I have been just ITCHING to write this post for a while now- so I could share with you all we’ve learned about the best family suitcases so far, what WE actually use when traveling with family- and what I believe (imho) is the absolute BEST backpack for travel with kids!

Get ready to hear some unconventional advice that truly changed our family travel for the better! 🤯 If you’ve been wondering and researching to see what is THE best suitcase for kids or families, look no further! (Although I have to warn you- it’s NOT a suitcase!)

Lathrop family wearing our travel backpacks | LathropsGoneAWOL Family Travel tips
Lathrop family wearing our travel backpacks at the airport

Before we started traveling overseas, we did a bit of traveling around the US. (And it was usually by car.) Amongst all of our traveling, there were some definite hang ups that we noticed about using traditional luggage (sorry not sorry, rolling suitcases!) that really made traveling with kids more difficult.

When we started planning a family trip (and potential move) to Europe, we knew there just HAD to be an easier solution! Especially since it was important to keep our family travel on a budget.

Once we made the leap to use suitcases that can be carried backpack style, our travel life was forever altered. We will NEVER (ever, ever) go back to rolling (or any other type) suitcases again! 😜

Okay hear me out with this one….

You might be thinking this is a no-brainer. OR maybe it seems like a total pain compared to your super chic rolling suitcase with the colorful hardtop and the ergonomic handle.

I get it. I remember thinking that, too.

I was once totally enamored with the matching rolling family suitcases that came in different sizes for each of us. They were so cute and fun!

But sadly, they just weren’t the best suitcase for kids! Our big kids did fine, sure.

But the little ones banged them into walls, pushed and pulled them into strangers at the airport. They even used them as tables (which inevitably meant spills and crusty food stains)!

generic photo of father and daughter with traditional style suitcases being helped by a hotel concierge | Best backpack for travel with kids | LathropsGoneAWOL family travel tips
Stop carrying, pushing & rolling your family’s suitcases! There’s an easier way!

They were often a pain to maneuver– and if a kid got tired, guess who had to stack the little suitcase onto their own bigger one and drag it through the terminal?? (Raise your hand if you’ve been there!)

And here’s the worst part- trying to keep everyone’s luggage together, get onto our plane/train/etc, AND keep track of little people at the same time- it was a stressful mess! 😬😬😬

Once we started traveling with kids, using traditional suitcases became a LOT harder for us parents to manage.

And that leads us to…

After a few frustrating experiences, we started looking into what other families used for their own travels. We read family travel blogs and joined family world travel facebook groups to get ideas. And read list after list of family travel tips.

We read lots of Amazon reviews on different family suitcases in the luggage section. (The one that doubles as a toddler stroller was intriguing!)

We also watched a few YouTube videos from trendy traveling couples, and noticed something interesting! LOTS of avid travelers were using big backpacks like hikers do! We were just babies in terms of gaining travel experience, so this idea blew our minds! 🤯🤯🤯

So we did what any travel-loving parents would do. We ditched our cute lil roly polys and upgraded to backpacks made specifically for travel. 😉

Here’s where this post gets good. (This might be a good time for a coffee refill!)

There have been TONS of great benefits to switching to travel backpacks.

Let’s go over some of the perks and talk a bit about the exact backpacks WE use for our family. I can’t wait to tell you why WE think they make the best backpack for travel with kids!

In general, most of our family’s backpacks are the Osprey brand. We have a couple of Deuter bags as well (there are 7 of us, after all!).

Both brands have really considered travelers when designing their backpacks. There are LOTS of pockets and features to make traveling easy!

Sale
Osprey Farpoint 70L Men’s Travel Backpack, Muted Space Blue
  • Adjustable torso fit
  • External Gear Attachment loops
  • Padded top and side handles
  • The harness and hipbelt stow away for safekeeping while…

The ability to pack everything you need into a bag (strategic packing hack coming in a sec), throw it on your back, and still have your hands free IS EVERYTHING easy family travel should be!

Osprey brand Farpoint70 travel backpack | LathropsGoneAWOL Family Travel tips

Having a backpack for traveling with toddler or babies is a lifesaver when we’re trying to hold onto their little hands! Especially when braving a crowd of people all boarding the same train or metro.

