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Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Away Kids’ Carry-On at Away Travel
"A handful of color options will help your young ones locate the shade to match their personality."
Best Budget: Skip Hop Zoo Kids at Amazon
"Kids will definitely love the playful designs, while parents will appreciate the detachable adult strap."
Best for Little Kids: Trunki Original Kid’s Ride-On Suitcase at Amazon
"The main strap can be used to pull the rider or to shrug over your shoulder when nap time hits."
Best 360-Degree Spinner: American Tourister Spinner at Amazon
"The striking suitcase sits on four wheels that spin 360 degrees, making it easy to maneuver in any direction."
Best Hard Case: Traveler’s Choice Personalized Spinner at Amazon
"A head-turner, with graphics that vary from old school cassette tapes to comic strips to an aquatic scene."
Best for Personalization: Make It Mine at Pottery Barn Kids
"This series wins out because the results are always fun and personalized without becoming too cutesy or dated."
Best Backpack: Osprey Ace 38 at Amazon
"The torso length adjusts a full five inches, so it’ll accommodate inevitable growth spurts."
Best for Snacks: Obersee Kids Luggage at Amazon
"Oversee’s line of rolling suitcases ups your food game by integrating coolers into the design."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Away Kids’ Carry-On
Other than the product name and its miniature size, not much about Away’s Kids’ Carry-On screams “kids” — and that’s precisely the point. Unlike some suitcases on this list, which lean into cartoon graphics and other playful features to entice toddlers to haul their own stuff, this is the ideal suitcase for a child to use over years of travel. A handful of color options will help your young ones locate the shade to match their personality, from pink to green to gray, and its break-proof polycarbonate hard shell assures that it’ll last longer than its competitors.
The four-wheel spinner includes a telescoping C-shaped handle, TSA-friendly combination locks, and grab handles on the top and side. Inside, you get 31 liters of storage (more than enough for a long weekend on the road) along with internal compression straps, a zippered secondary compartment on the lid, and a hidden laundry bag. Best of all? Like most of Away’s suitcases, the Kids’ Carry-On comes with a rechargeable battery nestled under the handle, letting your tykes re-charge their electronics (maybe they have an Amazon Fire Kids Tablet?) on the go. Considering how essential screen time can be in surviving any sort of family vacation, that 37-watt lithium-ion unit will likely become the suitcase’s most indispensable feature.
Best Budget: Skip Hop Zoo Kids Rolling Luggage
The Skip Hop collection of suitcases targets little travelers with cutesy zoo-inspired designs from foxes and unicorns to butterflies and smiling giraffes. The suitcases' small stature make it better-suited to hauling must-have in-flight items and toys rather than an entire wardrobe, but it also makes it easy for kids to handle. The front pocket is ideal for quick-grab items like books and snacks, while the larger compartment hides behind two zipper pulls that reach all the way to the bottom of the suitcase, making it easy to access the bag’s contents. Kids will definitely love the playful designs, while parents will appreciate the detachable “adult strap” that’ll let you sling the suitcase over your own shoulder when you've really got to get moving.
Best for Little Kids: Trunki Original Kid’s Ride-On Suitcase
If you’ve got a toddler it’s inevitable that they’ll try to ride your rolling suitcase like a horse, leading to the just-as-inevitable fall and temper tantrum. Get ahead of that unavoidable fact with the Trunki, which calls itself the “Original Kid’s Ride-On Suitcase.” It definitely looks the part, with a saddle-like dip in the top and concave sides that make room for upper thighs — space that your kid will appreciate as they scoot their way across the airport terminal. The main strap can be used to pull the rider or to shrug over your shoulder when nap time hits. The carry-on-friendly suitcase sits on four big in-line wheels with enough storage space inside (just less than 15 gallons) to hold your child's essentials. All the design features, from the use of soft rubber to the all-plastic latch, have been designed with kid use and kid safety in mind. They also look cute, with horns on the front that double as handles. The bag is available in eight different colors; each one is rated to carry up to 110 pounds and comes with a five-year warranty.
