Before I had my baby I thought that picking up a stroller was a simple task. With so many strollers available on the market I thought anything I get should be good to travel with, as I’ve seen many parents gate checking their travel strollers.
When many friends warned me that I’ll need two strollers: one for home and one for travel, I didn’t believe them, and let me tell you – I was very wrong. In fact, I ended up with FOUR strollers as my circumstances changes, and also because I didn’t research everything I needed from the beginning.
However, one big myth about travel strollers is that they can’t be used from birth. In 2020 it’s absolutely not true, as many recline flat or offer a newborn insert.
Before I start telling you about my family’s stroller journey, if you want to skip to some sections, feel free to click on some of the sections:
- Why Do You Need Different Strollers Depending on Your Needs?
- Why Did I Need Another Stroller for Travel?
- Best Travel Strollers: Detailed Reviews
- Benefits of Travel Strollers: What Features to Look For
- Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Travel Stroller
- Is there ONE stroller that has it all?
- Which Strollers Didn’t Make the Cut and Why?
Why Do You Need Different Travel Strollers Depending on Your Needs?
For the stroller I don’t use for travel I had a few requirements:
- all-terrain wheels
- the option of extending it for the second child, without having to buy a whole new stroller later
- big basket underneath
- big canopy (so you don’t need a stupid umbrella attached to the stroller that can poke your eye)
- easily clippable car seat (which after all, wasn’t necessary – I’ll explain this later)
That said, all the great single-child options like Cybex Balios, Bugaboo Bee5, BabyJogger City Tour LUX, Stokke or Joolz weren’t an option. The last one actually does expand, but you have to remove the bag and your child basically sits almost on the ground which is ridiculous.
After extensive research and testing, I ended up getting Uppababy Vista for the main stroller which was a great decision at first, but a disaster overall (I’ll be writing a detailed post on why I don’t recommend Vista for 2 kids). I ended up selling it fairly quickly and replacing with Cybex Gazelle S.
Why Did I Need Another Stroller for Travel?
While I love my Vista, I quickly realize that we won’t be traveling with it. First, and most important, gate checking a stroller isn’t always as smooth as it should be and some airlines won’t gate check strollers heavier than 15 lbs).
On top of that, the airline actually broke our stroller on the first flight.
On another flight, they actually forgot to load someone else’s gate-checked stroller along with a wheelchair, and while these things aren’t common, they’re not uncommon either.
As airlines frequently lose my luggage I’d rather not risk it with a stroller and I often travel with a carry-on only.
That, on top of the fact that while Uppababy Vista is amazing it’s huge and not a lightweight stroller so it takes up almost the entire trunk of a rental car, so forget about putting a suitcase there as well. I ended up selling mine fairly quickly and replacing it with a smaller stroller – full explanation why here.
Benefits of a Super Compact Travel Stroller
These days having the best travel stroller that is both compact and lightweight is paramount in making the journey as easy as possible. Trust me, I’ve done a few trips alone without a proper travel stroller and it wasn’t an easy one.
The benefit of having a really compact stroller means that you can literally land, pop the baby into the pram and walk down the aisle (airline permitting), and off the plane towards baggage reclaim.
Best Travel Strollers for 2021
When my research on travel strollers started and I quickly realized that there was no such thing as a perfect travel stroller. Every stroller had its pros and cons, and it really depends on what does your child and you prefer.
My best advice would be: do NOT buy a travel stroller before your baby is born. Wait a few months and see which one do you actually need based on your child’s needs and your preferences.
Some babies love strollers (and even some cats!), others prefer carriers. Some only want to sleep with a flat recline, others like mine hate a flat recline even since he turned 3 months. Some love cocoons, others hate cocoons. Some are fine in a car seat, others like mine hate the car seat unless they’re actually in a moving car. Plus, you’ll want to see how do you handle luggage and carry-ons on the plane and how does a stroller fit, or doesn’t fit, in this scenario.
Each lightweight travel stroller comes with fewer features and comfort, but that’s the tradeoff for the other functions. The best traveling strollers are those that are lightweight and narrow to lug around and carry, but feature extras such as recline, a sun canopy and a decent basket underneath.
