A Tale of Three Travel Cribs

 In Packing, Travel Essentials and Gear

I own three travel cribs. Yes, three. Why do I own this many? I honestly don’t know. Of course I remember how we came to own these travel cribs, but why we still have three cribs in our very tiny house with only two children, one of whom is not in a crib anymore, I will never know. In fact, we are trying to decide which travel crib to keep and which to sell right now.

These travel cribs are actually similar, but with a few differences that made us acquire them as our travel schedule increased, and I started traveling solo with my boys.  Each will work just fine when you travel; it just depends what features you want and how much you want to spend.

Graco-Travel-Crib

Graco Pack n’ Play Playard

The Graco Pack n’ Play Playard is probably the most popular, and certainly economic, travel crib out there. Every pregnant woman knows/thinks they need to have one, so they buy it. They are plastered all over baby magazines, Babies R Us, movies and TV shows. This travel crib is the norm in many USA households, but it does have its flaws. The worst is the mattress. Essentially your baby is sitting on the frame and some wrapped boards. Not comfy at all for an extremely picky baby like my son Ty.  We barely use this portable crib unless people are coming to town, or we need a play space in the yard for Ty. It has never traveled with us on a plane, only in the car. It may be the first travel crib to go.

  • Price: starts at $50 (via Amazon.com)
  • Age: less than 35” tall, unable to climb out of crib
  • Safety: 
  • Specs: 
    • Height: 29″
    • Width: 28.5″
    • Length: 40″
    • Weight: 22.9 lbs
  • Machine washable? No. Hand wash only.
  • Sheet included? No.
  • Checked baggage fee? Yes.
  • Pros:
    • Price- it’s cheap and durable making it an economic buy
    • Sits above the ground
    • Largest of the travel cribs I have
    • Sturdy
    • Comes in multiple colors and designs
    • Folds up into a tight cube
    • Comes with a bassinet level for when baby is tiny
  • Cons:
    • The carrying bag is very thin. It does not feel like it can adequately protect the frame of the crib from careless baggage handlers on a plane.
    • The mattress is thin, causing baby to feel the bars beneath the mattress.
    • It’s heavy.

Baby-Bjorn-Travel-Cribi

BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light 2

When I first brought Dek on a business trip to China I borrowed the Baby Travel Crib Light 2 from a friend. I didn’t think my Graco portable crib could hold up to the flights we would be taking. I also didn’t like the mattress of the Pack n’ Play. The BabyBjorn Travel Crib folded up in under a minute. It had a nice cushy mattress, and packed like a suitcase. The mattress acted as a cushion for the frame, protecting it from damage. There was enough space to stick a blanket and sheet for the mattress as well as a few extra diapers. The travel crib made it through all 5 of our flights and 3 cities. It quickly won my heart as the best travel crib ever. The only problem was we had to pay a checked bag fee for it, and it was expensive when I went to buy my own.

  • Price: $240 (via Amazon.com)
  • Age: newborn to age 3
  • Safety: meets global safety standards. All textiles closest to the baby have been tested and approved in accordance with Oeko-Tex Standard 100, class 1.
  • Specs: 
    • Unpacked: 32 x 44 x 24 in/82x 112 x 64cm.
    • Packed: 19 x 24 x 6 in/49 x 60 x 14 cm.
    • Weight: 11 lbs/5 kg.
  • Machine Washable? Yes.
  • Sheet included? No.
  • Checked baggage fee? Yes.
  • Pros:
    • By far the comfiest of the three travel cribs.
    • Very easy set up and take down.
    • Sturdy frame
    • Extra space inside the carrying case to cram a sheet, blanket, a few diapers, etc.
    • Collapses down (essentially folding in half) for easy carrying.
  • Cons:
    • Not long enough to accommodate a toddler
    • Charged as a checked back when bringing it in an airplane
    • Expensive to purchase

Phil-and-Ted-Travel-Crib

Phil + Ted Traveller Crib

I was sent the Phil & Ted Traveller Crib to review for Trekaroo.com. I was intrigued by the idea of a small, lightweight travel crib that could fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane. I travel a lot with just my two little guys; bringing as little baggage as possible is the key to my success. Anything that can be small, play double duty, or fit into another bag is a winner in my book. I was able to stick this travel crib on top of my car seat and put both in the car seat bag for a trip to Loreto, Mexico this spring. Because car seats are free to check on planes, I didn’t have to pay for the travel crib to go into cargo. I also didn’t have to carry one more thing on the plane. My hands are full enough as is with two kids and our carry-on bags. Although the travel crib’s size and weight are fantastic, the legs are a huge pain to get on and the mattress gets harder to inflate and deflate every time we use it. This would be my favorite travel crib if not for that.

