Best Travel Bag Ideas When You are Traveling With Your kids
It’s family vacation time, and you’ve thought of everything you need for your upcoming trip on a plane. Boarding passes are printed, your bags are packed with all of the essentials, your tablet is loaded with games and videos for entertainment during the flight, and you even packed snacks into the small space left in your carry-on after all of your other items were packed.
You’ve prepared well, so everything should run smoothly, right? If you’re a frequent traveler (or a parent who commonly travels with your kids), you know that a “smooth" travel experience is much easier said than done. Step one foot into an airport, and any child — even the most well-behaved one — starts to get squirrely and stir crazy at the drop of a hat.
I’ve carted enough children (both my own and my nieces and nephews) through enough airports to know that it’s a Herculean task to travel peacefully with children; however, it is not impossible. In fact, with the right luggage for travel in your possession, flying with kids can be a relaxing, enjoyable experience that provides something you are probably looking for in a vacation: relaxation.
Let the Kids Carry Something
Most airports are not kid-friendly places. This is a fact. Sure, a handful of airports have play areas set up in the concourse, and nearly all of them have free wifi that can be used for computer games. With that said, a trip to the airport often involves a significant wait (almost every child’s least favorite situation) before your flight departs. What do you do when your child has had his or her fair share of playing games or watching videos on one of your smart devices?
In my time traveling with kids, I have found that giving them a “job" makes getting to the terminal and waiting to board your flight a lot easier. What type job can they do, you ask? Carry their own luggage! This simple task makes children feel like active participants in an airport’s frenetic hullabaloo, and it helps them stay focused.
You may be thinking: “Let my kid carry his own bag? It’ll get lost on the way!" I felt the same way at first. But I found that, if you properly plan for the situation by investing in some kid-friendly carry-ons, you may be surprised at how remarkably easy it is for your children to manage a piece of luggage.
But Remember: Safety First
If you want your child to carry his or her luggage through the airport, you first need to figure out what they can carry, without making carrying the luggage uncomfortable. According to a majority of physical therapists, children can safely carry up to 15% of their body weight in a suitcase or backpack for an extended period of time, such as the time you spend waiting in airport terminals.
Your child won’t be able to shoulder the same load as the adults in the family, but he or she can at least carry a few items — ideally ones that belong to your child, whether it’s clothing, toys, snacks, or a cornucopia of all three. Treat your child to a sturdy backpack or a rolling suitcase, and fill it with items such as clothes, toys, and snacks to eat during the flight.
Be sure your child knows that it is his or her job to carry the luggage through the airport and onto the plane. This helps them feel like they’re a part of the airport experience, and not just tagging along at your heels, as they wait for your family vacation to officially start.
Look For Bags Your Kids Will Love
When I was young, I was practically inseparable from my Lion King backpack. I’d wear it to school — and I would even bring it along with me to recess! Why? Because I loved The Lion King and had watched it countless times. Your child can have a favorite theme backpack of his or her own, which will encourage him or or her to take responsibility for the luggage.
Are you still watching the kid movie “Frozen" everyday? Does your child have a healthy obsession with a particular sport or a certain color? A suitcase or backpack that features one of his or her favorite themes or colors should be a hit! If you can make your child fall in love with a kid-friendly carry-on, there’s a much smaller chance of the luggage getting lost.
There are a wide variety of kids travel bags that feature cartoon characters, bright colors, and colorful, eye-catching patterns. Before you head out for your vacation, consider letting your child pick out his or her own carry-on bag for the trip. If you do, your little one may actually enjoy carrying his or her carrying case around the airport, and claiming it from the overhead luggage bin after you arrive at the vacation destination.
The Family That Travels Together
Another way to get your kids excited about traveling (and save some money in the process) is to invest in matching travel luggage. Most luggage sets come with three to five bags of various sizes, including a smaller one that is a perfect size for a child’s carry-on piece.
A matching luggage set is a great idea for more than one reason. The matching colors and patterns make it easy to spot your bags in a crowd or while waiting at baggage claim. Purchasing matching luggage can also be cost effective, as one set of luggage can hold an entire family’s belongings. In addition, matching luggage simply looks better than a set of makeshift luggage that’s comprised of different pieces of luggage you’ve purchased over the years/
However, if you ask me why I personally believe a matching luggage set is a great idea, I’ll tell you that it makes the whole family feel connected, as if they were a sports team carrying their uniforms and accessories to a big game. Letting children carry a piece of luggage that has the appropriate size and weight helps them feel more involved in the travel process, which helps make them less bored and fidgety while waiting in the airport and during the flight.
Sometimes, even the most careful travel planning doesn’t seem to be enough when you have children traveling with you. Every kid leaves his or her backpack in the bathroom at least once! Even if you find the best travel bag for your child, there’s one rule you should follow: Label the luggage thoroughly with your contact information, in case it gets lost.
Invest in some luggage tags, so you can write down your name and phone number. You can also include your address, which is helpful if a piece of luggage is lost during international travels. Furthermore, if a good Samaritan finds your child’s backpack soon enough, the person can give you a call and facilitate a happy reunion with the lost luggage before you board the plane.
Labeling your bags is a great insurance policy if you are traveling by air, especially if you’re traveling with children. Something as small as a luggage tag might just save your vacation someday. The tags are inexpensive, but they can end up returning to your possession a piece of luggage that contains valuable items, as well as rudimentary essentials you need for having an enjoyable trip.
Traveling can be stressful, even without kids thrown in the mix. But if you are diligent and plan for every part of your vacation — including the time you spend in the airport — you can get to your terminal with all of your bags, and get there without your child throwing a tantrum due to boredom, while you await your flight.
The fact is: Many kids like being included as a part of a group. It helps them feel accepted and gives them something to focus on by contributing to the group’s needs. By giving your child his or her own travel bag, you help create these desirable situations. Your child becomes a part of the group, with his or her own responsibility, which helps make his or her time at the airport seem to pass much faster. If you’re lucky, you might not hear a single complaint for your little one, as you wait to board the airliner together.
As you plan your next family vacation, consider purchasing up a carry-on bag for your little one. It’s sure to make your visit to the airport easier and more enjoyable, for both you and your child. If your flight is still over a week away, now is a good time to start shopping online for a bag your little one can carry on the trip.
Meet the Author
Brian Claywell is a traveller and writer by profession. He has been writing on various issues from his college days. He is working with Got Briefcases sharing his latest tips on bags selection. Follow him on Twitter today.