Baby carrying is great, but even supermom and superdad need to have their body free of baby limbs now and then. My first stroller was the Orbit G3 and the Orbit Running Stroller succeeded that.
I almost never used these four-figure behemoths. They’re huge, they take up my entire car, they’re clunky in airports, and when my son was an infant I categorically chose to travel with him in a hiking pack.
The only time I used my stroller was when he slept in a restaurant or sat with us when he was too young to put in a high chair. And even then, I preferred to have him in my arms!
If you’re going to invest in a stroller, think long and hard about whether or not you will even use it! Where I live in Colorado I see parents using running strollers but almost never do I see strollers just for, well, strolling around! In larger cities that may be a different story.
Here’s how to gauge whether or not you need a stroller, and if so- what kind.
Travel strollers are a whole new ballgame!
My first two stroller experiences were a nightmare. They were so big and bulky that I couldn’t stand to take them anywhere, and if my two standard poodles and child were already in the car, the strollers couldn’t be. There was no room, and we’re talking SUV!
In the end, they were a total waste of money and I desperately wish I would have done research on the best stroller myself instead of allowing my husband to buy us the most expensive “Ferrari” of strollers that was not fit for travel!
How To Find The Best Travel Stroller
1. Child’s age
Until your child is strong enough to sit up and balance in a stroller (for my son this was probably 9 or 10 months), you will need to consider a stroller with an infant insert.
If you’re eager to stroll with a newborn baby, you may even want to consider a bassinet stroller. I see these quite often with children less than four months.
2. Where You’re Strolling
If you’re going to be taking lots of busses and subways, you may want to consider a stroller like the Quinny Yezz, which can be carried as a lightweight backpack when your little one is up and about or sitting in a seat outside the stroller.
This is particularly useful when traveling in Europe or South America when you find many buildings without elevators or escalators.
3. Folding Capabilities/ Ease Of Storage
As you’ve learned if you read my book Go Baby Go, I like having my hiking pack and my dogs with me whenever my son and I go out and about. That means that there’s no room for the stroller.
Think about your lifestyle and needs when you choose a stroller. Can it fold up and fit comfortably in your rental car, hostel, vacation rental, or cabin.
I’ve rented a room or two on a beach that had almost no place to put our shoes, let alone our stroller at night. You have to be comfortable keeping it outside or “unsecured”, because tripping over it and having no room to move around in tight quarters is never worth it.
Most infant strollers come with a five-point harness device similar to an infant car seat.
At what age can you switch to a toddler seat?
At what age can you allow your child to sit up in his stroller?
Make sure to read the manufacturer’s directions before you bring a stroller on your travels that may be age-inappropriate. Also remember that wheels can deflate, especially on running strollers, and you may need to travel with a bike pump to keep them properly inflated.
If you’re buying a cheap stroller, you’re probably buying cheap wheels, too. This means they’re simply not going to last as long. Cobblestone is brutal on wheels so again keep in mind: you get what you pay for.
Hunter and I with our airport rig.
Suspension is really awesome when you’re running down a cobblestoned street in Italy to make it to a theatre in time for a show, and even more important if you are looking for a stroller with which you can run.
In my experience, there’s no way I’d travel without a running stroller as the only times I put my child in a stroller are when I need to move fast and don’t want to risk him squirming out of my arms.
Some suspension comes standard on every stroller for the safety of your child, but some strollers have super shock-absorbing technology that makes it much more comfortable for your little one.
What I’ve learned is that great suspension often helps prolong your baby’s much-needed naptime!
Travel strollers are generally between 8 and 11 pounds.
My first stroller, the Orbit G3, was 16 pounds.
The car seat was another 10 pounds on top of that. It was terrible to get in and out of cars, and in airports. I was a bit of a spectacle, to say the least!
What’s more, it’s important that if you’re going to move in and out of buses and trains, you can’t rely on anybody to help you with your load.