Imagine grabbing plane tickets and passports without shuffling luggage handles. Or stopping because you can’t maneuver a rolly case while triple-checking the phone for the correct gate number!

And don’t get me started on matching passports to little faces for boarding check. Add in a long line of impatient people trying to board a plane, and it’s chaos!

Having our luggage on our backs is seriously irreplaceable in terms of saving time and having one less thing to worry about!

Of all the things that make traveling easier, having our hands free to better help our kids has taken so much of the stress out of maneuvering airports and train stations.

It’s been such a life-changing switch that we always include it in our family travel hacks as must-have family travel gear. In fact, you can read about it in our 5 Must Have Travel Items & Kids Travel Essentials For Making Travel Easier post!

If you’ve been on the fence about finding the best backpack for travel with kids, we’ve got some GREAT suggestions for all ages coming in this post! (Goodbye, traditional family suitcases!)

Another HUGE perk of backpack style suitcases is that everyone can have their own. This means you can often get carry on sizes! Travel backpacks truly do make the best travel bag for families because there are so many sizes!

I personally prefer this women’s fit Osprey backpack. It makes the BEST travel backpack for moms because of the many pockets and removable day pack (more on that below)! I use this bag when I’m traveling with family or by myself.

But I’m also a total shorty. I’m only 5 feet tall! So I would also recommend my Osprey as the best travel backpack for petite female and teens as well!

And as my (dear, sweet) husband likes to say, Osprey also has the best travel backpack for fat guys. He’s a taller and larger guy who needs bigger backpack straps and an adjustable fit!

He uses this larger duffel bag, and loves the shoulder strap more than the backpack straps. (Osprey also has smaller duffel bags. But again, we’re a BIG family so we go big if we’re traveling for weeks at a time!)

Lathrop family with our many travel backpacks at the airport | LathropsGoneAWOL family travel tips
Lathrop family with our many travel backpacks at the airport

One of our teen girls actually prefers to use this men’s style Osprey backpack because of the detachable day pack. She likes the way it fits on her back without getting uncomfortable. (Super helpful for long walks from the train station to the hotel/flat!) Our pre-teen prefers this women’s hiking backpack, which is smaller and lighter. It also doubles as a day pack when heading out and about as well.

For adults, we swear by the Osprey brand as the best travel backpack for moms, dads and older teens. (More on why we love this particular brand later.)

For our younger ones, we actually consider this Deuter backpack (it’s the purple one pictured later) to be the absolute BEST travel backpacks for kids. Not only is it made specifically for kids to carry, but it has LOTS of handy pockets for all their snacks, water bottle, toys, etc.

Our kids usually wear them as day packs while exploring as well, making them more versatile than typical family suitcases.

And since they come in bright colors, if a kid starts to wander too far from us, we can quickly spot them, even in a crowd! (A huge mom worry, am I right?!)

We typically let the smaller kids carry their own small backpacks. They keep various snacks and the travel accessories for kids inside them so they are easy to reach while traveling.

When it comes to choosing travel backpacks for kids, size and functionality are super important. Deuter has really cornered the market on this.

As I mentioned above, our littles take their backpacks everywhere when traveling with family. Since they mostly have their snacks, water, etc, inside, they are easy to bring with us when out for daily exploring.

But the bigger bags also come with the detachable day packs I mentioned above.

The Osprey travel backpack for men that we use on our family travels | Lathropsgoneawol Family Travel tips blog
The day pack quickly zips on and off!

The day packs are a travel perk on their own!

On travel days, we use the daypacks to keep our laptops and electronics readily accessible (especially for airport security).

Then, when we’re out exploring places, we fill them with jackets, snacks, water, and whatever we might need for the day.

The daypacks actually just zip right onto the front of the larger bag. It’s like having TWO travel backpacks in one!

We can keep our important stuff inside one of the smaller bags, and then just drop our big bags at the hotel before heading out to dinner or sightseeing! (This is the one we have!)

It’s nice to have the smaller daypacks because they are so versatile, which really takes these bags over the top in terms of invaluable family travel gear.

