Have you ever stayed in an unfamiliar accommodation with an infant? If so, then you probably stressed about all the ways they could injure themselves or break down the room. Little kids are so inquisitive and not all places are kids-proof. Sounds familiar? The best pack n play for travel makes this worry a thing of the past. Not only is a portable pack n play comforting for your little one to have somewhere familiar to play and sleep whilst away, but the best travel pack n play also provides them with a safe place to play. And it will give you some peace of mind.
Like any baby-related product these days, trying to decipher which is the best baby playpen for your family vacations can be a challenging one. To help you find the perfect travel size pack n play we’ve complied these pack and play reviews which cover everything you need to know in order to purchase the best playard for travel. This pack and play guide goes through the various factors that every parent should consider as well as takes a closer look at some of the top rated play yards currently on the market.
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- 1 Best travel pack n play comparison table
- 2 Quick 3 top-rated pack n plays
- 3 What is a pack n play for travel?
- 4 Do you need a travel pack n play?
- 5 Difference between a travel bassinet, a travel crib and a pack and play for travel
- 6 Types of portable play yards
- 7 Key features to consider in a pack and play (for travel)
- 8 Best pack n play reviews
No matter what sort of travel pack and play you’re looking for – whether you’re looking for portable play yards for babies or toddlers, the best pack n play for sleeping or the best playpen for toddler or baby, I have no doubt that in this guide you will find the best pack and play for travel which is perfect for your child.
Best travel pack n play comparison table
The below table is a handy way to compare all the different best lightweight pack n play options which appear in this guide. By quickly checking this table you can easily see a range of different options from the best pack n play with bassinet and changing table to the best pack n play with canopy and a range of other great options.
For further information on each of the pack n plays, scroll down to read the full reviews below.
Quick 3 top-rated pack n plays
Here’s our quick 3 top-rated pack n plays for travel. Click on the product name to see more info, prices and availability, or read on to see more options and what you should look for when considering a travel pack n play.
What is a pack n play for travel?
First question first, what is a pack and play for travel? A standard pack and play (not a travel one) is basically a place that your baby can both sleep and play which is portable – so you can easily move and store it. However, whilst a standard pack and play is portable, you will find that it is quite heavy and cumbersome and doesn’t really make the best pack and play for travel.
If you’re after a combined portable travel crib and portable baby playpen to take with whilst traveling, you’ll want to purchase one that is specifically designed as a travel pack n play. Travel pack n play dimensions are much smaller than those of a standard pack and play, and they’re usually much lighter too. This is vital for all family vacations, whether they include road trips or air travel.
When it comes to travel, a nice compact, folding pack n play is the perfect pack n play on the go.
Do you need a travel pack n play?
Having your own portable pack and play for your little one is essential in this day and age. First of all, you can’t necessarily rely on a hotel having a nice clean and safe place for your baby to sleep and play.. Sometimes when hotels do have a small travel pack n play for you to use, they charge a small fortune to use it.
Even when hotels or the Airbnb you’re staying at have great quality crib you can use, it’s more comforting for your little ones to have the familiarity of their own crib. Plus, with a mini travel playpen, you have a safe place for your child to play that you can put wherever you are. Some baby and toddler play yard options even double as an outdoor pack n play as they have a canopy on top to protect your little one from the sun.
Difference between a travel bassinet, a travel crib and a pack and play for travel
Travel bassinet, travel crib, travel bed, travel pack and play – aren’t they all the same?? Whilst they might all sound very similar, there are in fact some important differences between all these various portable baby cribs. As to which is the best solution for your child very much depends on your child’s age and their activity level.
For newborn babies, a portable bassinet (sometimes called a portable infant bed) is a great option. These are suitable for newborns to babies around the age of 3 months. A portable bassinet is a small bed where your baby can safely sleep. Some of the pack and plays mentioned in this guide also include inserts for bassinets which are ideal for young babies. Check out our top recommendations for a travel bassinet here
Once your baby starts to roll around or sit up, it’s time to move to a baby travel crib. The best portable crib is suitable for babies from birth to around 3 years of age (approximately 35 pounds) and is somewhere your child can safely sleep whilst you are on vacation. A travel crib is usually much like the crib you have at home; however it is usually much smaller and lighter. However, there are also travel cribs available that have a pop-up or tent design, like the Joovy Gloo or the KidCo PeaPod Plus. Personally, we prefer the tent design, as it’s fully enclosed and protects against mosquitos and other insects. Check out our top recommendations for travel cribs here.
