• Super light, only seven pounds
• Front zipper converts it quickly from crib to playpen
• Great for outdoor use
• Mattress rests on the floor
• Mattress is a little narrow
• Not as stable as it could be
As one of the lightest (if not the lightest) travel cribs on the market, the Traveller is easy to put together and, once in its travel case, slips right over your shoulder—look Ma, no hands!
Rating: 4 stars
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Traveling with a toddler is crazy enough without having to lug a heavy travel crib through the airport—my diaper bag alone is enough to handle while going through security. So when I saw that Phil&Teds Traveller Travel Crib weighs only seven pounds, I jumped at the chance to give it a try. The entire crib fits into a sleek, yoga-mat-size bag you can carry over your shoulder, like a cross-body bag, and easily put in an overhead bin on an airplane. But I actually like to pack it in my large suitcase, since it barely takes up any space (it could even fit into a standard backpack)— then I don’t have to count it as an extra carry-on.
Right away, the Traveller reminded me of pitching a tent; in fact, my husband jokingly calls it “Phil&Teds Excellent Adventure” crib (like the Keanu Reeves ’80s cult classic). Setting up the crib is a three-step process that takes about 5 to 10 minutes total. First, you snap the aluminum rods together and push them through a slightly padded sleeve to create the top rim. Then you connect the four legs to the rim and secure the base of the crib to each leg. Finally, you blow up the mattress—I promise that you won’t be out of breath—cover it with the soft fitted sheet that’s included and latch it onto small hooks so it doesn’t move around. It’s a little bit more work than other pop-up cribs, but still way easier than anything you’ve managed to piece together from IKEA. You probably won’t even need it but just in case, you can watch the crib being put together here.
My 20-month-old son was particularly excited by the zip-away opening on one of the long sides of the crib. He happily plays inside, making a house for his toys and even inviting “Mama in tent.” (I don’t fit completely, but I can comfortably rest my head and torso inside—and, of course, I approve of any game that involves lying down!) I also love that because it’s so light, I can easily move it out into the yard or take it to the beach, creating a little fort on top of a picnic blanket. If you plan to use it outdoors a lot though, you might want to buy the mesh sun cover ($20) that keeps out UV rays and protects baby from bugs.
At first I was worried the blow-up mattress might not be thick enough since there is only a thin, tarp-like bottom that separates it from the ground, but my son slept surprisingly well. I realized that unlike me, who’s used to a plush feather bed, his crib mattress is super firm and he must be used to it. The mattress is also thermally insulated, so it’s not like he is sleeping directly on the floor. Still, I personally feel better when we’re using it indoors, on a carpeted surface.
I also love that he can crawl into his “tent,” and then I zip him up into it—he thinks it’s a fun game we’re playing, and that helps him adjust better to going to sleep in a new setting.
While the mattress is a cinch to blow up, I do have to use my yoga-mat-rolling skills to transform it back into a compact cylinder that will fit inside the carry bag. After several attempts, I’ve figured out that the best way to do this is by using my knees to push out air as I roll. I also get my son to help by stomping on the unrolled part, which, of course, he loves. Otherwise, disassembly takes just a few minutes.
One thing to keep in mind: Since the Traveller doesn’t have a heavy base and the walls are beams and mesh, not wood bars like in a regular crib, it may not withstand tantrums or climbing escapades. Luckily I’ve never had the Traveller tip over. But since the crib is designed for newborn to age 3, it’s definitely something to be wary of if your child becomes an Energizer Bunny once he learns to stand up and walk.
I’m a fan of modern and minimalist design, so the Traveller is right up my alley. It comes in two colors—black and silver—and both blend seamlessly into their surroundings, without blatantly announcing, “Hello, playpen in the room!” And, since the rectangular mattress is narrower (22 inches) than a typical portable crib, the Traveller fits pretty well in all kinds of tight spaces (like hotel rooms).
The trapezoidal shape (it’s 45 inches long, so it’s good for older toddlers too) also makes the assembly process pretty self-explanatory, especially after you’ve done it once.
As someone who dreads lugging around dead weight, the Traveller is a no-brainer, especially for a family on the go. You can store it out of the way in your coat closet when you’re not using it and then when it’s time to drive to the in-laws or fly off to a vacation in the Caribbean, just toss it in the trunk and head out knowing you’re covered for both sleep and play. It’s lighter than baby and it’s easy to put together—two key elements you want as a savvy traveler.
Yelena Moroz is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom based in Richmond, Virginia. She loves spending time outdoors with her son Bradley. When they're not exploring local parks and playgrounds, you can find them trying out new foods—although, pretty much anything in noodle form is a hit with Bradley.