Whether you’re off for a walk in the woods or popping into town, a travel system makes getting around with a baby easy – attach an infant car seat to the pushchair frame and you can move your baby from car to pushchair and back again without disruption. Travel systems also often come with a carrycot attachment, so you can use the pushchair as a lie-flat pram; it’s vital for your baby to lie flat in the pushchair until they're six months old, to support the healthy development of her spine and lungs.
What is a travel system?
In general, a travel system consists of a pushchair that is compatible with a Group 0+ car seat which is suitable from birth to the age of 12 months. The car seat is easily attached and detached from the frame and will either clip on top of the pushchair seat component or attach directly to the chassis with the seat component removed.
It's important to keep in mind that different travel systems are compatible with different car seats, although there is some crossover. The most important thing about buying a travel system is to make sure it will fit in your car.
Why should I buy a baby travel system?
Convenience is the main benefit, as you can transfer your baby to and from a pushchair without removing them from their car seat. This is less disruptive for your child and saves time and stress. Infants often fall asleep in a car and a travel system means they don’t have to be disturbed, which is of huge value!
A travel system is often more expensive and sometimes bulkier than a standard pushchair, so is only worthwhile if a car is your main form of transport.
What type of car seat do you want?
Not all infant car seats can be attached to all pushchairs, and you may need to buy adaptors. If you’d prefer an i-Size car seat, which sits your baby in the safer rear-facing position until they are at least 15 months old, you’ll need to choose a pushchair frame that’s compatible. If you want to keep your child rear-facing in the car beyond 15 months, you’ll need an extended rear-facing car seat. However, these are designed to stay in your car, so a travel system isn’t an option.
The car seat will either clip on top of the pushchair’s seat component or attach directly to the chassis with the seat component removed. Adapters are sometimes required to fix the car seat onto the pushchair or chassis. Check if these are included. If they aren’t, find out what the additional cost will be.
What about the pushchair?
A travel system typically has a seat component that enables it to be used as a ‘normal’ pushchair. Many mums use the car seat clipped into the frame when their baby is very young, using the larger seat component as their little one grows. If you intend to keep your newborn in the pushchair for long periods, you will need a travel system with a fully reclining seat component. Newborns should only remain in car seats for a few hours at a time, as lying horizontally is better for their breathing and healthy spine development. Some travel systems also offer the option of a pram-style carrycot. While this can add expense, the carrycot can double as a Moses basket and portable travel cot.
Can you use a travel system for toddlers?
Only a Group 0+ car seat will fit on the travel system, which will be outgrown at around 12-15 months. But most mums continue to use the travel system with the seat component fitted after that. For toddlers, a seat that reclines for naps is useful, but it doesn’t have to be fully horizontal. Some pushchair seats are reversible, so your baby can face you, to begin with, but face outwards to get a better view of the world as they get older.
How easy is it to fold?
All travel systems fold up so they can be stowed in a car boot. Try out the folding mechanism in the shop – your ‘tricky’ might be another person’s ‘easy’. Consider that you may sometimes need to hold your baby while you fold and unfold the chassis. You’ll also have to lift the folded pushchair chassis in and out of the car boot, so consider its weight – anything over 10kg could be a struggle.
How big is your car boot?
Travel systems are more compact than ever, but some models are still pretty bulky to allow for all the extra functionality they offer. Before you buy one, check it fits in your car boot. You can always remove the carrycot or seat unit from the chassis and store it on your back seat, but this limits space in your car for other passengers.
How much does a travel system cost?
You can easily spend as much on a travel system as you would on a second-hand car! So we’ve tracked down travel systems to suit every budget, ranging from £130 to £849. If value for money is a priority, go for a complete package with all the components included in the price. Other travel systems are sold as separate parts, but costs can soon mount up!
What to look for in a travel system
Shopping basket: A big basket is essential! It should be large enough to hold everything you need when you’re out with your baby, including the raincover and your change bag. Ideally, there’ll also be space for a few groceries. Check that the basket is easily accessible, even when the carrycot is attached or the pushchair seat is fully reclined.
Seat recline: The recommended sleeping position for babies is flat on their back, so a pushchair seat that reclines fully flat is a must for naps in the pushchair. It should be easy(and quiet!) to adjust with your baby in the seat.
Handles: A height-adjustable handlebar ensures the pushchair is a comfortable ‘fit’ for both you and your partner – and anyone else who might use it regularly. Check that it’s easy to adjust and comfortable to hold.
Car seat: Is the car seat included in the price, or do you have to buy it separately? Factor in the price of the base, too, and don’t forget car-seat adaptors to attach it to the chassis.
Carrycot: Babies shouldn’t sit in car seats for more than two hours at a time, including when it’s attached to a pushchair chassis, so choose a travel system with a comfy lie-flat carrycot. Your baby will outgrow it by six months old, so check how bulky it is to store – some are cleverly designed to convert to an upright seat.
