family travels off the beaten path

The Best Luggage for Family Travel

The Best Luggage for Family Travel

Family Travel with Luggage

Travel with kids means always being ready for the unexpected. Someone needs a diaper change, someone needs a snack, someone is…dare I say it? Bored. For parents, that means you need to have your hands free and ready for anything. This is an added challenge when traveling and pulling your luggage through a crowded airport or across a cobblestone street in Europe. It can be even more difficult when traveling with multiple pieces of luggage. We’ve spent the past 8 years traveling as a family and have completely simplified the way we pack and what we pack into.

Before having kids we traveled often as a couple and figured out what worked well for us. Once we added kids to the mix, we tweaked things slightly, but kept on going with what worked. We just added a few diapers, a few more snacks and our favorite kid friendly in flight entertainment options.

The Best Luggage for Family Travel
Traveling before kids and looking like babies ourselves.


Finding the Best Luggage for Family Travel

It didn’t take us long to figure out what products and pieces of luggage we love to use when traveling as a family. We rarely travel with an actual suitcase, instead opting to carry everything on our backs. This frees up our arms for helping the kids with anything they might need and make sit so we rarely have to check our bags. If we do check our bags, it is usually at the gate. When we do check our bags, it is simply because we’re looking forward to the freedom of not carrying anything except a few good books and a pair of headphones.

We adopted a “family policy” of each person must carry their own bags over the past few years. That means our kids carry *almost everything they need in their own packs. We’ll happily take some of their clothes if things get too heavy. We are very light packers for the most part, which makes a big difference.

Our requirement for luggage for family travel is primarily function and durability. We’re not fans of replacing luggage every few years. Instead we prefer to find something that will last as long as possible. Luggage can see the best of experiences and the worst of experiences. We have seen our bags getting thrown into baggage compartments, falling down stairs, getting rained on and of course being dropped onto cement/cobblestone/sand/mud.

The Best Luggage for Parents

One might think we’re sponsored as all of our favorite pieces of luggage are all the same brand. Alas, we’re not even close to that, instead we’ve just really found what we love to use in Osprey. These bags boast the space and function we’re looking for and are some of the most durable bags we have ever owned. We’ve been traveling with the same bags for years and have only recently added new bags when we purchased additional packs for our daughters.

My husband always travels with an Osprey Talon 44. We have had this same bag for 12 years and it remains in great shape. It has traveled far and wide with us as both our main piece of luggage or even as a carry on. It easily fits the majority of our gear since we pack it down into stuff sacks. We have never had an issue using this bag completely full as a carry on. Travel tip: If you are traveling with baby wipes, make up wipes or shower wipes keep them in the top of the bag and remove them prior to the bag going through the x-ray machine at airport security, you’ll save yourself a complete bag screening. 

The Best Luggage for Family Travel

I typically travel with my Osprey Porter 46. This bag is a new addition to our ‘fleet’ of luggage used when we travel as a family. It’s already logged some serious miles and been tested in a variety of conditions. My favorite thing about this bag is the ease of turning it into a duffle. The straps all disconnect and can be tucked into a zippered pocked in the back of the bag. This means when I do have to check it, I am not worried about my straps getting broken in the baggage compartment. My other favorite feature is the front straps that allow you to connect a day pack to it. I can strap my Osprey Daylite pack to the front of my bag, which means I can carry my purse onto the plane.

The Best Luggage for Kids

Our kids know they have to carry their own bags and stuff when we travel. Not only does this cut down on the amount they try to bring with, but we also feel like they are learning more about responsibility. They are responsible for packing their bags based on the list we give them and repacking it after any stops along the way. Both of our older daughters, currently ages 6 and 8, use an Osprey Youth Jet 18. These bags are the perfect size for the girls’ clothes, coats, extra shoes and a few things to keep them busy along the adventure. As an added bonus, these packs also have space and are built for a hydration reservoir, which is great to add for hot summer hikes, camping/backpacking trips or even a summer vacation somewhere warm. We’ll be bringing our reservoirs this summer when we are traveling in Spain and Portugal!

The Best Luggage for Family Travel