When traveling you need – just like you do at home – a few moments for yourself every once in a while, even if it’s just to go to the bathroom. But as we all know, a crawling baby or a curious toddler can turn a room into a war zone in about 3 seconds. To prevent that from happening you’ll want a care-free space. No pulling at cables in your Airbnb, no writing on the walls of your hotel room. And thus we present to you: the travel playpen!
In general, it’s a rectangular box made out of a mesh fabric in which you can put your baby without them being able to crawl out. You might want to use this on your travels or maybe you need one at home too or for outdoors!
We will also help you determine whether you prefer a portable playpen or baby playpen gates.
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In a hurry?
- Best baby play yard: Babyseater
- Best children’s play yard fence: Gupamiga
- Best cheap baby playpen: Regalo 6-panel
- Best outdoor baby play yard: Exqline
- Best playard indoor: Babyseater
- Best small baby playpen: Summer Infant
- Best big baby playpen: Gupamiga
- Best travel playard: Exqline
- Best playpen for toddler: Regalo 8-panel
- Best versatile play yard for babies: Regalo superwide
QUICK GUIDE: COMPARISON CHART
|NAME||AREA||WEIGHT||FEATURES||PRICE||BUY ON AMAZON|
|Summer infant Pop n play ||14 square feet (1.3 m2)||12 lbs (5,4 kg)||- compact fold|
- mesh sides
- playpen with canopy
|Babyseater Infant Pop n Play||21.5 square feet (2 m2)||15 lbs (6.8 kg)||- zip down side door|
- mesh sides
- padded floor
|Regalo portable playard||6-panel: 13.7 square feet (1,27m2)|
8-panel: 23 square feet (2.15m2)
|6-panel: 12.15 lbs (5.5 kg)|
8-panel: 16.8 lbs (7.6 kg)
|- all-steel frame with foot locks||6-panel: $$|
|Exqline lightweight playpen||15.7 square feet (1.46m2)||7.2 lbs (3.3 kg)||- extreme lightweight|
- extra sturdy
- zip down side door
|Evenflo Versatile Play Space||18.5 square feet (1.7 m2) but expandable||16.88 lbs (7.6 kg)||- expandable with extra panels|
- stakes for stability outdoors
- anti-scratch pads for indoors
|Gupamiga play yard||25 square feet (2.25m2)||32.8 lbs (14.9 kg)||- expandable with extra panels|
- anti-slip rubber feet
|Regalo superwide baby gates||19 square feet (1.8m2)||31.1 lbs (14.1 kg)||- from baby gate to playpen|
- adjustable in any area
Do I need a baby playard or baby playpen gates (when I travel)?
A child playpen offers several benefits, especially once your little one starts crawling around. But even before that, a baby (gate) play yard offers a safe place where you can rest assured that they won’t hurt themselves.
Whether or not you need a foldable playpen when you are traveling is, of course, entirely up to you. However, in most cases taking an extra item if you are flying might not be the smartest choice. Your travel crib, for example, can easily double as a kids play yard.
TIP: Take a look at our article on the best pack n play & travel cribs here!
On the other hand, should you travel by car or RV, you don’t have to worry that much about space. It could be nice to bring something extra to keep your child secure on top of their sleeping arrangements, especially if you can put it outside.
There are a couple of other situations in which a baby or toddler play yard can come in handy. If you are co-sleeping with your child you don’t bring a travel crib, but you might still be in need of a childproof area during the day. Or maybe you’ll receive a baby bed from the hotel, but it’s not suitable for playing?
TIP: Bring some toys so your baby or toddler can play by themself for a little while. Although it is difficult to bring a pile of books on a trip, they are such an important item for playing and as a nighttime ritual. We always bring at least 3. Take a look at this article to learn more about the best board books for toddlers.
What are the benefits of an infant playpen?
Security: The first and main reason to invest in a baby playpen (gate) is for their security. They provide a place to leave your child – not completely unsupervised obviously – but without the need to watch their every move like a hawk. This is especially the case if you are living or staying at a place with open stairs or other high drop-offs.
Travel-friendly: They are great to travel with, as they are portable and usually lightweight. Not all of them are suitable for air travel, but even the heavier and bigger ones are great to use at home, to take with you to a friend’s house, to go to the beach, etc.
Independence: You can let your baby adjust to some ‘alone play time’ by putting them in the infant play yard with a couple of toys. Because they are in an isolated and harm-free environment, you do not need to worry about them falling over and getting hurt.
