Toddlers just loooove to be independent. Whether they want to (attempt to) tie their own shoes or brush their own teeth, there’s no stopping a threenager from doing things their own way.
So, all things considered, it really shouldn’t be a big surprise that you’ll often see these tiny humans dragging their own suitcases behind them at the airport or lugging a toddler backpack around while out and about with parents.
If your tot loves to do things their own way, embrace it! Getting your little one their own toddler backpack is the perfect way to let them exercise their independence. Whether you choose a rolling backpack, a harnessed backpack or a personalized kids backpack, there are tons of great options that are both fun and functional. Take a peek at some of our favorites below.
Is it okay to have a kid on a leash? In a busy airport or a crowded shopping area: yes! A backpack leash is one option, LOL. For those 1 to 3-year-olds who tend to run into busy streets or wander off like Dory, this one includes a removable, adjustable parent strap and a chest clip for the smallest of adventurers. Comes in a variety of cute animal options.
This toddler backpack comes in 22 different color/design options and is highly rated by parents for its durability. Designed for comfort, the Mountaintop Kids pack features mesh along the back to improve airflow, which helps ensure your little one doesn’t overheat while wearing it. It’s also made with waterproof material so it’s easy to clean. Perfectly sized for kids ages 2 to 5.
Skip Hop Backpack ~ $21
Skip Hop makes another cute and durable (non-harness/leash) toddler backpack (also great for preschool!). Kids love the animal designs, and it’s a fun way to let your tot express their personal preferences for color and designs (my 4-year-old lost it when she saw the new unicorn backpack!).
This washable backpack comes in a variety of playful designs and is the perfect size for tots ages 18 to 36 months. It also comes with a detachable backpack leash, which comes in handy in crowded environments like airports, museums, or zoos. Not to mention, it’s insulated and keeps food and drinks warm or cool for up to three hours.
Buddy Backpack ~ $25
This toddler backpack is an educational toy and a backpack in one. If you flip open the top, you’ll find a spacious middle compartment that’s ideal for books and toy storage while you travel. On the outside of the bag, your toddler will enjoy playing with 12 different kid-friendly buckles, colorful embroidered shapes and numbers, and a zipper and snap pocket.
This bag isn’t likely to be great for preschool or kindergarten, but it can definitely keep a young toddler entertained on a plane, in the car, or while waiting at the airport (and it has enough room for a few things inside).
Wildkin Kids Backpack ~ $32
Wildkin Kids makes adorable, highly rated backpacks for little ones for a great price. The size of the bag is perfect for young toddlers (not too big!). This compact travel pack has an outside mesh pocket for a water bottle. *Coordinates with lunch box and nap mat (sold separately). Super cute.
This water-resistant toddler backpack from Pottery Barn Kids can be personalized to make sure your tot never loses his or her backpack. The perfect fit for little ones, these backpacks have plenty of pockets so there’s room for all the essentials and keepsakes your toddler finds and wants to keep while traveling.
What to Look For In a Toddler Backpack
With so many options, choosing a toddler backpack can sometimes feel like a chore. To help you simplify things, here are a few quick tips for picking the best bag for your little traveler.
- Price: If you’re on a tight budget, you’re still likely to find some good options! Several packs on our list are less than $20, so you can purchase a great backpack without breaking the bank. However, toddler backpacks range quite a bit in price. It all depends on the quality of the materials used, the brand, and any extra features you might want (like a personalized bag with your kid’s name on it or a rolling backpack with wheels).
- Ergonomic design: Small, lightweight toddler backpacks are ideal. You don’t want your toddler to be weighed down by a heavy bag and comfort is key, especially if you’re trying to avoid having a grumpy kid while traveling. To make sure a backpack isn’t too big for your little one, make sure the top of the toddler backpack is level with your tyke’s shoulders. The bottom of the bag also shouldn’t extend beyond their waist.
- Comfortable shoulder straps: Wide, padded shoulder straps will be most comfortable and will distribute the weight more evenly across your tot’s back. Some backpacks also feature chest clips to keep the shoulder straps from slipping off.
- Multi-purpose compartments: Pockets that double as snack coolers are a big win in our book. Any toddler backpacks with multi-purpose features like these can make for a more hassle-free travel experience. Plus, you get more bang for your buck.
- Customization options: It’s always fun to keep your tot’s personal preferences in mind. Having a variety of colors or designs to choose from is great, but some toddler backpacks can even be adorned with your child’s name or initials. (This is also a great feature if your kid will be taking the backpack to preschool or kindergarten down the line.)
Rolling, Lightweight Suitcases and Luggage Sets
If your kids are old enough to pull their own luggage, let them! Trust me, they’ll enjoy it, and it’s one less thing you’ll have to schlep. A toddler rolling backpack or rolling luggage set is an excellent purchase, especially if you plan on taking a trip that requires flying.
On that note, nobody said selecting a toddler rolling backpack or set of rolling luggage was easy. I mean, how do you determine what’s best for a tiny person to lug around the airport? Smooth-rolling wheels? Lightweight design? Extra pockets, maybe??
No need to stress. Here are some of our favorites!
