Whether your travels take you to the beach, the park, or even a friend’s backyard, there’s one thing you’ll want to take with you when you have a little one: a playpen. While we don’t want to put our kids in “baby jail”, there are times when we just need to restrain them, and then a playpen – or playset – is the perfect solution.
Of course, a carrycot can usually serve this purpose, but traditionally, boxes are more spacious. There is also a good chance that you do not want to put your child’s cot outside in the sand or in the mud for the night.
Fortunately, boxes have come a long way. Instead of the large and bulky plastic boxes of past decades, you can now find boxes that travel considerably lighter, pop up in seconds and provide plenty of shade. There are many boxing options for your needs on the go – here are 11 of our favorites for your next vacation.
$195.99 at Target
In just two seconds, the AeroMoov Instant Travel Playard pops straight up, making it incredibly easy to set up a play area for your baby. At less than 11 pounds and less than 5 inches wide when folded flat, it is one of the most compact and lightweight playground equipment on the market. The playard also comes with a handy carrying case, making it easy to pack into your large suitcase, stow it in the overhead compartment on an airplane, or slip it into the trunk of your car on a road trip.
While this playard is made for babies — who weigh less than 13 pounds or until they can sit up on their own — it’s one of the few playards that’s also certified for safe sleeping at night. You can also purchase a separate bundle of UV 50+ sunscreen and mosquito net, ideal for outdoors.
$129.99 $90.49 at Amazon
The Evenflo Play-Away Portable Playard Deluxe Adventurer keeps your child locked in a single and safe space, and it has enough space to keep them fully occupied with toys and games. With 15 square feet of space, the playground is both water resistant and a removable UPF 50+ sun control canopy with full or half dome coverage. Plus, there are roll-up shades on all six sides of the mesh sidewalls to completely keep the sun and bugs away.
For some downtime, a special pocket inside offers a touchscreen, so you can give your child a device and keep them entertained, while also protecting the device from sand, dirt and water. We like this option for traveling families because the frame comes fully assembled and folds in or out in seconds. Moreover, you can easily take it from the car to the campsite with the included travel bag, which also has a handy shoulder strap.
$69.99 $59.49 at Amazon
The Evenflo Play-Away Portable Playard Lite is very similar to the Deluxe Adventure, but with two important differences: the awning and the roller blinds. With the Lite version, you receive a similar base with the same dimensions – including 15 square meters of space and the tablet compartment inside – but there is no canopy or roll-up shade. If you don’t need these features and want to spend a little less money on your playard, this can be a great option.
The frame itself is sturdy and at the same time very easy to set up. The frame comes fully assembled, so you can quickly unpack and unfold it ready to use. When it comes to taking this playard on the go, you can use the included travel bag, which features a shoulder strap for easy portability.
$199.99 $149.99 at AMan
The Pop ‘N Go Box is perfect for both indoor playtime and outdoor activities. The box comes with six ground pegs, seven sand pegs, a UV shade cover with a storage bag and a travel bag with shoulder straps. The high-quality tent can be set up in seconds with one hand thanks to its pop-and-release capabilities.
The side mesh provides maximum ventilation and the UV shade cover blocks the sun with its SPF 50 protection. And after a day outside, you can easily wipe away dirt and sand. At just over 7 pounds and folds compactly into the included travel bag, this is an incredibly easy box to take with you on all your travels.
$109.99 at AMan
The Graco Pack ‘n Play LiteTraveler Playard is perfect for all your travel needs, thanks to its easy installation and disassembly. With a one-step fold, it collapses and fits into the included travel bag, which features a shoulder strap for easy transport. This makes it easy to take the box with you on your next trip.
The front of the playpen also has a zippered door that allows your child to get in and out by themselves. This gives your child some independence without the parent having to constantly bend over to get their child in and out. Plus, we like that this option is machine washable, so you don’t have to worry about it getting dirty during outdoor adventures.
$169.97 at AMan
If you’re a fan of the basic Graco Pack ‘n Play LiteTraveler Playard, but you’re hoping for something more sun-protected, you might want to consider the Graco Pack ‘n Play LiteTraveler LX Playard instead. This upgraded version offers the same dimensions and features as the standard version, but with one added component: a sunshade. This detachable canopy provides UV 50 protection from the sun and shade for outdoor use.
While this version is about $60 more expensive than the base version, this extra feature may be a necessity if you plan on taking the playard to the beach or park. And to make this a solid option for any trip, you can transport it in the included travel bag with handy shoulder strap.
$89.99 $65 at Amazon
The Summer Infant Pop ‘n Play Portable Playard offers 14 square feet of play space that folds easily into the included travel bag. Thanks to the water-resistant canvas floor, you can use the playground outside – even on damp grass – and keep your child dry. While this playard has a sturdy design, the lightweight metal frame weighs about 12 pounds and easily folds and unfolds into a compact space-saving design. The playground is intended for children from 6 to 24 months – or up to 35 inches tall.
$131 at Amazon
The Summer Infant Pop ‘n Play Deluxe Ultimate Playard is similar to the Summer Infant Pop ‘n Play Portable Playard, but with an extra fun feature: a canopy. The removable clip-on canopy provides full coverage over the box and blocks 98% of UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, the canopy includes two zip open panels to allow some sunshine and airflow into the playground.
In addition to the canopy benefit, the Deluxe version also has a padded floor and a removable touchscreen entertainment pouch. Although slightly more expensive than the basic version, the added benefits may well be worth it. At the same time, this design maintains its travel-friendliness, thanks to an easy-to-fold design and the included travel bag for easy transport.
$119.99 $83.99 at Amazon
As one of the more economical play equipment that comes with an attached canopy, the Baby Delight Go With My Eclipse Portable Canopy Playground is a great option if you’re looking for a playpen that’s primarily outdoors. The UPF 50+ hood, which protects against 98% of harmful UVA and UVB rays, covers two-thirds of the playing field.
The playground has a nylon floor, so you can easily sweep up any mess. Or, since the walls and floors are completely removable, the machine washable fabric can be tossed in the wash. There is also a fixed storage compartment and a travel bag for easy portability. The playard is made for children from 6 to 24 months and up to 35 centimeters tall.
$99.95 at Target
If you are looking for a playset for not only toddlers, but also slightly older children, the Kidco lightweight portable tent-peapod camp playset is for children between 1 and 6 years old. This tent-style playground is perfect for kids to play on the go — or take a nap, especially thanks to its incredibly lightweight design at under 4 pounds. Plus, it’s easy to use, as it pops up almost instantly and can be transported seamlessly in the included travel bag.
The included side awnings offer 50% UV protection, but can also be rolled up three quarters with a magnetic closure. There are also three storage compartments inside the tent to keep your child’s toys and activities safe and clean. A sleeping pad is also included to make your child more comfortable.
$184 at Amazon
If you are looking for a large space for your child to play or rest, the Joovy Room2 offers them 10 square meters of play space. It has large mesh siding on each of the four walls so you can keep an eye on your little one. The box also comes with two wheels on the bottom, making it easier to move around. And while the box is slightly larger and heavier than some of the other options on this list, it comes with a travel bag that’s easy to transport, even if you’re traveling by plane.
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