There are three basic types of strollers that work well for travel. The differences lie in how much space these travel strollers take up when folded – and which features are being sacrificed to make them so compact and lightweight.
The first type is your basic umbrella stroller, which folds long and skinny. Umbrellas are usually lightweight and can be very cheap (cheaper than other types of strollers, at least). The downside to umbrella strollers is that many of them lack key features parents want while traveling, such as a decent storage basket, canopy, etc. Also, umbrella strollers must be steered and pushed with two hands.
Not a deal breaker, just an FYI.
The second is the regular ol’ lightweight “square-fold” stroller. These travel strollers take up the most space when folded, but generally offer better features and one-handed steering (usually).
The third and newest type is a “tri-fold” style stroller, which typically has the best of both worlds: a very small fold and decent features. The tri-fold travel strollers tend to be the most lightweight and compact, but also the most expensive.
You can see them folded (below) and unfolded to get an appreciation of the relative sizes.
Best Travel Strollers: Quick and Dirty
Keep reading below (or click on a link) for more details.
Regular Fold Travel Strollers
Everyone knows umbrella strollers are great for travel. They’re lightweight, fold compactly, and fit into most trunks. It’s pretty easy to find cheap umbrella strollers, though the nicer ones are surprisingly expensive.
Here are our favorite umbrella strollers specifically for travel. See also: Best Umbrella Strollers (for general purposes).
1. Summer Infant 3D Mini ~ MSRP $49, 11 lbs – “quick and dirty option”
The Summer Infant 3D Mini umbrella stroller is crazy lightweight (only 11 lbs!) and easy to fold. It comes with some features; it has two cup holders in a storage console that also holds your phone/keys, a lower storage basket, a canopy (not that large, but better than most for the price), and has a slight recline for nappers.
If you’re looking for a cheap, bare bones stroller for travel that won’t break the bank, this one’s a really great option. For kids 6 months and up.
2. Summer Infant 3D Lite ~ $89, 13 lbs
If you’d like to go a step up in terms of quality, Summer Infant also makes the Summer Infant 3D Lite, which is 13 lbs. It comes with more features and is slightly more “luxurious” than the Mini (but still an “economy” build quality, if ya know what I mean…).
For starters, the seat is roomier and can recline further (but not flat, so use from 6 mo+), which is better for longer trips. With an aluminum frame, this stroller should last you a little longer (up to 50 lbs) and the anti-shock wheels offer a smoother ride. The 3D Lite also has a padded 5-point harness and an expandable canopy. However, some parents complain that the seat is not ideal for taller, older children.
Here’s our quick vid:
The 3D Lite comes with plenty of storage, including a decent-size storage basket and a rear storage pocket for your cell phone and keys. The height of the handlebars is perfect for taller parents. Surprisingly, the parent organizer/cup holder on the “Mini” is better. With an easy, compact umbrella fold and a handy shoulder strap, we think the 3D Lite is perfect for travel – and won’t break the bank.
Summer Infant also makes an umbrella stroller designed to hold a lot of gear, the 3Dtote ($129, $80 on sale). This one will give you a good deal more storage while you travel.
3. Inglesina Net ~ $160, 11 lbs
The Inglesina Net made the list because it offers good features for the price – and weighs just 11 lbs. Note that it is on the tall side (not good for those under 5’5″).
The Net offers a nice ride and a slight zippered recline (most reviewers wished it reclined more…). Its mesh seat pad is removable, and it comes with a shoulder strap, cup holder, and storage pocket. For the price, it has a decent canopy (though smaller than UPPAbaby’s), a good-sized storage basket (for an umbrella stroller), and a standing fold.
Yep, this is one of the best umbrella travel strollers for those looking for something mid-priced.
4. 2018/2019 UPPAbaby G-Lite ~ $199, 11 lbs
The high-quality G-Lite umbrella stroller is loaded with awesome features. It has an easy fold, a huuuuuge multi-paneled sun canopy to keep baby protected from those evil UV rays, and weighs a mere 11 lbs. It has a mesh seat for ventilation purposes (great for summers and hot climates), and a slight recline.
The biggest complaint of this stroller is the lack of back support, which can lead to a sagging, slumped over child. If this is a concern, look elsewhere.
Read more about the G-Lite here.
5. Maclaren Mark II ~ $200, 8 lbs (stripped down) – Lightweight Pick
The Maclaren Mark II is almost unbelievably light: it’s about 9 lbs!! Insane (okay, well the marketing material says 7.3 lbs, but that’s with no canopy or basket, so let’s be real…).
