The Best Umbrella Stroller for Travel and Family Vacations
An umbrella stroller is one of those things that can either make or break a family vacation. I remember the exact time I learnt this lesson. It was a balmy weekend day in New York City.The kind that demands that one venture out to drink in the greenery everywhere. So out we went. For our trip I was pushing a 25 pound stroller. In it sat my equally heavy two and half years old daughter chattering to all who would listen, then spontaneously breaking into song. Yes, it was a perfect day.
Then the New York City subway train intervened. Several trains were rerouted. We would have to take a total of three trains to get to Central Park. Between each train were a few flights of stairs that would prove our undoing. At first I attempted to lift the stroller with my daughter seated in it. Not even half way up a flight of stairs I could feel something like lost muscles cracking. The next time, I figured It would be wiser to close the stroller and lift it with one hand while holding my daughter's hand with the other.
Closing the stroller proved easier said than done. The biggest problem was the fact that closing the stroller required both hands. My daughter kept running towards the train tracks every time I attempted to let her go so I could close it. A stranger's kindness saved the day, but my back ached for days. Even worse, our fun family day was ruined. It was time for a lightweight umbrella stroller
My quest for the perfect travel umbrella stroller began with a list of essentials that extensive experience traveling with toddlers had taught me were 'must haves' These qualities are:
Six Qualities of a Good Umbrella Stroller For Travelling
Umbrella stroller is the broad term given to the class of strollers that are made to be lightweight and convenient to carry. However, what is considered lightweight is very wide. I have seen lightweight strollers that were 17 pounds. Carrying a 17 pound stroller while you travel with a toddler is just asking for trouble. It seems that to be comfortable, the maximum a lightweight travel stroller should be is 10-12 pounds. This will make carrying the stroller up multiple flights of stairs, through an airport and from airport to hotel manageable and safe on the back.
Sturdy and Safe Structurally
While a good umbrella stroller must be lightweight, it is also important that the stroller is sturdy and safe. It unsurprising that toddlers sometimes throw their best tantrums while travelling. A new place, a messed up schedule, and airplane or train delays are just too much for the little ones. An umbrella stroller that will tip over easily if your child throws a tantrum or twists a lot while sitting in it is simply too unsafe. A good umbrella stroller must balance it's light weight with a sturdy and structurally sound design.
Easy to Close and Carry
A stroller that closes easily can make the difference between missing a train and arriving on time while you travel. If you have to let go of your toddler or find a bench for her to sit on safely so you can close a stroller, it is too inconvenient. Umbrella strollers designed to easily close and carry with one hand will make your travels a breeze.
Easy to Maneuver
While it is unrealistic to expect the smaller wheels on an umbrella stroller to ride as smoothly as a full size stroller, pushing an umbrella stroller shouldn't feel like negotiating an obstacle course. A good travel umbrella stroller should turn smoothly and go fairly easily over rough terrain..
A reclining stroller is especially important for younger toddlers who still need to take multiple naps while on vacation. If you have ever watched a toddler sleeping in an upright stroller you know how painful it looks - neck hangs down or to the side in an awkward position that just can't be comfortable. A reclining umbrella stroller solves this problem, and makes it possible to spend longer periods outside enjoying your vacation instead of in a hotel room at nap time.
Has a Sunshade/ Canopy
This one is self explanatory and is especially important if your trip happens in warmer months or includes lots of walking outside.
- Uppababy Gluxe
- Maclaren Mark II
- Maclaren Triumph
I narrowed down my list to these three strollers because they came highly recommend by mom friends, seemed to possess all or most of my 'must haves', had good reviews online and came from brands I already knew and liked.
And The Best Umbrella Stroller For Travel Is
The Maclaren Triumph
The Maclaren Triumph came out on top in every area that was important. The Uppababy Gluxe while luxurious and well built, had one fatal flaw. It was all of 15 pounds. No matter how stylish, comfortable and sturdy the Gluxe, the weight just defeated the purpose of having a lightweight travel stroller in.
At around 8 pounds, the Maclaren Mark II was lighter than the others and should have been the perfect travel umbrella stroller. However, it's very light weight seemed to sacrifice on sturdiness and comfort. Not only was the seat unpadded, but the stroller's build placed it very close to the ground with the result that it was too far away from the canopy to make it useful as a sun shade.
The Maclaren Triumph's Features
The Maclaren Triumph's Weight, Build and Maneuverability
This is one stroller that was made for travel. Although it is advertised as weighing around 10lbs, I found it weighed closer to 12 pounds when the storage basket and canopy were added. This totally manageable weight is complimented by a sturdy aircraft grade aluminum body that doesn't tip or feel unsafe over bumps or with a contortionist toddler. And when you need to push the stroller on long walks through the airport or on city streets, the wheels which are pretty small -as with all umbrella strollers- turn well and maneuver smoothly round corners. The Maclaren Triumph will negotiate your adventures on uneven streets in faraway lands almost as easily as smoothly tiled museum floors.
The build includes an uber safe 5 point harness which is virtually impossible for even the most inquisitive toddler to figure out; padded seating which remove for easy cleaning and a decent footrest. Disappointingly missing was a cup holder. This stood out to me (I just assumed that every stroller maker knew that coffee can be a matter of life or death to a mom on the go). Those so inclined can easily remedy this flaw by purchasing one from the company.
Missing cup holder aside, the Maclaren company has one policy that in my mind, gives them an edge over other stroller makers: their warranty called the Maclaren Lifetime Warranty protects your investment for a lifetime once you register it at their website. This should give a high level of peace of mind when buying the Maclaren Triumph.
Easy to Close and Carry
Two of the Maclaren Triumph's features that make it one of the best umbrella strollers for travel are the easy one hand fold and carrying strap. I really appreciate how the Triumph closes compactly and easily-- making it easy to hold your child while folding the stroller. Once it closes a strap attached to the back makes slinging the compact stroller over the shoulder while holding your toddler's hand a breeze.
Parents of younger toddlers who will need to nap between destinations will also appreciate the Maclaren Triumph's reclining seat which reclines to a comfortable sleeping position by a pulling mechanism which you control. It reclines by pulling on a contraption which releases the seat to different angles that you control by pulling on straps attached to the back of the seat.Tightening the straps pushes the seat back to a sitting position. I should point out that the Triumph doesn't recline totally flat, so if you are looking for a completely flat sleeping surface for an infant, the Maclaren may not be ideal.
Sunshade Canopy/ Hood is UV50
Most families travel during summer vacations when the sun is at its worst. The Maclaren Triumph's UV50 hood provides coverage from both the sun and it's harmful UV rays. The hood even has an extendable visor (gray in the pictures above) that covers every angle, and I can positively say there is no time that your little one will be unprotected from the sun. The hood's waterproof material offers protection from light drizzle (the included rain cover offers perfect cover from heavy rain), while mesh panels on the side keeps the air circulating even when the hood is fully down.
The Triumph has a Small Storage Basket That Fits all This
With Space For More!
A Pocket on Back Provides Extra Storage
A Rain Cover comes Standard With the Triumph
The Maclaren Triumph makes the perfect travel umbrella stroller, and is built to last through years of memory-making family trips. If you would like to check it out for yourself, this link to the on Amazon is a good place to see specs and other reviews. If weight isn't a deal breaker for you, also check out the fabulous Uppababy G-luxe for another great option. Maclaren Triumph