Seat direction: A travel system with a reversible seat unit means you can choose which way your baby faces. A parent-facing seat encourages your baby’s communication skills, but an inquisitive toddler might prefer to face where they're going.
Accessories: Some travel systems come with coordinating accessories such as a footmuff or change bag. Think about which ones you actually need – the rain cover is a must – and whether they’re included in the price.
Fold mechanism: A travel system will be in and out of your car boot. Choose one that’s compact and easy to fold, leaving room for shopping or luggage.
Brake: The brake should be comfortably positioned and easy to operate, without the risk of applying it by accident or scuffing your shoes. Check how reliable it feels, and whether it’s easy to release.
Wheels: All-terrain wheels make for easy manoeuvrability on muddy walks. Smaller, solid wheels make light work of city pavements and shiny shop floors. If you’re likely to switch between different types of terrain, go for lockable, swivel wheels.
The best baby travel systems:
Did you know that our annual Travel System Awards help us bring you the best advice about current products on the market? Thanks to the Mother&Baby Awards, you can find out all about our award-winning baby travel systems. Discover who the Mother&Baby Award Winners 2021 are here.
Now it's time to shop from the best baby travel systems, that have been recommended by parents and Mother&Baby shopping experts.
Taking the Silver award in the Mother&Baby 2021 Travel System Awards, the Cosatto Giggle 3 Travel System & Accessories Bundle is an absolute dream for your family. With enhanced performance, the Giggle Quad has convex profile tyres and all-round premium suspension for an ultra-smooth glide, offering longevity. As well as boasting other incredible features like premium detailing - from deluxe amped up wheels, to stitched leatherette height-adjustable handle.
- Use from: Suitable from birth to 13kg/29lbs
- Weight: 15.6 Kg
- Harness type: N/A
Review: "I am very pleased with my pram. It looks amazing and it is easy to drive. I have tried if so far on the pavement but went off road too. My little one loves to observe cute foxes inside. There is only couple of downsides: rails are little to easy to scratch and basket could be bigger. However I highly recommend this pram, you can't get better design in this price. Love it!"
Winner of the Gold Award in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Travel System category is this system from Joie. It's stylish and easy to use, folding simply with just one hand
- Use from: Birth - 22kg
- Weight: 11.7kg
- Harness type: 5-Point
- Material: N/A
M&B tester review: "My son found this buggy really comfortable and had no problems falling and staying asleep in it. I found it really easy to push and liked the colour and materials used, it felt really stylish. I particularly liked the large basket that was easy to access and the fact that the buggy was really easy to push and was a smooth ride for my son."
Read our full review of the Joie Versatrax travel system here.
Another travel system that featured in our Mother&Baby 2021 Travel System Awards was this fabulous number. It's no surprise it took home the Bronze award, when it offers a large shopping basket, easy release front swivel-lock wheels, compact fold and so much more.
- Use from: Birth to approx. three years
- Weight: 6.5kg (stroller)
Review: "For the price paid this is a fantastic buggy. It reclines easily, the canopy/hood is a good size for creating shade and it's seat is well padded. There is a useful generous basket underneath and it came with a well constructed rain cover. It's not the sturdiest (I don't know how well it would stand up to being used daily on uneven ground) but it's perfect for a couple of days each week at the Grandparents house. My only gripe is that it doesn't stand independently when folded, but other than that it's a great buy."
The award-winning Ultimo travel system is undoubtedly the ultimate travel system with no restrictions on where you're going. The system includes a luxury carrycot, seat unit, car seat, seat unit foot apron, a padded seat liner, and a rain cover. Go from parent facing to forward-facing with efficiency, security, and style.
The Infababy Ultimo 3 in 1 Travel System won Gold in the 2020 Mother&Baby Awards in the Best Travel System category.
- Use from: Suitable up to approx. four years or 22kgs
- Weight: N/A
- Harness type: Five point
M&B tester review: "The pram is very easy to put together, and easy to put up and down quicker than any other pram I have recently tested. With a car seat, carrycot and seat it makes it a lot easier to just swap them over when needed. You just press two buttons at the side to take them off it just slots in. Also, the big storage underneath the pram makes life a lot easier to store anything, with a zip, so nothing can fall out which I have not seen before."
Read our full review of the Infababy Ultimo 3 in 1 Travel System here.
The Leotie Lux is a modern stroller and carrycot loaded with all the features you will ever need on your days out. Highlights include the reversible luxury seat unit with its own matching carrycot unit and superior suspension on its wheels. It won Bronze in the Mother&Baby Awards 2020 in the Best Travel System category.
