8 Clever Bags for Traveling With Kids

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Staying organized and packing efficiently is one of the biggest challenges to traveling with kids. A good bag—durable, well designed and washable—helps tremendously. No one needs all the travel bags we list below. But they are among the more innovative pieces of luggage we’ve come across in the last few years. Most of them are pretty affordable, too. Even if these bags don’t quite suit you, their best features can help you to know what to look for in your own choices.

Free Like Birdie weekender bags are great for the messy yearsfree like birdie bags are great for organizing clean and soiled clothesClever weekend bag: Free Like Birdie Weekender

For a long time I packed TT’s clothes in with mine, which was fine as we were heading out. But baby and toddler clothes can get wet, soiled and stinky. Packing to go home I didn’t want her laundry mingling with my dirty clothes, much less my clean ones. Free Like Birdie has the answer with a leak-proof kid-size tote bag that separates clean clothes from dirty. Fill both side with clean clothes and gradually segregate the dirty ones over your travels. $45

Andi Bags can totes or backpacksAndi Bags: incredibly versatile Clever tote: The Andi Bag

The shiny texture and steep price of the Andi Brand put me off at first, but give this bag a second look. It’s water resistant, durable and versatile, going from a tote to backpack in seconds. It can be a grown-up diaper bag that holds your stuff, too; a weekend bag, carry-on, or beach tote. A side strap holds things you want handy (I’d add a carabiner to it) or attaches to a luggage cart or other bag. $158

Trunki kids bagsTrunki kids bags come in fun colorsClever kids’ carry-on: Trunki

We never had Trunki, but I always covet these bright-colored cases when spot one at the airport. Toddlers do seem to love pulling it along on their own. When they get tired, or you need to move along quickly, sit them on top and pull both together– handy when you don’t want to bring a stroller. The company sells it as a carry-on where you can stash toys and a change of clothes. But I know some parents who have gotten away with it as a weekender suitcase, too. $40.

Backpacks aren't stylish but the right one holds everything you need.Clever Backpack: StormTech Cargo Daypack

I was lucky enough to get this backpack at a media event and if it ever wears out (I doubt it will) I would buy another Stormtech in a heartbeat because it’s so ideally organized. It has 3 roomy compartments and 2 side pockets; one for my water bottle and one for Tiny Traveler’s. The middle pocket is ideal for a laptop or tablet, a few cords, folders and notepads. An inner pocket keeps my ear buds handy. The deep main pocket carries hoodies, guidebooks, and other bulky items. The roomy front pocket fits a wallet, phone and keys, sunglasses, my mini first-aid kit and a good reserve of snacks. $57.

Obersee bags have fun designs and hold just the right amount.The Kids-Carry-Their-Own Bag: Obersee Bag & Backpack

By age 6 or 7 kids can start packing their own bag (with parental review) and carrying it, too. Small wheeler bags like are ideal for a weekend or beach vacation. I like the matching backpack. Both pieces have a front pocket that’s insulated and the backpack isn’t too big, which keeps kids from packing more than they can carry. It comes in a range of patterns to suit boys and girls. The only downside is that it has two wheels, not four, which can sometimes make rolling easier for kids .

lay n go bags store toys and provide a play space, too.Clever toy tote: Lay-n-Go Lite

Kids love little tiny things with lots of pieces. But traveling with them is a nightmare. This drawstring bag can hold blocks, play figures and accessories, or small puzzles. Open it up flat and it becomes a banked playspace that fits an airplane tray table, restaurant placemat or lapdesk. I can’t say you’ll never go searching for tiny shoes or Legos under tables again, but it helps. $22

RJ Square travel tote bags keep fingers off your tablet

Clever lapdesk/art tote: RJ Square Travel Square

It folds up flat and opens up to become a lap desk with side pockets for art supplies. It also has a clear panel that lets kids use a tablet or e-reader without getting their mucky fingers all over it. My only gripe is that it doesn’t fit easily into a kid’s backpack (or a grown-up’s). It would slip into many squarish tote bags and has a strap so kids can shoulder it on its own. $35.

fleurville mini diaper bags are ideal for short tripsClever purse: Fleurville Tote

I bought this purse during my diaper-toting days. A friend had one and I thought it was incredibly clever for those short jaunts where a full-size diaper bag is overkill. It holds a diaper or two, a few wipes and a slim changing pad, The front zipper holds keys, a phone and some cash.

But with my diapering days are long gone and I still use it when I travel because I can pop it into my backpack during the day and use it on its own when we go out to dinner. There’s room for wallet, keys, phone, lipstick, a small camera and even some crayons and a small coloring book for TT. About $13.

JJ Cole and a few others make similar “diaper clutches,” too.

If you real-world feedback on any of the bags above, let us know in the comments.

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There is a perfect bag for every parent, kid, and travel need. Here are 8 to get you started

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  1. February 3, 2015 at 5:17 pm — Reply

    Ok, I’m lovin’ the Lay-n-Go Lite tote… perfect for the pile of toys my youngest likes to bring along. Thank you for sharing at Inspire Me Wednesday. Featuring you in this week’s issue.

    • February 3, 2015 at 5:20 pm — Reply

      We always love to hear what parents have to say about the products we mention. Thanks for visiting!

  2. January 30, 2015 at 8:13 am — Reply

    My daughter is past the age where I need to bring along anything to entertain her, but when she was younger these would have been marvelous at keeping her busy on a long flight. I especially like the backpack!

    Thanks for the tips. These are great suggestions for traveling kids.


    • January 30, 2015 at 11:08 am — Reply

      Looking forward to getting to that age, whatever age it is!

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