Baby gear designed to make your travels with a little one easier is great! However, it can be confusing. There are strollers and car seats, and then there are travel systems (not to mention things called prams). A travel system looks exactly like a car seat that clicks into a stroller, so exactly what is a travel system?
This article breaks down the difference between a car seat and a stroller vs travel system. Wondering which one is best for your family? Is one more practical than the other? Are they actually the same thing?
All your questions will be answered with our helpful travel system vs stroller and car seat guide.
- The Basics of a Travel System vs a Stroller and Car Seat
- Stroller vs Travel System Comparison
- What to Know Before Buying a Travel System or a Stroller and Car Seat Separately
- Some of My Favorite Picks
- Travel System or Stroller and Car Seat: Which Option is Best for Me?
These things may look the same, but there are a few distinct differences. For most parents, at first glance, the dissimilarities may not seem like a big deal but as you travel with your baby they can become major advantages or disadvantages.
New parents may wonder, what is a travel system stroller? A travel system is everything you need to take your baby out and about. It includes a car seat, a car seat base, and a stroller.
All of these things are sold as a unit, it is great for parents who want a one-stop shopping experience. Instead of searching for a matching car seat and stroller, you can pick out a travel system and have a matching set of all three items.
Aside from matching, another great feature of a traveling stroller system is the adapters for the car seat to connect to the stroller. These adapters are commonly integrated or included. You don’t have to concern yourself with hunting for comparable adapters to allow your car seat to click on your stroller, this baby transport system has got you covered.
Who should purchase a carseat and stroller all in one? Travel systems are ideal for parents with an infant. An infant car seat is the only type of seat that can attach to a stroller, other than the child seat made for the stroller. Convertible car seats cannot connect to the stroller.
If your child is older and no longer uses an infant car seat, it wouldn’t make sense to buy a travel system. Your child is probably old enough and big enough to use the traditional child seat on any stroller model.
If you’re considering a travel system vs convertible car seat, think about your child’s age. Convertible car seats cannot connect to a stroller. If your little one is older than six months you probably don’t need to connect their infant car seat to the stroller, they can use the child seat.
In this case, you could get away with purchasing a convertible seat and stroller separately. However, if being able to transfer your sleeping newborn to a stroller without taking them out of their seat is important to you, opt for a travel system.
However, if you have an infant but already have an infant car seat or even a bassinet stroller seat, buying a complete system might not make sense. Instead of purchasing another seat, you would be better off finding a stroller that pairs with your existing seat or bassinet.
You may be happy to know they even produce user-specific travel systems, like joggers or travel-friendly. Some of the best strollers and seats are travel systems, like the Chicco stroller travel systems.
So, good news! If you are considering getting a jogging stroller vs travel system, you may not need to choose between the two. Or, if you are keeping an eye out for a cheap baby stroller and car seats set, you can probably easily find an affordable travel system.
However, we wouldn’t recommend used travel systems because you can never be sure of the accident history and care of the car seat and base.
- One-stop shopping
- You can be sure the infant car seat connects to the stroller and base
- A matching set
- Come in a variety of options (luxury, jogger, etc.)
- Not ideal if your child has outgrown an infant car seat
- The quality of individual parts can vary (ie the car seat is great but the stroller quality may be lacking)
- Not a great choice if you already own an infant car seat and base
If you don’t want to buy a complete set, then you can purchase a car seat and base separately from a stroller. As mentioned, a convertible car seat won’t connect to a stroller. However, you can purchase a different car seat and stroller and occasionally find adapters to make them connect.
Curious about a pram vs stroller? They’re basically the same. Pram is the British term for a stroller, though sometimes American’s use it to refer to a stroller with a bassinet attachment. You can find adapters that will connect a bassinet to a stroller as well, though most bassinets are sold with strollers and not individually.
When you buy a car seat it will come with a base, in the case of convertible car seats the base is attached. Wondering when to put baby in stroller without car seat? When you purchase a stroller it includes a child seat. Most stroller child seats are rated six months and up but be sure to check the minimum weight limits.
If you’re thinking baby strollers and car seat sets aren’t for you, I would consider your little one’s age, your preferences, and your current baby gear.
If your kiddo doesn’t use an infant seat, buy a stroller separately. If you already have an infant seat or a convertible seat, buy a stroller separately. This works vice versa too if you already have a good stroller simply buy a car seat and base separately.
When it comes to your preferences, think about what matters most. If you are happy carrying around your infant seat and don’t want or need to connect it to a stroller, then you may not want a travel system. If you are okay with lifting your sleeping baby out of their seat and placing them in a stroller’s child seat (as long as they’re old enough) then you can probably skip the travel system.
An important thing to note with preferences too is stroller model availability. When debating travel system or stroller, know that there is generally a lot more variety with strollers sold separately. Travel systems have expanded to include quite a few different types, but individual strollers are far more diverse in offerings.
- More options and greater variety
- Good choice if you already own a piece of a travel system
- Great for families with older children who don’t use an infant car seat
- Can be more affordable (more budget options)
- Cannot always find adapters to work with your stroller and car seat
- More expensive if you have to purchase all three items (stroller, car seat, seat base)
- Can be difficult to find items that match
The bottom line is if you are having a baby, or have a baby, and want to buy everything you need to travel in a single purchase, opt for a travel system. If you already have components or have a child who has outgrown the infant car seat and fits a stroller child seat, forgo the travel system.