IMPORTANT: While conducting my own tests and reading reviews I realize that many parents want to treat travel strollers like the main strollers and if it doesn’t work, they blame it on design flaws. You shouldn’t be hanging bags, heavy or not, from any lightweight strollers unless you’re holding a stroller at all times.
This is what the underneath basket is for. Most lightweight buggies will tip over without a child in it (basic physics), or even with a child in it posing a risk, as the bag might screw up the balance. This is the price to pay for a lightweight and narrow buggy.
IMPORTANT Things to Consider:
1) If you look at any family blogs or websites with reviews you’ll see the same strollers popping up over and over again. However, every year they come up with new strollers with more improvements. 2 years ago the same stroller might not have had the same function the newer model of the same stroller has now.
Not without a reason, ‘Babyzen Yoyo vs Bugaboo Ant’ are the most searched terms since the new Bugaboo has just been released. Always look for reviews of the newest model on the market!
2) Many travel stroller reviews haven’t even seen the stroller they’re reviewing. I read that some fit in the overhead bin when they clearly don’t and that some recline when they don’t.
I read many complaints that apparently, the stroller I own doesn’t recline, when it reclines flat. That said – make sure you’re certain about things you need before you purchase a stroller. As you can see from photos, I tested many strollers I’m talking about and if I didn’t, I asked friends to do it for me.
Detailed Reviews of Good Travel Strollers
20 x 17 x 7 (folded) | 13lbs | $$$
52 x 44 x 18 cm | 6.2kg
For a long time there was no competition for Babyzen Yoyo, and this stroller used to be no.1 on the market. I still believe it actually is.
As it’s on the more expensive side, I tried to avoid getting it as I thought I can easily get away with another travel stroller – just to realize I needed a Yoyo after all. I tested it when traveling in Italy, Greece, Poland, Malta and the USA.
Its wheels, while small, are surprisingly good and there’s no need to even lift the stroller over the curb or cobblestones. I’ve also driven through mud and gravel without any issues. It’s definitely sturdier than some other travel strollers that are actually heavier, like BabyJogger City Mini or Cybex Eezy S Twist.
Many people complain would be the fact that the seat recline degree isn’t flat, but it’s just the same exactly with Uppababy Minu that doesn’t receive any complaints. The recline is more than sufficient. Also, the break is slightly annoying especially when it comes to unlocking it.
If you want Yoyo to be suitable from birth you will have to get a newborn pack which is expensive. I didn’t get it, as my 3-month old refused to be in anything bassinet-like.
WARNING: There are fake Yoyo strollers sold online and known as Yoya Baby Stroller and they’re not safe or tested. Don’t buy them. I think the company description should clear things up: “after many yeras development,our company have become very popular to the world market. we are specialzie in manufacture yoya baby strollers,we are orignal yoya stroller china factory”
- Fits as cabin luggage
- Can be one-hand folded
- Wheel suspension
- Harness can be either 3 or 5-point
- Easily maneuverable with one hand
- Needs additional Yoyo-only accessories (footrest, bug net, bumper bar)
- Canopy on a smaller side
- Breaks could be better designed
Would I Recommend It Overall: YES
22 x 15 x 9 (folded) | 15.8 lbs | $$$
55 x 38 x 23 | 7.2 kg
The newest addition to travel strollers, Bugaboo Ant is their most lightweight strollers with a reversible seat and near-flat recline. Plus, it allows your child to sit upright with back support, unlike all other strollers.
The seat is actually taller than Yoyo’s or most strollers and has a higher weight limit up to 50 lbs, so it’s advertised that it can be used for a child longer. BUT, while the seat height is adjustable the canopy always touches a child’s head or otherwise the straps end up on the child’s ears. It definitely needs to be fixed.
While the handlebar can be adjusted it’s a bit flimsy, BabyZen Yoyo+handlebar is taller than the Bugaboo Ant’s at it’s highest extended position. The nice feature of the handlebar is that it can be folded within seconds what makes it easy for elevators or tight spaces in restaurants.
