All parents know that eventually they have to pack it up and move on out into the world. I’m talking about traveling. My husband and I had never taken a long trip (involving an airplane) with our little one. We’d seen it done well and we we’d seen it done not so well … let’s just say we were a little nervous about not having the right gear. (Like, being stuck on the skyway trying to collapse a stroller when everyone else boarding the plane has to step around you [and your baby and your carry-ons], even though you had extra time to board … yikes.) Just as we had booked our first family flight, we had the opportunity to review the Chicco LiteWay Plus 2-in-1 stroller . Lucky us! We were already fans of the Chicco KeyFit car seat so we were feeling pretty good about our chances at travel success. (Note: “Success” in this case meant traveling with minimal flight delays, good working gear and maybe—just maybe—no crying from any of us.)
The stroller arrived! I opened the box and was pleasantly surprised to find it mostly assembled. The seat was connected to the frame and the storage basket was attached although there are directions for attaching it. The front wheels snapped on easily and felt sturdy. The canopy was also simple to attach. Neither required any tools. The rest of the manual explained how to operate the stroller.
The LiteWay Plus operates as both a toddler stroller and a car seat carrier. This stroller works with any Chicco KeyFit car seat (sold separately) as a complete travel system. If you already own a KeyFit, then using this stroller is even more convenient. You can even hear the same double-click you’re used to when you lock it in place. Switching between toddler and carrier mode takes a couple of minutes—it involves a zipper, two buckles, two tab clips and a fold-n-tuck motion. It looks more complicated than it really is. After a few tries we were pretty speedy. In toddler mode, the seat has five recline positions and an adjustable leg support. The storage basket is accessible in either mode which is a MUST if you’re traveling.
Opening and closing this stroller in either mode is fast and simple. You either push or lift the rear locking pedal. Once closed, the side locking device prevents the stroller from popping open unexpectedly. The handle makes it easy to carry sideways. The stroller is relatively lightweight which is wonderful when you have other heavy items—in our case, suitcases, laptop bags, carry-ons and a diaper bag. You can also use the (unlocked) rear wheels to roll the stroller while closed.
The front wheels swivel and the back wheels have brakes. You have the option of locking the front wheels into a stationary position for a safer ride on uneven surfaces, which was a helpful feature while we were traveling. All wheel locks and brakes adjust with a toe tap. This is a smooth-rolling, easy-swiveling stroller on most surfaces. It was a dream through the airport hallways and elevators. It was nimble enough to maneuver in a small “family” restroom. We loaded the stroller with bags wherever we went and when we were on gravely ground and rough sidewalks the stationary wheels were helpful.
I have only two complaints. The rear locking pedal (which you use to open and close the stroller) is small and was harder or easier to manipulate depending on which shoes I wore. Close-toed shoes seem to be the safest option when opening or closing the LiteWay. Also, the folding brace of the frame sometimes slips out of the fabric pocket when closed in carrier mode. This has absolutely no effect on the stroller’s function or performance; it’s just something I noticed and wanted to fix when I saw it. It’s the equivalent of tucking in someone’s shirt tag. I guess I just like things in their place. Neither of these is inconvenient enough to prevent me from recommending it.
The Chicco LiteWay Plus is available in four fashions—all of which complement the Chicco KeyFit car seats. It is recommended for children up to 50 lbs. The fabric is hand wash only and the other stroller parts should be wiped clean.
So how did we do? Pretty well for our first baby-gear-heavy trip. With the help of the LiteWay, we rolled through several airports with ease, even with one flight delay. I was able to remove the car seat (Honestly, this took a few seconds the first time, because I pulled away at the wrong angle—I blame it on a less-than-helpful airport employee on the skyway who actually checked our stroller and car seat so we had to walk all the way to baggage claim instead of getting them as we deplaned … but that’s another story entirely.) and close the stroller quickly. My husband enjoyed using it on walks, it fit into several trunks with plenty of room to spare and most importantly our daughter was comfortable and content the entire time she was in there.
The LiteWay Plus is exactly what I’m looking for in a stroller: lightweight, affordable and car seat compatible. The brilliantly practical design allows the stroller to accommodate an infant car seat for baby’s early days, and then goes on to function as an anything-but-bulky toddler stroller when the time comes. I highly recommend it.
To buy: Target.com