Having the right pieces of luggage for family travel can help make a trip go a lot smoother. When we invested in luggage we asked the following questions:
- Is it carry on size? (we try to avoid checking luggage at all costs)
- Versatile? Could the bag also be used as a hiking daypack or diaper bag?
- Durable? Could the bag withstand a lot of travel and children jumping on it?
- Speedy? Will we be able to easily run with luggage across an airport to get to a connecting flight?
- Easy? Can the kids roll and operate the handle of their own luggage?
After much research and testing, here are our top picks for luggage. Yes, we tested out various scenarios in our home of running through the airport with a stroller and luggage. The kids thought it was fun. Our practice drill came in handy when trying to make a connecting flight at O’Hare, but that’s another story.
High Sierra Outdoor Rolling Backpack
I love the High Sierra Outdoor Rolling Backpack. I love it so much that after years of hard travel wore my first one out, I immediately bought the exact same bag. I didn’t even look into anything else. This bag has it all. It is small enough to be a carry on, it has a small backpack that can be removed from the outside to be its own daypack, and you can unzip the back flap and carry the whole thing as a backpack. I used the daypack as a diaper bag for years. Now that those days are behind us, I use it as a snack/drink/activity/items to keep everyone sane/camera bag. Nine times out of ten, I wheel the bag through airports and into hotels. However, the option to carry the whole bag as a backpack was priceless when walking up the stairs of a crowded Paris Metro station. The only complaint I have about the bag is the mesh pockets on the outside of the daypack. They are a little tight for a standard sized Camelbak water bottle. It takes some work for me to force my bottle in into the opening.
Heys Rolling Kids Luggage
My husband was crowned father of the year when he flew with our kids solo. My son was 4 and daughter was 1 1/2 at the time. This was my daughter’s first flight. I was traveling for work and he and the kids planned to meet me in Florida for a long weekend at Disney World.
As we began to plan out logistics, it was evident that my son would have to carry his own weight on this trip. After extensive internet research, my husband felt confident in buying the Heys Disney Cars Rolling Luggage for our son. My son thinks its the best suitcase in the whole world. He can easily zip it up, pull up the handle and be off. As you can see in the above image, he had no problem walking through the airport with the luggage rolling behind him. The luggage is only about 3.5 pounds, so he can easily pick it up and carry it if need be. One side of the bag has a zippered divider that keeps it separate from the rest of the items in the bag. It is a great place to pack shoes and/or dirty clothes. The hardshell exterior has held up to all sorts of drops, kicks and falls.
For my daughter’s 3rd birthday we got her the Heys Disney Frozen Kids Luggage. As you can see, the handle design is slightly different. We were a little concerned that she wouldn’t be able to operate it as easily as my son’s. However, Frozen anything is in demand, so you take what you can get. I am happy to report that she has no problems with the handle.
I have read some reviews that complain that the luggage isn’t big enough for a long vacation. I would completely disagree. We had enough room to pack cloths and shoes for a 10 day vacation. Our vacation started in Utah and ended in Colorado, so we had everything from tank tops to sweatshirts. I would argue those people simply do not know how to pack efficiently.
Do you have a piece of luggage that you would recommend? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
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Kim is the founder of Kids and Carry-Ons. She works as a director at a nonprofit organization. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children. Kim and her husband have always loved to travel and share their advice with anyone who will listen. Having kids didn’t stop their love of travel, it just meant they had to adapt. Follow along on their adventures.