However, the flat-lie position will only work in the parent-facing position, so if your child falls asleep in a forward-facing position you can’t fully extend it back. In fact, you can only extend it as much as a seat on the airplane, so basically barely.
While the wheels are durable, they struggle with gravel or bumpier terrain. But, when the stroller is folded, all 4 wheels are down, unlike in Yoyo, so you don’t get your clothes covered in dirt. The break also makes up for the wheels, as it’s easy to lock and unlock.
The shopping basket can be accessed when folded up which is super handy for traveling. I don’t even need an additional diaper bag.
One thing the stroller is missing is the side protection for child’s arms and a strap for carrying the stroller, because let’s be honest – who rolls the stroller like a suitcase when the child isn’t riding it?
- Fits as cabin luggage
- Reversible seat
- Easy to adjust recline and backrest
- Adjustable harness and seat height
- No need for extra newborn pack
- Big extendable canopy
- Complex fold/unfold
- Flimpsy handlebar
- Peekaboo window only comes in Premium Fabric
- Wheels aren’t the greatest
- No side protection for child’s arms
Would I Recommend It Overall: DEPENDS
22″ x 14″ x 9″ (folded) | 11.3 lbs | $$
If your kid likes the stroller, but only sometimes GB Pockit should probably be your top choice. It’s so small and light that it can be carried like a purse, or even inside it as you need an extra strap to carry it around. Naturally, it fits as a carry-on on airplanes, or should I even say it’ll fit under the seat as well.
It was going to be my preferred stroller, but as my child still doesn’t walk on his own it’s not. Maybe in the future or when I go to Disney.
While small, folding and unfolding takes a few steps and getting used to. It’s not a 5-second unfolding system like with Cybex, Mountain Buggy, CityMini or Yoyo.
The wheels work fine, but not as great as Yoyo or Cybex. Pockit will go through cobblestones, but not as smoothly as you might want it to go. Also, make sure you lock it correct
While the company claims it’s possible to push the stroller with one hand, I’m yet to see anyone doing it. If you ask me, it’s not really comfortable.
Unfortunately, you pay for the compactness of Pockit with many cons. The sunshade is practically useless or designed to basically attach a separate one to it, and there’s no storage, as the basket underneath can hold nothing.
- Super tiny
- Extremely light
- Stands on its own
- Complex fold
- Small (basically none) canopy
- Wheels struggle on uneven terrain
- Can’t hang anything from the stroller
- One hand push not possible
- Recline sucks
Would I Recommend It Overall: NO
22 x 17 x 10 (folded) | 11.3 lbs | $$
53 x 45 x 25 | 6 kg
Cybex Eezy S Twist was the first travel stroller I’ve ever purchased, and even though I also have a Yoyo I still use it. It’s a great stroller for the price.
While it fit just fine in overhead bins on big planes (Emirates), on smaller European routes it was missing a few centimeters in depth. Folding and unfolding is super easy with one click.
It can easily be pushed with one hand even on mud or grass. As the wheels suspensions work great, it’s good the handlebar doesn’t feel hard at all. It doesn’t have a peekaboo window, but as you can turn the seat around it’s easier to keep on eye on the baby.
While the canopy is naturally not waterproof we got caught in the rain once and the baby wasn’t drenched. That said, it’s water-resistant for sure.
As I bought it early on when my baby was just a month old I purchased an additional newborn cocoon, which he loved until he was about 3 months old. He then refused to be put in it and wanted to be strapped in with regular straps. It might be my baby specific, or the fact that it was over 90 degrees (35 C) outside. Possibly he would have felt differently about it in the winter.
A few of my complaints would be the seat and frame. The seat doesn’t give the baby much depth, so might not work great for chubby babies. Some parents complain that the seat is too narrow (45 cm), but Yoyo, Ant, or GB Pockit have even narrower seats. You can’t expect a narrow airplane-friendly stroller with a wide seat. The frame easily gets scratches, so be prepared for it to look slightly beat up.
