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What are Travel Cribs?

And, Why Are They Awesome for Flying?

If you've got a trip coming up and you're worried about how you'll figure out a safe, comfortable spot for your little one to sleep, this article is for you.

First, What Are Typical Solutions?

#1 - Lugging a Traditional, Heavy Pack and Play Yard Around is a Nightmare

You’ll see plenty of parents in airports using luggage carts to push their traditional portable or foldable playards to check as baggage. Some foldable cribs come with bags to put the folded crib into, yet they still require you to carry with your hands… which can be in short supply when you are pushing a stroller, carrying a diaper bag, carrying your little one and/or holding their hand if their walking.

Add to that just bringing your little one(s) through an airport can be tough enough. You shouldn’t need to add this level of heavy lifting to an already tough experience.

The Problem With Traditional Pack and Play Yards

Most playards are designed for parents to use as a spot to put their little one outside of the nursery. This leads them to be very similar in proportion, design and construction to classic wooden cribs with a raised sleeping area.

As long as they aren’t moved once initially set up, traditional playards can be a great solution. But the moment you need to pack and move them their original design intent becomes a problem.

With the heavy steel legs, extra reinforcement for the raised mattress, and non-stretch vinyl covers traditional playards just feel like a chore to pack, let alone bring with you on a trip.

This leads many parents to consider renting the same foldable playard from their destination. Renting saves you the hassle of traveling with the playard, but unfortunately, even set up at your destination rental playards can have their drawbacks.

#2 - Why Not Rent Your Crib from Your Destination?

Rental cribs or playards are great in a pinch since their often freely offered by many hotels and rental homes, offer a place that’s separate from your bed for your little one to sleep and most importantly, they save you the hassle of traveling with another piece of luggage.

That said, all rental cribs aren’t equal which creates a distinct risk for parents.

First off, the federally regulated safety standards for cribs and playards can change yearly as new research comes out about what creates the safest environment for your little one. Once purchased, hotel and rental home owners aren’t incentivized to keep up with these safety standards or product recalls putting your little one at a potential risk.

Next, hotels and rental homes often have a high volume of use. This requires thorough cleaning after each stay, yet correctly cleaning a rental crib isn’t typically at the top of the list. So, cribs get put away dirty or are cleaned with harsh chemicals that can then come into contact with your little one.

So, if owning or renting a traditional foldable playard is out… what’s the next possible solution?

#3 - What About a Co-Sleeping Bed?

Many parents explore the safety and feasibility of just having their little one sleep with them in their bed. With so many baby-related items already on your mental pack list, why add one more, right?

While this might seem like an attractive solution since it’s free, many parents end up going with the pediatrician recommendation to not sleep side-by-side with their little ones because of the risk of SIDS.

Instead, they choose to purchase (or create) a protective barrier in their bed. These co-sleeping solutions are often risky because babies are vulnerable to parents rolling over in their sleep or blankets and bedding being pushed onto them unknowingly. This arrangement also requires a larger bed to keep enough separation between each sleeper.

Additionally, safe sleep guidelines recommend that babies sleep on firm mattresses, but adult mattresses are often much too soft for infants which can pose a higher risk for SIDS.

With good sleep while traveling being of high importance for both you and your little one, many parents end up feeling like the risks and disruption while sleeping outweigh the ease of an in-bed co-sleeping solution while traveling.

Short on time and want to skip down? Click here to learn about travel cribs.

Next, What Are The Best Travel Features?

Best Parts of Traditional Pack and Play Yards

Play Yards might be hard to travel with, but there are a few reasons that they continue to be bought by countless parents.


A key to great sleep for little ones is their ability to feel comfortable in the environment in which they’re sleeping. With a raised mattress, foldable playards can feel very similar to static wooden cribs in their nursery. This familiarity can help little ones sleep better in rooms that are different than their nursery.

Unfortunately, the raised mattress platform is the very thing that causes traditional playards to have a large pack size and heavier weight.


Play Yards are typically constructed in heavy-gauge, extruded steel. The steel frames create a strong, durable frame that can withstand years of use and even stand up to the abuse (play) that larger toddlers can have on products.

While steel frames are strong, they are also very heavy to stand up to the required use. This extra weight can become tiresome when you’re carrying a traditional foldable playard through an airport or on public transit.

Best Features of Co-Sleepers

While playards still account for a large chunk of the portable sleep market, co-sleeping beds have also carved out a niche following by parents as well because of their convenience and access.

Carry On Sized

When you travel often, being able to skip the baggage claim is a major benefit. Some co-sleeping beds are small enough that you can just carry them onto the plane which guarantees you won’t have to deal with lost luggage or the extra hassle (and cost!) of checking a bag.


Because co-sleeping beds literally sit on the bed, often between partners, there’s great access to your little one throughout the night. This proximity works well with infants and newborns when you need to nurse frequently or help reassure them through touch when falling asleep.

So, what do you get when you combine:

Portability and Access of a Co-Sleeping Bed
Durability and Comfort of a Foldable Playard

The Ultimate Travel Crib

Introducing the travel crib: a new type of crib that offers the portability and access of a co-sleeping bed with the durability and comfort of a foldable playard.

The best travel cribs have a small pack size, are lightweight, easy to setup/pack, and durable enough to use for years.

Airport Friendly Packed Size & Weight

Travel cribs should be light enough to zip through the airport with ease, jump on public transit, or fit easily in a smaller car. That means an airport-friendly packed size and lightweight. Being able to carry with foam-padded backpack straps increases that portability and comfort while traveling.

Ease of Setup & Packing

The last thing you want when you arrive after a long day of travel is more work. Look for travel cribs that set up and pack with only a few, easy steps. Also, watch out for travel cribs that don’t have an easy access travel bag to pack into as well.


Your travel crib should have multiple, easy ways to place and get access to your little one. Being able to easily connect will make the experience better for you and your little one..


You shouldn’t have to worry about your travel crib working well after years of travel (and toddler) abuse. Look for cribs that call out travel-ready, high quality materials and strong frame designs.

The above lessons about what makes a great place for your little one to sleep while you travel as a family were learned from our own years of traveling in combination with feedback from our great group of parent travel ambassadors.

Traditional playards were just too heavy and bulky to bring along with us. Meanwhile renting a playard at our destinations was out after experiencing the worries of safety and cleanliness.

And, co-sleeping beds seemed like a great answer because their portability, but made sleep tough and uncomfortable.

The Lotus Travel Crib was the result of those experiences and years of engineering work to combine the benefits of a durable, comfortable playard with the portabile, easy-access of co-sleeping beds.

Learn more about the other features and clever design choices we made to help your family travel easier here.