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 over a dozen times 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 one you’ll be using for a long time. Buy the Eagle Creek Flip-Switch on Amazon.
2. Trunki by Melissa & Doug
Everyone’s noticed a Trunki or two rolling through an airport. Bright and colorful, these rolling hard-shell carry-ons serve a dual 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 seat belt and a sticker pack for the kids. (Kids 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 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 will last a long time, even if luggage handlers handle it, should you decide to check it. You can pick one up for a great price. There are different sizes and colors to choose from. Buy the Traveler’s Choice Rome Hardside Rolling Carry-On on Amazon.
4. High Sierra Wheeled Duffel
Another dual-purpose pack, the High Sierra Wheeled Duffel, is two bags in one: a rolling duffel 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 younger travelers, the Skip Hop Zoo rolling suitcase is a great option. This adorable animal-themed bag comes in eight designs: ladybug, bee, dog, owl, giraffe, rhino, butterfly, and monkey. Your little traveler is sure to love it — and so will you. They are darling! 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. You won’t mind when they outgrow it because it isn’t very expensive. The smallest bag on our list, the Skip Hop Zoo Kids suitcase measures 12x5x16″. It can be yours for a great price and usually ships free.
6. L.L. Bean Adventure Duffel
We’ve been using L.L. Bean’s Adventure Duffels 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, removable shoulder strap, and the easy-to-grab handles. The duffle bag comes in four sizes and an array of bright colors. We monogrammed ours for each child, but alternatively, your family could keep track of their own by color. They have a reinforced bottom that’s water resistant. There are cinch straps. Ours show literally no wear and tear, and we’ve been traveling with them for at least five years.
Why get kids’ carry on luggage
When kids have their own luggage, they take pride in keeping track of their belongings and want to live up to the challenge of being responsible, especially as they get to tote it around the airport. Get them involved with the packing too, and help them to learn early on what to pack. Suitcases for kids are an all-around win!
Best suitcases for kids
What’s your favorite kids’ carry-on luggage?