A pack n play is very similar to a lightweight travel crib in that it is also a suitable place for your child to sleep, however it is usually slightly larger and provides a safe area for your child to play as well.
Both a travel crib and pack and play tend to be suitable for children to the age of around 2 -3 years old. If your child is around the age of 3, you may be better off with a toddler travel bed.
Toddler travel beds
Basically a toddler travel bed is a small portable bed perfect for your little one. Just note that a toddler travel bed is not suitable for babies as it doesn’t have high sides and doesn’t contain your child. Check out our top recommendations for toddler travel beds here.
Toddler bed rails
Another option is to simply bring a toddler bed rail with you. A toddler bed rail is a safety measure that is easy to use as you simply place part of the rail under the mattress, whilst the other part provides a barrier that helps prevents kids from falling out of the bed while they are sleeping. Check out our top recommendations for toddler bed rails here.
Types of portable play yards
There are a range of different types of portable play yards from the basic to others with various features – we look at the different types below.
Portable pack and play with bassinet
If you’re looking for both a portable baby bed and play area, consider a baby pack and play with bassinet. These are great as they are just a standard pack and play but with an insert, so your baby has somewhere safe to sleep – just like a baby travel bed. The pack and play bassinet insert sits on the top so its great for parents putting their baby down for a sleep, no need to bend right over.
When your baby is awake you can use the playpen with bassinet as a standard pack and play – simply remove the insert.
Purchasing a pack and play with bassinet is great for long term use, as once your baby becomes an infant you simply no longer need to use the bassinet insert.
Pack n play travel crib
Whilst the main purpose of a pack and play portable crib is for sleeping, they also make a great small baby playpen – like the Lotus small travel crib. These are basically a portable infant bed and portable playpen in one.
Outdoor portable playpen
Another great option some pack and plays have is a canopy. A pack and play with canopy is great as an outdoor play yard as the canopy provides a protective shelter for your baby from the sun.
Simply take your folding play yard, outside – whether that be to the park, beach or even just into the garden of your holiday home. Now your little one has there very own safe and secure outdoor playpen with canopy.
Key features to consider in a pack and play (for travel)
As with any baby products, your child’s safety is of the upmost importance. Particularly because you will be leaving your child in the play yard for long periods of time. The best baby play yard will have a range of safety features such as safety clips, lockable wheels, adequate padding and a low center of gravity so your baby can’t tip over the crib.
Ensure the pack and play you purchase meets all required safety standards.
You don’t want to be purchasing a different type of portable bed each time your child has a growth spurt, so for the best play yard it’s recommended you purchase one that can adapt as your child grows. A portable play pen that also has a bassinet insert is ideal as its great for newborns and can still be used when your child is a toddler too.
Whilst you want a nice compact and small pack and play ideal for traveling, you also don’t want to compromise on sturdiness. Given you’re after a small travel pack n play, the chances are you will be unfolding it to set up and pack away frequently, so you want good quality parts that aren’t going to come loose or snap off after a few uses.
As your child will be sleeping in this pack n play portable playard, you want the folding play yard you purchase to be super comfortable. No point in purchasing a cheap pack n play which your child finds uncomfortable and doesn’t want to spend time in.
There is a huge range in prices when it comes to pack n plays and unfortunately like everything else in life you do get what you pay for. If you travel regularly a good quality pack and play is worth the investment, a cheap playpen just won’t cut it. The more expensive play pens from well known brands are often the best when it comes to an easy and quick set up.
Having said that, there is a range of affordable pack n play options for every budget.
Ease of use
You don’t want a compact pack and play that you need a university degree to assemble, something that sets up safely in minutes is ideal. I know you’ve all been there – you get into your accommodation after a day of travel, super tired from jet lag and you just want to go to bed. This is not the time to discover that your pack and play is a challenge to set up.
