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Choosing Luggage for Family Travel

Last Updated on December 4, 2016 by Jody Halsted

luggage for family travel

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you have probably realized that I believe the key to successful trips is proper preparation and organization, with a dash of resourcefulness – and the choosing the right luggage for family travel can make or break a trip if plans go awry.  From overbooked flights to lost reservations to bad weather, travel delays and mishaps occur. But you can prepare for many of these types of setbacks; and if you don’t have a Plan B, you can at least be flexible and take comfort in experiencing an adventure that makes great stories later.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. Please know that I only share products that I personally use and really like. Purchases made through this website do not cost you extra, but they do help support the maintenance of Family Rambling. 

Trunki Boost a Pak
Brenna Pulling her Trunki and toting her Boost-a-Pak

Luggage Lessons

Once your children are old enough that you no longer need a diaper bag, family travel gets a lot lighter- at least for you! I strongly advocate for children toting their own carry-on bags as soon as they can walk – not only does it help you, but they gain a sense of pride (as well as compliments from others on “what a good traveler” they are!) And with age comes the benefit of ‘less stuff’ to tote along!

For a long road trip – more than 4 hours – or a long flight – more than 2 hours – I try to pack for two purposes. The luggage that will be inaccessible because it is in the trunk or checked in at the airport will have clothes and gear for our destination. The luggage that stays at hand or goes on the plane as a carry on will have snacks, entertainment items, a change of clothes, and necessities in case we get stuck somewhere.

Luggage for Family Travel

Everyone has their own packing style and preference – from backpacks to compartmentalized suitcases, clothes folded around each other to packing cubes and space bags. It really comes down to personal preference – and if your family will use that method!

With over a decade of family travel experience, these are the bags we recommend for family travel.

Fun Luggage for the Littles

My girls loved their Trunki ride on suitcases! In fact, it was a sad day when their legs were too long to ride on them. We loved that they could ride along beside us through the airport- or we could tow them.(see my full review)

Travel Buddies Luggage - penguinAnother fun option my girls loved was the Travel Buddies Luggage set. The retractable handle had 2 lengths- short for the kids and longer for parents – and the super cute backpack was just the right size to not be too heavy.

Luggage for Kids Can Still Be Fun

tween luggage-kids luggage- Trendy KidA little extra height can make a huge difference when it comes to pulling luggage! As my girls got taller we made the switch to the Travel Kool line by Trendykid. With 3 different handle lengths and a wonderful hard-side case this bag lasts for quite a few years. (read my full review)

Another piece of luggage we added as the girls outgrew their 5-point-harness car seats was the Trunki Boostapak. This backpack/ carseat was such a terrific find- even though I had to have it shipped from the UK. The solid base can be heavy, but it’s less hassle than traveling with a car seat! (read my full review)

Cool Luggage for Tweens & Teens

Though they are becoming too ‘cool’ for kids luggage, my girls still want their luggage to be fun. Apparently that is more important than almost anything else…

Turning them loose on the eBags website to choose the best luggage for boys and girls left me with a lot of options- though they were hard-pressed to choose favorites.

Luggage for Adults Who Love Organization

I’m an organized traveler- I can’t imagine not having a place for everything and everything in its place…

One of my favorite carry on bags is from IKEA. The UPPTÄCKA is a rolling carry on, a backpack, and a day pack with padded laptop case…  all in one. It’s also under $100.

My dream bag is a Tumi Alpha 2 Carry-on Garment Bag. At nearly $700 I can’t justify it- but I would love to have it! So, for now, I turn my rolling carry-on into a garment bag with the RuMe garment organizer bag– a much more affordable option.

Do you or your kids have a favorite piece of luggage?


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