Shelly Rivoli's Travels with Baby
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In an ideal world, no one would ever consider spending extra money on a stroller or a car seat just for travel–they would have had the advantage of owning a travel-friendly model in the first place. I wish that every new parent could start out with a stroller that they are just as happy getting in and out of the car, on and off public transportation, and pushing through the park at naptime as s they are zipping it through the X-ray at airport security and carrying it up the stairs at the pensione. In reality, however, this is rarely the case.

When it comes to the wild and wacky world of portacribs, Pack N’ Plays, and play yards, who can comprehend how much money is spent on new models and how many are given at baby showers each year? Yet when it comes time to travel, how many parents begrudge the these heavy, bulky, unwieldy contraptions–and even opt to just leave them behind? Consider the Graco “Portable” Pack N Play that weighs a whopping 30 lbs, and even Combi’s sparse “Lightweight” Jazz Play Yard still weighs 24.5 lbs (and no one’s boasting about a compact fold for any of these products).

“Travel beds” as I call them are certainly a smarter way to go, and can be as useful at home as in the hotel or tent–and even on the beach in some cases. There are plenty of options out there now (see my top picks in review at: http://www.travelswithbaby.com/gear/travel_beds.htm), but one I’m particularly excited about right now is Phil & Ted’s Traveller Full-Size Travel Crib (the even better replacement to their T2 Travel Cot). So what’s so great about the Traveller?

I’ll start by saying it weighs a mere 8 lbs.–less than some infants weigh at birth. Yet it offers all the advantages of a traditional play yard, plus many additional advantages.

- Use it from birth up through 3 years (really–read on)
- No weight maximum for your child
- Zipping screen cover (included) protects against insects and helps create a tent within your – tent on cold nights camping
- Rugged fabrics let you take it onto the beach, down by the river, into the woods, out in the desert, etcetera
- Screen mesh gives visibility and ventilation but blocks a fair amount of wind
- Therm-a-Rest-style backpacker’s mattress gives extra insulation as well as cushioning
- Optional UPF 80 sun shield zips to the top for extra sun protection outdoors (sold separately)
- Rubber feet won’t scratch hardwood floors or tile when used indoors
-Side panel unzips when desired (yes!)

That final point, IMHO, puts the Traveller over the top. Other models, like the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light give you the toddler containment advantage, and the Peapod and Peapod Plus give you the advantage of a “play tent” indoors or out. But once your child loses patience with being completely contained (or maxes out on height), the BabyBjorn crib is out. And once your child can stand (esp. taller than the tent) and protest loudly enough, the Peapods cease to work well for containment–though they may live on as play tents and still work for sleeping once your child agrees to stay put.

The Traveller, on the other hand, gives the advantage of baby & toddler confinement (keeping her out of the campfire while you cook and from exploring Grandma’s house unsupervised after waking from her nap), with the advantage of opening up on one side to double as a shaded play tent on the beach. Plus it can continue to serve as a travel bed for your older toddler and even preschooler (up to 50″ tall) by offering in-and-out privileges through the open side. Chances are, you’ll even make use of the backpacker’s mattress for your child well beyond her days in the Traveller.

For more details about Phil & Ted’s Traveller, other travel beds, and more recommended gadgets and gear for travel with small children in an ideal (or less than ideal) world, check out my reviews of great products and gear for travel. And in case you know any expectant parents that are considering registering for a play yard… I hope you’ll pass this along.

Safe journey,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby

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4 Responses to Tip #41: Take a Trip with Phil & Ted (the new full-size travel crib)

  1. jennifer says:

    Instead of trying to carry everything you need for your kids when traveling, rent it when you get there. http://www.happykidtraveling.com is a great company in CO for just that but companies are are popping up all over the US. I have 3 seven year olds and if I could not have rented cribs when we went to visit grandma in AZ we would have never went.

  2. Shelly Rivoli, author says:

    Jennifer,

    Here-here! I agree that renting gear, particularly when flying or traveling with multiples (you deserve a medal!), is a fantastic way to go. As always, my international directory of baby gear rental agencies can be found in Travels with Baby (book) and also online at http://travelswithbaby.com/planning/baby_gear_rentals.htm
    There are times, however, road-tripping, camping, beaching at turn-outs along the way, breaking in state parks, lounging by the resort pool while your baby naps, etc., when it’s great to have a gadget like this along.

  3. Ian and Wendy Sewell says:

    We love love LOVE our Phil & Ted's Travel Cot. It was seriously THE first piece of "baby gear" we chose when we were registering. Yes, it takes a couple of minutes to put together, but the weight savings over the Bjorn makes it totally worth it. Plus, the rectangular (rather than square) shape means it fits through doors without being taken apart. (And it's light enough you can carry it in one hand and the baby/toddler in the other!) We use ours every single day. It's where our little one hangs out while we're getting ready in the morning.

    We've made multiple trips with it – everything from weekends to a 3 week trip and it's been awesome! I've heard people worry about the lack of sheets. We see it as an advantage. Baby peed/puked/OMG all over the thing? No problem – it can be cleaned and DRIED without having access to a washing machine/drier.

    Happy Travels!

    Wendy Sewell
    http://www.ianandwendy.com

  4. […] posts and pages:Best travel beds and sleeping solutionsTake a trip with Phil & Ted (the new full-size travel crib) Ask Shelly: Using a SIDS-prevention monitor with a baby travel […]

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