And not to totally harp on rolling suitcases, but we’ve had a few that have broken a wheel. In fact, this seems to be a common problem! Switching to travel backpacks has REALLY helped us keep our family travel on a budget, since we don’t have to worry about replacing or fixing broken suitcases!

I know I already talked about the size of the bags- but what I didn’t mention is that ALL of our bags- except for the big duffel bag- are carry on size!!

This truly separates our travel backpacks as the No. 1 best suitcase for family travel! In fact, we consider them to be the best European travel backpacks also, since we take ours on all of our European family vacations without ever having to check in luggage!

There’s multiple perks of having all of our family suitcases be carry on size.

Probably the biggest perk is that it usually costs money to check luggage in at the airport, and we don’t have to worry about that.

(Aka- we save money and are able to plan MORE family travel on a budget that actually works!)

We also never have to worry about baggage claim nightmares, because our luggage stays with us the whole time! And that makes them the best European travel backpacks, too, since we can go to different countries without worrying about losing our stuff!

The last carry-on related perk I’m going to mention is that we NEVER have to weigh our luggage!

Carry-ons are automatically allowed on as long as they fit inside the carry on dimensions- no matter what it weighs! (Another reason these make perfect travel backpacks for kids- because books can be heavy!)

Our Deuter and Osprey bags are the best backpack for travel with kids | LathropsGoneAWOL family travel tips
Our Deuter and Osprey bags are the best backpack for travel with kids | LathropsGoneAWOL family travel tips

Another HUGE reason we absolutely LOVE our Osprey and Deuter backpacks is that they are really a long-term investment.

You won’t need to replace them every few years like typical suitcases that occasionally get banged up and broken wheels! (As I mentioned earlier, this happens quite a bit.)

In fact… there is a lifetime warranty if you purchase quality brands like Osprey and Deuter! Of all the reasons why we say that these make the best family luggage, the fact that they will LAST forever is a HUGE perk!

In fact, we plan on sending our oldest with one when she goes exploring (or off to college!) and can feel assured that the bag will be getting put to good use for many more years (or even decades) to come!

So not only are these the best backpack for travel with kids, but these bags will be able to GROW with them into adulthood! That’s a HUGE plus.

Not only do they have a lifetime warranty, but we’ve learned first hand that Osprey’s customer service is AMAZING.

Funny story- We had taken a lovely vacation to Brussels, Belgium for New Year’s 2020. It was lovely, but also cold, wet, and a bit snowy. After shoving our (possibly still damp) bags in storage for many months (yay covid shutdowns), we found a zipper on one of the bags had rusted closed a little bit!

We contacted Osprey and they walked us through how to fix it, and if it couldn’t be easily fixed ourselves, we could just send it in to get it repaired or even to replace the entire bag! 🤯 It ended up being a quick fix, but it was nice to see they were willing to replace the whole thing if we needed them to.

You can see Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee here.

Deuter brand bags have a very comparable lifetime warranty as well. We haven’t had to put this to the test yet, as our Deuter bags are a bit newer, but we’ve heard wonderful things from other avid travelers!

You can read Deuter’s lifelong repair/replacement policy here.

I genuinely recommend getting an Osprey or Deuter brand bag over any other brand just because of the lifetime warranty.

There might be similar brands with good repair/replacement options, and you can research to find other brands, but honestly, these two brands are worth every single cent and then some!

They truly are the best European travel backpack, and the best travel bag for families, as you’re about to see in my next point…

There’s one last travel backpack I want to talk about while I’m covering the topic of the best travel bags for families…

Our Deuter brand baby carrier backpack!

Baby Lathrop LOVES his Deuter Baby Carrier | Best backpack for travel with kids
Our little ones always wanted a turn in the backpack!

We actually bought this backpack in 2017! We’ve used it to go to theme parks, hiking, and traveling all over Europe with our kids! (We even brought it with us on our move abroad for family world travel!)

Another funny story- when we were looking into going to Lisbon with our 5 kids, the amount of people who told us not to bring a stroller was overwhelming. 🤯

We were warned that people would get angry with us for blocking the narrow sidewalks with a bulky stroller.

And we were told that Lisbon was the hilliest city in Europe, so good luck anyways! We had a baby AND a toddler- how would we get through so many hills and stairways?!