Nevertheless, the following table can help make the choice clearer.
Whether you are picking out a travel system or an individual stroller and car seat, here are important factors to keep in mind.
- Safety. You want to ensure that your choice is safe for your child. Make sure that each part meets quality and safety ratings, especially the car seat and base. Look over the parts of your gear, like seatbelts, buckles, and latches to check that they are secure and of high quality.
- Durability. Sometimes the quality of the products in a travel system can vary. This may be true too if you splurge on a car seat and then skimp on the stroller. Take a close look at each component to see how durable and sturdy it is. Check for things like tires that won’t deflate or warp and fabrics that won’t break down.
- Lifespan. Whether you are buying a travel system or a stroller and car seat, look at the minimum and maximum for weight, height, and age. Many strollers transition from infant riders to child riders, this is especially true with those that accept an infant car seat.
Some strollers also accommodate additional riders via a riding board or rumble seat. Infant car seats have similarly upper weight limits, but some can accommodate a slightly larger child. To get the most out of your gear, make sure it will fit your baby for years to come.
- Extra Features. Look at the specific features for each component. Does your stroller have a parent’s tray and a child’s tray? Does the car seat include a canopy? You can usually find more features with individual seats and strollers than travel systems, but don’t forget to scope out the details of each separate item before you buy!
- Budget. Of course, don’t forget about your budget. Budgeting is easier with a travel system because you only have to make one purchase. If you are opting for individual items, don’t splurge on one thing and then have to buy cheap when it comes to the other necessary items!
Britax B-Lively & B-Safe 35 Travel System
Britax is known for its safety. This Britax B-Lively & B-Safe 35 Travel System car seat and stroller are sturdy and durable. They have just enough features to keep things comfortable and convenient.
However, the extra elements don’t make it heavy or bulky. The three-wheel stroller design is agile, even with the car seat attached via integrated adapters.
- The Britax travel system is a stroller and car seat combo including the B-lively stroller, B-safe 35 infant car seat base and adapters
- Surrounded in safety: 1 layer of side impact protection, steel frame and safe cell impact absorbing base. Easy-release harness button makes it simple to loosen harness straps.
- Convenient features: Lightweight stroller with one hand quick fold, XL storage basket, ventilated UV 50+ canopy, and no re-thread infant car seat harness
Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System
The Chicco Bravo is a long-standing parent favorite. The lightweight car seat is incredibly safe and connecting it to the stroller is a breeze.
The stroller can be used as a frame stroller, to carry the infant seat without having to keep the child seat attached. Then you can switch out the carrier for the spacious and plush child seat as your child gets bigger. Little details like an adjustable handlebar make this affordable stroller a steal!
- Top-selling travel system includes the Bravo Quick-Fold Stroller and the top-rated KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat for streamlined travel
- Removable seat and canopy transform Bravo to a lightweight car seat carrier and offers secure, click-in attachment via the child tray – no adapter needed
- One-hand, smart fold design is compact and stands independently without the push handle touching the ground
Graco® SnugRide® 35 Lite LX Infant Car Seat
Budget-friendly but also extremely protective, this seat doesn’t compromise. From the day you bring your baby home, the Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX seat keeps them safe and secure.
It includes removable head and body support pillows as well as a four-position recline for proper fit. The base of the seat is both LATCH and seatbelt equipped. Another wonderful characteristic of Graco is that stroller adapters are usually easy to find!
- SNUGRIDE PERFORMANCE: Infant car seat helps protect rear-facing infants 4-35 lb and up to 32"
- LIGHTWEIGHT CARRIER: Lightweight infant car seat weighs only 7.2 lb, making it easy to carry baby from car to stroller
- 4-POSITION ADJUSTABLE BASE: Helps ensure an accurate install and helps keep baby comfortable as he or she grows
CRUZ® V2 Stroller by UPPAbaby
Though you can pair an infant seat or bassinet with this stroller, the UPPAbaby Cruz shines all on its own. Sleek and agile, it’s effortless to maneuver down busy streets. Inside, the seat is spacious and deep, covered by an expansive canopy. The no-rethread harness makes adjustments a breeze.
Parents will love that the seat is multi-directional, either parent-facing or forward-facing. The spacious lower basket and leather-covered handle don’t hurt either! A contender for the Cruz model is the Vista model, and if you cannot decide, be sure to check out comparison guide between UPPAbaby Cruz vs Vista!
- Dual action rear suspension (patent-pending) is designed with two varying springs that respond in unison to soften the ride no matter the child's weight.
- Smaller folded size makes it easier to carry, tuck away or take up less trunk space
- Larger front and rear tires create a smoother ride over tough terrain
It all comes down to your baby’s age, your preferences, and what you already own. If you’re starting from scratch with a newborn, an all-in-one travel system is the way to go.
If you already have some gear or your child is older, go for a separate seat and stroller so you won’t get items that you don’t need. No matter your needs, there are a lot of wonderful models available in both categories!
We hope this article cleared up a few things for you and provided you with some awesome recommendations. Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Last update on 2021-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API