Two Little Pandas

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When traveling with toddlers, you need excellent travel toys, and what feels like a mountain of toddler gear. So finding great, ultra-portable gear is key! And finding a super-portable but still-comfortable-for-your-toddler travel bed is a particularly tricky piece of travel gear. But luckily, there are some really great options out there that you AND your toddler will love!

What We Were Looking For

When looking for great options for a toddler, or even a kid, travel bed, we are looking for a UNICORN.  We wanted something small and portable, but also comfortable. Something high quality that can be used for a growing child (and even passed on to the next child!), but budget friendly.  

Portable

Toddler travel beds are tough because well.. beds are big!

Ideally, a travel bed should be small enough that it can be packed in a suitcase for a flight. Our top choices are beds that fold up small, and are lightweight- less than 10lbs. We figure that you’ll want a travel bed that works in ALL situations so you won’t have to buy more than one.

However, we recognize that the options are limited when it comes to super portable, small kid and toddler travel beds. So, we’ve also included some more road-trip friendly options. These still fold up small, but maybe not QUITE small enough to be stuffed into a suitcase.

Comfortable

Toddler sleep is tricky, so you want to find something that feels as comfortable and familiar as possible. Because no one wants to spend their vacation battling their toddler on sleep!

We selected beds that are comfortable, and won’t feel TOO foreign for your little guy or gal. It can be hard for anyone to fall asleep on vacation, but particularly hard for younger travelers. A comfortable bed that mimics their setup at home will make sleep come more easily for your picky sleeper. Although it’s impossible to make things really feel like home, we have found a few cozy sleep solutions that will be close enough to minimize the stress.

Durability/Size Range

We HATE spending hard-earned money on products that just break a week later. So we always recommend the most durable products we can find, especially when it comes to toddler gear. Because if your toddlers are anything like mine, they’ll put their gear through the wringer.

We also prefer items that a growing child can continue to use as long as possible. No one wants to buy a travel bed EVERY time they go on vacation because their child has outgrown the one from the last vacation. We love gear that lasts and lasts.

Value

We love finding great, low cost items for families because basically EVERY family would love to save a little money. However, sometimes we find that, for the right gear, spending a little extra can end up saving you in the long run. Perhaps because the gear lasts a little longer and you won’t end up buying a second item. Or perhaps because it’ll end up being something you love and use a ton!

We’ve selected items that we think are a good balance of quality and price.

One Strategy: Use What's Available

The easiest choice for travel beds for babies and toddlers is whatever you can find at your destination! If you can totally avoid hauling a travel-bed and pack a little lighter, you won’t regret it!

Hotels or Vacation Rentals

Hotels often have pack’n plays or cribs available to borrow during your stay. However, they typically operate on a first-come-first-served basis. So that can be a LITTLE scary if you really need somewhere for your child to sleep. I am not a risk taker, so I always call or email ahead and do anything I can to ensure that we will get one ahead of time.

Vacation rentals often have cribs or pack’n plays available as well. Check the listing, or ask the host. Certainly not EVERY vacation rental will have one, but it’s worth checking.

Friends and Family

If you are visiting friends or family, ask around. You might be surprised how many people have a pack’n play floating around. You MIGHT ask for a picture ahead of time just in case. My mom has one from 20+ years ago, and it looks VERY different from pack’n plays made more recently since safety regulations have changed substantially.

Renting Gear

Did you know you can RENT toddler gear? Companies like Baby’s Away rent out baby and kid gear for traveling families. They often have cribs, strollers, high chairs, and all the little things you miss when you are away from home. And often, you can get all these items delivered to your hotel!

One note- these services are typically only available in bigger cities or prime vacation locations. But they often have really reasonable prices and can be a huge space saver for families with kids!

Best Travel Beds for Babies and Young Toddlers

Finding sleep solutions for wild and crazy younger toddlers can be TOUGH. They are strong, opinionated, and have a hard time adjusting to big changes, like falling asleep in not exactly perfect situations (unless their parent DOESN’T want them to fall asleep, then they totally will).

We looked for travel beds that would feel like their crib at home, or could be used frequently enough that they start to feel comfortable.

This amazing tent-style travel bed pops open for a SUPER simple setup. It sets up in seconds! The mattress is self inflating- you just have to open the valve. The tent itself pops open in an instant. It also has a zip-in sheet that can be unzipped and easily machine washed.