Enter the best travel backpack for moms… the Deuter baby carrier backpack! (cue cool theme song)

To be honest, my husband carried this more than I did, but our baby and our toddler both LOVED it!

There’s a pocket underneath to hold diapers, wipes, food, etc… There are pockets on the sides. There’s a cool shade cover so the baby doesn’t get too much sun or in case it rains.

In general, this bag has so many things that make traveling easier when you have babies or toddlers that it really is just great to have!

And so, with this cool backpack, strollers became a thing of the past! (Another win for backpack-style family suitcases!)

Our travel backpacks made it easy to carry all of their electronics/laptops for online school
Our travel backpacks made it easy to carry all of their electronics/laptops for online school!

I feel like this carrier backpack could have its own post, honestly, but I couldn’t NOT mention it here because it truly is the best backpack for traveling with toddler and babies!

And, of course, it’s a Deuter bag, so it has the lifetime warranty as well. (Score!)

When it comes to finding the best backpack for travel with kids who can’t quite walk yet, we really lucked out with this Deuter baby carrier!

Sale
Deuter Kid Comfort Midnight 2 One Size
  • FAMILY FUN: Bring your most precious cargo along for all…
  • MAX VENTILATION, MAX ENDURANCE: The Aircomfort mesh back…
  • ADJUSTABLE: The Vari Slide back length adjustment system…
  • LIGHTEN UP: Pull-forward hip fins, padded hip belt, load…
  • DURABILITY: Crafted from 210 denier polyamide fabric with…

Now that’s I’ve spent a good few minutes gushing about the many life-changing qualities of travel backpacks, I’m going to leave you with these parting words-

If you take anything away from this post, please consider at least trying a travel backpack- just start with one.

You will LOVE it- and you will thank me for pushing you to make the switch. I promise. They really are that amazing!

And if you have a family travel backpack that YOU love using, share it below along with your other go-to travel with kids tips! 😉

I hope you enjoy your family world travels, and that this post helps you make them just a little bit easier (or a lot)! Happy traveling!

LathropsGoneAWOL family travels to Rome Italy

Welcome to LathropsGoneAWOL!

We’re a family of 7, and we started traveling the world when our youngest was just a little over a year old. We’ve learned so much about family travel! Now, we’re on a mission to make traveling with kids easier for YOU with our family travel tips & great resources!

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15 Comments

  1. Backpacks make it so much easier to pack things in a more organized fashion and makes it easier to get to certain things in the front pockets that you might need faster access too! These backpacks look great.

  2. These are very cool for traveling with family and kids. The backpack for kids is an amazing idea!

  3. I always travel with backpacks, it is so comfortable to use! I’d never go for a suitcase unless forced. I’ll give your option a closer look too

  4. Manisha – I haven’t used many backpacks because of lesser travels but backpacks surely will make a great choice, my brother also loves these and he has been recommending it too.

  5. Sometimes the traditional suitcase is an alternative chair for kids when they get grumpy standing in long lines. I agree with backpacks but this made my little lad’s back ache at times! ~Chrissy

  6. What a great way to backpack with kids but also a way to give kids some reasonability but having fun! Also, the baby in the backpack is cute!

  7. Thanks for sharing this and I love your choice of backpacks! Happy to know that you guys have a great time!

  8. Yes, I love traveling with a backpack! It makes it so much easier to be mobile while traveling and you are able to have both of your hands free at all times.

  9. Thanks for this lovely post! I’ve been team backpacks over suitcases almost all my life – they make life just so much easier! And a huge fan of Deuter myself so hi-five on that one as well!

  10. I’m with you! Backpack all the way! And this backpack sounds great. I’m going to look into getting one. Thanks for the idea!

  11. Wow interesting theory! before reading This I never would have considered a backpack with a child because previously theyve been so heavy! but having just traveled to Bali with my daughter, the thought of being hands free is amazing! Also having a bag just as carry on would be amazing as we waited forever for our luggage!!!

  12. I often travel with a backpack too, but I can’t stand the back sweat when I’m travelling around a hot location 😅

  13. I love my backpack – I learnt years ago the style of travel I do is more suited to a backpack. Thanks for confirming it.

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