How to choose the best travel system
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.
Types of travel systems
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.
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.
How much do I need to pay for a good travel system?
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.
Best travel system features to look for
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.
Top ten best travel systems
Table updated October 2020.
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.
What car seat should I buy for my travel system?
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.
Where to buy a travel system?
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.