Having separate kids luggage makes it quicker and easier to access what my children want and need, and the cases or bags make my children feel grown up and immersed in the holiday experience.
Involving my children in selecting a suitcase created anticipation for traveling someplace new and different. I researched the information in the Buyer's Guide, and made general choices on what type, size, and brand of kids luggage to buy.
Then, I let my children pick the design. In this review I cover five of the most popular carry-on children's luggage.
There are three types of kids luggage: ride-ons, backpacks, or rolling luggage. I find the choice of luggage type may depend on the details of an individual trip. Issues such as whether I am traveling by plane or car, how many children are accompanying me, and how many adults are available for supervision can affect my choice of luggage type for a trip.
Ride on luggage allows a toddler to straddle the suitcase while a strap can be used to pull the suitcase through airport corridors. Children can also pull these suitcases like a pull toy.
Older children can sit on these suitcases but should not try to ride on them. Ride on luggage is usually small enough to qualify as underseat, carry-on luggage.
Backpacks keep my children's hands free to hold my hand and make it less likely that my children's belongings will be left somewhere. Also, if one of my children gets tired of carrying it, the backpack can be strapped to my backpack. Choosing a backpack and packing it depends on the size of the child.
For toddlers, a backpack may only hold some toys. Back packs for older children can hold clothes for short trips. Children's backpacks cannot be packed too heaviily to avoid back injuries. Backpacks qualify as carry-on luggage, making items my children want during a flight readily available. Those items should be packed at the top for easy accessibility. Backpacks are smaller than ride-on and rolling luggage, so they hold less and are for shorter trips.
Kids rolling luggage provides more room for my children's belongings. My children can pull the suitcase themselves, and there is easy access to anything my children want out of the suitcase. However, kids rolling luggage may not fit under the seat. So, it is not as easy to access the contents during a flight.
I believe that spending a little more to get durable kids luggage that will last longer is a wise choice. When choosing kids luggage that is durable, I consider both soft-sided and hard-sided luggage. A soft-sided duffel bag is durable, can provide exterior pockets, and can expand to hold more than hard-sided luggage.
The durability of the fabric for soft-sided luggage is measured by its denier. The larger the number, the more durable the fabric is. However, soft-sided luggage provides less protection for the contents of the suitcase. Hard-sided luggage can be used as a seat by a child, but it can be heavier and harder for a child to handle.
Rolling luggage can have two or four wheels. The wheels on two-wheel luggage are recessed, which protects the wheels better and makes it easier to go up curbs and over rough surfaces. Unlike four-wheel luggage, two-wheel luggage only rolls forward and backward, and the recessed wheels take up some of the luggage space.
Four wheel luggage has spinner wheels that swivel 360°. It makes the luggage more maneuverable in tight and crowded spaces. However, the wheels are not recessed, so they can break easier, and they take up more space in overhead storage on a plane. Four-wheel luggage can also roll away on the slightest incline.
Kids luggage should have plenty of interior and exterior pockets and compartments. It is much easier if the items that my children need and want while traveling are in separate pockets or compartments, especially exterior ones for easier access.
I let my children help select the design on the luggage. However, I try to guide them to designs that they will not outgrow too quickly. Luggage can last a while, so a child can become too old for a design very quickly. I try to encourage the selection of designs that will still be usable for a few years.
Trunki Ride Ons are cute suitcases that are designed to look like animals. They are available in a variety of designs (some of the most popular shown below), and each design comes in multiple color choices.
Made from durable polypropylene, they have a cord for pulling or top handles for carrying. The key is on the towing cord. They measure 12.8" x 18.4" x 8", weigh 4.4 pounds, have a 14.75 gallon or 75 pound capacity, provide a five year warranty, and can be used as carry-on luggage.
The ArcEnCiel Kid's Backpack is large, has lots of pockets, and is available in three robot designs (see other options below). Made of polyester, it has an easy-to-clean, lightly insulated, front pocket for snacks during a trip; an adjustable mesh side pocket for a water bottle; and a zippered side pocket.
The front pocket can hold a single stack lunch box. The large interior space includes a smaller pocket.
Recommended for children from five to ten years old, it provides padded, adjustable shoulder straps, a padded back panel, measures 15.7" X 11.8" X 3.9", weighs one pound, and can be used as carry-on luggage.
The Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Luggage is made from BPA-free, Phthalate-free poly-canvas and comes in a variety of cute animal designs (see further designs below). It offers a telescoping 13" handle; an adjustable, detachable parent strap; and removable shoulder straps. The exterior has a front zippered pocket and an elastic mesh bottle pocket.
The interior has pockets and dividers for quick and easy access to important items. The Skip Hop Zoo luggage measures 7" x 12.5" x 18", weighs 2.2 pounds, and can be used as carry-on luggage.
The video below gives an idea of what you can carry in your Skip Hop Zoo luggage - unfortunately I expect you will have to pack 🙂
The American Tourister Disney Upright Soft Side Luggage is 100 percent polyester with a nylon lining and comes in a variety of Disney designs (see some below). It has a retractable handle that extends to 30", a top handle for easy lifting, and side mounted spinner skate wheels. It has a large mesh interior pocket and cross straps to hold more interior items in place.
There is a zippered exterior pocket for quick and easy access to items children need and want while traveling. It measures 18" x 12" x 7", weighs five pounds, and can be used as carry-on luggage. American Tourister also have a great range of character hard case carry on luggage that have similar designs.
The Meetbelify Kids Rolling Backpack Luggage offers three options. It can be rolled, carried, or used as a backpack with the trolley removed. Made of durable, waterproof nylon, it comes in black with various choices of trim color and either two or six wheels.
Six wheels makes it easier to roll it upstairs. It measures 18.9" X 12.6" X 6.3", weighs five pounds, and can be used as carry-on luggage. The trolley is 35.4" high and is designed to absorb shock. The Meetbelify has three front exterior pockets and two mesh side pockets.
The interior has a large main compartment with one inner pocket that can hold a laptop. The back and shoulder strap provide breathable comfort. It is hand wash only.
They love the bright friendly designs and there is a wide variety so you are almost certain to find one that your child will want. If you are not set on your child having the roll-on experience then the ArcEnCiel kid's backpack is a great solution for your children to pack all their flight/journey essentials.