If you’re traveling on a plane with kids then you’re probably going to be looking for some kid-friendly luggage, including a carry on bag. The best carry on for kids for plane travel is going to be light enough that they can pull it or carry it themselves, small enough to fit in an overhead bin and yet large enough to fit everything they might need, and ideally super cute so that they actually WANT to pull it along! I travel alone with my kids often and having them carry their own things has been super helpful. We’ve owned a few different carry on bags for kids over the years and generally keep coming back to the same ones. I’ve linked all of our favorites below including the ones we have found the most durable, the best value, the most fun, and our personal number one recommendation so take a look at the best carry on for kids for plane travel.
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If you don’t think you’ll be traveling too often with your kids or you just want something more budget friendly, then the Skip Hop luggage for kids is your best best. The brand is a reputable one so you know the product will be good quality, even though this is one of the more affordable pieces of luggage for kids on the market. The luggage is cute enough that your little one will like it and it’s super lightweight so your little one should have no trouble pulling it along themselves. Skip Hop also makes backpacks and other luggage for kids so if you’re looking for a complete set, then look no further.
OK so I know the price on Tumi luggage is SUPER steep, but if you can afford to invest a little more in your luggage, then this is a really good investment, especially if you know you’re going to be traveling with your family for years. We bought Tumi luggage a couple of years ago and while there was definitely some sticker shock at the time, we knew this luggage would last us a very long time. You get what you pay for, and the quality of Tumi luggage is undeniable, plus their customer service is fantastic if you run into any issues. Tumi doesn’t specifically make carry on luggage for kids but there are smaller pieces that would definitely be a good investment piece for a child a little older.
We’ve been through a lot of suitcases over the years and we’ve found that generally, cases with a hard shell do tend to hold up better. If you’ve ever watched airline employees loading bags on or off a plane then you’ll know that they are not exactly gentle, and while most carry on bags are not going to be handled by anyone other than you, you never know if baggage space may be scarce and you’ll have to check your bag (it’s also a good idea to have a durable carry on bag just in case you do want to check it one day). Hard shelled cases can take more of a beating either in the hold or in the overheard bins, and they do better with kids perhaps not being so gentle with them as they move them throughout the airport. The iPlay, iLearn luggage is scratch-resistant and waterproof, lightweight and yet durable, and easily maneuverable so kids can actually pull it themselves without needing much help. The carry on bag also comes with a backpack that fits neatly on top of the rolling bag to make things even easier for the kids, and as a complete set this would make a great gift for kids who love to travel.
Best for Long Term Travel
If you’re looking to embark on some long term travel as a family then your main concern is probably a carry on that takes up as little space as possible. A foldable duffel bag, especially one that can be folded up and put into a little pouch such as this one is a fantastic way to save space when needed, and yet can be used as a lightweight carry on when you have a little more luggage to take onto the plane. Having a waterproof duffel is also a great idea since it limits any water damage to the limited amount of belongings you’ll be bringing.
Best for Convenience
This is something my kids have officially put on their Christmas lists this year! Every kid I know loves a scooter, they certainly make getting around more fun and that includes getting around an airport. These carry on bags have a scooter attached that can lock away safely once you reach your gate and are ready to board the plane. The bags have plenty of space for everything you might need and are still small enough to fit in the overhead bin and meet airline size requirements. Obviously if the airport is super busy you probably don’t want your kids flying around on a scooter but if there is space for them to safely maneuver around then this is the perfect way to stop the whining at the airport and encourage them to carry their own things.
Our Personal Recommendation
This is our number one personal recommendation for the best carry on for kids for plane travel. We have owned our original Trunki for over six years now and it has traveled thousands of miles all over the world – and it is still in perfect condition! We have mostly used the bag as a cabin bag but there have been instances where the bag had to checked, and as we watched it being thrown 10 feet onto the ground from the cabin door (thanks United!) I thought for sure it would be returned to us in a million pieces but nope, it came back with only the tiniest scratches. My kids love these bags (each of them now has their own) because they can either pull them along or ride on them, and they have plenty of space for everything they need. They are made from hard plastic so they are super durable and come in really cute colors so every kid will find one that they love. We recommend these bags to every single person who asks about the best luggage for kids and I cannot sing their praises enough.
For more personal recommendations for the items we use for travel, check out our travel shop.
Have questions on the best carry on bags for kids for plane travel? Let me know in the comments!