From the time they’re toddlers on up, kids just love to carry their own gear. And it sure makes it easier on you, whether you’re traveling by plane, train, car, boat, bike, or foot. Give them their independence with these kid-friendly bags, and get a free hand — maybe even two!
Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Backpack, $20
Skip Hop was the company that started the continuing craze for little-kid bags with monkey, dog, pig, or cow faces on them, but we like this superhero-colored Otis the Owl pattern best. The Skip Hop bags are extremely durable for being so reasonably priced, with high-quality zippers and fabrics that stand up to hard wear. This Little Kid Backpack is about right for a preschooler; it also comes in toddler and a rolling bag versions for younger or older kids. If your children cotton on to the design, you can get Zoo dinnerware, lunch bags, PJs, and room decor.
SoYoung Toddler Backpack, $40
Made expressly for hip kids and modern parents, this backpack is a far cry from the bright-colors-and-happy-faces school of youth gear. Constructed of coated raw linen with sophisticated graphics, the SoYoung packs are so stylish you may want to conscript them for your own use when your toddler’s outgrown hers. This same design and several others also come in a larger grade school backpack, which is roomy enough to hold a night’s worth of overnight gear.
Rockland 20-Inch Carry Onland Luggage, $65
The name says it: If you don’t want to check your luggage, this suitcase is perfectly sized to come with you on the plane, and nicely sized for kids aged 6 and up. Its rolling wheels are perfectly sturdy; it takes corners like a pro, and it’s big enough to carry a week’s worth of kid-clothes and shoes. The hard sides protect whatever’s inside — you needn’t worry about your child’s iPad if you choose to pack it — but are extremely lightweight. Be ready for fellow travelers to ask you where you got this sleek, cool suitcase as you wheel it neatly down the aisle. It comes in a few dozen colors and patterns, including this luxurious zebra pattern.
JWorld Rolling Kids Backpack, $47 to $60
If you get this versatile backpack for travel, you may wind up using it for school, and vice-versa. The handle allows kids, or it can be tucked and zipped away and the backpack carried on the shoulders. The handle pulls up and locks to three different heights, so as your child grows, he can keep pulling it comfortably. The Lollipop and similar JWorld bags come in many different patterns, some much more muted than this whimsical whales pattern. Each comes with its own matching lunch bag.
Trunki, $40 to $67
This hard-sided beauty is a perennial parent favorite because it does double duty as a bag and a ride-on toy. When kids feel energetic, they can carry or pull their own Trunki. When they get tired, they can sit on the suitcase and either scoot or be pulled by a parent. Trunk comes in many colors and varieties, including animals and our favorite, this Boris the Bus variety. Kids can also create their own custom Trunki, choosing the color of the case and all its fittings.