My husband and I have joked that traveling with our darling children is a “trip” not a “vacation”. I'm a firm believer in the benefits of adventuring and exploring with kids, and for a while there I was determined not to let having kids slow us down from our love of travel. But, travel with young children can be a mission. The packing alone leaves me feeling ready for a vacation from my vacation.
Packing as light as possible and gear that takes up as little space as possible is part of the sleep solution consideration. And having a comfortable place to lay your baby to sleep can make a big difference in their — and your — overall vacation experience. In an unfamiliar place, a cozy sleep space can be just what your little one needs to fall asleep easier, and all parents will take whatever help we can get in that department. If your toddler is sleeping comfortably, you’ll be sleeping comfortably, too.
Luckily there are a lot of viable solutions on the market, here's a breakdown:
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We had the opportunity to check out the awesome Pookabee Inflatable Toddler Bed bundle solution and my toddler's first words once he laid down on it were, “This is comfortable!”
Features include: Oversized bumpers for increased safety, high-speed pump (inflates in just 30 seconds which is key if you're arriving to your destination late and need to get kids to bed in a hurry), and travel bag. It folds up very compact and is lightweight, meeting my trip packing criteria mentioned above. The bundle option I received comes with a memory foam travel pillow and battery-operated nightlight (eliminating the need to find an outlet to strategically place your kid's nightlight – something we've struggled with before!).
We'll be using the Pookabee Inflatable Toddler Bed not just for local (car) and plane travel, but when we go camping this summer and even when we have guests stay in our home. We have three bedrooms and two kids so my new plan for grandmother visits is to upgrade my son's current twin bed to a full-size bed which they can use when here. Also gives me motivation to make sure he keeps his room tidy! Then my son will get to share his sister's room and sleep on his super special travel bed!
Not ideal for air travel due to its larger size, but still very portable and would work well for car travel. There is also no need for inflating or deflating since it's ready to use after unfolding. As a bonus, you can store the sheets, pillows, and other items inside so nothing gets forgotten.
Possibly the easiest setup, this type of bed is a good option for sleepovers or camping. I'm looking into adult-sized versions for our car camping trips this summer!
Simple solution great for car travel and camping, not the best for airline travel.
Inflatable or Foam Bed Rail / Pool Noodles
Inflatable or foam bed rails are a good solution if you're traveling somewhere where your child will be sleeping in a bed, but you don't want to risk them falling out during the night. The inflatable option is certainly a portable/packable solution, although the setup requires a bit of effort considering you're unmaking the bed to insert this under the fitted sheet, then inflating. The foam option seems like it would be tricky to pack back up, but I do not have personal experience.
We've used the pool noodle solution before for local travel, using it the same way as an inflatable bumper but no need to actually inflate it. This obviously takes up a bit more space in the car, but it's easy to squeeze in among other items.
Why might you not want to use a portable travel bed for your kids?
If you're co-sleepers and plan to continue to do this while traveling. We're not doing this on purpose with our baby girl, but she is very stubborn about wanting to sleep next to her mama so it's what's happening. Or, you're staying in an AirBnB and you splurged on an extra room for your kiddo, in which case I recommend one of the bumper options! Or, you pre-booked lodging and are certain they have an option there and reserved for you to use.
I hope this post has helped you to find the right travel bed for your family. Happy “vacationing”!