Traveling can be fun but also stressful if you have kids in tow. Having babies, toddlers, elementary school, tweens, and teens all present different challenges for the traveling parent!
Here are our list of required features for anything we buy to make our travel easier.
Over the years traveling with kids, one of the things we’ve learned is that having your hands free is essential. Whether it be grabbing your kid as they step into the street, or holding something of theirs since they don’t want to hold it any longer!
Being a parent, having both hands free kinda means, you’ll probably have only one hand free. If you know what I mean.
So if you plan on using luggage or traveling with anything that requires you to hold it with hand, it essentially means you’ll have no hands free.
So remember this mantra, “hands-free” is our goal as we talk about our travel resources when traveling with kids. Here are some of our favorite resources to make traveling just a little bit easier.
Carrying kids and all of their stuff is heavy enough. No need to unnecessarily get that leather luggage set because it’s beautiful as it probably weighs a ton.
First and foremost, we aim to buy the lightest travel gear we can find.
Last thing we want is for the luggage to be a significant amount of weight compared to our clothes, toiletries, and other essential stuff.
While we may not always achieve this, we strive for it.
Things such as car seats, booster seats, and strollers definitely deserve to be checked at the airport. Being able to carry-on the rest of your stuff makes sense as it’s always with you, has less chance of getting lost, and your kids always “need” something that you checked.
So we aim to carry-on as much as we can. If possible, we try to check nothing, as it saves a ton of money in checked baggage fee’s. It also means we need to compromise and seriously decide what we need, what we want, and what we could possibly rent or borrow at our destination.
Luggage – Backpack
Our favorite luggage brand happens to not be one of the popular brands like Samsonite, TravelPro, Delsey, Tumi, or Briggs & Riley. You can buy them only online, but they do have a generous return policy so you can return them with practically no cost to you within their 30-day window.
Our favorites are listed below:
2-3 Week Backpack (Best if you’re taller than 5′ 3″)
We’re huge fans of traveling light. We’re also in love with traveling to Europe and Asia, so traveling as light as possible is a big plus where planes, trains, steps, and tiny elevators are common challenges.
We’ve found that you can comfortably travel with just one backpack per person, as long as you pick the right one. Our favorite for a long trip is the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible.
It’s a large backpack, so those that are 5′ 3″ or shorter may find it a challenge to carry comfortably, but it can be done.
The best way to put it, think of this backpack as the size of a carry-on roller board bag. But it doesn’t have the weight or take up space for the wheels and sliding handle. It has a lot of space inside!
It also has a great suspension system to carry your backpack. So you won’t need another bag to carry it.
|DIMENSIONS||22″ x 14″ x 9″|
|LAPTOP COMPARTMENT||19″ x 11.75″ x 1.5″|
|WEIGHT||3 lbs, 15 oz|
We purchased a pair of TLS Weekender Convertibles for our 3-week trip to the UK last summer, and we hauled them on airplanes, trains, and autos every couple of days. They held up great, and we loved being able to put them on our backs, leaving our hands free to carry smaller hand luggage, hold our daughter’s hand, read a map, eat on the go, or whatever else needed done.
– Mike from Lynnwood, WA
1-2 Week Backpack (Fits most everyone!)
Our second favorite bag is the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior. It’s essentially the same bag as above, except it has slightly smaller dimensions. It’s especially great if your 5′ 3″ tall or shorter. It just hangs on your back better.
|DIMENSIONS||19.5″ x 14″ x 9″|
|LAPTOP COMPARTMENT||18″ x 11.75″ x 1.5″|
|WEIGHT||3 lbs, 5 oz|
I just got back from a 3 week trip to Italy and this backpack was perfect. While my travel mates were battling with wheels on cobblestones and dragging bags through the airport I was zooming along with my back pack.
-KATHLEEN from Lindstrom, MN
Video Tour of the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible (junior included)
Luggage – Traditional
If a backpack based luggage system just sounds impossible, here is our second recommendation. It’s a combination carry-on rollerboard with laptop backpack. The combination is good for the parents that need to stay connected (mom’s with blogs).
With the small size of the rollerboard, it gives you the flexibility to fit it in practically any plane, even those small regional jets that have the tiniest of overhead bins.
eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21″ Wheeled Carry-On Duffel
For 20+ years I’ve been a fan of the TravelPro brand. It was durable, worked well, and back in the day, it was what the flight crew was using.
Nowadays, as you can tell, I’ve become enamored with the eBags line of luggage. They just deliver tremendous value and quality for the dollar.
The eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21″ Wheeled Carry-On Duffel is no exception. Before I went on the “backpack only ” movement, I fell in love with this roller board bag. It just fit everywhere!
One of the biggest benefits to this bag is the *lifetime warranty. Like all rollerboard bags, it has A LOT of moving parts that tend to crack, break, get stuck, or just fall off. These kinds of parts tend to fail far more often than the fabric, stitching, or other parts of the bag.
|DIMENSIONS||21.5″ x 15″ x 9″|
|WEIGHT||8 lbs, 11 oz|
eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack
The companion to this traditional bag is a laptop backpack. I’ve been using the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack
for 2+ years and found it to be the most useful laptop bag I’ve ever owned.
I’ve never used a storage system for my luggage. I never thought it was needed. More cost and unnecessary weight for stuff to hold my stuff!
That is until I had kids. I could take all the care in the world to pack everything so it fits great in the suitcase, and all it takes is one kid needing something in the bag that puts my luggage in complete disarray! To top it all off, after they find their toy or whatever it is they “need”, the suitcase rarely closes without some major squishing, shoving, and pulling.
It took a long time, but I’ve finally realized that those little storage bags to organize my stuff and my kids stuff is worth the investment.
eBags has some terrific packing cubes that are lightweight and durable. They carry all sorts of sizes and bundles so it can be confusing. If you’re new to using packing cubes, here are our “starter” recommendations:
eBags Medium Packing Cubes – Set of 3
Out of all the sizes they sell, this is the one that fits “just right”. The eBags Medium Packing Cubes, set of 3 is a great value and buying as a set is the cheapest way to get started. It’s our most used packing cube that we use.
We use at least one set of 3 for each suitcase.
The eBags packing cubes come in 10 different colors. We have a color for Mom, a different color for Dad, and a different color for each kid. It makes it super easy to find stuff now in our luggage.
eBags Packing Cubes – 6pc Value Set
The second purchase of Packing Cubes we recommend is to buy the eBags Packing Cubes in a 6 piece value set.
You’ll get the following cubes:
- 1 Large cube (great for long pants like jeans or a big sweater)
- 1 Medium cube (great for everything. Our most used cube size)
- 1 Small cube (small things like socks, underwear, etc)
- 3 Slim Cubes (small things again like long tube socks, makeup kit, etc)