Also, comparing to Yoyo it feels less sturdy (but more than Mountain Buggy Nano) and a bit harder to drive over uneven surfaces, but for this price I can’t ask for everything.
- Easily Reversible Seat
- Full recline
- Big basket
- Easy one-hand fold
- Narrow seat
- Static footrest, so no footrest when parent-facing
- No peekaboo window
Would I Recommend It Overall: YES
22 x 15 x 6 (folded) | 11 lbs | $$
55 x 38 x 15 | 5 kg
ZOE is probably the best known for its lightweight multi-kid strollers, for a very good reason. It’s the only twin stroller that you can gate check on all airlines, as many airlines don’t allow to gate check double strollers. It’s also well-priced and comes with a lot of perks.
While ZOE XLC BEST COMPACT is the smallest and fits in even the smallest overhead bin (it’s even smaller than Yoyo or Bugaboo Ant), if you’re planning on having a second kid you might want to forgo an inch here and there and get this stroller instead.
Comparing the two models, the weight the same, but the XL1 Best Single has a bigger canopy (very unusual for travel stroller) – I’d even say the best on the market, and can be a tandem for two, three or even four kids. Plus, it can be pushed with one hand regardless of how many kids are attached to it – depending on the force of your arms naturally.
Just like the Yoyo, it has a bag on the back of the stroller, so you don’t need an extra parental console and the cup holder for parents and kids come included.
The recline isn’t completely flat, but almost flat and I believe no kid ever needs more than 160 degrees. Be aware that the bumper bar can only be attached to XL1 model and not the Compact one – one of many reason why I only feature this model.
The only issue with ZOE is that the wheels can wear off if you abuse the stroller a lot and that it’s missing a one-hand fold. It’s a pain at airports when you need to handle your baby to a stranger while you fold a stroller (whoever told you that the carrier solves the problem is VERY wrong, as you cannot carry your baby in a carrier or wrap through security).
The magnetic peekaboo window could use a place to hold it open so you can watch your baby and not have to hold it. However, it’s better than it being permanently transparent like in case of Yoyo as the sun can’t come through.
That said, while I think the Compact model saves some space, I myself recommend getting XL1 Best model for more perks. It won’t fit on all planes, but that’s a small price you have to pay for having a better stroller.
- Big canopy
- Reclinable Foot Rest
- Comes with accessories
- Basket could be bigger
- Wheels could be improved
- No one hand fold
- No carseat attachment possible
Would I Recommend It Overall: YES
21 x 12 x 20 (folded) | 13 lbs | $$
52 x 50 x 33 | 6.2 kg
Mountain Buggy Nano is a great stroller and I came close to keeping it for myself. But, the lack of one-hand fold wasn’t for me and my solo travels with a baby.
Unlike advertised by the manufacturer the stroller will NOT fit into many overhead compartments on planes, so might cause a situation that you board with the stroller and then the flight attendant has to ask you to deplane to gate check it (happened to me on Embraer planes, very popular in Europe). Keep this in mind to avoid disappointments.
The wheels work fine unless you keep using them a lot. While it hasn’t happened to anyone I know, many parents complained of their wheels breaking and the lack of possibility of expedited shipping, even with an extra charge. This isn’t like Uppababy service that will send you new parts of stroller overnight.
If you’re planning on using Mountain Buggy Nano for a newborn, don’t. It looks absolutely ridiculous and it’s very impractical.
Speaking of younger babies, before getting a stroller I didn’t think that peekaboo window is important, but now I can honestly say that it’s a very practical feature that this stroller is lacking. Especially since the seat can’t be twisted to parent-facing mode.
What I didn’t like about this stroller, especially with a small baby, was that unless the seat is fully raised, it will not close right.
When folded the canopy falls out of the fold easily unless you remember to velcro clip the jogging strap to keep it closed. Plus, when you push the stroller with the canopy unfolded it covers the handlebar. It’s super annoying.
