If you’ve ever tried to cram a large pram into a car boot or stash a pushchair on a plane, you’ll appreciate the importance of one of the best travel strollers. Your child may only be in a pushchair for a few short years, but if you have one that’s heavy and cumbersome, it can feel like an eternity.
Whether you’re an aspiring jetsetter or simply like to have a buggy at the ready for occasional use, a good quality lightweight travel stroller that’s as compact and easily manoeuvrable as possible is a must (as well as one that’s comfortable for baby or toddler…of course).
Lightweight buggies come into their own for trips around town (when your child decides to walk you can push them one-handed), for journeys on public transport and of course, on holiday… especially if you’re flying or hiring a small car.
How to choose the best travel strollers
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Weight vs comfort: Like sports cars, some pushchairs are as light as possible at the cost of creature comforts and one that’s super stripped-back may not suit everyone. So consider how much padding your little one likes (especially if they’re a light sleeper) as well as features like whether the pushchair is parent or world-facing (not all buggies are both) and whether they have multiple reclining positions. If your child likes a little nap on the go, you will not want a buggy that doesn’t recline!
Age: It sounds obvious, but it’s important to consider whether lightweight buggies are suitable for the age of your baby. Some with less padding are only designed for babies aged six months or one or over, for example.
The weather: If you’re buying a light buggy for use in the UK, you’re going to want a rain cover and a sun cover (well, if you’re feeling optimistic). Not all buggies, especially the lightweight ones, come with rain covers, and they can cost quite a lot, so it’s worth noticing whether they come fitted as standard when budgeting. Similarly, the very lightest designs can sometimes have no hood or sun canopy, or one that’s incredibly small. So if you’re shopping for a light buggy for a holiday in the sun, this is a factor that you’ll want to look at carefully.
Parental extras: Lightweight buggies seldom come with extras like cup holders but you might want to check the size and sturdiness of a buggy’s shopping basket as this can be a curse or saviour if you use a buggy frequently.
Size: As well as being light, some buggies are designed to fold up incredibly small. This is great if you’re a frequent flier, use public transport or have a small car, but this feature can make some models more expensive, so if you’re not bothered, you might want to pass. Similarly, folding mechanisms vary massively, and you need to find one that’s easy for you and suitable for your needs. If you can, we recommend trying before you buy.
Vanity: Like with cars, sometimes looks matter almost as much as practicality. Some buggies look better than others and come in a rainbow of colours. So whether you want a fun one for a holiday vibe or have a favourite colour, you may as well pick one you like the look of as you’ll probably be using it a lot. Similarly, certain brands are particularly covetable, so if that matters to you, or you want to buy a lightweight buggy to match other items in your baby equipment ecosystem, we think we’ve got most bases covered in our pick of the best below.
The BABYZEN YOYO+ is a lightweight pushchair perfect for frequent users, as it’s one of the more comfortable and study designs with lots of extras. It weighs 6.2kg, which is pretty light, but more featherweight alternatives are out there. Designed for city living and everyday errands, it’s suitable for children from six months and up to a maximum weight of 22kg, is designed to by comfy, with a removable and washable seat pad and 5-point harness, 4-wheel suspension and multi-position reclining seat for dreamy naps.
Parents will like that it’s one-hand folding, unfolding and driving capabilities, shoulder strap and shopping basket and for holiday makers, this one comes with a UPF 50+ sun protection canopy and fits into most overhead plane storage when folded (H52 x W44 x D18cm).
This is the second entry from Silver Cross. The Zest is a similar weight to the Jet, but folds into a long, thin shape, making it perhaps more preferable for driving holidays than flying…at least not for stashing in the cabin. Unlike some travel buggies, this one if built to last, including accommodating toddlers up to 25kg, who can get incredibly tired and grumpy about walking anywhere.
The seat is padded but roomy and reclinable in a few positions, and there’s a 5-point safety harness as you would expect. A fully extendable ventilated UPF50+ hood, rain cover and basket has got you covered in all conditions, while the aluminium chassis helps the Zest weigh in at a diminutive 5.8kg. This stroller isn’t the cheapest, but we bet you’ll use it way beyond your holiday.
If you’re in the market for a lightweight holiday buggy or an extra for short trips around town, Joie’s Pact Lite ticks lots of boxes. The forward-facing pushchair has a flat reclining seat that can be used from birth (technically) but lots of parents like parent-facing buggies at the beginning. That aside, the buggy reclines flat and has other reclining positions to keep napping youngsters comfy, and has an extendable canopy with visor for protection from the elements as well as all-wheel suspension.
The Pact Lite is Joie's easiest, quickest and most compact folding chassis and comes with a carry strap for easy travelling. One handed fold, it’s designed to be free standing for easy storage – a godsend if you have a small hallway or use public transport. And at 5.5kg it’s both physically and financially lightweight.
Silver Cross is a trusted brand beloved for generations and its Jet model is designed for holidaying and beyond. The ultra-compact stroller weighs in at 5.9kg and folds small enough to be a piece of cabin luggage at 90cm x 45cm x 96cm and can even be wheeled along like a little suitcase.
Updated for 2020, the Jet pushchair has a new, ergonomic seat for even better baby comfort, with wider front wheels and improved suspension providing the best ride yet. The standout new design features softly textured weave fabrics, with a tan leatherette handle and bumper bar and stylish matt black chassis.
