Talk amongst yourselves: Where does a baby who’s outgrown the Pack-n-Play sleep while traveling?

Rosemary asks:

We are going on a vacation very soon with our 1 1/2 year old son.  Whenever we have stayed in hotels before and requested a crib they always have the "pack and play" playpens to use.  Although I didin't like it even then, my son is now over the weight limit for those (they only support 25 lbs).  What is your advice for hotel stays with a child who cannot yet sleep in a regular bed by himself, is tempermental and will not sleep with us, and has overgrown the playpens provided?

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  1. Nathan says


    1) When she can climb out; or
    2) When she screams and yells and will not sleep in it.

  2. Tabetha says

    I think it is good for a child to get to sleep on the floor occasionally. If you think about it, the pad in the bottom of a pack and play is not any softer than a thick blanket on the floor anyway. You just have to be a little more aware of the child in the night, which you usually are in an unfamiliar place anyway.

  3. Nathan says

    P.S. We did away with the Pack and Play when our daughter was 16 months, and have her sleep on an inflatable little bed (Dora the Explorer) now. Less space in the car, and she loves the bed. She’s two years old now.

  4. James says

    Have to second Nathan’s recommendation of the little inflatable beds. Our 3 year old loves his!

  5. Kim says

    Our pack n play had three weight limits:
    15 pounds for the bassinet insert
    20 pounds for the changing table
    30 pounds for the main “playard”

    I’ll stick with it until Oliver can climb out or gets past 30 pounds. He’s 15 months old so we have a few more months.

    The suggestions mentioned already are great if one isn’t flying. I’ll be interested in seeing more suggestions.

  6. Jill says

    We packed a bed rail for cartrips for one child (and left one at a cabin in the mountains once too). My younger child is also over 30 lbs, but I’m keeping him in the pack-n-play anyway. I guess that makes me either a risk taker or a bad mom? He doesn’t climb out of it, so I’ll stick with whatever contains him. He’s staying in his crib til kindergarten if I get my way!

  7. steph says

    on a pile of blankets (or folded up comforter) on the floor, at the foot of our bed. This works surprisingly well.

  8. tracey says

    2 thoughts-
    -What about calling for a roll-away bed and just usuing the matress on the floor. Then you can rig up a little barrier with pillows, blankets, whatever.
    -You can get a toddler bed gate (those things that you can put on one side of the bed so they don’t roll out), take it on the trip or buy it there and push the roll away bed against the wall and ude the gate thingy on the open side.

    Oh, I don’t know. I think I’d try those anyway.

  9. Elizabeth Dunagan says

    When my son outgrew the Pack-and-Play I went to Target and bought a cute pop-up tent/sleeping bag/camp chair combo. Most hotels have enough space to set up a tent if you creatively rearrange the furniture, and it makes him feel like he has a “special” place to stay. Additionally, it contains all his “stuff” so it doesn’t get lost in the room. The sleeping bag is also a soft place for him to sleep. The best part is that the whole thing packs in a small rolling bag that takes up almost no space in the car. It even comes with a camp chair so that when we eat in the room he has a place the right size to sit in. The whole set has made traveling much easier.

  10. amyp says

    What about a small zip-up tent from Target or the like? Your child will (probably) love “camping” much more than the pack’n play anyway. My kids loved it – they told us when it was time for bed.

    For younger kids, my 10 month old sleeps in a smaller version suggested by a reader on this blog it’s the Kidco Peapod – he likes it much better than the pack’n’play (which he wouldn’t sleep in) and it takes up about 1/5 the space in the car.

  11. Dan says

    On a recent beach trip we rented a crib (~ $50 for 4 nights) since our 20 month old refuses to go in the pack-n-play. We brought all his familiar sleep gear – PJs, toys, sheets – so it wouldn’t feel to foreign. Worked great for us!

  12. Mike says

    We traveled last summer with our 2 year old and set him on the floor on a Therm-A-Rest camp mattress, covered with a sheet and placed on a twin blanket in case he rolled off. Worked fine. He currently sleeps on a twin mattress on the floor.

