If I had to name one piece of travel gear that has vastly improved what travel with a toddler is like, it's the pushchair we take with us on journeys. Finding a reliable, lightweight and yet sturdy collapsible stroller for travel has saved us days of back pain, hours of holding a heavy sleeping child and several rushed minutes of panicking as we can't collapse the damn thing in the line for security at airports. It should also be said that the buggy we use for travelling is also the buggy we use at home in Amsterdam, where we live on the third floor of a building with no lift (and if you know Amsterdam at all you will know what the stairs are like in most buildings). To say this is the best stroller for travel is true, it's also the best buggy for city living, so I can also say with some confidence that it is sturdy and strong and will last.
The Best Pushchair/Buggy/Stroller for Travelling
Pushchair, buggy, stroller, whatever you call this ingenious bit of kit, it doesn't matter. What matters, if you are a family with young children and you like to travel and want to do so with minimal stress, then choosing the best buggy for your journeys - long-haul or otherwise - and for the time you're in a another part of the world, is really important and should be seen as an investment.
When we first started travelling with our son we relied on a good baby carrier until he was around five or six months and could hold his own weight better so he could be in a proper pushchair when out and about rather than a pram with a bassinet. At that stage we bought a very cheap folding pushchair that collapsed in the traditional umbrella way. Now, when we say we bought a cheap stroller, we are not exaggerating. I can't remember exactly but I think it cost about €20 and it had no brand or label. And it did us fine, truly for the first two or three trips we did, and while we were at home we used a luxurious Joolz pushchair to get our little man around the city (or more often we actually had him on our bike, because we live in Amsterdam!).
But during our trip to Sydney, one of the wheels began sticking and then the brakes stopped releasing so easily, and by the time we were planning our next trip, we knew we'd have to get something a bit more reliable. It was also around this time that we moved apartments from the ground floor to the third floor and our beloved Joolz which transported in two bulky parts also began to look a bit cumbersome. So we started to do some research for a lightweight, durable buggy that would be easy to fold, to carry and to go up and down stairs!
The result: The best every stroller for travel and easily our greatest investment for family travel: The YoYo+ by BabyZen.
(A quick piece of advice: Because this buggy is so popular, especially in Europe, there are a lot of imitation and knock-off versions floating around, especially online. My best advice is to buy direct from a listed retailer from the BabyZen website, or from this Amazon seller. Alternatively, if you're in the USA you can purchase from Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue. If you're in the UK, you can buy the YoYo+ by BabyZen online from Mothercare, Harrods or Mamas & Papas.)
The Reasons We Love YoYo+ BabyZen Pushchair for Travel
It's really light!
Number one requirement for anything you're going to carry or push a lot is that it should be light. This goes for a buggy as much as anything else. The YoYo+ BabyZen weighs around 5.8kg and while this certainly isn't the lightest stroller on the market, it is light enough to carry without straining, though the real advantage of this model is how you carry it, i.e. with a strap over your shoulder like a bag, rather than a long thin piece of kit, like a golf bag - find out more below. I also think it's the lightest buggy of its kind in terms of durability, how sturdy it is and how well it has lasted. We've had our YoYo+ BabyZen nearly a year and half (making it actually just a YoYo not a YoYo+!), and have never had a problem folding it up, opening it back up again, or pushing it along. It feels like to push (even with a 15kg toddler sitting in it) and I have easily carried it on one shoulder while climbing up the steps to a plane with my son carried in my other arm.
Folds up small
So, yep, let's talk a bit more about how it folds up. I always describe it as folding up to be about the size of a briefcase and then there is a strap that you can loop over a shoulder. This strap is always attached so there's no faffing around putting it on when we need it or taking it off when we don't. Admittedly, you wouldn't want to carry it around with you like that all day but hopefully you won't need to. The exact dimensions of the YoYo+ when folded up is 20.7 x 17 x 7 inches, or 52.5 x 43 x 17 cm. The size is incredibly handy because it can go in car boots easily, in the passenger seat or in the foot well of a car with no drama, and it even straps on to the back of our bike for when we're out and about in Amsterdam. Also the size of this stroller is perfect for travel because...
You can take on board the plane!
Personally, this is the single most important reason this is the best pushchair for travel. Too many times I've been taken unaware at an airport where I expect to get my buggy immediately after getting off the plane but then am told I have to collect with the rest of my luggage at baggage return. This is fine in airports where strollers are provided, but not all airports do provide this and so a long walk carrying a grumpy infant can ensue (Schiphol, I'm looking at you as the worst offender!). Being able to fold the YoYo BabyZen up and stash it in either the overhead lockers or under the seat in front of me (which I do in front of where my son is sitting as his legs dangle way above where the foot well is) really does save me a lot of extra worry at the airport I'm arriving at, and it also means the stroller can be transported safely because I've heard of more than a few instances of strollers getting damaged in transit. Yes, it's one more thing to carry and wedging it in the plane's overhead locker can be a bit of an effort, especially on smaller planes, but the dimensions are so that they're permitted on board a plane. Hoorah!