- Very sturdy
- Big canopy
- Easy one-hand push
- High handlebar
- No one-hand fold
- Canopy goes over the handlebar when folded
- Newborn cocoon is ridiculous
- No peekaboo window
Would I Recommend It Overall: Not Fully Convinced
22 x 17 x 9 (folded) | 14 lbs | $
57 x 45 x 23 | 6.3 kg
First things first – BabyJogger is a brand name and none of their strollers are jogging strollers. City Tour and more lightweight and newer brother of the Babyjogger City Mini GT, which I’d probably recommend more overall.
It’s smaller and sturdier than Mountain Buggy, but not as sturdy as Yoyo. Comparing these two it felt slightly unstable. I’m worried that it could tip over, even without the child in it, so you definitely need to keep the baby strapped in.
The basket is spacious, but I wouldn’t hang anything from the handlebar as it could tip over.
The seat could be bigger, but it’s shallow and not super tall, so I’d say it’s a maximum for a 2,5-year-old. The straps aren’t super comfortable and will prevent your child from sitting upright.
Don’t even attempt to drive over a sandy road with this, as it’s going to get stuck and unless you remove the wheels it won’t work properly. That problem doesn’t appear with City Mini GT, so I guess it’s a price to pay for a more lightweight stroller from BabyJogger.
While there’s a backpack style bag included, but you won’t be zipping it in and out on short walks, so I recommend purchasing an additional strap.
- One-hand fold
- Many colors available
- Big basket
- Two-hand unfolding
- Seat is a bit hard
Would I Recommend It Overall: Not for Big Babies
23 x 20 x 11 (folded) | 14.8 lbs | $$$
59 x 52 x 29 | 6.7 kg
Uppababy Minu basically replaces the bulky umbrella stroller Uppababy G-Luxe. You can’t beat their customer service if something breaks and their free repair service in the US and UK.
The fold is super easy, basically, it folds the same way as Cybex Eezy S Twist, but it can also stand on its own. Some people complain that when the folding button is in the middle it’s harder to push the buggy with one hand, but I’ve never had issues with it in any of my strollers.
The wheels are the best and can go on any terrains. The peekaboo window has mesh ventilation and can be covered to protect the baby from the sun.
The hoods in all Uppababy products are the best of the best. There’s no denying that. Same with baskets as you can really stuff it in.
I’d actually say that Minu can definitely be used a main stroller as well, not just a bigger travel stroller. As it might be too big for many parents to travel with all the time, if you have no space in the apartment you can just get Minu instead of a giant Vista or Cruz.
- Huge canopy
- Easy one-hand fold
- High handlebar
- Fantastic customer service
- Bulkier than others
Would I Recommend It Overall: Yes, But Keep in Mind It’s Bigger than Other Strollers
23.5 x 20.5 x 9 (folded) | 13.5 lbs | $
59 x 52 x 23| 6.5 kg
Contours Bitsy isn’t the most popular stroller on the market, but it should be. It’s cheap and has almost everything you need.
Contours has something that many other strollers are lacking: sandal friendly brake (Cybex and Ant have the same type of break). While the recline isn’t the greatest, it’s enough for most babies.
The wheels are so maneuverable and provide a smooth ride, definitely smoother than Yoyo.
The only thing that’s too bad is that it’s larger than what some airlines (American or most European carriers) allow for a carry-on.
- Adjustable leg rest
- Huge canopy
- Adapter-Free Car Seat Compatibility
- Sandal friendly brake
- Could recline more
- Seat is quite hard
- Not everything is detachable to wash
Would I Recommend It Overall: Yes
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Travel Stroller
How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
I originally refused to pay a lot for a second stroller. However, as I travel all the time I realized that I’d rather spend extra money to be able to comfortably fold the stroller and bring it with me on the plane.
You might think that a cheap stroller from Walmart is good for your trip to Disney, but keep in mind that if it breaks right after you won’t be able to use it again or sell it. It doesn’t always pay off to be cheap.
Is Taking It With You Into the Overhead Bin Important?
Personally, I hate gate checking the stroller. After you deplane you need to usually wait forever for the stroller to be returned to you. If they even return it to you at the gate, because some airports in Europe simply don’t.