Best 360-Degree Spinner: American Tourister Disney Hard-Sided Spinner
American Tourister has been making some of the industry’s leading luggage since 1933, which should tell you that this pick is about far more than the company’s collaboration with Disney. The striking suitcase sits on four wheels that spin 360 degrees, making it easy to maneuver in any direction, along with a push-button locking retractable pull handle and two grab-handles (one at the top, one at the side). Inside, you’ll find compression straps as well as a zippered divider panel that offers copious storage within its 28 x 19.75 x 12-inch interior. An ABS plastic exterior makes the suitcase plenty durable. Unlike most of the other pieces of luggage in this round-up, however, the robust size of this hard-sider means you’ll have to check it. All that being said, the patterns — which include Minnie and Mickie Mouse in a variety of incarnations — are striking, and downright impossible to not spot on a conveyer belt.
Best Hard Case: Traveler’s Choice Personalized Spinner
With a sale price that routinely dips below its suggested MSRP of $120, the Traveler’s Choice 22-Inch Personalized Spinner gives you lots of storage capacity for very little cash. The outer shell is constructed of polycarbonate and diamond-debossed ABS, so it’ll stand up the rigors of the road — and clumsy baggage handlers — with total dimensions coming in at 22 x 14.05 x 9.5 inches. It spins freely on four rotating 360-degree spinner wheels, and the push-button telescoping handle glides smoothly. It’s also a head-turner, with graphics that vary from old school cassette tapes to comic strips to an aquatic scene. Each suitcase also comes with a blank insert, so your kids can create their own design with markers or paint. Inside, you’ll find the requisite compression straps as well as zipper flaps for smaller items.
Best for Personalization: Pottery Barn Kids Make It Mine Custom Luggage
Travel is all about discovering who you are when you’re wandering a foreign land. But you can expend that self-discovery into an expression of how you love to travel by creating a custom piece of luggage. This will appeal to the creative kids in your crew. First, you choose a case type from either a small (equivalent to most carry-ons) or larger option and then choose your color, which ranges from pink to green to turquoise blue.
Both sizes come with a cool dimpled treatment and impact-resistance polycarbonate hard shell exterior. You can also choose your trim color and either silver or gold accents on the telescoping handle. The bags all sit on four in-line wheels for easy movement and the interior splits between a central pocket with an X-shaped compression strap and a separate zippered section. There are other custom suitcases on the market, with features that let you add custom graphics or your name, but this series wins out because the results are always fun and personalized without becoming too cutesy or dated, meaning your creative kid will get years of loyal use, even as their tastes change.
Best Backpack: Osprey Ace 38
If you and your set prefer the road less traveled — places, in other words, where rolling luggage is a huge pain — there’s no better bag than a lightweight backpack. Osprey's Ace 38 was designed for kids ranging from ages 10 to 17. The bag's 38 liters of storage is sufficient for an overnight backpacking trip or a long weekend of “regular” travel. Outside the main compartment, there are also two zippered compartments on the top lid, two mesh pockets on the front, a separate zippered sleeping bag compartment inside, upper and lower side straps, and a daisy chain to let you accessorize as much as your gear-loving kid can imagine.
The torso length adjusts a full five inches, so it’ll accommodate inevitable growth spurts. As you’d expect from a product made with backcountry camping in mind, the harness (two shoulder straps as well as a waist and sternum strap) comfortably distributes weight, and a rain fly keeps things dry if the weather turns foul. You also get an internal sleeve for a hydration bladder and loads of compression straps, features that compliment both backpacking and long-haul traveling. Just remember, kids shouldn’t carry more than 15 to 20 percent of their body weight, which should help your kids practice a bit of packing minimalism as well.
Best for Snacks: Obersee Kids Luggage
Most parents of growing children will tell you that, when it comes to eating, their kid is a bottomless pit. While any suitcase can carry an inventory of must-have snacks, Oversee’s line of rolling suitcases ups your food game by integrating coolers into the design. Just drop cold snacks into the dedicated front pocket, and you’re set. Intended for travelers that range from three to seven, you also get a host of other smaller outer pockets, two water bottle pockets, and a large internal pocket — measuring 16 x 11 x 8.5 inches — that’s sizable enough for a few days of clothing. Made of 100-percent polyester, the bag will stand up against most road-side abuse and weighs only four pounds. The two wheels roll smoothly, and the telescoping handle has been configured to extend and tailored to the strength of most children. The pattern options trend toward the more conservative, but even the black version boasts cool space graphics and the pink edition comes with a sparkly star or peace symbol.