You have the baby, and suddenly, those days when you were a packing pro who can jet-set the world with a small carry-on seem a very long time ago. Babies and small kids require a great deal of gear just to get out the door, from strollers to car seats to carriers and diaper bags. Namely, the stroller you use every day at home might not work for travel. If you’re looking to purchase a travel stroller, here’s your ultimate guide on what to look for in those wheels that must be ready to roll on vacation.
Perhaps the most important feature to look for in a travel stroller is its weight. A heavy stroller will make travel a huge pain. Not only do you want a lightweight stroller for sightseeing, but many airlines will even place a restriction on how heavy gate-checked strollers can be. While pretty much every airline allows you to check a stroller without a fee or weight limit, gate-checked strollers might have to be under a certain weight. When you start shopping for a stroller, immediately look for the overall weight. Many strollers will claim to be lightweight when in actuality they are quite heavy. Also, if you tend to fly one airline or you’re preparing for a trip, see if your airline does impose a stroller weight limit.
Age Minimums and Maximums
The market for travel strollers is overflowing with options. However, not all babies can fit into those strollers. Many of the collapsible umbrella strollers are only for babies over six months old. Before you purchase a travel stroller, check to see if your baby will meet the age minimum by the time of your trip. Some stroller brands will sell infant inserts you can add to make those models for six-month-olds work for babies still working on their head control or in need of more stability. On the flip side, many of these lightweight stroller options are also not designed for older kids. Check the age limit (usually a weight limit) to determine if your not-so-little one can still ride in style.
Ease of Collapsibility
When flying with kids you don’t want to be fumbling to collapse your stroller with a whole line of impatient passengers breathing down your neck waiting to board the plane. While those stroller product videos can make it seem like a stroller collapses with ease, some are awkward to fold up, especially in a moment’s notice. Product reviews usually provide some insight as to whether the stroller will actually fold up with ease when used on the road. If you purchase a stroller that’s returnable, there’s no harm in testing it out to be sure you can collapse it without having to read an instruction manual every time.
Straps for Carrying
Once you collapse a travel stroller, you may still have this awkwardly shaped item to carry through airports, train stations, and bus terminals. A travel stroller should be easy to just throw over your shoulder. When selecting the right travel stroller, look for one that has straps to make carrying the collapsed stroller easier. Some travel strollers will even come with a bag they slip into to make carrying those wheels a bit less cumbersome.
If you plan on taking your travel stroller on all sorts of terrain, you’ll need to pay attention to the material of the wheels. Some are air-inflated, making it hard to fill up on the road if you get a flat, but more stable on bumpy sidewalks. Others are a hard plastic that won’t pop, but they will lend a rougher rider on cobblestone streets. And some travel strollers feature foam tires that can offer a more comfortable ride than plastic wheels and more durability than air-filled tires. Bottom line, which wheel is right for you might depend on the sort of travel you plan on doing. If you’re only using it through airports and smooth surfaces, any wheel will do.
A Large Canopy
If you’re planning on traveling a great deal with your kids, you’re going to be venturing to various climates. Too much sun can be a factor when out sightseeing for the day or when your little one needs to catch a nap in transit. Before you buy a travel stroller, check to see if the canopy will protect your child from the elements. Some hardly keep the sun out of their eyes while others provide UV protection and full shade. If you can’t find a travel stroller with a large enough canopy, you can purchase a separate UV sun cover to attach to an existing stroller.
What do you look for in a travel stroller? Share your tips with us in the comments below!