Naturally Kids ~ $37
With 3 different ride-along animals to choose from, this rolling backpack from Naturally Kids is irresistible. The animal is removable and makes a great snuggle buddy for the plane or car ride. The wheels and backbone are also removable if you want to go without wheels and there are 2 convenient small inner pockets for your quick-grab items.
If you’re in the market for a rolling backpack that can double as a suitcase, this is a great option. Perfect for weekend or quick overnight trips, these rolling backpacks come in small and medium sizes and they are surprisingly spacious — enough to fit a few pairs of clothes alongside a few toys, books, headphones, and snacks.
The perfect size for a carry-on (although bigger than the others on this list), this Disney-themed rolling luggage is durable and spacious enough for a long trip without being overly bulky. The retractable pull handle can be easily operated with a push-button and the wheels spin 360 degrees for easy pulling. With a bunch of different Disney designs, it’s hard to say no to these suitcases.
This lightweight rolling luggage by Stephen Joseph is another parent-favorite. It has plenty of space for gear, including a long outside pocket for colored pencils, etc. Sooooo many cool prints to choose from! This one is more durable than most, as most parents report being able to use it for many years.
Trunki Ride-On Suitcase ~ $104
The beloved Trunki is the classic sit-on, pull-on luggage for kids. Your wee-traveler can hop on for a ride when you need to get to Gate 41 from Gate 3 (or while flying out of Atlanta/Hartsfield, lol). Fits perfectly under airline seats. Bonus: if you carry your kid’s luggage onto the plane, you’ll have an emergency change of clothes, etc., at your fingertips. Just in case!
Pottery Barn Rolling Luggage ~ $119+
Moving up the hierarchy a bit, Pottery Barn kids’ luggage is super durable and totally customizable. Each weather-resistant (yay!) bag features kid-friendly handles, smooth-rolling wheels (many of them come as spinners), and easy-access compartments. The monogramming gives kids a sense of ownership and “mine!”ness.
JetKids by Stokke BedBox~ $229
This ride-on, carry-on, and sleep-on suitcase is well worth the price tag for all the great things it can do. Its front swivel wheels make it easy to maneuver and its spacious interior is great for all your little traveler’s clothes, toys, and accessories. Plus, it quickly and easily transforms into a comfortable seat, leg rest, and bed for the plane. What more could you possibly ask for?
Travel Gear (Including Pillows) for Toddlers and Kids
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but toddlers can get extremely cranky while traveling. And if you don’t prepare, you’re likely to face more than a few struggles along the way.
Whether you’re searching for a travel pillow that won’t let your kid’s cute little head droop for hours in the car or you’re determined to find the perfect car seat organizer for your next road trip, we’ve got your back, parents. Here are some of our favorite travel gear for young kids.
Munchkin Snack Catcher ~ $6 (2-pack)
This is, by far, the best spill-proof toddler snack container. Trust us… it will save you (and your back) from bending over a million times on the plane to retrieve your toddler’s spilled cheerios. It also fits most standard cup holders in cars, strollers, and on planes and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
These waterproof and easy-to-clean reusable bags are perfect for storing wet swimsuits, electronics, toiletries, and whatever else you might need to keep separate from the other contents of your child’s bag while traveling. They also come in a variety of cute designs.
Car Seat Travel Belt ~ $13
Traveling with young toddlers solo can feel impossible sometimes, especially with the amount of luggage and stuff you have to get through the airport on your own (all while keeping track of wandering little ones). This car seat travel belt makes things a whole lot simpler by allowing you to attach or remove your car seat from your luggage in a matter of seconds.
Oxo Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty ~ $21
Traveling with a potty training toddler? This compact potty seat opens easily for on-the-go emergencies. If you’re camping, you can prop open its legs to help your toddler go potty outdoors. It even holds disposable bags securely in place for easy clean-up. Or, you can leave the potty’s legs folded up and place it over public toilets for a less-germy bathroom experience.
Stick this baby in the middle of your backseat for easily accessible, organized entertainment on road trips. Not to mention, your car will stay a whole lot cleaner without books, toys, and snacks thrown all about. We also love the fact that this car seat organizer fits twice as much stuff as an over-the-seat organizer and features eight different pockets, including one zippered pocket and four built-in cup holders.
Real talk: Absolutely no one enjoys crawling around on the airplane floor retrieving toys. This foldable travel tray fits most standard airline tray tables and will keep your kiddo’s toys, crayons, and other activities contained for the duration of your flight. It’s even washable, so sticky messes and spills won’t ruin a thing.
This portable Bluetooth speaker and white noise machine is perfect for travel, with a long-lasting rechargeable battery, six different white noise tracks, and a chew-safe design. Although this is one of our smallest travel gear faves, it’s a lifesaver when you’re on the go.
Now go forth and see the world!
No matter what great travel gear you buy, there will always be challenges to conquer while traveling with little ones. When in doubt, gleaning some advice from experienced parents can be so helpful and refreshing. Fortunately, we have some of the best tips to help make sure your next vacation is a roaring success. Browse some of the articles listed below for more great travel tips, hacks, and gear that will make your life easier: