Cheap Travel Systems
Before the baby even arrives, expenses start piling up. One way to save money and lock in convenience is to buy a cheap travel system comprised of stroller, car seat, and base. Of course, you can buy the stroller and car seat (with or without a base) separately, but why? A travel system is a product for which the whole costs less than the sum of the parts. And with a car seat that fastens securely into the stroller, you can efficiently move a baby from one vehicle to another.
Our Top Pick
Graco FastAction Fold Travel System Review
According to Graco FastAction Fold Travel System reviews posted at Amazon, parents are true believers in the fast-action promise of this stroller. They're thoroughly impressed with its simple, quick, one-handed folding and appreciate its miserly use of space once folded; one parent notes the trunk in her small car is still half empty after loading the stroller inside. Users also report the stroller is light and easy to push, although one review at Toys R Us says the steering could be smoother. The SnugFit car seat attracts nearly equal amounts of praise, with travel system reviews noting it attaches and detaches from the base with ease and provides adequate cushioning for a safe and comfortable ride. Numerous reviewers say they would buy this system again if it ever came to that (i.e., it's been in an accident or a new set is needed for a new baby).
A few Graco FastAction Fold Travel System reviews carp about the issue bedeviling many buggies in the budget travel systems category: the storage basket is too small and hard to access when the stroller seat is fully reclined. Also, one set of tall parents report that their feet knock against the lower bar when pushing the stroller.
This travel system includes the FastAction Fold stroller (starting at $200, Amazon), the SnugRide 30 car seat or the SnugRide 22. A base is included in either configuration and together with the seat is compatible with the LATCH system. The SnugRide 30 accommodates infants up to 30 pounds and the SnugRide 22 holds infants up to 22 pounds; the package with the smaller car seat is slightly less expensive. Both car seats weigh 7.5 pounds without the base and are padded with energy-absorbing foam. They also feature a 5-point harness and come with a removable head support. The FastAction Fold stroller holds kids up to 50 pounds and itself weighs 22 pounds. Its front wheels swivel and the seatback fully reclines and can be set at intermediate positions along the way. The 5-point harness can be changed to a 3-point arrangement to suit a growing child. Extras include two parent cup holders and a removable child tray with cup holder that also pivots out of the way.
Parents seem thrilled with the stroller's folding mechanism and its space-saving ways. The SnugRide car seat exceeds safety test standards, which keeps anxiety at bay. The simplicity and user-friendly attributes of this travel system make for a commendable package.
Chicco Cortina Travel System Review
More than 1,000 Chicco Cortina Travel System reviews posted at Toys R Us make a strong and convincing case for this stroller, car seat, and base combo package. Parents and caregivers rave about the comfort and solidity, easy-clean fabric, and hassle-free process of installing the base and getting the car seat itself in and out of a vehicle; one parent notes the comforting "click" when the car seat is secured in place. Reviews also commend the ease of opening and closing the stroller and its smooth rolling action. Many reviews indicate that buyers did their homework first and were drawn to the Chicco Cortina package for the quality, styling, budget pricing, and safety rating of the KeyFit car seat. A number of reviewers consider the system to be the best on the market today.
But perfect it's not -- the positive buzz is tempered by a few minor barbs. At Amazon for example, some Chicco Cortina Travel System reviews gripe about the stroller feeling bulky and the car seat quickly becoming cramped for rapidly growing babies, the difficulty of getting to the stroller storage basket when the seat is fully reclined, and the clacking noise as hard wheels roll over sidewalks.
The Chicco Cortina Travel System (starting at $270, Amazon) we researched includes the KeyFit 22 car seat, the base, and the Cortina stroller. The car seat holds infants up to 22 pounds, includes a 5-point harness, and together with the base is LATCH compatible; it earned a top rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The seat contains energy-absorbing foam and comes with an insert for newborns. It weighs 9 pounds and the base weighs 7.4 pounds. The Cortina system is also available -- at a slightly higher price -- with the KeyFit 30 car seat, which accommodates babies up to 30 pounds. The 22-pound Cortina stroller holds children up to 50 pounds and can be folded with one hand. It features a 5-point harness, all-wheel suspension, a multi-position seat back that also fully reclines, height-adjustable handle grips, reversible sun canopy, and parent and child cup holders.
