a very young baby in a car seat for too long at one sitting.
Read on to find out what features to look for with your travel system, how much you should pay and to see our round-up of the top ten travel systems.
Alternatively, head straight to our best travel systems to find out which model you should buy.
In this article:
- Which type of travel system should you choose?
- How much is a good travel system?
- Best travel system features to look for
- Top 10 best travel systems
- What car seat should I buy for my travel system?
- Where to buy a travel system?
We'd always advise that you choose a car seat you're happy with before choosing your travel system, as a car seat is an essential piece of baby safety kit.
Travel system and car seat package
Some travel systems come with a car seat included as part of a package.
Apart from the car seat, your travel system will also come with some sort of seat unit to transport your baby when you don’t want to use the car seat on the chassis.
Travel system where you buy the car seat separately
Some systems won’t come with a car seat but will say which car seats they are compatible with, so you can go and buy one.
Buying your travel system with the car seat separately, rather than as a package, often works out more expensive, but it does mean you get time to choose a car seat you’re confident can transport your baby safely, which is key.
We would recommend always choosing your car seat first before you buy your travel system.
See our list of the best baby and child car seats.
Travel system for twins
This is a travel system where two car seats can be attached to the pushchair chassis at the same time.
Travel system for baby and toddler
This is a pushchair where you can attach one baby car seat and one ordinary pushchair seat.
Find out more in our guide on how to buy the best double pushchair.
Compare all our travel system reviews.
Travel-system compatible pushchairs can be costly, but you will be pleased to know that there's plenty of choice for almost everyone's budget – from around £100 up to around £1,000 for a top-of-the-range, premium travel system.
Remember a higher price doesn't always mean quality – we've found Best Buys under £200 and Don't Buys for more than £800.
Travel systems can come equipped with quite a wide range of accessories. Here's a few that you'll really need:
- Ability to convert to a double – planning a bigger family in the future? Check if the travel system you want can convert to a double should you need to.
- Adjustable handles – important if more than one of you is going to be pushing it and you’re different heights to each other.
- Reversible handles/seats – for those of you that want the choice of having your baby both non-parent-facing and world-facing.
- Car seat adaptors – some car seats slot onto the pushchair chassis, other need adaptors to make the car seat fit. These adaptors aren't always included in the price, so double check before you buy. Adaptors can cost as much as £30 or more.
- Raincover – an essential accessory. Try to get one specifically made for your travel system to ensure the best fit. If it doesn't come with one, you can buy one for around £30.
- Shopping basket – vital for storing shopping or nappy bags, these can usually carry up to 2kg of everyday shopping items – up to 5kg for the biggest versions
- Hoods – a hood should help protect your child from drizzle, bright sunlight shining in their eyes or blustery wind.
For more advice on this, head to our guide on how to buy the best pushchair accessories.
Best Buy travel systems for less than £200
This travel system compatible pushchair ticks a lot of boxes for a very reasonable price. It's easy to fold with one hand, the seat is suitable from birth and it has large wheels which help to make it light and smooth to push. It also takes hardly any effort to turn or tilt back when going up kerbs.
This high-scoring pushchair gets a lot right, making it a reliable Best Buy for buyers on a budget. It's easy to use, compatible with a Best Buy car seat, can be used parent-facing with a carrycot, and is really easy to fold. But it's worth noting that the seat on this pushchair only faces forward. If you're looking for a reversible model, consult the rest of our expert pushchair reviews.
Best travel systems for less than £500
Designed to comfortably transport your little one from birth right through their toddler years, the manufacturer claims this pushchair will last until your child is 20kg, which is around five or six-years old. It comes with a lot of features, including a reversible seat, one-hand recline and lockable front-swivel wheels. But is it easy to use and is it practical? Read our review to find out how it fared in our tests.
This reasonably priced all-terrain travel system has a reversible seat, or it can be used with a carrycot or Best Buy baby car seat. It’s comfortable for your little one, smooth and easy to push, even on rough ground, and it has a one-handed lever to recline the seat for naps.
Best lightweight travel systems
This pushchair is lightweight in terms of travel systems, but it’s still sturdy and a pleasure to push over most terrain. It turns easily in compact spaces and it’s quick to swap the roomy seat for a carrycot or car seat. Day to day it’s very easy to use and the one-hand fold is amongst the best we’ve seen.
You’ll be nipping around public transport and boarding aeroplanes with this Best Buy stroller, as it has an excellent one-hand fold and its compact enough to be taken on some flights as cabin luggage. It’s small, light and it can be used with a baby car seat, making it suitable to use from birth. It can also handle a wide range of surfaces with ease thanks to the all-wheel suspension. Get it now for £166.50, saving £63.50 off the usual RRP.
Best all-terrain travel systems
This top-of-the-range travel-system pushchair is a lot cheaper than rivals, and it gives a smooth ride thanks to its all-wheel suspension and puncture-resistant tyres. It also has a reversible seat, a generous shopping basket and a one-handed fold and recline.
This Best Buy travel system combines easy-to-use features with good manoeuvrability, especially on rougher ground. The seat unit is reversible and it’s suitable from birth. It has a one-hand fold and recline, adjustable handlebars and it also folds down quite compactly. One retailer is offering it as a four-piece starter bundle for £749, which includes a carrycot, car-seat adaptors and a cup holder. The package is worth £886, meaning you save you £137. It also has six and eight-piece bundles available that offer even bigger discounts.
Best travel systems for twins
There are lots of options for converting this travel system into a double pushchair, and it’s by far our highest-scoring double after sailing through our tough tests. It’s well made, versatile and really easy to use. It’s also compatible with a range of Best Buy car seats.
This is a great double pushchair that wowed our parent testers. It has a number of different configurations for two young children, thanks to the reversible seats and the ability to switch easily from double to mono mode and back again. You can also use it with baby car seats or carrycots.
Four things to consider when choosing a travel system
1. What travel system fits in my car?
If you have a smaller car, such as a Ford Ka or Mini you need to make sure the chassis is going to fit into the boot once your little one and the car seat are safely in the car.
Measure the size of your boot carefully and check against the folded size of the travel system in our reviews to make sure it’s going to fit.
2. How heavy is the car seat?
Child car seats range in weight from just a few kg into double figures, so make sure you’re able to move it without causing yourself pain.
3. How easy is it to fit the car seat?
Car seats attach to a car in a number of different ways – either by using the car’s seatbelt or using a base.
Isofix, which typically costs more, fixes the seat in the car without using the belts. We always recommend you get your car seat professionally fitted and then practise over and over to make sure you can do it yourself.
4. Which is the easiest travel system to fold?
When we review a pushchair, one of the things we check is how easy it is to fold. You don’t want to be struggling to collapse the chair every time you get it out of the boot or take it on public transport.
You will want to buy a Group 0 or 0+ car seat, which will take your baby from birth up to 10kg or 13kg depending on which type you choose, or you could go for one of the new regulation i-Size car seats.
Buying a child car seat can be confusing when you’re doing it for the first time, which is why we’ve put together the definitive guide to choosing a child car seat to explain everything you need to know.
It’s also vital to remember that a child car seat should only be used to transport your child, it’s not a place for him or her to sleep in for a long time. Experts currently advise no longer than 90 minutes in an infant carrier.
Jump straight to our top 10 best baby car seat reviews.
Whether you choose to go for a Quinny, Graco, Chicco, iCandy, Oyster or Britax, most travel systems are available from high street stores or online from outlets including Mothercare, Kiddicare and Mamas & Papas.
We would always advise you try out a travel system before you buy so you know it's right for you and get it fitted by a retailer to make sure it fits your car.