  13. Charisse says

    My kid won’t sleep with us either–sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse, no? BUT, we just used a great little travel bed from One Step Ahead on a 3-day beach trip. It’s basically a crib-size foam mattress that fits in a foldable “frame” of 5-inch-high soft sides. Just enough barrier to keep a toddler and the traveling team of essential animal friends in it. Our 2 year old loved it, and it’s now referred to as her “Santa Cruz bed”. It’s called the travel-n-trundle and it rolls up in a nice carry bag and weighs less than 2 pounds.

  14. rosemary says

    Wow – I am so impressed with all of this advice! There are so many things here that I need to look into! All are such great ideas, thank you so much!

  15. dutch from sweet juniper says

    Agreed Rosemary, thanks for asking the question and thanks to everyone for answering. Now I have all the ammo I need to convince my wife not to buy a pack-n-play just for our cross country road trips.

  16. Gene R. says

    First off, his being tempermental is your problem, not his. My son is also too big for a pack and play, but still in a crib at home. When we travel, we make 2 beds on the floor (have a 4 yr old daughter also) one on each side of the bed.

    We put them both to bed at the same time, and we leave the room (at a grandparents house, not hotel). It takes a couple times of us “reminding” them that it’s bedtime, not playtime, but we don’t yell and scream, we remain calm, and they eventually get it, and go to bed.

    The point is to make the transition to bedtime an easy one, this will hold true when it’s time to move Jr. into a toddler bed at home also. Don’t try to rush right from playtime, to bed. it’ll never work.

    We usually go from dinner, to bath, to story (they both sit together and we read in one central location) then bedtime. This is routine every night, whether at home, or on the road.

    It makes the on the road bedtimes easier because it’s on their same pattern.

    Hope this helps!

  17. rosemary says

    Gene –

    He isn’t generally tempermental, just picky when it comes to his sleep. I have no complaints about his sleeping habits. He still sleeps 12 – 14 hours straight at night – Just on the conditions that he is in his own room, and in his bed. I love those conditions! He goes to sleep easily every night :)

    Thanks again for all the helpful info, I can’t wait to see what I can find and try it out. I now feel much better about being able to get him to sleep on our trip!

  18. Elana says

    We always just put ours in the other bed in the hotel with pillows on both sides of him. Worked fine.

  19. MamaDuck says

    Our little guy sleeps on the floor half the time at home anyway (beside our bed, he often comes in at night) – fold up a blanket or comforter if he doesn’t sleep on a pillow or stuffed animal already. He’ll also sleep with us. I wouldn’t put him in the other bed by himself because he doesn’t stay put when he sleeps, regardless of pillows around him, plus falling off the bed in the middle of the night is a sure way to get NO sleep (not to mention it HURTS, right?).

    Also what you could do, and what we are actually doing all the time at home, is if your hotel has regular cribs, just get the mattress out and set it on the floor (pillows around it if they aren’t used to it to make that slope down to the floor more gentle ;)).

  20. LisaS says

    We’ve landed at hotels without cribs a couple of times.

    Once we pushed the two lounge chairs in the room together, tied them together with my suitcase strap, and spread it with a waterproof pad, extra sheets & blankets we requested. Voila! instant kid bed with rails.

    The other time we put him in the middle of the other bed with a line of pillows/seat cushions one each side. We laid down with him until he went to sleep. Not perfect, but it worked okay.

  21. HotSpotMama says

    It depends on where we are. If we are in a rental house, we usually put twin mattresses on the floor (two of them since we have two kids). We look for houses that have twin beds. Its the most comfortable for them and if they fall, its not far. In a hotel, we usually get two full or queen size beds and each parent sleeps with one child.

  22. Ted says

    The pack and play supports way more than 25 pounds (it “collapses” upwards, when you pull, not downwards, when you step in it – as I have)…I think the deciding factor is whether your kid can climb out or not.