Outdoor trips: An outdoor playpen is a great option for beach, camping or picnic trips. You can pop them open and your child has a safe spot to play or nap, without getting bothered by the sun (either put it in the shade or buy one with a cover). You don’t have to worry that they will crawl off to a dangerous place like a lake or the ocean.
Versatility: Depending on what kind of playpen you choose, they can be used for both play-time and napping. Sometimes, you can even add diaper changes into the mix as well. Although if you are looking for a 3 in 1 playpen, take a look at our post about the best pack n plays.
What to look for in a portable baby playpen?
flexibility: Do you want to use your travel playard only as a play station? Or does it have to double as a travel crib or diaper bassinet?
lightweight & folded dimensions: when travelling these 2 categories might be the most decisive. However, if you are travelling by car you have a bigger margin than when you’re travelling by air or public transport.
THE BEST PLAYPEN 2019: REVIEWS
Summer Infant Pop N Play Portable Playard
The Summer Infant Playpen is a 14 square feet (1.3 m2) travel playard that can be used both inside and outdoors.
The lightweight frame comes fully assembled and you can unfold it in seconds. This makes it the perfect companion for your hotel room or a trip to the park or beach.
The floor consists of a weather resistant canvas which is great to keep your baby dry at all times. The sides are in a mesh fabric for easy visibility.
The baby boy or baby girl playpen is 48″ (122 cm) wide and 26″ (66 cm) tall and folds up to 38″x7″x7″ (96.5 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm).
The summer play yard comes with a travel bag as well as a strap to transport it easily. Best of all is that it only weighs 12 pounds (5.4 kg), making it one of the lightest portable playards around.
It is available in 2 bright colors (blue and green) and you can opt for the regular, a half-canopy or a full canopy version.
The Summer Infant playpen is unfortunately not available on Amazon Australia.
Babyseater Infant Pop n Play
Like the Summer Infant Pop n
The padded canvas floor is weather and water resistant and you can even put it in the washing machine. Evidently, the mesh screen offers a clear view of your child.
As the name describes you just pop it open and your little one can start to play. When finished, it only takes a couple of seconds to fold it back up. You can do all this with one hand only!
When you want your baby to crawl in and out freely, you can just zip down the side door.
Unfortunately, the Babyseater playpen is not available on Amazon Australia.
Regalo Portable Playard
If you are looking for cheap playpens for babies, the Regalo Portable Playard will be your best choice.
The simple fold and go system makes it easy to take it anywhere and you can set it up or take it down in seconds. The all-steel frame, the reinforced stitching and the foot locks provide extra safety.
It can be used indoors but also as a baby outdoor playpen. The bottom is waterresistant, but it lacks padding, so make sure to put it on a soft surface. It comes with mesh walls and a nylon bottom that can be cleaned easily (but can’t be removed!).
The Regalo child play yard comes in two sizes. The My Play 6-panel is 48″ (1.2 m) wide and 26″ (66 cm) tall, which gives you baby a play area of about 13.7 square feet (1.27 m2). It weighs 12.15 lbs (5.5 kg). The My Play 8-panel is 62″ (1.57 m) wide and 26″ (66 cm) tall, which makes for a play area of 23 square feet (2.15 m2). This one weighs 16.8 pounds (7.6 kg).
Unfortunately, the Regalo small playpen and baby playpen large are not available on Amazon UK and Amazon Australia.
Exqline Ultralight Playpen
The Exqline playard is not a cheap playpen, but it has a bunch of features you won’t find in any of the others that are competing for best baby playpen.
For starters, it is the lightest mini playpen you will encounter. Thanks to the reinforced fiber-glass framing it is 50% lighter than comparable products. This means it only weighs 7.2 pounds (3.3 kg), which makes it the perfect travel play yard.
The removable canopy shade will protect your baby or toddler from the sun and any harmful UV-rays when they are playing outdoors. There are no gaps when the canopy is installed, so its perfect when you don’t want any bugs bothering your child.
The walls are made out of an extra strong mesh fabric and everything comes with reinforced stitching. This all adds to the safety of this winter and summer playpen.
Setting it up is quick and easy: you simply fold it down and lift it up after which you cross your hands and give it a short and hard push until you hear a click. The side door makes it easy for your baby of for an adult to crawl in and out.
Even with the canopy it is suitable as a large playpen for toddlers because from bottom to top it measures 40.6″ (103 cm). The Exqline play pen measures 132cm across the surface area of the playpen, which gives it a square footage of 15.7 (1.46 m2)
The folding playpen doesn’t come with a padded bottom but you can buy a separate self-inflatable play yard mattress to give your baby more comfort when they’re playing or napping. Click here to check it out.