Because it’s so easy to toss and go, we know you’ll end up using it all the time- visiting friends, at the park, or where ever your toddler needs a nap or a quiet moment. It works great indoors and outdoors. And the more you use it, the more familiar and comfortable it’ll feel for your toddler.

Gloo is safety tested for babies as young as 6 months. Joovy has designed this tent such that the mattress is actually in a pocket under the tent, so a baby or toddler never touches the mattress.

It comes in two sizes; regular and large. We prefer the large size because it’ll last longer. The large size is 51″ long and 28″ wide, making it right about the same length and width as a standard crib, though the oval shape will make it a bit smaller. Overall, they give your child plenty of space to grow. The regular is a bit smaller at 44″ long.

The Gloo is super lightweight at only 3.9 lbs for the regular and 5.5 lbs for the large. The regular folds up to about a 14″ circle x 5″ wide and the large folds up to about an 18″ circle and 4.5″ wide.

The air mattress on the bottom of this portable bed has enough padding for your little guy or gal to sleep comfortably. And the zip-on sheet set helps you keep everything clean.

Pros

Cons

The Peapod Plus is a LOT like the Gloo. Just like the Gloo, the Peapod pops open making setup a snap, and it works well for indoors and outdoors. And, like the Gloo, its so portable that we know you’ll end up taking it everywhere with you, so your toddler will become super comfortable and familiar with it, making sleep easier every time.

The Peapod comes in two sizes, the standard, and the Plus. The Plus model is bigger, and has more features. We’ll be focusing on the Plus because we prefer that model.

The Peapod Plus is 52.5″ in length, and 34″ wide when setup, making it wider at the widest point, than a standard crib, and about the same length. It’s also slightly longer and wider than the Gloo.

Additionally, the Peapod plus weights in at only 3.65 lbs, making it SUPER lightweight and portable, and 1.85 lbs lighter than the large Gloo. It folds up small to a 19″ circle about 3.5″ in height.

The Peapod features a lightweight mattress, which snaps into the exterior of the travel tent, so baby will not come in direct contact with the mattress. So you don’t need to worry about deflating and inflating. In fact, the mattress can remain clipped to the tent even when you fold it up. One problem is that the Peapod does not come with any kind of washable sheet, and you really can’t add one since there is nothing to tuck it around and the bottom is super slippery. So cleaning up this travel tent can be a bit difficult.

According to the manufacturer, this travel tent is safe for age 1 to 5, so you’ll definitely get a lot of use out of this product.

Pros

Cons

Comparing Gloo Large to Peapod Plus

Because the Joovy Gloo and the Peapod Plus are SO similar, we created this chart to help you understand the differences and determine which one is right for you.

Gloo

Peapod

The Lotus Travel crib is NOT your standard Pack’n Play. Weighing in at only 13 lbs, the Lotus is less than half the weight of many others and with tons of extra features. Plus, the Lotus packs in to a smaller backpack style case, making it much more portable than a standard play yard. In fact, the backpack case is only 24″ x 8″ x 12″ (whereas a Pack’n Play is about 40″ x 10″ x 10″ folded up).

Set up of the Lotus is quick and easy. Just pull out all 4 legs and snap to lock. The mattress is thin, but still a big improvement over the standard play yard mattress.

The Lotus also has a zippered side, which is SUCH a handy feature. No more breaking your back, or tipping over as you attempt to GENTLY place your sleeping child in the bottom of the play yard. Or, if you child has a hard time falling asleep, mom or dad can lie on the ground, or partially in the Lotus to help.

Plus, you can leave the Lotus zippered side open while just out playing so your baby or toddler can climb in and out as needed.

And the Lotus rests on the ground, so there IS no weight limit, unlike most play yards. Your child can continue to safely use this travel crib as long as they can fit! The mattress is 41″ long, so we don’t expect your 5 year old will be sleeping in there, but you’ll definitely get plenty of use in the baby and toddler years.

Pros

Cons

Older Toddlers and Kids

These great kid-sized air mattresses are perfect for little kids. They have bed rails to keep small kids who roll all over the place contained, and a way to tuck in the sheet so that it won’t constantly pop off, as they will on other air mattresses. And Shrunks includes an electric pump, inside the carrying bag, so you won’t ever forget the pump (eek- THAT is not fun).

