A quick note: I have not been compensated for this review, nor did I receive this travel bed for free or reduced cost. I only review items I use, with the hope that my insights are helpful for other parents!
We’ve tried quite a few different sleeping solutions for traveling with a baby or a young toddler. Seriously, we’ve run the gamut. We’ve had lots of bad experiences.
That’s why, as we were preparing to backpack Vietnam with a 3 year old and a 1 year old (crazy? maybe), we knew it was time to invest in a really good toddler travel bed.
We needed something that would be the perfect fit for our family and our style of travel. Something safe, comfortable, durable, and carry-on friendly.
We chose the Joovy Gloo after literal weeks of research and hemming and hawing over different portable baby beds. And we are thrilled with that decision.
Why you need a toddler travel bed
So first of all, who actually needs this thing, and what are the benefits? I would argue that anyone who’s baby is not yet comfortable sleeping in a real bed by themselves needs a toddler travel bed.
Our older daughter has been sleeping in a twin bed by herself since she was about 18 months. Whenever we travel, she now sleeps on a real bed (and in ours if there isn’t a second bed). She is totally fine with this.
But our little one, who was just 1 at the time of our Vietnam trip, was still in a crib at home, of course.
Why not just rent a crib?
First of all, crib fees. Most hotels charge a fee per night to use a pack n play or crib. We’ve been quoted as high as $75/night! Although $50/night is more common around the US. And still ridiculous, in my opinion.
Think of how quickly the Joovy Gloo infant travel bed pays for itself if you stay in hotels!
We tend to stay in Airbnbs more often than hotels, because they are much better suited for families. Airbnbs that have a pack n play available will often not charge you, or they will charge you a nominal amount. But it’s not always easy to find Airbnbs with that option.
The second problem with borrowing the crib or pack n play is cleanliness. We’ve definitely used some pretty icky hotel cribs. Never again.
The most important reason to get a travel baby bed, though, is familiarity. Back when we did use the hotel or Airbnb crib, our poor baby was having to adjust to a new sleep setting every night. This meant more tears, and less sleep, for everyone involved.
The Joovy Gloo is a wonderfully contained little unit. When your baby is zipped inside, it looks the same no matter where in the world you are.
Is there going to be an adjustment period? Yes. But guess what? You can take on that adjustment period at home before you leave!! That way, your little one goes to bed in a familiar setting every night of your trip.
Our requirements for a toddler travel bed
First and foremost, an infant travel bed must be a safe sleep solution. There are tons of products out there that are marketed as “travel beds” that are not approved for infant sleep. Even for young toddlers, many of these beds pose a suffocation hazard, and should only be used supervised. We brought one of these, the bbluv Nido, as a bassinet to Thailand when our daughter was 4 months old. It was, at the time, marketed as a travel bed (although I see it no longer is). We noticed right away that she could roll into the corner (which is not mesh), so we did not end up using it for overnight sleep. We still loved it as a beach tent and for supervised naps, though!
The Joovy Gloo is certified safe to sleep on for babies 6 months and older. It was designed with safe sleep in mind, and is a fabulous option for parents looking for a travel bed for a baby or a toddler.
We also knew that we would be using the Joovy tent at the beach, so it had to have good sun protection. We bought the Joovy Gloo Large, which has a UPF 50 fabric shade all around it. The Regular does not have fabric panels shading the zippered openings, although the mesh is quite dense and provides a significant amount of shade itself.
This was a top priority for us, and the reason it was so hard to choose a toddler travel bed. That bbluv Nido I mentioned before? It folded up to the size and shape of a frisbee. It was so easy to transport! But once I started looking at the options for truly safe, high-quality baby travel beds? Not to mention, ones that would fit a baby over 6 months old? I conceded that the frisbee level of portability was just not realistic.
We travel carry-on only. Every inch and every pound counts when there’s two adults to carry everything for ourselves, a baby, and a toddler. But having a safe and familiar bed for our youngest was a priority, so we dedicated one carry-on “slot” to the Joovy travel bed.
The Joovy Gloo is definitely portable, but it’s not exactly throw-in-your-diaper-bag portable. The Large, when packed up, is about an 18″ diameter, and a bit under 5″ wide. The Regular is 14″ diameter and 5″ wide. It comes with a carrying bag, which we used. They are both light, with the Regular coming in at 3.9 lbs, and the Large at 5.5 lbs according to Joovy’s website.
Ease of Use
Another important factor for us was how easy it would be to set up and take down. We were on the go for this whole trip, staying in a new place every few nights as we meandered our way up the coast. We needed a toddler travel bed that we could set up and break down in a breeze.
The Joovy Gloo was the perfect choice for that! To set it up, you truly just unbuckle the strap and stand back – it will pop right up into place! You need to unfold the self-inflating air mattress and slide it in the pocket underneath, and it’s ready to go!
Folding it down is a tiny bit trickier, until you get the hang of it. I recommend practicing a few times in your home first! But once you understand the motion, it is extremely quick. Don’t forget to take the air mattress out first, and we found that the girls were fabulous helpers for stomping the air out before folding!
I would try to describe the folding process for the Gloo, but this video does a way better job than I could.
We’ve owned a few backyard tents. They don’t last long. They get rough use, I get it, but a lot of kids items like this just aren’t made to last.
With the Joovy Gloo tent (and frankly any product made by Joovy), you get what you pay for. The price tag is a bit higher than some of the other options, but this is a sturdy, high quality piece. You can feel it in the fabrics, and you will know it after weeks of use. The Joovy Gloo is no worse for wear after the adventures we’ve put it through.
I really liked the bbluv Nido. For what it was, it was a great little product. But we put it through the ringer, and by the end of 3 weeks in Thailand, the frame was bent out of shape and poked through the fabric in multiple places. Things were unraveling. But because of the lower price point, I was okay with that and felt that it had “earned it’s keep”.
On the Joovy Gloo, I’m very impressed with the strength of the frame and the attention to detail in the construction. This is a toddler travel bed that will last. A much better investment, and a wiser environmental choice, as it’s not going to end up in the landfill any time soon.
There are other things that make the Joovy Gloo the best toddler travel bed.
- The cotton cover is washable.
- The super-fine mesh keeps out bugs and slowing sand, but allows ample airflow.
- Zip-down shades on either side (on the Large) allow for maximum flexibility to adapt to the moving sun without disturbing a napping baby.
- The wide opening is easy for babies to crawl into and out of when unzipped.
- Unlike some pack n play style travel beds, there is no worry about tipping or crawling out of the top. When baby is zipped in, she is safe. This is one of the main reasons I chose the Joovy Gloo over the Lotus Guava (which is absolutely beloved for younger babies who travel a lot).
There are so many things to consider when you’re looking for the best toddler travel bed. For us, the Joovy Gloo inflatable travel bed is the perfect balance of portability, safety, and function. It serves not only as a travel crib for our 1 year old, but will continue to serve as a perfect beach and backyard tent for probably 4 more years.
Look, I haven’t tried every option on the market. But I did my research and found what I thought would be a good fit for our family, and I have been pleasantly surprised how this product has exceeded our expectations.
I hope my insights have been helpful for you as you choose what fits your family! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!
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Originally published May 2020. Updated January 2022.