Read various parent reviews to ensure that the pack and play you intend on purchasing is simple to use – don’t take the manufacturers word for it.
Also ensure you practice setting up and packing away your pack and play at home before you set off on vacation.
Size & weight
For travel, it is essential you purchase a compact and lightweight pack n play. Whether you travel by plane or car, the weight of the portable playard is a deciding factor when deciding which one to purchase.
Carrying around a bulky and heavy playard is not ideal. When it comes to air travel, weight is crucial given how strict airlines are on excess baggage these days and even if your family loves road trips, you want a compact mini pack n play so all your other luggage can be easily stored in the car.
Also consider the actual size of the pack n play because hotels can be awfully small and there’s barely room to put your luggage down let alone a crib.
Double check the size and weight of any pack and play prior to purchasing.
It should come as no surprise to you that babies and toddlers are messy little things and are likely to vomit, wee and poop on the pack n play portable playard, so having one that is easy to clean is crucial. Ensure the playard can easily be wiped over or, even better, that it has removable machine washable fabrics.
Type of travel
As mentioned above the type of travel you and your family enjoy impacts the pack and play you purchase. When it comes to air travel you want to be traveling with pack n play which is both compact and the lightest pack n play whilst still meeting your needs. For road trips, weight is not such an issue, but a compact and small pack n play is essential.
When considering which baby travel playpen to purchase, it’s also worth considering what accessories you may want to purchase. Some playards will come with everything you need, whereas as others will require a separate purchase.
Pack n play mattress
The best pack n play mattress is one that has a good balance between being firm as well as plush and of course being comfortable and safe for your child.
A lot of the time the folding pack n play mattress that comes built in is not the best and you may wish to consider purchasing another travel mattress for pack n play. If you are purchasing an additional mattress double check the measurements and ensure it is the right size for the playard. It’s essential that it fits perfectly so that your baby can’t get their limbs or fingers stuck between the mattress and the playard.
Pack n play sheets
Sometimes a set of playard sheets will come with your purchase, whereas other times you will need to purchase them separately. If you do need to purchase them separately just note that often there are no standard pack and play fitted sheets and you will need to purchase a particular type.
Pack n play bassinet insert
As mentioned above, you can also purchase a portable bassinet playpen. The bassinet usually comes as a separate insert that you put on the top of the playard and remove as required. Some of the best playard with bassinet options have soothing vibrations as well as music and nature sounds to sooth baby to sleep.
Having a pack n play with changing table is super convenient when you’re away with the family. Quite often a playpen with changing table will include a storage area for diapers, wipes, clothes and more.
If you’re the sort of family that loves being outdoors on your trips a playard with canopy is perfect. A playard with a canopy provides the perfect spot for your little one to safely play with protection from the hot sun.
Best pack n play reviews
Below are our play yard reviews. We have reviewed a number of the top-rated pack n plays currently available.
For those after a super lightweight yet affordable play yard the KidCo TravelPod is a great choice.
Recommended for newborns to children up to 3 years, you’ll get plenty of use of this playpen. Your little one will love the mesh sides so they can easily see you whilst they play, and you’ll appreciate being able to keep an eye on them too.
At only 10.5 pounds the KidCo Travel pack ‘n play is super lightweight so perfect for both air travel and road trips. It’s also easy to set up and pack up. Some other great features of this pack n play are the zippers for easy removing of the fabric which is machine washable, a water repellent mattress cover and the sturdy steel frame with soft padded cotton fabric.
This great travel play yard comes in its own carry bag making it perfect for transporting around, particularly for those families that often fly for their family vacations.
Pop ’N Go Portable Playard
At 7 pounds the Pop ’N Go is the lightest playpen in these reviews! Perfect for the family who loves the outdoors, this portable kids’ playpen provides your little ones with a safe place to play in the great outdoors.
The Pop ‘N Go playpen comes with a full removable canopy, so no matter if it’s raining or sunny your children will be well protected. Despite its lightweight and compact design, this playpen is rather spacious providing plenty of space for multiple children to play together at once.
