What do you do if you have an unexpected guest show up for an overnight stay–and you have no guest room or sleeping area besides a sofa in your living room? What if you’re in a studio apartment but want to have someone stay over. Or, if your child wants to have a friend sleep over? Or, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast but don’t want to sleep on the hard, cold ground?
The answer to all these questions is simple: get yourself a blow up bed. Unlike inflatable mattresses of old, today’s are available in a wide variety of comfort levels and sizes. In the past, you had to settle for a hard rubber air mattress that needed (at least) a bicycle pump to inflate; or something similar to a pool float–flimsy vinyl (though you could inflate it with lung power). Most of today’s air beds have a built-in pump with a separate hardness control that plugs into the wall and inflates the mattress in a few minutes–a big improvement.
Air beds come in sizes ranging from a small camping mattress, designed to fit under a sleeping bag, to a roomy queen-size that sleeps two. Most of them have, at the very least, a fabric-covered upper surface to help prevent the sheet from sliding around. The better ones, like the Simmons Extraordinaire, have a pillow top for added comfort or, like the Intex Comfort Airbed, a memory foam top. They all take up little space when fully deflated and packed in their carry bags. Both of these–and various other brands/models–are raised at least a foot off the floor in a sort of double-mattress arrangement (they’re all one piece). This makes them easier for older folks to get in and out of.
Most come with a repair kit, but if you get one that doesn’t, you can buy a separate patch kit. Just make sure the material is compatible with your mattress. Most standard sheet sets should fit an air mattress; if they’re a bit wide, just tuck the sides under the mattress. If you’re on a budget, an air bed would be a good alternative to a regular bed. You can also get inexpensive inflatable chairs and love seats that come in surprisingly stylish options.