Can The Travel Stroller Be Used Since Birth?
We started traveling with baby Dylan since he was 2 weeks old. By 4 months he flew on 20 flights, at least half of which I’ve taken solo just with him, without my partner. Most travel strollers cannot be used from birth and it’s recommended that you wait at least 4-6 months, as they don’t fully recline.
There are a few strollers, however, that have an option of a newborn insert or flat recline that can make them usable from birth. As great as it sounds, however, my baby basically refused any type of bassinet or cocoon by 3 months. There was no way I was able to put him in a bassinet to lie flat.
Do You Need a Carseat Clip Option for a Travel Stroller?
Strapping a car seat in isn’t something I want to do, as I think it defeats the purpose of a lightweight stroller (carseats aren’t light at all!) – I’d rather strap the car seat to my carry-on. Plus, my child hates sitting in a car seat.
However, some parents might want to have this option and it’s a fair requirement.
Do You Need a One-Hand Fold Travel Stroller?
If you’re always traveling with your partner, one-hand fold might not be as important. However, if you’re handling your child alone, especially babies that cannot yet stand up, along with your luggage, one hand fold might become a must. For me, it was a deal-breaker.
You will need to fold your stroller and put it through the X-ray machine while going through security if you are gate checking it or taking as hand luggage. If it doesn’t fold compactly it will need to be manually inspected.
One way or another, you’ll need to hold your baby and fold the stroller with one hand. Otherwise, you’ll need to hand the baby off to someone as you fold and unfold the stroller.
Is There One Travel Stroller That’s The Best?
Unfortunately, every stroller has some cons that you’ll have to deal with.
Babyzen Yoyo is great, but expensive and lacks a bigger recline, extended footrest and extended canopy.
Baby Jogger City Tour has a great fold, but the seat is super shallow in depth.
Mountain Buggy Nano has a fine footrest and compact fold, but requires a 2-hand fold and lacks a peekaboo window.
Bugaboo Ant lies flat and fits in the overhead bin, but the fold isn’t as compact.
Cybex Eezy S Twist works perfectly, but missing a peekaboo window and it’s slightly too big to fit in the overhead bin.
Which Compact Strollers Didn’t Make the Cut and Why?
Before I begin let me tell you what I value in travel strollers. I only buy strollers that have a single push-bar since they’re way easy easier to push one-handed. You’ll thank for later for this advice.
I included some strollers into the big compilation as many people are interested in them, even if I’m not fully on-board with recommending them (like Mountain Buggy Nano or GB Pockit+), but you’ll read about it later.
Travel Strollers I Don’t Recommend:
SilverCross Jet – Too restricted basket, complicated fold, and not worth the price.
Summer Infant 3D Lite – While super cheap, it’s an umbrella stroller so too bulky after folding and breaks easily. Plus, double wheels are harder to maneuver.
Ergobaby 180 – No sun protection when reclined, too heavy, too expensive, and wheels have to be locked separately.
GB Pockit – No canopy, no recline – included in its newer brother GB Pockit+.
Besrey Airplane Stroller – Double wheels hard to maneuver, no recline at all.
Jovial Portable Folding Baby Stroller – Great stroller, but front wheels have to be unlocked manually by hand – yuck!
Kolcraft Cloud Umbrella – You get what you pay for. It tears along the sides where internal poles rub within a month and doesn’t recline at all.
Best Travel Stroller Accessories
Often you can buy accessories like cup holders, bag clips, or trays to make the stroller more convenient. That, on top of the basics such as rain cover and bug net.
While many strollers already come with a bug net and raincover, many do not – and it might not depend on the stroller, but the shop you’re ordering it from.
Even when buying on Amazon, you’ll have 10 different companies supplying the same stroller with different bundles.
The problem with many strollers is that not everything from one stroller will fit on the other. For instance, Babyzen Yoyo or Bugaboo Ant require its own accessories because of the design and there’s no way around it (I’ve tried).
Add everything to your budget before making a final decision about the best travel strollers.
If you’re looking for more baby gear and toys posts, check out my wooden pikler triangle review.