The highly-touted KeyFit car seat gives parents a large dose of comfort and security. Add that to the sturdy feel, impressive performance, and elegant looks of the travel system's components, and you've got one excellent value. To get the most out of your investment, though, you might consider paying a bit more for a Chicco Cortina package with the KeyFit 30 car seat.
Graco Stylus LX Travel System Review
Stylish and sturdy are the terms used in Graco Stylus LX Travel System reviews at sites such as Walmart. Users like the stroller's one-handed fold and its fully reclining seat, as well as the calming, gender-neutral colors that are repeated on the car seat. Parents and caregivers further note that the stroller and car seat fabric is exceptionally soft and young passengers seem comfortable and content. Travel system reviews at Toys R Us largely agree and add that the stroller handles well and glides smoothly. One parent writes that the two front wheels on the Graco Stylus LX are a notable improvement over the four-wheel design found on many baby buggies. Another reports that the canopies of the car seat and stroller align perfectly when the seat is in the stroller, thus making an effective screen against inclement weather.
Still, grumbles about one thing or another occasionally show up in Graco Stylus LX Travel System reviews. For example, some users say the storage basket seems flimsy and is hard to access when the seat is all the way down. A few others consider the stroller to be heavy and bulky.
This travel system comes with the Graco Stylus LX stroller (starting at $244, Amazon), the SnugRide 30 car seat, and a base. The car seat accommodates children up to 30 pounds and, with the base, is LATCH compatible. The car seat weighs 7.5 pounds, as does the base, and contains energy-absorbing foam. The stroller weighs 26 pounds and holds toddlers up to 50 pounds. Both the car seat and stroller are outfitted with a 5-point harness, which can be converted to a 3-point setup on the latter when the child is big enough. The stroller's front wheels swivel for easy maneuverability but can be locked in a forward position for stability. It's engineered with a one-hand gravity fold and comes with a height-adjustable handle, parent tray and two cupholders, and a removable infant body support; the seat reclines in multiple positions until it's all the way down.
The budget price, solid build, and good performance of the Graco Stylus LX Travel System handily meet the needs and expectations of adult users. The kids seem happy, too -- and we know how much that's worth.
Safety 1st Saunter Luxe Travel System Review
Safety 1st Saunter Luxe Travel System reviews are fewer in number and less positive than reviews for other travel systems we researched. At both Amazon and Toys R Us comments focus mostly on the car seat. A few reviews say the stroller is good enough -- the baby seems comfortable and the brakes work fine -- although one post reports rough passage on all but the smoothest surfaces. The car seat, though, takes heat for a locking arrangement that leaves parents nervous. Travel system reviews say the seat locks into the base on one side only, which leaves them wondering just what would happen in the event of an accident. One parent also reports difficulty unlatching the seat from the base and another grouses about the straps. Still, parents appreciate the light weight of both stroller and car seat.
This travel system includes the Safety 1st Saunter Luxe stroller (starting at $130, Amazon), Comfy Carry Elite car seat, and a base. The car seat capacity is a maximum 22 pounds and with the base is compatible with the car's LATCH system. It comes with an infant insert and a harness with a 5-point configuration. The stroller is fitted out with a 3-point harness and its capacity hits the maximum at 50 pounds. There's a quilted lined canopy, a baby tray and a parent tray, s storage basket, rear wheel brakes, and a one-handed fold mechanism. Weight specifications for these components are not listed on the manufacturer's website.
Parents' concerns about the car seat prompted us to place the Safety 1st Saunter Luxe at the bottom of our list. Although the price is certainly right on this travel system, peace of mind may be worth the higher cost of combo packages that earned higher scores in our hit parade.