- Use from: Six months to 17kg
- Weight: 15.9kg
- Compact fold: 41 x 65 x 106 cm
- Harness type: Five point
M&B tester review: "This pram was very comfy for my son, he fell asleep immediately and seemed very happy in it when awake. The system was easy to use and did not need adapters for the car seat (one less thing to remember). The carrycot folds down nicely making storage easy, a good perk when you have so much baby stuff!"
Read our full review of the Cbx Leotie Lux here.
This nippy pushchair is designed for daily adventures, weekend road trips, and even far-away flights. It features five riding modes, forward and rear-facing options, one-handed folding, an auto lock, and integrated carry strap for easy transport. This travel system won Silver in the Mother&Baby Awards 2019 in the Best Travel System category. The product can be purchased as a single or double travel pushchair making it a great buy for anyone who has a small and growing family.
- Use from: Birth to 15kg per seat
- Weight: 12.6kg
- Harness type: Five point
M&B tester review: "I would recommend this product because of how easily it folded and how easy it was to unfold too. I didn’t look at any instructions and it was so simple to work out how to do it. It was very light and therefore easy to steer one handed when needed. The seat was comfortable for my daughter and well padded. It also folded very small and I had a lot more room in the boot of my car than I normally would!"
Read our full review of the Baby Jogger City Tour LUX here.
The Maxi-Cosi Zelia² pushchair will give you and your baby the confidence to enjoy everything urban life has to offer. Zelia’s seat transforms into a bassinet, so it is the perfect 2-in-1 pushchair for cool, relaxed city living. This travel system can fit into a small flat without compromising on your baby’s comfort. The Maxi-Cosi Zelia² pushchair is the second version of The Maxi-Cosi Zelia stroller, which won bronze in the Mother&Baby Awards in 2019.
The Maxi-Cosi Zelia won Bronze in the 2019 Mother&Baby Awards for Best Travel System
- Use from: Birth to 4 years
- Weight: 10.25kg
- Harness type: Five point
M&B Tester review: "I really loved the Zelia Travel System. It was lovely to steer and push and easy to slot into place. I especially like that it is suitable for all ages. I like that I have the option to use it if I were to have another child with the Pebble Plus car seat. This is a bonus as it's so much easier to have it all as one rather than separate car seats and buggies."
Read our full review of the Maxi-Cosi Zelia here.
If you’ve got a little more to spend on a travel system, you’ll want to know you’re getting more bang for your buck. The Stomp V4 ticks that box. It’s achingly cool and stylish, yet the highly functional design makes it as practical as it is pretty. And you get the carrycot, seat unit, i-Size car seat and Isofix base, raincover, footmuff and changing bag all included in the price!
- Use from: Birth to 15kg.
- Weight: 6.5kg
- Folded size: 61 x 77 x 30 cm
- Harness type: 5 Point
M&B tester review: "This pushchair was a pleasure to use! It was sturdy and felt safe. It steered well and collapsed relatively easily. It reclined nicely and the sunshade was large enough to provide good cover for my daughter. This was a great feature. I have a dog, and it pushed surprisingly well on grass and pebbles whilst walking her. The handle positioning was easy to adjust and great for my husband who is tall."
Read our full review of the Ickle Bubba Stomp V4 here.
Looking for a really stylish set of wheels but don’t want to spend over the odds? Look no further. Chic and affordable is an impressive combination, but this is also reasonably light. For the full travel system package, you’ll need to buy a compatible car seat separately, but everything else is thrown in – you get a three-position bassinet (0-6m) and a reversible seat unit (6m+), plus the car-seat adaptors and the raincovers.
Use from: Birth to 15kg per seat
Harness type: Five point
M&B tester review: "An absolute dream to assemble. I love the soft fabric and luxury feel. The seat is easy to recline, and the lie-flat mode is useful when my son Archie nods off. The large hood is a real plus point – it totally covers Archie and shelters him from the wind really well. It’s really smooth to push, and handles well on all surfaces."
If the grandparents-to-be are chipping in, or if you’ve saved hard for a top-of-the-range travel system, we think every penny is well spent on this one. We love the puncture-proof off-road tyres – perfect for rural adventures in style. The reversible, lie-flat pushchair seat ensures maximum comfort during snoozes on the move.
This product won gold in the Mother&Baby Awards 2021.
Use from: Birth to 22kg per seat
Harness type: Five point
M&B tester review: "I must admit I do love this pram! I love the fact that you can put it up and down using just one hand which did make my life easier (especially when caught in the rain)! I like the fact the hood comes down quite far but there’s a zip to let some air in and a flap to check on your baby as you’re pushing (my previous pushchair didn’t have this) which does put your mind at ease, especially the first time you put your baby forward facing! Also, the fact that you can fold the pushchair down with the stroller seat on, and it folds down just as neat as it would without the seat is an added bonus as it saves time when out and about in the car! All in all these little features do make a huge difference!"
Read our full review of the Mamas & Papas Ocarro.