Suitable from birth up to 15kg, Jet has a soft padded lie-flat seat, multi-position recline and adjustable calf support to keep babies and toddlers comfortable, as well as a fully extendable UPF50+ hood with an air-flow ventilation system and pop-out sun visor to keep them cool and safe. The flip-flop-friendly brakes are easy to use, while the lockable front swivel wheels and suspension provide a smooth ride for baby. It’s not the cheapest option for a short holiday, but with so many features it would be handy option for short trips at home too.
For a lot of parents, Bugaboo is a brand they trust and the Ant is the newest and lightest option. It’s quite a big heavier than other ‘lightweight’ options, weighing in at 7.2kg, and one of the pricier strollers, but we’ve included it to have a Bugaboo option. Like most of the brand’s offering it’s solid, stylish and built to last. There’s an ergonomic seat and reclinable backrest that’s designed to help your child sit up straight either facing you or forward.
Despite not being the lightest lightweight buggy, the Ant has some nice features for holiday makers, and fits into most overhead compartments on trains and planes, folding to just 55 x 38 x 23 cm. It can also be used as a pull-along trolley at the airport or station thanks to some quirky practical features. There’s an always-accessible rear luggage basket and large under-seat basket to provide a combined 8kg of storage for all those holiday souvenirs and an extendable sun canopy available in a wide variety of colours.
Ickle Bubba’s Globe is designed for tiny travellers who like first class touches, like leatherette handles and an adjustable leg rest. Weighing in at 6.4kg and costing not-too-much, it’s a good middle-of-the-road package an folds to a dinky 45 x 55 x 25cm, making it easy to stash in overhead lockers on planes and trains. Like other offerings, the stroller is travel system compatible (meaning you can buy into the brand), and it has lots of room for holiday souvenirs, with a storage basket and handy pouch for essential items.
A hood viewing window means you can keep an eye on your little one without disturbing them, while a full length protective rain over has got you covered for all weather scenarios. There’s a one handed 3 position seat recline feature and front and rear suspension for a smoother ride for toddlers, as well as a large extendable UPF 50 hood to protect from harmful sun rays and ventilated roll up fabrics to keep them cool, making the stroller a great choice is you’re holidaying somewhere sunny.
If you’re after a lightweight stroller, why not choose the most compact out there? The lightweight gb Gold Pockit+ is the world's smallest folding stroller, which in only two steps can fold into a 34 x 20 x 42 cm handbag-shaped package. With the ability to switch from pushing to carrying in seconds, the Pockit is travel stroller perfect for places with lots of steps, or can be easily stashed on a boat, bus, or the corner of an atmospheric café, plus it’s free-standing. Despite its size, the buggy is suitable for kids from 6 months to 17kg (approx. 4 years). It’s well priced, but you’ll need to buy extras like a sub shield or rain cover.
At just 3.8kg Chico’s Oh LaLa2 is of the lightest strollers out there. With a smooth one-handed drive, detachable bumper bar, five-point harness and it’s a practical and easily manoeuvrable option. While the stroller is suitable from birth to 15kg like many lightweight buggies, this one is forward-facing only, but does have a fully reclinable back rest, making it possible for little ones to sleep more comfortably. It’s relatively compact, folding to 46 x 101 x 81cm and stands up without any support, making it handy for public transport and those long queues at airports. It’s a steal and even comes with a rain cover.
Chicco is a trusted brand and its Echo stroller offers plenty of comfort and decent looks for less than £70/$100. Compared to other budget options, this buggy shows attention to detail, with an embroidered seat and ritzy wheels as well as a fully reclining backrest with four options and an adjustable leg rest to make sure your bundle of joy is comfortable. At 8.5kg this stroller isn’t the lightest of travel buggies, but it is one of the better-looking options. Suitable from birth to 22kgs, and is very affordable, giving it longevity and plenty of bang for its buck.
The Britax Holiday Romer is ideal for warmer climates. Its seat has mesh panels on the sides and top of the seat unit for better air circulation and there’s a hood with sun visor to provide protective shade to your little passenger. There’s also a handy carry strap so you can swing it over your shoulder and carry the 5kg frame. To keep your child secure, there’s an adjustable 5-point harness, but one downside is that it’s only suitable from 6 months to 3 years, giving you a more limited lifespan than some other options. However, if you’re in the market for a holiday buggy for your two-year-old, this is pretty affordable and has some great features.
If you only want a buggy for one holiday you don’t want to spend much, this is where Red Kite’s Baby Push Me 2U stroller comes in. It’s cheaper than a round of all-day breakfasts at the airport and has a surprising number of handy features despite its bargain status. Suitable from 6 months, the buggy offers two positions to sit or lie back, lockable swivel wheels and a removable canopy which is handy if you’re going somewhere sunny. There’s also a shopping basket and rain cover for all eventualities. At 5.6kg the buggy isn’t the lightest out there, but it does boast an extra deep seat, which is brilliant for older babies and toddlers who fancy a break from all that arduous walking.
How we test the best travel strollers
There are more lightweight and compact buggies than ever that are designed to make navigating customs (and most important Duty-Free) a breeze, while being easy to fold and stow in the hold, or even squeezed into the overhead lockers, without breaking into the sort of sweat you’d expect from an adventure holiday somewhere on the equator.
Unfortunately, we can't always take every single one on holiday to see how they perform (unless someone wants to start a GoFundMe for us and this vital research), but we can test them out in more everyday situations.
We'll test these travel strollers on trips to the supermarket, shopping centre, and city centres, some of the most demanding and stressful locations known to parenthood. This, of course, involves taking the strollers on trains, buses and cars, so it does give us a great idea of how they perform.
We'll check if they're easy to fold, if they're comfortable for baby, and how practical they are.