Our Favorite Luggage for Families

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With 7 of us traveling, we try to pack light with a family. That means that our luggage for families also needs to be lightweight! We definitely don’t want to waste a bunch of weight on the luggage itself.

We also need stuff that’s super durable since it generally is carrying a heavy load and being dragged around the world. That means we need stuff that is going to resist holes, won’t quickly develop broken wheels, and that has sturdy zippers.

Here’s some of our favorite luggage for travel with kids!

best luggage for families

Best Lightweight Hardside Suitcase For Families (Check In)

We purchased this suitcase about 4 years ago and have used it dozens of times since. At just over 11.5 lbs, it’s super lightweight for a hardside suitcase. Plus, the price is super reasonable. While other suitcases like this one and this one weigh a touch less (they’re lighter by about 3 lbs), they’re also well over double the price (and in the case of the latter, nearly 6 times the price).

The cost to value ratio is spot on, and you can’t beat the brand for quality and durability. It’s very roomy; we’ve packed for our entire family in it before. It wheels easily on 4 wheels and is just all around really solid luggage for families.

Best Softside Lightweight Suitcase for Families (Check In)

When we are really tight on weight, we typically change this super lightweight softside family suitcase. It fits SO much, both in terms of space and weight. And though it has soft sides, we’ve found it to really hold up to a lot of travel. The zippers are sturdy and the edges have not yet worn through after several years of heavy use.

I appreciate that this family suitcase is also expandable, so we can easily get another few inches, or even compress more easily after putting everything in. Plus, I like that it has multiple color options. This is probably our most used piece of luggage for families for longer overseas trips.

Purchase from Amazon, Travelpro, 25″ at JCPenny

Softside Carry On Luggage For Families

This is the carry on suitcase we use ALL the time. We fly with it, take it on road trips, and even occasionally use it in the RV. It’s practically indestructible and is a terrific size. Though it’s a carry on and fits in an overhead bin, it is still roomy with decent organization, as well.

While this family luggage may not be allowed as a carry on for some European airlines with smaller luggage restrictions, it works fine for most US carriers and for trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights.

Purchase from Amazon, Travelpro

Extra Small Softside Family Carry On Luggage

There are a few spots we’ve traveled where a standard US-sized carry on suitcase is too big to be allowed. A few European airlines, in particular, only allow extra-small suitcases for carry on luggage. We have both this suitcase and this suitcase for that purpose. We prefer the first one, though the 2nd works fine, as well. Neither is the very best, most incredible suitcase ever, but both are very functional for the purpose.

Packing Cubes

If I’m being honest, we’re not terrifically picky about which specific packing cubes to use for luggage for families – only about using them. Especially with a lot of us, they are an absolute MUST for separating everyone’s clothing and any extras. They seriously help me keep my sanity with all the stuff while traveling!

That said, there’s not an enormous difference between many packing cubes. Some of them have terrible zippers or aren’t sturdy, but there are several good ones. These are my personal favorite packing cubes because the zipper is fantastic and the mesh hasn’t torn at all after quite a while of regular use. I like the colors, I like the sizes, and I like how sturdy they are. We also LOVE taking these in the RV to keep everyone’s clothing organized and contained. They fit our needs perfectly!

Available on Amazon, Walmart

Best Airplane Travel Backpack for Families

Dan freaking LOVES this backpack. It really is such an incredible family travel backpack with so much room and a zillion pockets. We love that each side opens up for easy access, and there are several outside pockets, as well. There’s a laptop sleeve and a waist strap and it’s waterproof (it comes with a waterproof cover but we’ve found it’s also pretty darn waterproof even without it), and it’s really comfortable. It holds a TON but doesn’t feel enormous, and we’ve never had trouble bringing it on as a carryon.

The zippers are crazy strong, so we never worry about this family backpack falling apart while we’re out and about. We use it for hikes near and far (it’s one of our favorite kids hiking gear items!), for air travel, always take it in the RV…it’s basically our go to family backpack for all uses and is such a versatile piece of family luggage.

Plus, the company is a B-corp and uses its power and money to support important causes around the world. It’s an incredible product and company!

Available on Amazon, Cotopaxi, REI

Lightweight Folding Backpacks for Travel

A few years ago, we got all our older kids these folding backpacks for travel. We had no idea how terrific they would be to have! Our kids carry them on the airplane for their Kids Kindles, books, snacks, stuffed animals, jacket, masks, etc. It’s so nice having them have access to their own things. But then if we ever want to combine them, we’re not stuck with a bulky backpack to carry around since the backpacks themselves fold up into themsevles!

The backpacks wash up easily or are simple to spot clean, and are great for squashing and storing if needed. I love that we’re not trashing the kids’ school backpacks and instead have these specifically for travel. And if a kid gets tired of carrying a bag, it’s easy to redistribute the stuff inside and just fold up the backpack and clip it on with a carabiner. So convenient.

Why We Don’t Use Ride On Kid Suitcases

Over the years, I’ve seen half a dozen different ride on kid suitcases (like this and this, for instance). And there’s even lots of luggage geared to kids that’s not specifically ride on.

And here’s the thing. They might be a little fun and convenient. They may help little kids feel more responsibility and excitement. But to me, they’re just not that functional. The ride on ones, for instance, have much less room in them than a standard carry on. They’re only really useful for the airport and perhaps for the plane, but definitely not thereafter. Especially if we’re moving from place to place, it’s just a pain to have another bulky item to transport.

For me, if something isn’t serving multiple uses throughout the trip, it’s not the best use of space. If we really need a leg rest, I’d rather take a lightweight inflatable one than drag a whole ride on suitcase. (Which, if my kid gets tired, I’m going to be carrying.) Plus, they’re really only useful for a very limited age range. My 8 year old is certainly not going to be riding on one, or even my 6 year old. It has a very short shelf life, and the cost just doesn’t justify that small amount of use for me.

That’s very much based on travel style and personality. We like to pack light and have as few pieces as possible to keep track of (we have too many kids to keep track of to want to be counting luggage endlessly!). Instead, I’d rather minimize and share luggage and have kids pitch in by taking turns pulling regular luggage that works for the whole family.

And that’s it! That’s pretty much all the luggage we use for travel in any given situation. It’s the best minimal luggage for families that we’ve found and hope it’s helpful to you, too!

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