I've mentioned how the JetKids BedBox is one of our go-to pieces of travel gear for travelling with a toddler, but I've not actually dedicated a full post to why it's so good, what it is we like about it, and what we maybe find less perfect. I did it recently for the best travel stroller, and now I'm going to do it in a review of the JetKids BedBox, both as a ride-on suitcase for kids to use themselves (or be carried on!) and also as the convertible on-board plane cabin toddler bed that it is pitched to be so good as. This is not a sponsored or compensated review, so I will be completely honest with you, will share a few alternative aeroplane toddler beds and toddler-friendly luggage and suitcases, will tell you when you should (or shouldn't!) buy one, and I will also give you a few pieces of advice for getting the most out of your JetKids BedBox.
My Review of JetKids BedBox
We bought our JetKids BedBox (from Bol.com in Netherlands (where we live), though I would now buy direct as you are then dealing directly with the company in terms of ensuring your guarantee etc) just before our first long-haul flight with our then 18 month old son. Though he'd flown a lot as a baby and had not long done a couple of 4-hour flights to and from Iceland, this was our first long-haul journey with him, and boy, was it a whopper - to Australia no less. But this is what happens when your Daddy is from Sydney; you have family to see over there! We were set to do the full journey in just under 24 hours, including a very, very quick stopover in Singapore (1.5 hours if I remember rightly). After we did lots of research and asked experienced family travellers their advice, we decided that although our son didn't need to have his own seat (he could go on our lap until the age of two) we wanted him to have his own seat for the long-haul flights so that we had a block of three seats all together and a bit of extra space.
Then we started to think about getting the JetKids BedBox. I'd seen a photo on Pinterest of a young sleeping peacefully on the fold out bed created by the BedBox on an economy seat, and I was almost instantly hooked and sold on the idea. Then I discovered that it also doubled up as a ride-on suitcase - win, win! In my mind, the BedBox was suddenly the solution to all my fears of flying for 24 hours with a very active toddler. He would ride around on it through the airport meaning we didn't have to rely on the buggy or carrier, and then on the plane I would set this bed up, he would lie down in it and he would sleep. Perfect! Right?
Don't worry. My rose-tinted fantasies were shattered once I floated the idea of buying the JetKids BedBox to my partner as he is much more practical and realistic. He reminded me that nothing works as well as the marketing images suggest, and he raised questions about the BedBox's weight, size, and practicality. He is most definitely the Nope to my Yay!
However, we did still decide to go ahead and get one. Our reasoning behind this was that creating a space for our son to sleep and play would be no bad thing. We could put him in the seat between us and then have somewhere for him to nap if we got so lucky, but if not, he would at least be blocked off from going down into the footwell, as that's where the BedBox stands to then be folded out as a toddler bed.
This is pretty much exactly what we used it for as my son seemed determined not to sleep for the vast majority of our two long-haul flights to Sydney. He had a couple of naps, of an hour or so each, and each time, we did like how we could position him pretty much lying flat on the BedBox's fold out cabin bed and he did look very comfortable. It also meant he wasn't sleeping on either of us so we each had an hour or so of having our hands and bodies free to try and sleep ourselves, walk around or just rest a little. It's also not a reflection on the BedBox's toddler bed comfort levels that our son didn't sleep well on it - he's not a good sleeper in most environments!
But perhaps I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Firstly, it's important to say what ordering the BedBox was like and what it actually looked like and what we packed it etc. (I'll talk a bit more about the aeroplane toddler bed function as well as the ride-on suitcase appeal more below.)
What's the JetKids BedBox really like to use?
I ordered our BedBox and it came quickly. I opened it up with my son Baby Bird next to me and he was instantly intrigued. The bed's mattress was rolled up inside, along with the two attachable sides. There were also a couple of pages of stickers and these were instantly seized upon by my son. There followed a good twenty minutes of putting the stickers all over the outside of the BedBox. Most of them are still there today, a year-and-a-half later.
You can't really test out the cabin bed feature of the BedBox without being on a plane yourself as there's no footwell to lodge it in and no seat to measure up to but you can practice taking the lid off, turning it over and pulling out and adjusting the metal and plastic platform that extends to create an extension of the seat your toddler is sitting on. I recommend doing this as it's a bit stiff and cumbersome to begin with. You'll also then see how there are a number of different heights you can use to match the chair's height as all planes will have slightly different seat dimensions. I rolled out the mattress just to see what it was like and it certainly seemed soft enough. Also soft, the sides that you can attach with velcro, presumably to give your kid something soft to hit to know it's the end of the mattress, seemed a bit flimsy and superfluous but we would have to see what they were like. My son didn't stay still long enough for me to grab him or seem interested enough in testing out the mattress himself, but his time would come!
