Traveling with kids is both exciting and stressful. Family vacations are carefully planned and full of fun, or maybe you’re off for a weekend to grandma’s house, lending its own thrill for young people. Wherever you’re off to, family vacays don’t just start when you get to the destination. Making the journey is a big part of the trip. Choosing the right luggage for the adults and kiddos can be very important to make travels go smoothly. No matter how old your child is (toddler to pre-teen), there are lots of options to choose from. We will break down the top 7 luggage options we recommend below. You’ll most likely see styles you’ve never encountered before, which might be the perfect choice for your young traveler. Be ready for an epic family adventure, starting with the packing phase!
Best Luggage for your Kids
(Most all encompassing — $$)
Why it’s great: Kids love bright, eye-catching patterns. Because this set includes several matching pieces, children tend to get a kick out of toting around their ensemble. The solid sense of ownership is real! The ‘cool dog’ pattern is very gender-neutral, but it also comes in a few other patterns. What I really like about this is that we don’t tend to leave items behind, because it’s easy to tell what belongs to us when we are out and about. The set includes an 18″ carry-on, small backpack, lunch bag, neck pillow, and a cute luggage tag. They are the perfect size for small children. The insulated lunch bag is great for snacks, just be careful if you’re traveling by plane, because you can’t take liquids. Also, my little guy is much more apt to nap on the plane because he has his very own matching neck pillow…very little coercing to get him to use it. All in all, a very great purchase because you’ll have everything you need, and the quality will withstand many trips.
Keep in mind: The luggage is small, so it won’t fit everything if the trip is longer than a weekend. You could always put a couple of sets of clothing in the accompanying adult suitcase.
Good for: Small children, ages 2-6.
(Most practical — $)
Why it’s great: When your child starts to complain that their backpack is too heavy as you traverse through the airport, you’ll be happy you chose this luggage set. The matching backpack is designed to fit on the handle of the carry-on bag, so instead of wearing it, your little one can choose to pull it along, too. Both the carry-on and backpack are perfect sizes for young kids ages 3-8 years old. The carry-on handle can also be adjusted to three sizes as your child grows. The 360-degree rolling wheels are easier to handle than some of the less agreeable adult counterparts. One of my favorite things about this particular luggage set is the way the inside is set up on the carry-on. There are compartments to keep things organized and zipped into place. It’s great for vacations or trips to grandma’s house. Kids enjoy the excitement of travel, so make their travel time enjoyable with an adorable luggage set that is easy to maneuver and holds up to their rough nature.
Keep in mind: The height measurement of 18 inches includes the wheels, so the carry-on is a bit on the smaller side.
Good for: Parents who like keeping items organized while on a trip.
(Quickest to get around with — $$)
Why it’s great: When you see this carry-on, you’ll wish there was an adult version! Such a unique style, allowing kids to scooter down long airport walkways instead of walking. Of course, when the time isn’t right, they can fold up the wheels and pull it along like normal. Another great feature is that it’s water-resistant, keeping your belongings safe and dry. The handle adjusts to different sizes and folds up to fit nicely in the overhead compartments of the airplane. Plus, it’s TSA-approved, so you won’t have any hassle going through security. The quality of this luggage is quite high. It’s designed with kids in mind, knowing that they will be rough on zippers, handles, and wheels. Speaking of wheels, they light up with movement! If you have a child who is always zooming around, this carry-on is the way to go.
Keep in mind: This is meant for children who know how to use small scooters already; you don’t want the learning to happen on-the-go.
Good for: Trips where you’ll have minimal time between planes, trains, or busses.
(Most unique shape — $$)
Why it’s great: This suitcase draws attention right away because of its unique shape. The L-shape is designed to create a seat for your child. You can pull him/her along when their legs get too tired, or if they are like my son, they will use their feet to scoot along as well. I think it’s also nice when we’re in lines at the airport, and our little guy is bored of standing. As the line moves along, so does he! As a bonus, there’s a safety belt the child can wear to make sure they don’t fall from the suitcase when sitting on it/riding it. Another great feature is the three-digit password lock that keeps the luggage tucked safely inside until you need it. Like many suitcases, the wheels swivel in all directions, and there are buckles inside the suitcase to hold clothing in place. Lastly, there are two sizes to choose from, a 20 inch and a 24 inch. So, this can work for young children, or older ones alike. Nice for siblings who want to match!
Keep in mind: The suitcase has a thin protective film on the surface, which is meant to protect it during shipping. It may look funny when you first receive it, but you can tear it right off and it’ll be ready for use.
Good for: Older kiddos (24 inch handle option), who are a little too old for a stroller, but still like getting pushed around!
(Most eye catching — $)
Why it’s great: This is another ride on (or pull along) type of suitcase, but it appeals to the youngest of young. The whimsical, colorful design keeps the little ones entertained. It measures smaller than the average carry-on, so little tikes around age 2 can start to express their independence by pulling it along in the airport and be responsible for their own items. Trunki thought ahead and knew that those same little ones would probably be tempted to open their suitcases over..and over…and over again. So there is a lock feature so that parents can keep it closed when it needs to be. And don’t worry; for the ride-on option, there is a cute teddy bear seatbelt for safety. It’s a great suitcase option for travelers that will get tired and need a push (or pull, in this case!) to make it through the day’s adventure. Parents can stress less and focus more on happy travels.
Keep in mind: Children over 35 pounds will be harder to pull along, especially if the carry-on is packed full.
Good for: Super young kids, ages 1-3.
