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Of all the items you’ll need for baby in the first few years, a car seat and a stroller are undoubtedly some of the most important. They help you get from point A to point B with your little one safely and securely in tow.
They also tend to be some of the more expensive baby items you’ll be purchasing. That’s where a travel system can come in handy.
While car seats and strollers are two separate items, when you have a newborn you may want to use your infant’s car seat as the seat on top of your stroller to give them a safer ride.
That’s why manufacturers invented the “travel system,” an infant (rear-facing) car seat and stroller combination (aka “car seat stroller combo”).
A travel system’s car seat is created to clip right on to a matching stroller. The best part? You’ll purchase both pieces together in a one-and-done fashion.
The majority of strollers on the market are meant for babies who are already sitting up, a milestone most don’t master until about 6 months of age.
So unless you purchase a stroller with a bassinet, your baby is going to spend the majority of their traveling time in their car seat — or being carried.
A travel system allows you to easily transfer your baby from the car to the stroller without having to move or reposition them — something that especially comes in handy when they’re peacefully snoozing away.
Additionally, travel systems tend to cost less than purchasing a stroller and car seat separately — yes, please! And when you consider that travel systems are designed to transition from infancy through toddlerhood, you could end up saving a lot of dough in the long run.
If you’re purchasing a brand-new travel system, you can rest assured that it will meet all current safety standards and protocols.
However, if you’re being handed down a travel system from a family member, friend, or through a digital marketplace, it’s worthwhile to check that it’s not under recall. You can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)’s list, or the list at Safe Kids Worldwide.
Additionally, always adhere to the manufacturer’s weight limits for car seats and strollers to ensure your little one’s safety.
For this list, we relied heavily on customer reviews and reached out to several new parents to find out what they loved and found most useful about their travel systems.
These are the car seat stroller combos that made the cut in terms of popularity, ease of use, efficiency, and overall top picks.
- $ = under $200
- $$ = $200–$400
- $$$ = over $400
Best travel system overall
Safety 1st Smooth Ride Travel System
On top of the impressively low price for a car seat stroller combo, the Smooth Ride Travel System is a favorite among reviewing parents. Fans of this system say its lightweight, easy to maneuver, and its one-click car seat attachment makes the transition in and out of the car a breeze.
The onBoard 35 LT infant car seat features side-impact protection, infant head inserts, and a five-point harness, so you can feel rest assured that your child is securely enjoying a safe ride. And the accompanying stroller boasts one-hand foldability, a large canopy with a peek-a-boo window, a parent tray with cup holders, and a generous storage compartment.
The car seat is made for children from 4 to 35 pounds, and the stroller seat can be used from the time your little one is able to sit up unassisted until they reach 50 pounds.
Best travel system for infants
Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System
By looking at this travel system, it appears simple and straightforward (minamilsts, this one’s for you!). However, a closer look shows a super versatile six-mode seat that you can use from the very beginning with baby — with or without the accompanying SafeMax infant car seat.
The toddler seat (which is safe to use when baby can sit up unassisted) fully reclines to lay flat like a bassinet. Plus, all three modes (bassinet, car seat, stroller seat) are reversible, so you can truly cater this system to your style and safety needs.
Parents like that the SafeMax infant car seat exceeds industry safety standards with impressive crash testing results and say that the system is easy to assemble. However there’s some debate over how lightweight and easy to maneuver this system really is.
Best car seat stroller combo for travel
Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System
If you’re a family that likes to live life on the fly, you’ll need a car seat and stroller combo that can keep up. Enter the Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System, which is on the lighter side in terms of weight and features a one-handed fold and self-standing position.
The included fan-favorite Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat weighs less than 10 pounds for easy carrying. Parents like that the bottom storage is nice and roomy and that there’s a parent tray with storage and cup holders — although a few folks say the cup holders are rather small.
A few parents warn that the features may vary depending on what color you select, so be sure to review the product specs before purchasing.
