Packing for yourself is hard enough; packing for a child is a wholly different affair. What’s the best way of transporting that one bulky toy your kid can’t live without? Should you get your toddler their own suitcase or squash their snacks and sippy cups in alongside your swimsuit and shorts? And what kind of bag is right for a stroppy 13-year-old who’s too grown-up for anything aimed at children but not quite big enough for an adult size?
To help answer all your questions, we spoke to more than ten cool parents — including a tween expert, a mum with four children older than 5, and a co-parenting dad — who know all about travelling with tiny humans in tow. They’ve recommended their favourite cases and bags, which we’ve sorted by age range below. Read on for the best cases for toddlers, tweens, and in-betweens — no matter where you’re travelling to.
Trunki’s ride-along suitcase was recommended by five of our parent experts for its clever hard case, extendable handle, and wheel design that lets kids ages 7 and younger sit on it and be pulled through the airport. Vaida Drungilaite, a mother of two who owns a cleaning company, recently used the “super-practical” Trunki case for her toddler on a month-long trip through Brazil. She says, “We let her pack it herself (she filled it with toys, of course), and it’s such great fun for her to ride on — especially as we’re not taking a buggy for her anymore.”
“There are so many different, cute designs outside of the classic blue,” says Pamela Majekodunmi of Latte and Lullabies. Shanti Rico, editor of The Kensington Diary, has a spaceship Trunki for her son. Laura O’Neill, who runs a parenting Instagram channel, has a pink Moshi Monster Trunki for her daughter and a Gruffalo Trunki for her son. “They’re airline-approved for bringing onboard and going in an overhead locker,” says O’Neill, “and fit loads of kids’ stuff inside — from snacks to colouring books and toys.”
This ride-along suitcase from Stokke that converts into a bed came in a close second to the Trunki — with three recommendations from our experts. “It comes with stickers, so your little one can customise it,” says Chloe Sowter, who runs That Holiday Mum, “and it folds out to make a plane seat into a space big enough to lie down and sleep.” More than 50 airlines — including EasyJet, Norwegian, Virgin, and Etihad — have approved the bed for use onboard, but there are some that haven’t. Jetbox provides a full list of “family-friendly airlines” that allow the bed but suggests contacting the company for advice if you’re at all uncertain.
Rico recommends the Bedbox, which her 4-year-old son uses: “He feels so grown-up with it, and he gets a great night’s sleep on the plane.” The Bedbox opens at the top, so it’s easy for kids to handle, is made of hard-wearing material, and is really easy to clean.
“This cute backpack is so great for tiny travellers,” says Sowter, who likes to fill hers with Play-Doh, stickers, and her kids’ favourite toys to keep them entertained on flights. It can be used as a trolley-style case that’s light enough for really small children to use and converts into a backpack if they get tired of pulling it along. The backpack is water-resistant and has multiple pockets, adjustable straps, and an extendable and removable handle.
Dad blogger Daniel Betts’s favourite suitcase for his daughter Evie is this case from Boppi. She has the pink dog and “fell in love with the adorable design the second she saw it.” There are 11 different designs in total, including a dinosaur, robot, and unicorn. “The robust outer design and addition of a walk-along handle and two wheels” means Evie can easily move it, “which makes her feel like a real grown-up.”
“The CarGoSeat is amazing for travelling,” says Isa Castelo, mum of child model and actor Naomi Castelo. It’s a small suitcase that converts into a car seat — meaning you don’t have to worry about renting one abroad. It works for children weighing between 22 kg and 36 kg who are 125 cm or taller, “meets all the current U.K. and E.U. safety rules, and has been rigorously crash-tested to exceed U.K. safety standards.” It fits enough kids’ clothes for a week’s holiday and “is easy to clean too!”
Best suitcase for kids older than 7
“The best kids’ luggage has to be something they are able to control and are happy to be seen with, and this ticks both boxes,” says mum and actor Jessica Kingsley. She recommends American Tourister, specifically, over budget versions: “You get what you’re paying for.” This trolley case is “definitely made to last” and not as expensive as other models, which can “easily go to over £150 in price.”
Best suitcases for tweens
Kingsley recently bought an Everlast backpack for her 12-year-old, who has outgrown suitcases aimed at children but is still too young for an adult case. It’s a cross between a backpack and a holdall, and Kingsley says it’s an excellent pick for all tweens and teens and a great value: “It’s so durable, and we occasionally borrow it for our own weekend breaks.” It’s light enough for Kingsley’s tween to carry and has a “non-offensive” design to avoid being deemed “uncool.”
Kingsley likes this backpack from Regatta that’s especially designed for children. “It’s a more colourful option than the Everlast but has the same durability,” she says, calling it another “good-value” pick that can be “chucked in an overhead locker while still being surprisingly spacious inside.” It works for 7-year-olds as well as tweens: “In all honesty, giving a child under 10 their own trolley suitcase can become more of a liability than you’d expect. It’s often so much easier to go with a backpack like this if they’re really wanting their own case.”
Best suitcases for parents
“If you are travelling with very young children and need a tad more hand luggage, this is perfect,” says Rico. It’s a high-quality suitcase, and the fabric version is lightweight and can fit more than a hard case. “We used this suitcase intensely during the early years when we were porting around bottled formula milk and food pouches along with our holiday clothes.” It’s Rico’s suitcase of choice for short weekend trips — even now that her children are older. It’s resilient, easy to clean, and fits more than you’d think. “You definitely see the value.”
“As I’m a nondriver who travels on the train all the time, it’s really important that my bags are functional,” says writer, speaker, and content creator Melissa Suffield, “because if it doesn’t fit on my stroller, it can’t come.” She says Pacapod bags are amazing. She uses the Firenze holdall for longer trips, and every bag from the brand comes with a selection of smaller pouches, so you can organise and categorise your belongings.
“No more digging around for the thing you need or tipping your bag out on the train-station floor,” she says. “There’s a pouch for feeding. Another for changing. Another for toys. The list is endless.” The bags are sustainable, stylish, and “available in a wide range of colours, materials, and styles.”
Suffield uses a Pacapod rucksack, which is “perfect for the day-to-day essentials” and comes with the brand’s signature organising pouches. It clips onto your pram handle, has a sliding chest strap that works even when carrying your baby in a sling or chest carrier, and has side pockets for bottles and a removable changing mat.
“With four children to pack for, we often worry about going over our luggage allowance, so lightweight cases are a real must,” says digital creator Laura Dove. She swears by Tripp cases for the whole family. “They’re lightweight, come in various sizes and colours, and have built-in locks. I love that we can colour-match our luggage, so it’s one less worry at the airport to spot our cases.”
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