There is a black version available as well, which comes with the self inflatable mattress included. Click here to check it out.
THE BEST BABY GATE PLAYPEN 2019: REVIEWS
Evenflo Versatile play space
The Evenflo playpen is a plastic playpen with a well-thought about design. You can use it both in and outside the house. The legs are reversible with stakes for a better stability outdoors and with non-scratch floor pads for indoor use.
The regular design provides 18,5 square feet (1,7m2) of play space, while the panels are 28 inches tall (71cm). It is suitable for children from age 6 months to 24 months.
The baby gates playpen is quick and easy to assemble thanks to the hinge-system which requires no additional tools. Because of this it is also possible to buy an extra set and connect them all together to make a giant (outdoor) play yard. This would make for an awesome toddler playpen.
If that is somewhat over the top, but you would still like to enlarge the play yard gate, it is possible to buy a 2-panel extension. This will expand it to a big playpen of 34.5 square feet (3.2m2). Click here to see current prices.
Thanks to the foldable molded handle, the set is portable so you can easily take it with you on a trip. At 16.88 pounds (7.6 kg) it is not ultra lightweight, but still very decent.
The playpen gate is available in grey, creme and a very bright multicolor.
Unfortunately, the Evenflo Versatile Play Space is not available on Amazon UK.
Gupamiga playpen gate
The Gupamiga baby playpen fence is a bright and colorful baby gate that allows parents to work their chores while their child is safe and secure.
The plastic baby playpen panels have special rubber feet underneath so the whole set doesn’t slide around the floor when your toddler pushes it. One of the panels is designed with integrated baby toys.
This might not be the best play yard for traveling, but it is great for at home or in the garden. Setting it up isn’t pop ‘n fold, but you can still put it together in about 15 minutes.
A standard set consist of 14 panels that make a square playpen of about 5’x5′ (1.5 x 1.5 m). This makes a total of 25 square feet (2.25m2) of fun. It is possible to buy extra panels to expand it into an extra large playpen. The total weight is 32.8 pounds (14.9 kg)
Unfortunately, this item is not available on Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia, but you can find very similar ones.
Regalo Superwide adjustable baby gate 4-in-1 playpen
This baby gate holds the middle between a regular baby gate and a play yard fence.
Its most notable feature is its possibility to transform from a super wide gate to a 8-panel large play yard. You don’t need any tools for this.
You can use the child playpen fence to block any kind of opening (up to 192″ wide (4.88 m)! ). It’s perfect if you want to shield your child from the fire place or open stairs. The height of the panels is 28″ (71 cm).
A lot of parents use these baby gates in their own home, but they are actually pretty useful on vacation as well. Especially when you are renting a cabin or house that isn’t childproof. The panels fold flat, so portability isn’t a problem.
The Regalo superwide is a metal playpen with a walk-through door with safety locking. You should attach it to the wall for added security (4 wall mounts are included in the package).
Unfortunately, the Regalo superwide 4-in-1 play pen is not available on Amazon UK
Although many people might presume a pack ‘n play is the better choice, there are a couple of reasons to choose a playpen instead. The price is a big factor when you don’t need a sleeping area. Some playpens are covered entirely with a mesh net. Or you might want a bigger or even an extra large play space.
Click here to read our information guide on baby playards.
The choice depends on the size of the play space and whether you would like to be able to transport the playpen or not. With a play yard gate you can create a larger play area, but they are a lot bigger to take with you. A travel playpen can often be used inside and outdoors and is easy to transport. However, the square footage is limited.
Click here to read our information guide on playpens & baby gates play yards.
If you want a large space for your child, the best choices would be the Regalo 8-panel, the Gupamiga or the Regalo superwide baby gates.
Click here to read more about these portable playpens.
Although many play yards are suitable for travel, the Exqline has a couple of features that makes it very pleasant to bring along. It is ultra lightweight, very sturdy, bugproof and has a side door. The top can be covered with a anti-UV canopy and it comes with a self inflatable mattress. It’s suitable for toddlers as well.
Click here to read our extensive review.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barbara Rodrigus is passionate about travelling – especially with her wife and daughter. She loves to show others that it’s far from impossible to travel with (young) children. A big part of that is spent on making travelling easier by bringing the right travel gear for kids.
Babs loves animals, chocolate (what did you expect from a Belgian?), reading & writing and glorious mountain views.