The BedBox also came with two straps of different lengths that you can attach or unattach depending on whether you want a short or long handle. Because it's quite a high suitcase (compare to other ride-on toddler luggage I've seen) and because of my son's height and balance at the time, I knew already that at 18 months he wouldn't be able to sit on it and get pulled along but I was hopeful that would come in the future. (The Trunki is lower so may be better at this young age if you just want a ride on suitcase.)
Once I'd rolled the mattress back up (which has a bit of material and velcro so you can secure it rolled up) and put it and the sides back in the BedBox I was able to see how much space was inside, and it wasn't really as much as I was hoping; I would say it was about half-full (or half-empty, depending on your mood!) so I had to think about what exactly would go in there for the journey.
The BedBox as a Suitcase for Toddlers
And this brings me neatly to reviewing what the JetKids BedBox is like as a suitcase for toddlers, over other ride-on luggage that is designed for younger children.
First off, it's not as pretty or colourful or fun as some other toddler ride-on suitcases I've seen. For example, it's nowhere near as jolly as the brightly-coloured Trunkis you see being pulled around airports all over the world. Aesthetically speaking, in general, it's really not that pretty to look at all, but we didn't buy the JetKids BedBox to make us feel cool or creatively inspired; we bought it to help us survive a 24 hour long-haul journey.
As I had suspected, we learned as soon as we got to the airport for our flights to Australia that our boy was too young and small to balance on the suitcase so we felt a bit cheated in that respect. However, only six months later when we went to the Maldives he was more than ready and we wheeled him around on it the whole time we were in transit. It worked perfectly! And if he was in his buggy, he took great pride in holding the BedBox himself and pulling it alongside him. This also happened on a long-haul trip to Thailand at the end of last year, when he was 2.5. Although we haven't done a long-haul flight since, because I'm pregnant again, our boy still likes to ride around on the BedBox at home so yes, we've got our value for money from it as a ride-on toddler suitcase!
In terms of what you can store inside the BedBox once the mattress etc is already inside, I would say it's space enough for the toys and books and distractions you'll need for any long-haul flight. As soon as my son dropped having a bottle and no longer ate only baby foods/snacks, there was also enough space for a few of his favourite foods and snacks. This is not to be knocked as it frees up space in my own carry-on luggage, which did get quite heavy when he was smaller. One word of advice is that I wouldn't keep any liquids or electronics in there so you don't have to open it up and retrieve these when you go through security. It's just one less item of luggage to open or organise or rummage through. I would also add that while the BedBox in itself is not heavy (I believe it weighs about 3kg) you don't want to fill it up with heavy toys because that will make it more difficult to transport and lift. Also, for our more recent trips our son has enjoyed packing his BedBox himself, though he now also expects there to be an endless source of toys inside the BedBox so what with demanding we pull him round the house on it, we have to sometimes keep it out of sight from him if we're not travelling for a while. We haven't used a Trunki ourselves, but I imagine that you can't get much more stuff in a Trunki compared to a BedBox (and arguably you'd have more space for stuff if the mattress was gone) but of course you don't get the plane bed feature with a Trunki, so I think space is the obvious compromise.
If my partner was writing this review, he would have something to add about how annoying the BedBox is if you're not pulling it along. It's definitely quite cumbersome and if you have to lift it up to go up and down a lot of stairs it can get a bit annoying, especially if you're already carrying other bags or a stroller over your shoulder. I think it's fair to say that for the amount of stuff it can carry, it's not the most economical or streamlined shape. But it's also true that the longer strap can be attached as a shoulder strap on either side of the BedBox and I personally think this works just fine... but then I'll be the first to admit my partner does carry a lot more luggage than me most of the time - thank you, darling!
The BedBox as a Plane Bed for Toddlers
So, here's the real talk. Does the BedBox really work as a bed for toddlers on a plane? Well, yes, and no. Firstly, I want to reiterate that my son is not the best sleeper, has a constant case of FOMO so will always opt for being awake over sleeping if there is something to see and do, and he wakes easily too. (I know, aren't I lucky!?!) It quickly became clear on that first long-haul flight to Sydney that Baby Bird was not going to simply lie down on the made up bed and fall asleep. He wriggled, the mattress went wonky, the foam sides were next to useless (so we removed them and now don't travel with them!) and he would sit up and want to play with us, a toy or push buttons on the in-flight entertainment system. However, he did all this in the safe, set-up somewhat contained area that the JetKids BedBox created. There was no falling down the foot well and then crawling out of our row of seats and into the aisle. There was limited space to drop toys. And when he did fall a bit tired, we were able to set him up somewhat horizontally on the bed with an iPad or a couple of books and he stayed a little more still and a lot more comfortable had he been just on the seat without the extension, or on one of our laps. And yes, eventually he did fall asleep.