This playpen can be set up and folded down in seconds, making it super convenient for families on the go. Great for camping trips, travel to the beach or even whilst watching older children play sports. It also comes in a great carry bag making it super easy to transport.
Made from high-quality materials such as reinforced fiberglass framing and tightly woven fabrics, this playpen is super durable and long-lasting so will serve you and your family for years to come.
Graco Pack ‘n Play Sport Playard
The Graco outdoor pack n play with canopy is a similar product to the Pop ’N Go above, offering your children a safe and secure place to play both indoors and outside.
Weighing in at 11.5 pounds these Graco portable play yards are reasonably lightweight given how spacious they are. The Graco pack n play playard comes with a canopy which provides UV50 protection so your children will be well protected from the sun. The canopy of the Graco portable playard also has built in ventilation to help keep the kids cool.
Like all great playards, the Graco pack n play sport can be set up and packed away in seconds. Other great features of the Graco pack n play portable playard include mesh sides for ventilation, built in storage pockets and a durable base and a zip open front door that provides easy access for your children.
With the included carry bag, you can easily transport the Graco travel pack n play to anywhere you need it. With the Graco portable playpen, you will no doubt get years of use out of it.
Dream on Me Travel Light Play Yard
For a great affordable play yard that your child can both sleep and play in, you can’t look past the Dream on me Travel Light Play Yard.
Whilst not the lightest play yard in these reviews, at 12.5 pounds it’s still extremely lightweight for a combined playpen and travel crib. It’s also easy to assemble and put away.
With soft and airy mesh sides both you and baby will appreciate being able to keep an eye on each other, whilst the mesh also provides ventilation for increased breathability. Included with this play yard is a soft and comfortable mattress pad so your baby can get a great night sleep no matter where you are.
Coming with its own carry bag, the Dream on Me travel play yard is the perfect budget option for families who want a pack and play to take on their family vacations.
4Moms Breeze Review
For parents that want the easiest playpen to set up – definitely consider the 4Moms Breeze playard. The 4Moms pack and play sets up with one simple push – so easy you can do it with one hand while you use the other hand for kid wrangling! With none of those tricky sequenced steps, the 4Mons playard sets up and packs down with a push down on the central hub. This makes it perfect for traveling single parents, or just busy traveling families.
The pack and play 4Moms is suitable for children from birth until around 30 pounds – so you will get plenty of use from this playard. You will love the airy mesh sides which allow you to easily see your child whilst sleeping or playing in the playard. Other features of the 4 Moms pack n play you will equally love are the included mattress which can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth and the included 1 year warranty. Included with the 4Mons playpen is a convenient travel bag so taking it with you is a “breeze”!
When an easy and quick set up is your priority in a travel playpen – look no further than the 4 Moms play yard, one of the current favorites among traveling parents.
BabySeater Portable Play Yard
The BabySeater portable playpen is a spacious yet lightweight play yard which provides the perfect safe play area for your little one. Not only does it provide a secure play area, but it’s super easy for parents to set up. Set up is a single-handed operation, so you can easily set it up with your munchkin in the other hand.
Like most of the top rated playards, the BabySeater playard has airy mesh sides which are perfect for keeping a close eye on your baby whilst also providing great ventilation. Other great features of this playard include the padded and water-resistant floor which is suited to both indoor and outdoor use and the removable and machine washable lining.
Weighing in at 16 pounds, this play yard is reasonably lightweight and provides a spacious, safe and secure area for your child to play no matter whether you’re at home or on vacation.
Guava Lotus Travel Crib & Playard
The Guava travel crib features a good thick comfortable mattress and a zip side down which provides easy access when using the Guava pack and play as either a play pen or bed. The full mesh sides are perfect for both you and baby in order to keep an eye on each other and are also safer for infants as it increases breathability.
Another highlight of the Lotus pack n play is the GreenGuard Gold standard it carries. This basically means it has been thoroughly tested for chemical emissions. It is the only travel crib in the world to hold this rigorous certification.
The Lotus pack and play which is suitable for babies through to toddlers aged around 3 years old, sets up in minutes so you can get on with enjoying your family trip.
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