My little family recently had the opportunity to review the Graco Modes Travel System. In case you’re in the market for an affordable and versatile travel system, as well, I’m here to tell you why you should consider this option.
As a first time parent, I was slightly overwhelmed by the notion of putting together my first travel system. However, the manual made it very easy. The pictures were helpful, as were the written instructions, and the stroller was put together and ready for use within 20-30 minutes. No tools were required, and it was easy to assemble. We got this stroller for our firstborn, and the gender-neutral colors make it something we could use for subsequent kids—boy or girl.
The key selling point of the Modes is its versatility—it offers up to 10 riding options! It’s car seat compatible (the system comes with a car seat, so this is a no-brainer), and the car seat can be attached with or without the toddler seat in place. Because our baby is still young, we primarily use the stroller in conjunction with the car seat—and we almost always remove the toddler seat to cut down on bulk. Without the seat attached, the stroller frame functions much like the car seat caddies or Snap-N-Gos parents often buy for the first six months.)
When using the stroller with the toddler seat (which can accommodate passengers up to 50 pounds), the seat can be placed in either direction, so baby is either facing me or facing the world. The seat reclines very easily with a lever on the back—it’s awesome! I also love the ability to use the toddler seat as an “infant carriage.” When the seat is fully reclined and the leg rest is tilted up, it creates a cozy little nook that feels almost like a bassinet. It’s a great option for times when we haven’t brought the car seat along. Both car seat and toddler seat are super easy to click in and out of the stroller base, so switching between the two (and changing direction) is easy-peasy.
As for extras, the Modes is equipped with not only a toddler tray with two cup holders but also a parent tray with two cup holders, as well as a covered storage compartment. (Just to be clear, that’s four(!) cup holders total.) It’s super nice not to have to buy those extra attachments. The toddler snack tray is easy to lift off for getting baby or toddler out of seat without getting her legs stuck.
There is also a huge storage basket underneath the seat that fits a diaper bag and a blanket or two with ease. The canopy for the toddler seat does have a peekaboo window, and it’s mesh, which I love. (While I really like the canopy for the toddler seat, I will say the one on the car seat is not my favorite. Moving the car seat canopy is quite noisy, as if you were crumpling plastic or newspaper, whenever it is opened or closed. With a sleeping baby in tow, the sound can be a little startling.)
One of my favorite things about this stroller is the smooth ride. The wheels are rubber, so they ride smoothly on all surfaces. On one outing, we took the stroller to the park across uneven concrete, grass, gravel and wood chips at a playground. While it does the best over more even terrain, it handled very well and baby stayed asleep across all surfaces. The stroller is easy to maneuver with one hand or two, and the front wheel can swivel or lock. The brake is engaged with a foot pedal on the left and right that is relatively easy to use.
The Graco Modes is easy to fold with one hand, and once the storage latch is undone, the stroller opens easily. However, while the stroller folds up seamlessly with a lever at the top of the handle, the storage latch occasionally needs some help locking and does not always stay locked. A couple times when we have picked up the stroller, the latch had come undone and it opened up. Once locked, however, the stroller stands nicely on its own, so it’s easy to tuck away without having to lean it against a wall or furniture.
As far as getting the stroller in and out of a vehicle, this system folds up to a reasonable size. It weighs about 25 pounds, which is not the most lightweight, but still not difficult to lift on your own. My husband and I have an SUV and a sedan, and while it was a little tricky for us to figure out how to get it in and out of the sedan, we got it all worked out and it fits well in both trunks.
As for the included Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35, I was most impressed with how easily it was to adjust the straps. Again, as first time parents all the slits and straps were overwhelming, but the manual was great at helping us figure out the correct adjustment for our baby. Adjustments were made easily and quickly, and baby was strapped in and ready to go in no time. The car seat comes with extra support for the smallest of babies and can accommodate passengers up to 35 pounds. The seat cover is easy to remove and is machine washable which is always a plus.
Overall, I would happily recommend this stroller as an affordable travel system that your baby can use from infancy through her toddler years. We love it so far!
To buy: buybuybaby.com