Since that first flight, we have had more luck with him sleeping on the BedBox. I suspect this is as much to do with his age and also the fact we took night flights, but absolutely it was worth having it then as I think on our overnight flight back from Singapore to Amsterdam, he slept for a couple of 2-3 hour stints, which is nothing short of miraculous for us!
In terms of setting it up when you do want to use the bed feature, it is pretty easy, and we've definitely got quicker at doing so with practice. We also make sure he has his sleepsack (sleeping bag) and favourite cuddly in the BedBox already so we can get everything out and organised at the same time. Sometimes one of us will take him for a walk down the aisles while the other sets the bed up, but it's actually quite easy to do even with your toddler still sitting on the seat. Likewise, folding it all away is quick and easy too, as long as you don't have too much stuff in the BedBox as with any bag that will make it all a little slower and stressful to organise!
I will also add that when we used the BedBox for the first time on those flights to Australia, on our flight to Singapore we saw a family with a blow-up foot rest (like this one which thankfully comes with a pump!) that fitted into the footwell of their toddler's seat, to effectively serve the same purpose, and these can also be used for adults, not just children, I guess. While we didn't see them blow it up, I'm sure it would take more than a few puffs of air if you didn't have a pump, and while at first I thought, Oh I bet that's a much cheaper and easier solution, we never actually saw their kid sleeping on it, though we did see it being moved around a lot and being balanced on the dad's knee for a long time. I also don't know how quick it was to inflate, what it was like to deflate, or how small it folded up, but by the end of the flight we were confident we'd made the best decision with our BedBox!
Can you use the JetKids BedBox on All Airlines?
The quick answer is no. You will definitely need to check which airlines are happy for you to use the BedBox as a bed on-board, though all should accept it as cabin luggage.
We found this out when we went on our family holiday to the Maldives. We flew with Emirates and were told at check-in that we couldn't use the bed function of the BedBox, but we could still take the suitcase on board. This was a bit of a blow for us as it was only our third ever journey with the BedBox, however, by using cushions balanced on top of the BedBox's closed lid we were able to re-create a bed for him albeit not as sturdy or reliable. I would still say it was worth having the BedBox with us on that flight because we used it as a ride-on suitcase in the airports, and we still blocked his footwell with it once on board the plane. Also the BedBox will fit in the overhead luggage compartments so when it's not in use we could easily get it out of the way.
We have then only really flown with Singapore Airlines with the BedBox and they are fine about us using the bed feature as long as it's not in an emergency row or in an aisle seat. I strongly advise checking the airlines you're likely to fly with before purchasing the BedBox, but of course, it's also true that rules can change!
Is the JetKids BedBox Worth the Cost?
This is not a sponsored review, and we paid full whack (around €150 18 months ago) for the BedBox, so I have no incentive to sell you on the Jetkids BedBox being the best suitcase for toddlers, or the best plane bed for toddlers, and maybe it isn't both of these things, but does do both of these things very well while being just one device. For us that means it is totally worth the money. We currently don't plan to go on any long-haul trips until our second son has arrived safely, but with family in Australia and a penchant for holidays in Southeast Asia, it's almost certain we will be flying long-haul again before too long, and so we now have to think about whether we get another one for our other boy when he's the right age. I think the answer will be a resounding yes. Especially now our eldest can pretty much manage his own BedBox by himself, we will probably look at getting another for the youngest around the same age (18 months). I suspect we will then get a good few years of using two, as our eldest will probably still like having the extra comfy leg room and play area until he's four or five (he just turned three). The JetKids website suggests that children as old as seven will still benefit from this, but we shall see. Since we bought our BedBox, I also see that the JetKids company has been bought by or brought under the Stokke brand which is one of the most respected and long-running names in baby- and child-friendly products so I think this can be taken as a good endorsement of the quality of the JetKids BedBox.
One thing I will say is that we don't and won't take the BedBox on short-haul flights (anything under 4-5 hours). This is because we don't expect our son(s!) to sleep for longer than an hour or two of this time and he can just as easily do that stretched out over one of us. When we travel short-haul we try to keep our carry-on luggage to a minimum and so not taking the BedBox helps with that. The only time I may change this "rule" of ours is if we were doing two short-haul flights and had an airport connection somewhere during which the ride-on suitcase feature may help us out.
For us, doing three long-haul journeys with a toddler in just one year, the BedBox has already proved its worth, so any more trips where we use the BedBox will be bonuses! If you know you've got quite a bit of long-haul travel in your future with a toddler or young child, I would also recommend getting the JetKids BedBox. We've lent ours to a couple of friends over the last 18 months too and they've all said the same thing - totally worth it!
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And if you'd like some other travel tips and advice for making the most of family travel, here are some other posts you may enjoy:
DISCLOSURE: Some images taken from JetKids website & yes, this post contains affiliate links because I gotta start saving up for another BedBox for our second son!
Frances M. Thompson
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