Not all kids’ carry-on luggage is created equal. For families flying carry-on only, it’s important to find the best suitcases for kids to do the job. We travel with kids dozens of time per year, and reach for the same bags each time. The luggage we recommend for family travel is versatile, tough, kid-sized, and carry-on luggage size.
Kids’ Carry-On Luggage Your Children Will Love (enough to carry themselves)
This new offering from Eagle Creek comes in two sizes (we recommend the 22″ for kids) and can be used as both a roller and a backpack. That’s right: when your kids encounter those pesky stairs down to a boarding area or up to a terminal, they can easily switch to backpack mode. The backpack straps (including a waist strap) fold into the external zippered pocket when not in use, but are easily accessible when you need them. Eagle Creek has even addressed our only complaint: the stowed straps do take up a decent amount of room, but you can remove them altogether and use the external pocket for other items if you’re sure your trip will not necessitate the backpack. The Flip Switch is lightweight, durable, and includes a roller handle and roller wheels that actually roll. It’s pricy at $275, but you’ll be using it for a long time. Buy the Eagle Creek Flip-Switch on Amazon.
Everyone’s noticed a Trunki or two rolling through an airport. Bright and colorful, these rolling hard-shell carry-ons serve a duel purpose: toddlers and preschoolers can ride them like push-toys as well as pack their belongings in them. Trunkis include a tow-strap, locking catches, and two carry handles for mom and dad, as well as a teddy bear seatbelt and a sticker pack for the kids (they love to customize their Trunki). At 46x20x31cm (18x8x12″), Trunkis are carry-on size while still big enough to carry what small children need. They’re $37 US, making them more affordable than they look. Buy a Trunki on Amazon.
We love Traveler’s Choice for its affordability and quality, and their Rome Hardside Rolling Carry-on is the perfect first ‘grown-up’ carry-on for school-aged kids. It’s lightweight, and its four wheels swivel in all directions, making it easy for kids to maneuver even through dense crowds. The shell is polycarbonate which absorbs impact, so it won’t get beaten up by your kid (or luggage handlers, should you decide to check it). Pick one up for $46. Buy the Traveler’s Choice Rome Hardside Rolling Carry-On on Amazon.
We’ve been using L.L. Bean’s Adventure Duffles in the medium size for years. These tough-as-nails duffles are small enough to be toted by kids as young as preschoolers, but roomy enough to store all they’ll need for a week’s vacation. We love the thickly padded, removeable shoulder strap, and the easy-to-grab handles. The duffles come in four sizes and an array of bright colors. We monogrammed ours for each kid, but alternatively, yours could keep track of who’s is where by color. They have a reinforced bottom that’s water resistant, and cinch straps. Plus, the price is right starting at just $49.95. Ours show literally no wear and tear, and we’ve been traveling with them for at least five years.
Another dual-purpose pack, the High Sierra Wheeled Duffel is two bags in one: a rolling duffle and a backpack. We love it because kids can be in charge of both their carry-on and their backpack. The main compartment features a divider panel that creates two internal compartments, and an internal mesh zip pocket on the front flap (this is great for dirty laundry!). The bag includes a pull-handle and wheels. The whole ensemble is 22x13x9″, making it carry-on sized. Buy it on Amazon for $113.
For younger travelers, the Skip Hop Zoo rolling suitcase is a great option. This adorable animal-themed bag comes in five designs: ladybug, bee, dog, owl, and monkey. Your little traveler is sure to love it — and so will you. There’s just enough space to supply your child with clothes for a weekend trip. It’s also the perfect way for your little one to haul her own snacks, books, and toys. The smallest bag on our list, the Skip Hop Zoo Kids suitcase measures 12x5x16″. It can be yours for $38. Buy a Skip Hop Zoo Kids bag on Zappos.
What’s your favorite kids’ carry-on luggage? Do share!