  • Price: $199
  • Age: newborn to age 3
  • Safety: Globally safety certified including Okeo-tex certified sheet
  • Specs:
    • Unpacked: 54 x 33 x 26″/ 137 x 85 x 66cm
    • packed: 27 x 10 x 8″ / 68 x 25 x 20cm
    • Weight: 3.2kg/7lbs
  • Machine Washable? Yes.
  • Sheet included? Yes.
  • Checked baggage fee? No. Can fit in overhead storage on a plane or in another bag.
  • Pros:
    • The long and narrow design makes it easy to stick in tight spaces, small hotel rooms and bathrooms.
    • Very light, easy sling over your shoulder design for carrying on a plane or to a campsite.
    • Self-expanding thermally insulating mattress keeps baby warm, unlike your usual air mattress, and is more comfortable than the Graco mattress.
  • Cons:
    • Travel crib is not very wide.
    • Zip away side can easily be undone by a toddler
    • The legs are very hard to get on and off. I needed to use a small screwdriver or a pen to push in the tabs that the legs click into. This step has shattered their claim that the travel crib “sets up in seconds.”
    • The age range is newborn to 3 years old, but I think it would be a much shorter span. Because of the cocoon shape of the bottom I wouldn’t put an infant that can’t roll yet into this travel crib, nor would I put a savvy 2.5-3 year old in it for fear they would zip themselves right out.

As you can see there really is no consensus in my house over which travel crib is the best. I love the Baby Bjorn travel crib, but the size of the Phil & Ted Traveller Crib makes it more appealing when traveling by myself. My husband likes our Graco portable crib for the yard, especially when he is trying to mow or dig in the yard, but needs to keep an eye on the baby. Baby Ty likes the BabyBjorn Travel Crib mattress, but I like that the Phil & Ted Traveller Crib can fit in spots the BabyBjorn Travel Crib is too wide for. The Phil & Ted Traveller Crib is also longer, which means my long and lean boy can stay in it longer; at least until he figured out how to work the zipper and let himself out.

Do you have a favorite travel crib? Tell me about it below.

Travel Cribs

Photo of sleeping baby via ShutterStock.com

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Showing 9 comments
  • Sarah M.

    We were able to make the pack n play lots more comfy with the addition of this: Dream On Me 3″ Extra Firm Playard Mattress, White

    However, it would be yet another checked item on a plane…

    • Keryn @ Walking On Travels

      Oh! Great to know Sarah! I’ll check it out for my mom’s house for sure. Thank you!

  • Christin

    I also bought the Pack N’ Play not knowing there were others out there. After dragging that thing through 3 weeks in France and having our daughter hardly sleep in it, we ditched it at grandma’s house for visits (with a supplemental mattress) and moved on to the Baby Bjorn for travel, which we still love. Your article reminds me even more of my stroller arsenal – we thought we would have just 1 and are up to 4 and I love and use them all for different activities, trips, etc.

    • Keryn @ Walking On Travels

      Ha! Christin I have a similar arsenal of strollers. Only three for us, but we use one primarily- the $30 umbrella stroller.

  • Shannon

    We travel quite a bit and much of it on boats. We use a Pea Pod (that little pop up tent kind) and it works great! Fits under the sink in a bathroom, or a closet or table, we just drape a thin black blanket over the top to block out light. It has a self inflating mattress that we just safety pin a towel around. She will crawl into it on her own and chill in there when she wants to be alone. Also great for those times when your kid spikes a huge fever or fights bend time and you find yourself lying on an extra comforter next to it until she goes to sleep so that the other guests don’t hate you! Fits in less than half a carry on. Seems big enough to last for years. A pissed off kid could tear through the mesh if they tried though.

  • Kiera @easytravelmom

    We only own one for our house and its the Graco, and we love it. Most of our travel was done via road trips last year so this was really helpful for us – the issue with using hotel cribs or pack n plays is they are not always “tall” enough for my daughter (she’s in the 90th %) so we always brought our own. You are right though, it’s not always comfortable for the little one as some nights we did have an issue. We usually found an extra blanket and put it under her but we could only do this after age 1 when we knew she wouldn’t suffocate! Also, my mom has one at her house in Texas that she borrowed from a neighbor so we lucked out when flying to see her.

  • Andrea, Passports And Pushchairs

    We have 4 I think, 2 pack and plays, a phil and teds like yours, and one we bought in the UK that is a pop up crib for little babies, it was awesome.

  • RookieMom Heather

    I will agree with you on the babyBjorn travel crib but I will add that since the mattress rests on the ground, a person of any weight including myself can go inside. For my family that means that we continue to use it as an at-home ballpit even though my two year old is outgrowing it. But the price — ouch!

  • Manju

    V is now 21 months old and we have traveled with him to India, Bali, Las Vegas, Vancouver BC, Brazil (3 cities) and Cancun. We have never once taken any travel crib with us. We have the pac n play that we tAke while going to a friend’s and know we will be late etc but never on a plane. We have always checked with the hotels before hand and they have all had cribs they provide. Most of them were the pac n play and we got V used to it before our first trip and he never had a problem with it. Hope this helps!

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