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Traveling with a toddler? Consider taking a trike instead of a stroller

Dec. 14, 2019
6 min read
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Parents know the pushback you can get from a testy toddler if you try to strap them into a stroller when they have something else in mind. But there is another set of wheels that puts them in the driver's seat and you in control: a push tricycle that raises the fun, lessens the fury and is built to travel where you have to go.

It’s basically a tricycle for a child around 10 months old and up that you can still control from behind with a handle. These push tricycles might be just the solution to putting more joy in your child's wheeled journeys — at the airport terminal, during a family vacation or a trip around the block back home.

The best models are the ones with canopies to shade children from the sun (like a stroller). Some push trikes are made to grow with your child, complete with parent handles that can be removed when the kids are ready to pedal themselves.

Read on if you’re ready to let your child make the transition from the stroller to a push tricycle.

Related: Making travel easier with car seats and strollers


The same company that brought us the magical little car seat that converts into a stroller has one of the best and most portable push tricycles on the market. Doona Liki Trike S5, the three-wheeled marvel advertised as the world’s most compact folding trike, is made for travel. With no assembly required, the tricycle takes seconds to break down to the size of a carry-on bag and slides easily into most airplane overhead bins. (Get the Liki Travel Bag for easy storage.) Made for ages 10 months to 3 years, it is designed to grow with your little one as they learn to pedal. The five-point harness keeps them secure and there’s a sun canopy with 50+ protection that means you’re ready for sunny-day adventures or a sprinkle of rain.


The JOOVY Tricycoo LX calls itself an 8-in-1 tricycle since it has eight modes that can transport babies from 6 months old to the 3-year-old mark. An ergonomic rotating and reclining seat means your baby can ride backward in the beginning (and even recline for a nap) and then transition to push mode for toddlers who’ll eventually ride all on their own. The front tire has an extra-wide design that makes it easy for little ones to roll along (the wheels can be set to freewheel so kids feel they’re doing more than they are). This model is equipped with a removable and adjustable-height handle, 50+ SPF sun canopy, storage basket and detachable safety bar. This trike doesn’t fold down for air travel and is better suited for close-to-home adventuring.

Related: The best strollers for travel


The little red Radio Flyer EZ Fold 4-in-1 Stroll ’N Trike offers a classic option at a good price for kids ages 9 months and up. There’s no backward-facing mode on this trike, but it does have a removable handle to let you shift from parent mode to self-pedaling. On the Radio Flyer website, you can custom-build a trike with optional add-ons like a bell, safety bar and a snack tray and cup holder. If you’re planning to take it on an airplane, get the EZ Fold version, which folds down in one easy step. Other features include a parent pouch, removable footrest, a canopy with UV protection and a rear basket for additional storage.

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smarTrike smarTfold 300 Plus

The winner of many design awards, the smarTrike is a reliable brand with several top-notch push tricycles. Our favorite among them is the smartfold 300 Plus because it folds down easily for travel (much like an umbrella stroller) to nearly flat, making it as easy to gate-check for air travel. The trike’s two-stage pedals grow with your toddler, it can be used in six different modes and has a sun canopy and an adjustable handlebar. Shock absorbers help ensure a bump-free ride for your little one.

Related: Great double strollers that go the distance for family travel

Rito Plus Folding Trike

Here’s another collapsible push trike that folds with ease to pop into the back of a taxi, tote along on public transport or gate-check for a flight. The Rito Plus Folding Trike is designed for kids from 10 months to 3 years old and up and has a straightforward design that includes features like freewheel mode, an adjustable handle and multiple footrests to ensure it grows with child. You can even break it down to remove the harness strap when your little one is finally ready to use a full-fledged tricycle with no parent pushing required.

Related: The best credit cards for family travel

Bottom line

All of these are good options, but the Doona Liki Trike steals the show thanks to its ability to fold nearly flat and slide into the overhead bin of most commercial jets.

Featured image by Joovy Tricycoo LX (Photo courtesy of Joovy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.