There is s good reason the KidCo PeaPod made our list of “Top 5 Must Have Items for Traveling with Kids.” That’s because absolutely nothing makes a trip miserable as fast as a poor night’s sleep.  We’ve never been a co-sleeping family, because in our experience everyone having their own space helps to create a sense of calm, gives everyone a much better night’s rest, and gives us (the parents) some much needed time without children hanging all over us. Our kids know that their bed is their space, and our bed is our space. These rules bend a little in the early morning if they get up and want to crawl in bed with us to snuggle, but otherwise we draw a pretty distinct line here. Besides comfort, infants co-sleeping also increases the risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or accidental suffocation. Sure, if you are taking a road trip, a traditional pack n’ play is still probably the best option, as it more closely resembles the experience of sleeping in a regular crib (and is obviously bigger as well).  However, that isn’t always possible. In the States, if you plan ahead you will most likely be able to find a hotel which can include a pack n’ play or rollaway crib, but that has proven to be somewhat difficult in Southeast Asia. If you do, it’s often quite a bit of extra money to have an “extra” bed in the room, as most hotels (particularly in Japan) charge by the occupant, not just by the room itself.

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It was this realization that led us to start our search for a packable travel crib. We were looking for something that could be packed in a suitcase (or even better in a backpack) that we could bring with us, and would make Penny feel like she was in her own familiar place…thereby helping her get a better night sleep (and consequently us as well). The PeaPod is an innovative solution to this problem, as it folds down into a disc approximately 15” in diameter (weighing only about 2lbs) which can easily fit in a checked or carry on bag. It’s a little tight to fit in a backpack, but with a little effort will fit in our 34L Osprey backpack (another top 5 item for us), with room for a blanket, snacks, and a few small toys as well. This has revolutionized long late-night layovers for us, as instead of dreading the experience we find a quiet corner of the lounge and pop open the PeaPod…in crawls Penny, happy to be in her own protected little space. If possible, we pull a few chairs together for Miles, and soon both kids are off to blissful sleep, allowing us some (often much needed) down time as well.

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It’s useful for far more than just layovers, though. When we stay at hotels, we set up the PeaPod up on top of a blanket or spare couch/chair cushion for extra cushioning for a little extra padding. This way, we don’t have to be worried about her potentially rolling off the bed or waking up Miles, while we still get our own space as well.

The PeaPod has mesh panels along the bottom on both sides, as well as the large mesh zip-opening as well.  This allows for a good amount of airflow to circulate through the “tent,” keeping your little one nice and cool. Zippers are on the outside, making it a bit harder for your little one to “escape.”

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There is also a built-in pad/mattress, which isn’t the thickest, but works quite well for smaller kids who don’t weigh very much. Smartly, the padding is snapped to the undersurface of the bottom of the PeaPod, making it impossible for your little one to get tangled up in the padding during the night. Should you want to go super light weight/stealth like a ninja you can also remove the padding all together, making for an even lower profile setup. Perfect for those samurai warriors who want to limit the extra stuff they carry.

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We’ve had ours for well over a year now, and have brought it with us on nearly every trip we’ve taken. It’s been deployed in multiple airports, overnight trains, tons of hotels, and has even been taken to long day events/sports days when we think Penny might have the opportunity to take a nap. The zippers all still work perfectly, the fabric isn’t frayed, and its generally held up very well. Its comically easy to set up, as you literally just take it out of the bag, take off the elastic band which secures it, and throw it in the air in front of you. It pops open before it even hits the ground, ready to go, giving you the much needed moment to pop that top on the cold one you’ve been saving for when the kids finally pass out. Folding it up is a little bit trickier, but once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes very easy as well.

Whether you are looking for an option for international travel, a space efficient child bed for visting family members, or are simply looking for a way to get your child to nap on-the-go, the KidCo PeaPod Travel Bed is an extremely well designed and useful product. We highly recommended it.

What we like:

  • Through the miracle of sleep, this product has made a direct impact on the enjoyment of our travels
  • Folds up small enough to fit in even the tiniest carry on bag, and even most backpacks
  • Very durable for the price

What we dislike:

  • The padding is a little anemic (although we generally fix this by using hotel cushions/blankets underneath it when possible)
  • Takes a few tries to get the hand of the fold-up process
  • No carabiner islets to tie it into your ropes when sleeping on a portaledge during that epic multi day climb (kidding!)

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