(Most side pockets — $)
Why it’s great: It’s not fun when kids want something out of their suitcases in the middle of the airport, and have to dig through everything they’ve packed to find it. This carry-on is great because there are two small side pockets and one larger one. There are even 3 mesh pockets along the sides, too! All the crayons, stickers, small toys, small snacks, electronic devices, and more can fit into the pockets for easy access. The handle is extendable for different heights. The fun shark design can also be swapped for other designs, such as unicorns or dinosaurs. This is a roomy suitcase that will hold nearly as much as an adult carry-on. This suitcase is priced well and will hold up to rough treatment. Children love the design, and you will love all that it can hold!
Keep in mind: This suitcase doesn’t have compartments inside, except for a zipping pouch. It would be a good choice to also use packing cubes to keep things organized inside.
Good for: Children who have outgrown the more juvenile suitcases; geared for ages 4-7.
(Best classic design — $$$)
Why it’s great: It’s very easy to identify this Mickey Mouse luggage at the baggage claim. Not only will it be a perfect match for the carry-on, but the design is eye-catching and unique. I really like the American Tourister brand, because they offer a ten-year limited warranty, so if there are problems with wheels or zippers, you’re covered. You probably won’t have any troubles, though, as the quality is top-notch and reviews are great. Inside the bag, you’ll find cross straps to help prevent items from shifting in transit. You’ll also encounter a mesh divider for organization. Zipper pouches on the front of both bags allow for easy access to items your little one might want to use in the airport, such as paper and pencils, activity books, small snacks, or an electronic device. There are several designs to choose from, all centered around Minnie and Mickey Mouse. Show your love of Disney with this special luggage set!
Keep in mind: Only one of the suitcases in this duo is a carry-on. The larger one will need to be checked, and can incur an airline fee.
Good for: Disney fans who need roomy luggage for longer escapades.
FAQs about Luggage Options for Kids
1. It’s faster if I just carry the luggage instead of my young child. Is there any benefit of actually having him do it himself?
From a very young age, children crave independence and responsibility. They can demonstrate that while by your side, by packing (with your supervision) and toting along their own suitcase. Yes, it can be easier and quicker to do it yourself sometimes. But involving them in the process helps cultivate future skills. Plus, the kiddos can be entertained by their luggage along the way.
2. What is a good size suitcase for a kid?
There are several sizes of carry-ons. Most children ages 2-9 will fall into the height requirements for an 18-inch suitcase. Especially if the handle has expanding sizes, that can be a great option, because they don’t get too heavy. At age 10, the next size up can generally be adopted, which is the 21-inch size. Be sure to check airline restrictions (but most will accept either size).
3. What should I put in my child’s travel bag?
Often, I end up putting most of my child’s clothing in a larger checked bag and save the fun stuff for the travel bag/carry-on. It’s always wise to have one or two sets of clothing to change into while on the go, however. Besides that, fun activities such as workbooks (easy to find at dollar stores), pencils/crayons and paper, small snacks that are TSA approved (nothing messy, either), a book, and a couple of toys. Many children also have a tablet or similar electronic device. For longer trips, you can download some shows or games onto their tablets to help pass the time. An empty water bottle can be filled when you pass security, saving you money. Lastly, depending on where we are going, I like to have a few pictures printed out of the people we will be visiting, or pictures of the place/activities. It makes for great conversation on the road or in the sky and familiarizes your child with what to expect.
4. Will my child need both a backpack and a carry-on?
Consider how long your trip is when you’re deciding on one or both bags. Backpacks are great for day trips or trips to a relative’s house for an overnight. For anything longer, it’s really helpful to have a carry-on bag, because it can hold more. Older children can usually handle both; so ages 8 and up should have no problem. One perk of having both: the backpack can fit under the seat on an airplane, for easy access.
5. How can I keep my child entertained at the airport or bus terminal?
Of course, there’s the classic: technology. However, it’s nice to bring along other activities, such as coloring/workbooks, a reading book, or a deck of go-fish. All of those things should fit nicely into a carry-on. You could also do the classic trick I have up my sleeve: putting a surprise gift in the carry-on that they aren’t expecting. I got my daughter a Fingerling and it entertained her for hours. Hot wheels or dinosaurs can also be a great surprise toy. Along those lines, a snack that isn’t a routine item in your home can be interesting and entertaining when time is becoming an issue. One other thing to consider: many airports have little playlands in certain terminals. If you have a long wait, it might be worth finding the playland to let the kiddos get some energy out.
6. At what age can my child upgrade to standard sized carry-ons?
Depending on your child’s height, around age 10 to 12 is a good time to go for the standard 21 or 22-inch carry-on. Their clothing will take up more space, and they should be able to handle the size and weight just fine. Around that age, the pre-teens are more likely to transition to a classic look, as well. Younger siblings can inherit the unicorn and dragon-themed luggage.
Having your children tote their own luggage can instill a sense of responsibility and independence. It’s also a great way to get them involved with the packing process. You can load their bags with all the items required when traveling with young ones: clothing, overnight diapers, wipes, snacks, headphones, small toys, water bottles, etc. There’s so much to remember, so it’s comforting if you make a list and organize it carefully as you pack. Considering which suitcase your child should carry on is an important decision in that packing process. Will it hold everything your little guy will need between home and the destination? Does it invite excitement to the process? Is the height just right? There’s a lot to think about, but with the list we’ve made of the top 7 luggage options out there, you should be on an easy path to choosing the best one. The right luggage can ignite the joy of the pending trip. Watch your child’s face light up when they realize they have their very own luggage, and cute, to boot!