How to choose the best travel system
By Lisa Galliers
Article 1 of 2
Find out what a travel system is, how much you need to pay for one and whether buying a travel system is better choice for you than a pushchair
A travel system is an alternative way to transport your baby to a traditional pushchair.
Why buy a travel system?
A travel system is the same as a pushchair, in that it involves pushing your baby around on a set of wheels but you can attach a car seat to a travel system. It means you can pop your car seat from the travel system into your car and back again without disturbing your baby too much.
Pros: A good travel system will have the same qualities as a decent pushchair; it'll be easy to use on a day-to-day basis and have a simple-to-remove seat unit, or easy adaptors, so it can be quickly swapped with the car seat.
Cons: Travel systems are usually bigger and bulkier, sometimes heavier than most pushchairs. Plus, you may need adaptors to attach the car seat.
We review all the most popular travel systems. See which rank in our top 10 best travel systems.
How does a travel system work?
It’s essentially a pushchair chassis that you can slot your car seat on or off. Sometimes the car seat clicks on, sometimes it slots on, or you might need special adaptors (which you sometimes have to buy separately and can cost £30 or more) to attach the seat. As well as a car seat you could add a pushchair seat, sometimes a carry cot, or sometimes a lie-flat pushchair seat as an alternative for transporting your baby.
How much do good travel systems cost?
Travel-system compatible pushchairs can be costly, but you'll 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.
What does a travel system include?
Some travel systems come with a car seat included as part of the package. Others won’t but will say which car seats on the market they are compatible with, so you can go and buy one. Buying your travel system this way often works out more expensive, but it does mean you get time to choose a car seat that you’re confident can transport your baby safely, which is key. In fact, we’d recommend always choosing your car seat first before you buy your travel system (see below). If your travel system comes with a car seat it’s vital to check before you buy whether it’s on the list of Don’t Buy car seats we’ve reviewed. And see how we rate it in our car seats reviews.
Apart from the car seat, your travel system will come with some sort of seat unit to transport your baby when you don’t want to use the car seat on the chassis. Then there could be other things included, such as a footmuff, rain cover and other pushchair accessories. Always check what’s included in the price before you buy in our pushchair reviews.
What car seat should I buy for my travel system?
Transporting your baby safely is paramount, so spend time choosing the car seat you’ll be using with your travel system. You’ll want to buy a Group 0 or 0+ car seat that will take your baby from birth up to 10kg or 13kg depending on which type you choose. Or 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, from car seat weight groups explained to how to get a child car seat that fits your car.
Which? crash tests every car seat we review in two different crash scenarios designed to replicate real life crashes, so we’d always recommend choosing a Best Buy baby car seat for your 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.Read our top 10 best baby car seats reviews.
Which travel system should I buy?
First and foremost you should buy a travel system that is compatible with a baby car seat that you are happy with after reading our baby and child car seats reviews. But there are other questions you need to ask about your car seat?
How heavy is the car seat?
If you’re constantly moving your car seat from pushchair to car you want one that isn’t going to break your back once there’s a baby in it as well. 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.
How easy is it to fit the car seat?
Sweating over a car seat that’s difficult to get in and out of your car is something that many parents are familiar with. Car seats attach to a car in a number of different ways – either by using the car’s seatbelt or by using a base. Isofix, which you might have heard of, fixes the seat in the car without using the belts. But bear in mind that an in-car base or Isofix base will cost more, in some cases up to around £150 more. We always recommend you get your car seat professionally fitted and then practise over and over to make sure you can do it yourself.
After that, you need to think about what you want from the ‘pushchair’ part of your travel system. Important questions to consider include:
What travel system fits in my car?
If you have a smaller car, such as a Ford KA, mini, fiat 500, you want to know which travel system is best for a small car as 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.
Which travel system folds smallest?
If you live somewhere where storing your travel system unfolded isn’t an option, you’ll want a travel system that folds down really small – a big ask when a travel system includes so much. Check the dimensions carefully.
Which is the easiest travel system to fold?
For getting it in and out of the boot of your car or if you need to use your travel system on public transport. When we review pushchairs, one of the things we check is how easy it is to fold.
Does the travel system come with adjustable handles?
Important if more than one of you is going to be pushing it and you’re different heights to each other. Check the handles are adjustable and that the heights available suit everybody.
Does it have reversible handles/seats?
If you want the choice of having your baby both non-parent-facing and world-facing, you’ll need to check whether the handles or the seats of the travel system allow this to happen.
What’s the best travel system?
The best travel system is one fits the answers you want to all the questions above and more. You want a travel system that is safe and durable. When we review pushchairs here are some of the ways we test for safety and durability:
Rolling road tests – Each pushchair is wheeled over 206km of bumpy treadmill – roughly the distance from London to Birmingham – loaded with 15kg in the seat and a full shopping basket. This means you can be sure they'll stand up to uneven pavements and potholes.
Safety tests – Our pushchair experts search out any choking hazards and traps for arms, legs or fingers.
Strength tests – the strength of the handlebars by repeatedly pushing them up and down 10,000 times. We also dangle a test-dummy baby from the pushchair's harness to make sure it's strong enough to keep your baby safe and secure.
Brakes tests – We check a range of things from the brakes' actual effectiveness to whether they'll scratch your toes or get in the way when you walk.
You also want a travel system that’s easy to push (you’d be surprised how many aren’t particularly when loaded up with a child and shopping) and that’s comfortable for your child and easy to clean – all things we test for.
Visit our Best Buy pushchairs for the best of the best.
Some popular travel system models we've tested include:
Travel system double buggies
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.
Both are available. Find out more in our guide: How to buy the best double pushchair.
Who makes the best travel system?
If you’re undecided and asking ‘Which brand travel system should I buy?’, head to our chart of the best pushchair brands to find out which companies consistently come out top in our tests and with parents.
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 includes Mothercare, Kiddicare and Mamas & Papas. We would always advise you try a travel system out before you buy so you can see for yourself if the model you’ve chosen if really right for you.
And we always recommend getting a child car seat fitted by a retailer before you buy to make sure it fits your car. You can also download our essential car seat fitting checks and watch our car seat fitting videos for extra help when you get home.
Top five tips when choosing a travel system
1. Think ahead
Planning a bigger family in the future? Check if the travel system you want can convert to a double should you need to do so, to save you having to spend more money on a new pushchair once baby number two arrives.
2. Check the size of your car boot
Choose a travel system that will fit in your car boot. Some are quite big and bulky, and some can't fold without the seat being removed first. Our reviews rate how easy it is to get each pushchair in the boot of a family car boot, so you don't have to worry.
3. Budget for a Best Buy car seat
Not all travel-system pushchairs include a car seat in the initial price, so remember to check what you get in the package before you choose and budget for a decent car seat separately. Which? crash tests every car seat we review in two different crash scenarios designed to replicate real-life crashes, so we'd always recommend choosing a Best Buy car seat for your travel system..
4. Check our list of Don't Buy car seats
If a car seat is included in the package, check it's not one listed as a Don't Buy. If it is, check to see if the pushchair is compatible with any other car seats.
5. Ask if car seat adaptors are included in the price
Some car seats just 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 what's included before you buy. Some sets can cost as much as £30 or more.