Flying with a pack and play
Traveling with children is difficult. If your child has trouble sleeping away from home, visiting new locations can be even harder. The best thing you can do for your trip is make the child feel as comfortable as possible. That might mean taking more gear along with you, but if it results in better sleep and a more fun trip, it is worth it. If you have a problem sleeper on your hand, it might even be worth flying with a pack and play so you have a bed you know the child will sleep in. Flying with anything large can be a pain, but these tips will help you make it as easy as possible.
Plan to check it
When you plan to take your pack and play along with you on a plane, understand that it is too big to operate as a carry on. It won't fit in the overhead bins and it is also too big to go under the seats. Check with your airline policies, but most likely, you will be able to check the pack and play in as if it is a piece of luggage.
As you prepare your luggage at home, collapse the pack and play and put it inside the drawstring bag it came in when you bought it. You will want it to be as protected as possible when it is around the other baggage on the plane. That means putting it in its original packaging.
Once the pack and play is collapsed and in its bag, put one or more heavy garbage bags on top of it and wrap them in electrical tape. This will protect the pack and play from being bumped and scraped when it is being transferred. The original bags are often made of fabric and can even get torn in the process. The garbage bags will act as a buffer.
Fill out a luggage tag and attach it to the pack and play in a convenient location so it is easily visible. Just like a piece of luggage, if the item gets lots, it can get returned to you more easily if it is identified.
If you have other items you need to pack, consider buying a large duffle bag. Put the pack and play in the bag and then pack clothes or other soft items around it. This could save you from having to carry another item through the airport and it might also help you get by without an extra luggage fee.
When you arrive at the airport, you will take the pack and play with you to the desk where you check bags. Let the staff know you want to check the item with your other luggage. If you have too many luggage items, you may have to pay extra fees. Before you hit the airport, see if there's something you can leave out at home to allow for the pack and play or be prepared for the fees.
When you reach the airport on the other side, go to the baggage claim and watch for all of your luggage items. Since pack and plays are somewhat large and heavy, grab a cart so you can push your items out to your transportation. It's hard enough to keep track of your child without worrying about all the luggage as well.
Flying with a child can be a nerve wracking experience and being away from home with unknown situations is stressful. When you keep your child in situations he or she is familiar with, the whole trip will likely flow much better. Flying with a pack and play is not always ideal, but it is a good way to get a bed your child is familiar with to your intended destination. If you know where you are going far enough in advance, you could look into prices and possibly ship the pack and play ahead of time. If you are staying with friends or family members, this is a valid option. If you are hotel bound, it might be more tricky. Flying with a pack and play might take a little effort, but the end result of peaceful sleep is worth it.