You want to be able to carry or load and unload your stroller and not have to set your baby down in a public place on a moving vehicle. Keep this in mind when choosing your stroller system!
I spent months at a beach with my son during his first year, and went to the “windy city” several times to see grandparents.
We also live in Colorado and spend months traveling around the mountains while he was small.
In short, weather systems on strollers were critical for me.
I found that I didn’t get caught in rain very often, but when I needed to cover my son from rain it was nice to have a great canopy. I found that more often than not I was guarding my little one from the sun.
Whether at the beach or at 8,000+ feet in Aspen, Colorado or the Mile High City, Denver, we needed to keep our fair-skinned baby safe from sun. Some strollers have easy-to-use umbrellas and others are complicated, rendering them too difficult to bother with.
Translation—I’ll just wait out the storm in a Starbucks.
I’ll never forget when my husband and I bought the Orbit running stroller and that it didn’t have any cup holder and the storage compartment was pretty substandard. Blasphemy!
For an extra $40, I was able to purchase a cup holder for the top of the system near the handles.
If you don’t want to get pinched for a cup holder (who does that?!), research beforehand to make sure it’s included!
Storage baskets underneath a stroller can mean less car trips: I spent two months without a car with my son and used our running stroller for grocery and shopping trips. Not to mention storage under the stroller makes a great place for beach toys and diaper bags.
If your little one is eating solid foods, don’t underestimate the joy he or she will get from having their own snack tray on the front of the stroller.
9. Shoulder Strap
Traveling parents, especially if you’re in big cities taking trains, subways, and buses, know that a stroller shoulder strap is a must for maneuvering quickly, effortlessly, and safely on and off of platforms.
I’m very short—about 5’1”—so a stroller with handles up to my shoulders isn’t going to work.
But taller parents need to make sure handles won’t have them leaning over their strollers getting a backache, too.
You can find ergonomic foam-gripped handles that adjust to the parent’s height.
Don’t underestimate the importance of adjustable handles and heights; it could mean the difference between sightseeing all day happily, or being unwilling to use your stroller due to it’s lack of comfort and ease.
You’re going to want to be able to steer your stroller with one hand, which means you’ll want to spend a few extra dollars on a stroller with great steering.
What’s more, you’re going to want to be able to lock the wheels on your stroller, especially when your little one starts rocking and rolling in a museum with narrow hallways or rooms that are packed with other tourists!
Most importantly, if you’re leaving your little one on the stroller up and down escalators (it happens) or in buses and tramways (think airports), you’ll want to lock the wheels for safety of you and the baby.
But take note—most warning signs say not to do that, and it’s likely for a reason, despite being rather inconvenient.
Some strollers are designed for infants, others for toddlers. Still, other strollers grow with children from 15 to 55 pounds.
Find a stroller that doesn’t just meet your need today, but may be used for both your 5 month old and your 5 year old in the same trip.
Also consider that taller children grow out of strollers quickly so you may want to consider a stroller with adjustable foot rests. Plus, the foot rests are great for letting children who fall asleep lounge and nap better in the stroller system.
If you know you’ll be touring the streets of Rome for days on end, get a stroller with leg rests, great suspension, weather systems, easy steering, and great storage so that your little one can get some zzz’s.
14. Car Seat Compatibility
Some strollers have the capability of removing the seat and attaching it into your car seat base, such as my Orbit G3. This can be a phenomenal addition to your travel setup if your little one is napping and you want to put him in or take him out of the car without waking him.
These 14 considerations are all important to the mommy who wants to be on the go with her baby, from their earliest years on.
Another consideration I’ve learned can make or break a trip is whether or not your stroller has a CUPHOLDER! I’ve found that time I didn’t need to take a stroller to a mall or museum, I’ll bring it even if I’m holding the baby in a carrier because I want a place to roll my coffee around!
Click Here to Download our complete Stroller Guide before you hit the road!