Travelling with children may have become a distant memory, but it’s not something that always conjured up blissful ones at the best of times.
As calendars across the country begin to be pencilled with family holidays and weekends away, now is the perfect time to consider practicalities – starting with luggage.
With the help of some young intrepid travellers, we put the best to the test. In our roundup, all options can be carried onto an aircraft, but equally, have enough space to store practically everything a little one might need for a weekend away.
To make carrying luggage appealing to kids, the cargo in question must be easy to carry, pull along, or lift, so ergonomic design has been heavily tested – think swivel wheels, plush handles and manageable dimensions and weight.
We also took a close look at how easy the mechanisms were to open and close independently – stiff zips and clunky buckles are fiddly for parents, let alone young travellers.
Luggage gets put through its paces whether that’s from being bunged in the car, shoved in the overhead cabin or dragged around the house, so durability is key. We also looked carefully at the aesthetics; luggage should be fun and visually appealing.
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Pellianni city suitcase
Our five-year-old tester is rather suitcase obsessed, so it took no convincing to take Swedish brand, Pellianni’s, city suitcase (40 x 30 x 17cm) for a spin. Firstly, the design is super cool, made from wipe-clean vegan materials, it blends the look of vintage luggage with the modern-day suitcase. But with style meets substance, the padded reinforced corners are great for heavy-handed kids (visualise a suitcase tumbling downstairs), while on the inside there are dividers on both the top and bottom so belongings won’t go flying and a small fabric compartment.
It’s a smooth drive too, the four wheels are on castors meaning they swivel, while the sturdy handle is telescopic having two height adjustments that are smooth to retract. There are two carry handles if required, and the double zip is smooth and easy for children to unzip independently. Durable, beautifully designed and child-friendly, Pellianni’s city suitcase is the ultimate travel companion for those aged three to six years.
Buy now £90.00, Kidly.co.uk
Trunki Abbie the ambulance
A visit to the airport without spotting the hugely popular Trunki is rare. The four-wheeled trunk, highly praised for its ride-on ability, is a godsend for restless kids and their tired parents. Abbie the ambulance is the latest design to join the troop, and within moments our three-year-old tester had hopped on top of it. Fitting 18l, this compact cargo (46 x 20.5 x 31cm), is very light and the smooth wheels make for an easy ride.
Inside, there’s plenty of room and has been thoughtfully designed with a side pocket and security straps. It opens/closes with two large clips that are easy for children to use independently, yet strong enough to keep items contained. This particular design has been treated with Biomaster antimicrobial technology, reducing the risk of cross-contamination from harmful bacteria whilst your little ones are playing. We’re confident this Trunki will become your little one’s playtime pal even beyond the airport.
Buy now £39.99
Boppi tiny trekker wheeled kids suitcase robot
Who wouldn’t want this friendly face by your side? London-based Boppi has a range of fun and friendly kids’ suitcases for young globetrotters. We love the fun robot design, complete with floppy ears and antenna, and he was soon in the grip of our three-year-old tester.
There’s 17l of packing space inside (42 x 30 x 22cm) with built-in packing straps and a double-zipped compartment for loose items. The handle is easy to adjust between the two heights with a built-in “push” button, and our mini traveller had no issues clutching the walk handle. The double zip has sizeable Boppi branded tags to allow small hands to open independently, while the skate style wheels ensure a smooth ride.
Buy now £39.99, Onbuy.com
Okay, as “wheelable” arm candy goes, this might not be the most attractive. But, what if we told you this is also a booster seat? Designed for those weighing 22-36kg and a height of 125cm (roughly those around eight years old), this clever contraption complies with Europe’s ECE R44/04 regulation safety standards, has been rigorously crash-tested, and also has ten litres of packing space.
While it’s one of the heaviest of those we’ve tested (around 1.8kg), you get double the product for your money – for parents with limited space that’s worth its weight in gold. Plus, in-between journeys it’s designed to be wheeled rather than carried. Installation is a doddle too, impressively taking less than a minute to install. Small but mighty (39.5 x 40.6 x 14.8cm) it fits on the majority of airline seats and is suitable for carry on luggage.