Best option for twins
Contours Options Elite Tandem Stroller
While this product isn’t a true travel system (as it does not include car seats), when it comes to towing two babies, this option from Contours stands out. The stroller features multiple seating options so you can have your babies facing forward, backward, face-to-face, or back-to-back.
Many double strollers don’t also accommodate two car seats, but the Elite Tandem does, thanks to Contours’ click-in adapters (sold separately). The adaptors accept a wide range of car seats from big name brands like Graco, Maxi-Cosi, Evenflo, Chicco, and more.
Parents say the dynamic front and rear wheel suspensions allow for a smooth ride without bumps that could wake up your sleeping infants. Other features include a peek-a-boo window, large storage basket, zipper side access, and sun canopies.
Best budget-friendly travel system
Baby Trend EZ Ride 35 Travel System
You can’t purchase most car seats alone for the price of this travel system, which includes both the Baby Trend Ally 35 Infant Car Seat and the EZ Ride Stroller together. Each features a five-point safety harness to secure baby safely (multiple parents comment on this in reviews) as well as extra-padded seats for maximum comfort.
The stroller has multiple recline positions, a covered parent tray with double cup holders, a height-adjustable handle, and a peek-a-boo window for checking in on your little one during strolls.
But while this set gets points for budget and safety, several folks say the stroller isn’t the easiest to open and close and that the canopy often gets stuck.
Best travel system jogger
Britax B-Free Travel System
If you plan on running with baby, you might as well buy a stroller system jogger that can do it all. This Britax stroller car seat combo may be the only stroller that you’ll ever need, as it’s stocked with storage and accommodates children up to 65 pounds, which is the average weight of a 9- or 10-year-old!
Worth noting: Traditional jogging strollers aren’t recommended until your little one is 6 months or older, but your pediatrician will likely be A-OK with the use of an infant car seat as it means your baby can be fully reclined while you pound the pavement. If you’re unsure, give your doctor a call.
Best easy-install travel system
Graco Modes Nest Travel System
This travel system gets mega points for its seamless transitions. In a few simple steps you can switch from bassinet mode to toddler mode, or attach and detach the accompanying Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 infant car seat.
One of the biggest draws to this travel system is the fact that, regardless of the seat in play, it allows you to easily slide baby closer for face-to-face smiles in one of three different height positions.
This stroller also allows for forward or rear-facing riding. Parents love that it features an expandable storage basket, large canopy, cup holders and a fold that takes just a few seconds. However, a handful of folks comment that the stroller doesn’t offer the smoothest ride.
Best splurge travel system
UPPAbaby CRUZ Performance Travel System
This travel system is as
beautiful as it is safe and functionable, which is why it’s one of the most popular choices among parents — and also why it’s the priciest on this list.
The stroller is rather slim with smooth maneuverability and shock absorption. Fans of the CRUZ like that the handlebar allows for easy height adjustment and is accented with beautiful hand-sewn leather. And most parents rave that the storage basket underneath is roomy and the toddler seat allows for multi-position recline.
It comes with the popular MESA Infant Car Seat and adapter, which accommodates infants from 4 to 35 pounds. Worth noting: Parents love that the MESA is the only car seat to pass safety regulations without the use of flame retardant chemicals.
Of course it’s important that you like the car seat portion of the travel system, but it’s worth noting that your child will eventually grow out it. For this reason, it pays to place more of an emphasis on the stroller portion of the travel system.
Here are some other factors to consider:
Size and weight
You’ll be lifting your car seat (and potentially your stroller) in and out of your vehicle as often as several times a day, so you’ll want to make sure that it’s not too heavy for you to carry on your own. You also don’t want a stroller that’s too bulky that you’ll have trouble fitting it through small spaces.
Ease of use
Considering how often you’ll be using your stroller, you’ll want it to be easy for you to maneuver and manage. Opening and closing it and hitting the break should not require the brains of a rocket scientist.
If you’re mostly pushing your stroller on a paved sidewalk, you won’t need anything heavy duty. But if you plan on hiking up rocky trails with your baby in tow, you will want to purchase a stroller that’s meant for that type of terrain.