Surprisingly, it comes with actual features such as ergonomic handles, a sunshade with a built-in visor (though the sunshade is very high up and doesn’t give you as much coverage), a decent basket (again, for an umbrella stroller), and a rain cover. It even reclines a little bit (not a lot).
Downsides: the wheels and canopy are both pretty dinky compared with others listed here, and the wheels won’t do well on anything other than smooth surfaces. Also, the harness is more difficult to buckle than most.
That said, if weight is your top priority (and/or a great one-handed fold), this stroller is pretty darn amazing! It’s sooooo super portable and easy to carry around.
You can read more about the Mark II here.
6. Maclaren Triumph (2018/2019 version) ~ $240, 11 lbs (stripped down)
Weighing in at 11 lbs (without canopy, shopping basket, etc) is the ever-popular Triumph with a list of competitive features: it reclines almost flat(!), has a decent storage basket (for its kind), a high-quality buckle and seat, an extendable sun canopy with an additional flip-out visor for extra shade, and 4-wheel suspension – YEAH!
This stroller is famous for being easy to fold and unfold. It also comes with a carry strap and a rain cover, which are sweet extras for a lightweight stroller.
There really are no downsides to this stroller to speak of (other than it can be hard to find in stores).
New on the 2018/2019 version is an aerodynamic frame which creates a roomier seating area; updated wheels: front wheels are more agile, a swivel lock helps keep the ride smooth over rougher terrain, and the new wheel design makes for a quieter ride; cable link brakes, a redesigned hood, which produces more seating space and protection from the elements; and lastly, a higher seat, which increases visibility and leg room for the kiddos.
*For $169 find the 2016/2017 version here.
Regular Fold Travel Strollers
There are other travel strollers that are very lightweight, but have a more boxy fold.
1. Kolcraft Cloud Plus ~ $67, 11.8 lbs
This economy stroller weighs in just under 12 lbs, is very affordable, and gives you some bang for your buck.
To level with you, this is the stroller you want if you don’t care that it looks cheap and crappy, and you want a deeper recline, a much larger storage basket, and even a snack tray. It also has a parent tray with two cup holders, which is much appreciated.
Who really cares that it’s not sexy – it’s just for travel anyway, right?
2. Zoe XL1 V2 ~ $229 ($179 on sale), 11 lbs
Tri-Fold Travel Strollers
The newest generation of lightweight travel strollers are what I call “tri-fold” – that means they fold into thirds, which makes for a VERY compact fold. The Mountain Buggy Nano was the first to fold this way; since then, many others have followed.
It’s a different folded footprint than an umbrella stroller, which is long and skinny. Neither is better or worse, per se, they’re just different. That said, tri-fold strollers tend to have better access to storage and because the handlebars aren’t separated you can steer them with one hand (sort of).
Many of these tri-fold travel strollers tout they can fit into an overhead storage compartment on an airplane, which is more to illustrate how small the fold really is (I can’t think of any reason you’d actually want to put a stroller in the overhead bin – seems like overkill to me – just check it at the gate).
1. GB Pockit ~ $179, 9.5 lbs
A stroller that can fit in your bag – seriously?
This stroller is lightweight and has an extremely compact fold, but won’t (obviously) give you as many features. Yes, it is technically the world’s smallest folded stroller.
The Pockit stroller is all of 9.5 lbs. and works from 6 months to 55 lbs.
It folds down in two steps (and about 30 seconds, once you get used to it) to become 12x14x7 inches—which is well below carry-on regulations, and as the name suggests, can fit into the “pockit” of a large tote or backpack.
This stroller pushes easily on flat surfaces, though its small 4.5-inch wheels won’t ride very well over bumps and cracks in the pavement.
It has a flat overhead sun shade that will do absolutely nothing to block the sun unless it’s high noon and directly overhead (and it tends to blow up/back in the wind) – but hey, they had to cut something to get it to fit into your bag! Another issue is the lack of a reclining seat and a carry strap.
At the end of the day, this is an awesome stroller to keep in your bag “just in case” your child gets tired of walking (or you get tired of lugging him around in a carrier). It is that and nothing more, which for many is exactly what they need when traveling.
Note: One step up from this is the 11 lb travel-system ready Pockit Plus ($229)… and the seat reclines! It takes a gb or CYBEX infant car seat or bassinet (adapters sold separately). It has a sun canopy with far more coverage than the sun shade of the regular Pockit, and a slightly wider seat.
2. Zoe XLC Best V2 ~ $199, 11 lbs
This is Zoe’s first tri-fold stroller and they knocked it out of the park. It has all the features parents need and love, while still being uber lightweight and shockingly affordable.