Buy now £49.99, cargoseat.com
Olli Ella see-ya suitcase
There’s something wonderfully whimsical about a small child pulling a suitcase, and our three-year-old tester was more than happy to be the “pullee”. The Olli Ella see-ya suitcase (41.5 x 26.5 x 17cm) has recently had a floral makeover and we were delighted to learn that it’s made with recycled PET saving eight plastic bottles from landfill.
Sustainability certainly meets style here, with a gorgeous wildflower print and we love the elasticated vintage-style straps across the front, which is the perfect place to stuff a small teddy or doll. Practically speaking, the bronze two-way zips are smooth and easy for children to use, there’s a handy zipped compartment inside and the vegan leather luggage tag is a sweet addition. We did find the handle a little stiff to begin with and would benefit from a release button. When not on the go, this makes a gorgeous addition to a playroom or child’s bedroom.
Buy now £79.90, Olliella.com
Eastpak trans4 S camo
Your offspring might just have to pry this suitcase off you, or at the very least it’ll be shared ownership. This four-wheeled camo case from Eastpak is not strictly aimed at kids, but it’s safe to say our 11-year-old tester was eager to road-test it.
Cabin sized (54 x 35 x 23cm), this fits an impressive 44l, which is larger than most suitcases in this category. There are two compartments inside, both with zip-fastened sections and you’ll also find a discreet front pocket that is accessible through a zip. Baggage is certainly catered for and the compression straps are a great idea for streamlining luggage.
The four swivel wheels were a hit with our intrepid tester allowing her to push it with ease even when full. The telescopic handle, activated by a push-button, has two height adjustments, and there’s also an integrated three-digit lock to keep belongings safe and instil some responsibility.
At £135 we can’t deny this is an expensive piece of kit, but this robust suitcase is built to last seeing your teen or tweenager through school and beyond. They’ll just have to learn to share with their parents from time to time.
Buy now £135.00, Eastpak.com
Jacadi Marcel sports bag
Over the shoulder, or in the clutches of little hands, this sports bag from Parisian brand Jacadi is effortlessly cool. Made cotton cloth this bag feel durable and adventure-ready. There’s a side compartment – perfect for stowing stinky shoes – with a double zip for easy access. Both the main compartment and side are lined, and the shoulder strap can be adjusted for comfort making it a practical choice. The navy stripe design makes it appealing to all, and while you can’t fit masses there’s enough space for a weekend away!
Buy now £35.00, Alexandalexa.com
Skip Hop Zoo kids rolling luggage eureka unicorn
Most parents have become familiar with Skip Hop Zoo’s signature characters whether it’s through a packed lunch or bath-time toy, and it’s easy to see why children go potty for them with their friendly faces and bright colours. A backpack on wheels (30.5 x 14 x 40.5cm), this suitcase is lightweight for little travellers. But does lightweight spare sturdiness?
We were pleasantly surprised by how hardwearing the poly-canvas fabric is. While the retractable handle and wheels aren’t designed for heavy cargo, our three-year-old tester happily wheeled around a handful of books and toys. There’s a dual zip for easy access and a handy mesh pocket on the side. The front pouch is useful too for on-the-go snacks, and there’s a mesh divider to keep bits separate. This unicorn is sure to make weekends away extra magical.
Buy now £29.99, Uberkids.com
Adidas Classic star wars backpack
Know your Yoda from your Jar Jar Binks? Young Star Wars fans might not make it as far as space but they will certainly be well equipped for a sleepover with this backpack. Made from recycled materials as part of Adidas’ ambition to end plastic waste, this bag features a main compartment which is accessible through a drawstring and clip closure on either side, to keep belongings safe. There’s a handy secret zipped pocket which can be accessed at the back of the backpack, plus two side mesh compartments. The straps have a decent amount of padding, and Star Wars enthusiasts will appreciate the subtle branding on the front flap and red straps.
Buy now £30.00, Next.co.uk
The verdict: Kids' luggage
At £90 it’s a considered purchase but we can’t stop swooning over Pellianni’s city suitcase, it’s a dream to steer, incredibly roomy, highly durable and needless to say devilishly good looking. We were also hugely impressed by the clever two-in-one CarGoSeat contraption.
For the latest discounts on other kids essentials, try the links below:
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