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Buyer's Guide to Travel Systems

What to look for when thinking about buying a multi-purpose pushchair solution

Posted: 9 October 2009
by ThinkBaby

At their most simple, travel systems are pushchairs and rear-facing car seats compatible with the same frame, though many also offer a frame-compatible carry cot also. This allows you to attach either the car seat or the carry cot to the pushchair frame, giving you greater flexibility in terms of set-up and allowing you to transfer a sleeping baby from car seat to pushchair mode without disturbing him. There's a wide variety in travel systems in terms of performance and price, and if you're considering buying a 2 or 3-in-one product then careful shopping round is essential to make sure that you get the most appropriate product.

What to consider when buying

When opting for a travel system remember that the performance of all the separate parts is important. Some systems perform excellently all-round and are greater than the sum of their parts given the flexibility the system offers. Other systems may have great pushchairs, but indifferent or less suitable car seats and carry cots. Maybe you don't like the handle of the carry cot, or the car seat doesn't click in to the frame as easily as you'd like. Don't dismiss these objections because if you don't like one of the parts you won't use it as intended and so the system will be a false economy.

  • Is it as flexible as it looks? - All travel systems are based on the premise of flexibility, however, not all are created equal in terms of usage. Check how easily the car seat and carry cot clip and unclip from the frame, if it's complicated, difficult or just a nuisance to do then the chances are you won't bother using it as a system.

  • How does the car seat fit / function?- There's little point in investing in a travel system if the car seat doesn't fit well in your car. Most reputable dealers will allow you to check the seat in your car first to check you're happy with the fit, as well as offering expert help. If you want to be able to use it in the front passenger seat as well as the back seats then make sure you check the fit there too (though remember that if you have an airbag fitted in the front seat you won't be able to use the rear-facing seat there). Ease-of-use is also an important consideration in testing the car seat. For more help on choosing a car seat see this buyer's guide

  • Do you need the carry cot? - As we said above, some systems come complete with carry cots, others offer an optional carry cot at a greater price and yet others don't include a carry cot at all. Before you let this influence your decision too much, try and work out whether the carry cot will be useful to you.

    On the plus side carry cots are better for your baby's back than car seats, so you can both leave them sleeping in a carry cot longer. You can also use the carry cot instead of a moses basket in the early months. Some mums will like being able to add the carry cot to the chair frame to make a relatively small pram. But carry cots generally take up a lot more seat space in the car than car seats, and once your baby can sit up unaided (by six months) they're no longer suitable for travel.

  • How does the carry cot perform? - Obviously you'll only get good use out of the carry cot if you like it and find it easy to use, so check how it carries, fits in the car and clicks onto the system frame if you do want to have one.

  • How does the pushchair function/perform? - In all likelihood the pushchair will be the lynchpin of your system, check how easy it is to put up and collapse, how heavy it is and how much space it takes up for storage in your car boot or home. Other things you will want to consider when looking at the pushchair include: seating positions (does it include fully flat for a newborn?), stability (is it likely to tip over if you place anything on the handles?), padding and comfort, build quality, brakes, handles (and height), wheels and usability of the straps. For more details on what to look for in a pushchair see this buyer's guide.
  • Inglesina Zippy pushchair available as travel system

    Maxi-Cosi Cabrio infant carrier as part of travel system: £89
    • Options - Not all travel systems are single-branded, so there may be a few less obvious options out there. For example the Maxi-Cosi Cabrio car seat is compatible either with the Maxi-Cosi Speedi, the Bugaboo or certain pushchairs from the Quinny range to create a travel system.
    • Accessories - As with pushchairs there's a wide range of accessories available for travel systems, and they may or may not be included in the price. Check exactly what is included in the price and how much other accessories that you want will cost, so you can accurately compare value across systems.

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    Discuss this story

    help! we had finally made up our mind to purchase the quinny buzz pushchair and the car seat to match, as it states that it is suitable from birth.

    whilst in mothercare today i have been told that i also need the carrycot as it is not suitable to keep the baby in the carseat whilst out and about for any lenght of time! and that the pushchair part is only suitable from 6 months onwards as the baby is unable to lie flat.

    can anyone give me advice on this, do i really need to buy all the equipment if i want to use it with a newborn?

    apart from all the space it will take up in the house and the car, for carrycot, car seat and pushchair part, particulary when i can't use the puschair part until the baby is 6 months! seems a bit of a con for extra expenses £559.97.... plus when i was looking last week the buzz was ranging from £249.99 upwards, now because the new model is out, it is starting at £329.99

    i was then considering the Maui 2-in-1 pushchair & carry cot package - Red Flame £249.99 & car seat £79.99, which seems pratical and is much more reasonibly priced. any suggestions would be much appreciated as i havent much time left.

    thought it would be easy to choose a pram, how wrong i was! lol ......

    many thanks

    Posted: 11/01/2007 at 15:51

    Hi Mags,

    Thanks for your post - I think that the sales person in Mothercare was correct - it isn't advisable to leave your baby in the car seat for too long as it isn't good for her back and it is preferable to lie a newborn flat in a pushchair so the carrycot would be useful for that reason.

    I have attached our guide to travel systems above - I hope this helps!

    Good luck and let us know how you get on!

    Monica x
    (ThinkBaby Production)

    Posted: 11/01/2007 at 16:19

    Hi after looking for ages at the different travel systems to get i decided to go for a bebe confort loola i priced them up and were quite expensive in the stores it was going to be around £560!!!! for the lot but i found a website that are offering the latest model for 399.99 and free delivery with it you get the creatis car seat and windoo carry cot and a free foot muff thrown in which is normally 40 squid any whoo the website is
    www.baby-pages.co.uk they have other makes on their but at really good prices hope this helps Emz xx

    Posted: 13/01/2007 at 21:40


    We are debating between SilverCross 3D Pram (Jet Sport) and Mamas and Papas Pliko Quattro... has anyone have any suggestions or feedback about these two travel systems??

    Posted: 13/01/2007 at 23:28

    i also had the same quandry a few weeks ago. We eventualy decided that we would purchase the carry cot to go with the Quinny however i am using this instead of a moses basket during day time naps etc in the house to double the usage and get my moneys worth. The many sales assistants i have spoken to have said that the car seat etc is fine up to about 2 hours, the pushchair is about the same for a newborn, however the pushchair can be made 'almost flat' and teherfore can be used on trip slightly longer.
    whatever you decide - good luck
    by the way there are many websites that will offer the quinny (pushchair/carry cot/maxi cosi car seat/foot muff package) for about £350-400 now

    Posted: 14/01/2007 at 18:41

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