 They come in two sizes; toddler, and twin/family. The toddler size has a total length of 60″ long when inflated, and the inner mattress is the same size as a standard crib mattress, so crib sheets will fit and tuck in perfectly. It is a bit heavy at 18.7 lbs, and 16″ x 7″ x 7″ folded up, making it more of a road trip travel bed, and not as well suited for trips where you’ll be taking a flight. Also, note that this bed has plenty of little cracks and crevasses, so it’s not suitable for children under about 2.

The Shrunks Family Travel Bed is quite a bit larger at 79″ long, but even heavier at 26 lbs. We love that it’s big enough for even big kids, while still having the bed rail to keep younger kids from falling onto the floor.  The manufacturer recommends 6 years and up for the family bed, but there are no safety concerns with allowing your smaller child to sleep in the bigger bed. 

Pros

Cons

This kids air mattress is simple and perfect. At 62″ long and about 4 lbs, they are light but large enough to work for kids as they grow. It comes in fun, bright colors, and the price is GREAT.

The manufacturer did not provide ‘official’ folded up dimensions, but I measured about 9″ x 12″ x 3.5″ folded.

Even though it doesn’t come with any kind of bumper or bed rail, we felt comfortable having our younger kids sleep on it because it’s so close to the ground that, even if they fell off, we weren’t worried about them getting hurt. In fact, one child has rolled off and didn’t even wake up.

We also love that it is sturdy enough for kids. Our kids have jumped on these mattresses a million times, even from high up, and not one leak yet!

This mattress also doesn’t come with it’s own pump. We have tons of those little pumps lying around, so it’s no big deal for us, BUT if you don’t, it can make this not QUITE as budget friendly.

Pros

Cons

Even if you have a bed available for your toddler, you may be hesitant to allow them to sleep on it after witnessing the wild nighttime gymnastics moves they are performing on the reg. Sometimes those hotel beds are HIGH, and you definitely don’t want your kiddo falling off.

But the Shrunks inflatlable bed rails really work! Place the bedrails under the sheet, then be sure to tuck the sheet (if you can’t tuck it securely, wrap it around the bed rail to keep it in place). They stay in place, and are high enough to keep your child in bed.

In fact, these bed rails are what my boys use MOST of the time when we travel. We LOVE them!

They fold up small to about 8″ x 5″ x 2.5in, and two weight only about 1.5 lbs. Shrunks provides a carrying bag, and a foot pump, but it’s really not necessary. They are small and can easily and quickly be blown up with only your breath.

Pros

Cons

A kid-sized cot can be a great option for many families. It comes in two sizes; toddler size is 48″ long, and the extra long size is about 54″ long. I prefer the the extra long because you’ll be able to use it longer, but it’s not so large that it’ll feel TOO big for your toddler.

It’s lightweight, at 7.7 lbs and super easy to set up- just pull the ends apart and the bed is ready to go! And it even comes with a custom fitted sheet.

I was concerned that a toddler would roll right off, but the middle dips down enough that it doesn’t seem to be an issue. Plus, it’s pretty low to the ground, so even if your toddler did roll off, it likely would be no big deal.

The canvas is thick and heavy duty, but could use a little extra padding. We’d recommend asking the hotel front desk for an extra blanket for a little padding underneath your child.

Pros

Cons

Wilkin makes the CUTEST high quality kids stuff (we love their backpacks!), and this nap mat is no exception. They have several super adorable prints, and the material is soft and plush, as advertised. Many of the nap mat prints even coordinate with lunch boxes, backpacks, pencil cases, and more!

This nap mat has a padded bottom mat, and a build-in blanket. Note that the pillow portion of the mat is really a sleeve for folding up the nap mat, so it doesn’t really function as a pillow on it’s own. So, if your toddler needs one, you will need to bring one separately. The nap mat is 57″ long and 20″ wide, so toddlers and younger children will be able to use this mat.

The nap mat folds up into the pillow portion, and weighs in at about 3.8 lbs. The manufacturer did not provide ‘official’ folded up dimensions but my measurement is about 20″ x 15″ x 5″. So even though it’s a bit large, it’s quite lightweight, and it is squishy and can be packed into a suitcase fairly easily.

Pros

Cons

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