If you’re familiar with the Zoe XL1, these strollers are similar in size and proportion, but this one is slightly smaller (and a tri-fold, of course). Everything else is still there. Like the XL1, it has a deep 150 degree recline, so it’s not for newborns, but a very nice recline nonetheless.
The thing is: it’s only marginally larger/heavier than the next stroller on the list, the GB Pockit – and has TONS more features (and is cheaper). More to come on this one because we’re definitely in love!
3. Contours Bitsy Stroller ~ $179 ($147 on sale), 13.5 lbs
We like the Contours brand because it takes popular styles of strollers and makes them more affordable for the masses. The Contours Bitsy travel stroller is 13.5 pounds light, has dual-wheel suspension, and has a standing fold.
Ready for this? This stroller can take over 30 infant car seats to be used as a travel system (see below)!! Note that the infant seat affixes with a strap, which won’t feel as secure as a click-in style adapter, but no one seems to be bothered by this.
It also has a generous canopy with an expandable visor, a peekaboo window, a reclining seat, an adjustable leg rest, and a sandal-friendly brake. There’s nothing bad to say about this stroller. For the money, we think this is a contender for best travel stroller.
4. Baby Jogger City Tour ~ $199 ($179 on sale), 14.2 lbs
It’s the same City Mini we know and love, but even more compact. Yes, this is simply a tri-fold version of the City Mini, but smaller in proportion.
The weight is only 14 lbs (vs. 18 lbs for the regular version), but the value is in the very small folded size. This is another travel stroller that still gives you a reclining seat and most of the amenities you’d find in a larger stroller, such as an awesome canopy. The folded stroller fits neatly into the backpack-style carry bag (included, below).
The big complaint about this stroller (by far) is that the seat is too shallow and your child easily gets a wedgie from the harness. If this is a concern, I would look elsewhere.
*If your destination calls for all-terrain, definitely, definitely consider the City Mini GT – not exactly a travel stroller, but the most compact of the all-terrains out there.
Alt option: Check out the Baby Jogger City Tour Lux ($299), which has a modular seat (that can face either direction).
5. Mountain Buggy Nano ~ $249 ($149 on Amazon), 13 lbs
The 13 lb Nano is the little black dress of the stroller world.
The Nano comes with a belt-style universal car seat adapter, and its accessories include a travel bag and a shoulder strap. The current model (2016) has a deeper seat recline than its predecessor, a better sun shade with a flip-out visor, and extra slim wheels.
The Nano folds in two steps into a rectangle that is 21 x 12 x 20 inches. It has a 44-lb weight capacity (so it can carry kids up to age 4).
You can buy a separate “cocoon carrycot” (aka bassinet) for your newborn. It also has a ventilated seat back (for your tropical trips) and a fabric overlay (for your wintry wanderings). If you travel a lot or just want a super lightweight, high quality stroller for bopping around town, the chic Nano should do the trick. Bon voyage!
See the demo of the Nano, taken at the ABC Baby Show, below:
6. Colugo ~ $285, 16 lbs
7. Silver Cross Jet ~ $349, 13 lbs
Silver Cross is the originator of the fancy British-style pram (think Princess Kate). Lately, they’ve updated their brand to be more modern and accessible.
If you’re serious about flying with your kids, take a gander at their “Jet” stroller. This 13 lb stroller is specifically designed for airline travel. It folds up tiny enough to fit the carry-on dimensions of all major airlines (its folded dimensions are 2 ft L x 11.4″ W x 3 ft H, 1.8″ handle height… in case you feel like double-checking).
The Jet has some travel-friendly features, including a seat that folds down to a fully flat position (so newborns can use it, as well as tots up to 40 lbs), a belly bar, a pop-out visor on the canopy for extra sun protection, flip-flop friendly brakes, a peekaboo canopy window, and a mesh ventilation window behind the seat.
Additionally, this bad boy has an easy, one-step standing fold and comes with a luggage sleeve cover and rain cover. The belly bar doubles as a luggage handle, so you can wheel it around like a suitcase when it’s folded.
You can buy adapters that work with Maxi-Cosi (Mico AP, Mico 30, Mico Max 30), Nuna PIPA or Cybex (Aton, Aton 2, Aton Q) infant car seats. Enjoy!
2018/2019 UPPAbaby Minu ~ $399, 14.8 lbs
UPPABaby is my favorite American company. To know their products is to love them. For soooo long, they’ve lacked a lightweight stroller that is compatible with their car seat, the UPPAbaby Mesa. In addition to travel, this could be used as a snap n’ go type of car seat stroller (since they don’t offer one).
We’re in love with the UPPAbaby Minu tri-fold stroller, which can carry kids up to 50 lbs. It’s lightweight (at 14.8 lbs), has a very compact fold, amazing canopy, and leather handlebar. Unlike umbrella strollers, this stroller can be used from birth with the “From Birth Kit” ($129), which is essentially a soft bassinet.
Here’s our video preview:
The Minu’s basket is nicely sized (for a compact stroller…), plus it has an extendable canopy with tons of sun coverage, all-wheel suspension, and a seat pocket for keys/phone, etc. Yes, people who are already loyal to the UPPAbaby brand and own the larger Vista or Cruz are very happy with this new compact offering.
Attention short people: many under 5’4″ have complained the handlebar is too high (and it does not adjust). Also note that there is no cup holder, though you can buy one separately. This stroller is easier to fold than its competitor, the BabyZen Yoyo+, though a larger and slightly heavier stroller.
2018/2019 Babyzen YOYO+ ~$499, 13.6 lbs
Babyzen is a neat company out of France – and you know how I feel about France…
The lightweight and compact BabyZen YoYo+ folds up soooooo tiny (20.5 x 17.3 x 7.1 — small enough to carry on most airlines), but doesn’t skimp on other features in the name of convenience. Yes, this stroller was designed specifically for luxe travel and city living.
The seat reclines (about 140 degrees, which is generous) and its wheels roll easily over uneven terrain. It even has suspension for a smoother ride.
Check out my video from the 2017 ABC Baby Show:
The plush, padded YoYo+ seat carries kids up to 40 lbs. It has a decently-sized storage basket (good for a small diaper bag) and another storage pouch behind the canopy. The canopy rivals that of the Minu and the stroller comes with a very comfortable carry strap and a rain cover.
The “+” in the name denotes that it can take a car seat—yep, you guessed it, the Euro seats: Nuna Pipa, Cybex and Maxi-Cosi Mico (adapters sold separately).
If you want to use this stroller with a newborn, you should take a look at the BabyZen YoYo+ Complete ($724), which includes the stroller plus a newborn bassinet. You can also add a Newborn Pack to this model for $225.
*Some reviewers note that they tend to kick the back of this stroller if they have a longer stride.
For older siblings, the YOYO+ is the only tri-fold stroller that offers a riding board: the Yoyo+ Board. Love this!
UPPAbaby Minu vs. Babyzen YOYO+
If you’re trying to decide between the two of them…
- Size: The YOYO+’s fold (20.5” x 17.3” x 7.1”) is definitely more compact than the Minu and can fit in most airplanes’ overhead compartments. The Minu’s fold is slightly larger (20.5″ x 23″ x 11.5″), though still very compact.
- Weight Limit: 50 lbs for the Minu, 40 lbs for the YOYO+.
- Wheels: The Minu has slightly larger back wheels (7” as compared to the YOYO’s 6”).
- Folding: Folding the Yoyo+ takes two hands and some practice (folds from a lever on the bottom); the Minu is easier and more intuitive to fold.
- Basket: Both strollers have similarly sized baskets with front access.
- Handlebar: The Minu’s handlebar is 42.5 inches high, to the YOYO’s 43″. Neither adjust and they are both better for tall people.
- Canopy: Both strollers have flip-out visors attached to the sun canopy for extra coverage; the canopies are comparable.
- Infants: Both can handle infants 0-6 months with the purchase of a bassinet; the Minu has a “From Birth” kit for $129, the Yoyo+ has the Newborn Pack for $225. Both offer car seat adapters for Euro seats.
Getting Around at the Airport
Wait – we have one more cool thing to show you!
Lugabug ~ $49
If you’re a “carry-on” person (you know who you are!), definitely check out the Lugabug. As you know, it’s very difficult to push a stroller and a suitcase at the same time (but not impossible! I’ve done it many times – HA).
The Lugabug is a seat that attaches to your suitcase – your kiddo simply hops on and you can wheel them all around the airport (since it attaches to your suitcase, it’s only really helpful if you’re not planning to check your bag).
I get soooooo many questions and comments when I travel with my Lugabug, I feel like a walking advertisement. I love it for my short weekend flights when I’m traveling light and don’t want to check luggage. Highly recommend. Note: It’s better to use it with higher quality luggage (for cheap luggage, you risk breaking the wheels).
Seriously, this thing is way cool — I’ve enjoyed it very much! Max weight is 60 lbs.
There you have it – our top picks for travel strollers. Happy trails, bon voyage, and safe travels, parents!