Most airlines will allow you to take it on the plane, but you may need to explain or demonstrate how small it folds up, and it's possible they will decide to stow it just before you board because there are too many cabin bags. This has happened to me maybe three times in ten or more flights. The less luggage you have with you in addition to the stroller the better, i.e. I always say that the pushchair is my son's luggage and we only then take on a backpack plus the stroller if it's just us travelling, and I always have my backpack under the seat in front of me, so we're really not taking up any space in the overhead lockers.
Folds up easily
We had our Joolz for a little over 18 months and I never really did get comfortable or confident collapsing it by myself. At least not without a battle. But the BabyZen YoYo+ was a different story, almost from my first attempt. Okay, maybe it was my second or third attempt. Anyway, it's basically a process of pushing two buttons at the same time to fold down the buggy's hood, and then you have to reach under the seat and push another button, at which point it should collapse effortlessly.
In terms of then opening it up again to use, I would say it opens up exactly as it's supposed to - with just a flick of the wrist once the lock is off and when holding the top handle - about 90% of the time. I am certain most of the times it doesn't open up perfectly, like the video below, is due to human error, but sometimes a wheel facing the wrong direction can stop it so I now know to check them first and thus my success rate is much higher.
The below video makes it look super easy while carrying even a young baby, and of course this is advertising at its best, but I can honestly say that it is almost that easy, except of course my child is much more wriggly and I never look that relaxed while travelling with a young infant.
Is a very good pushchair!
Let's not forget that even a good travel pushchair has a very important main job - i.e. being pushed around by an adult while a small child sits inside. When I say that the YoYo+ "pushes well", I'm trying to say that it more than adequately does the job that it's supposed to. Our boy doesn't naturally sit well in pushchairs (never has!) but he likes this one just as much as the next and has been known to even fall asleep in it which is high praise from him. You can recline and adjust the back seat of the YoYo BabyZen pretty easily. There is a space for storing items under the seat (which I understand has increased in size recently) though these have to be removed completely for it to fold up successfully. There is also a zip-up pocket in the back of the hood, which we use for our passports and boarding passes when travelling. The hood itself folds out quite far and nearly always can provide plenty of shade for out little guy. There are three different positions for the straps so you can change these as your little on grows bigger.
Of course, it's not as smooth to push as a two-piece Joolz or Bugaboo, but it's also not the same price. Yes, it's more than some of the other lightweight or travel pushchairs but having had a traditional umbrella-style buggy that was a lot cheaper, I felt I wanted to have some confidence in the buggy so paying a bit more seemed a good investment, and so far I think it's paid off. I believe most models (when bought new) come with a 2-year guarantee, and we've certainly tested it with regular use, lots of flights, and even a sprint through Singapore airport when we had less than an hour to make our connection for a flight to Sydney.
Great for all ages
The model that we have is recommended for use from 6 months, but there is an alternative model which features the option of a bassinet for smaller babies and newborns. We're most likely going to get the other model for when our second son is born as it also folds down just as small and is adaptable to then have either a car seat attached when needed or a toddler seat added in later. This means we can still take the buggy on board a flight when we have a baby. While I still suspect we will opt for the carrier as that's so easy when babies are smaller (and lighter!) it's very cool to know we may have this option.
We've seen kids as old as four or five being pushed around in this buggy and we know our nearly three-year-old is going to still want to use it for some time. With the adjustable straps and sturdiness of the buggy, the YoYo+ will hopefully last us another year or two, maybe more if we use it with our second. You can also get a step/sitting board attachment to go on the back of the buggy for a toddler who needs a rest. Yes, that's also on our shopping list!
Encourages minimal packing!
If you've read this post on the best travel gear to take when travelling with a toddler, you'll know that I'm a firm believer in taking as little as possible when travelling with a small child. This stroller effectively encourages that because you can't just dump stuff in the underseat storage and forget about it because then you can't fold up the buggy!
I've not yet tried to remove and machine wash the seat (though all the materials used are apparently machine washable at 30 degrees) but I have had to wipe it down or wash separate sections by hand when vomit/snacks/snot have gotten astray. While it will never look brand new ever again, it comes up clean just fine. Also, it doesn't smell. Yay.
Value for money
I think we paid around €360 for our YoYo just under 18 months ago and while this is quite a chunky sum of money (and I believe they've gone up in price since) we definitely feel we've got our money's worth already. The model we actually bought (I believe) is an older version and the YoYo+ on sale today in 2018 has been improved upon with a wider storage space and more adaptability. We'll do a compare when we get the new one, plus a newborn bassinet for kiddo number 2!
And a final warning (again)...
Because this buggy is so popular, especially in Europe, there are a lot of imitation and knock-off versions floating around, especially online. My best advice is to buy direct from a listed retailer from the BabyZen website, or from this Amazon seller. Alternatively, if you're in the USA you can purchase from Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue. If you're in the UK, you can buy the YoYo+ by BabyZen online from Mothercare, Harrods or Mamas & Papas.
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Frances M. Thompson
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