One of the ways we've found to manage the chaos is to have our son, now 3.5 yrs old, carry his own baggage -- at least to some degree. Little bodies are totally capable of a small backpack with about 10-20% of their body weight as the load, according to our pediatrician. It helps us tremendously that we are not carrying our child PLUS the bag these days -- we like to say at three he finally learned to walk since we still toted him everywhere until the not so distant past! It helps even more when they can lighten your load.
One way we've found to encourage our kiddo to be a big boy and a big helper is to get him a more fun backpack or luggage. He is actually excited about toting it along and will generally protest if one of the adults takes it for him. Score one for the parental team!
One company that makes awesome kiddo luggage that is tough and totally cute is Trendy Kid -- they make Travel Buddies that are way cool to kids and helpful to mom and dad! We tried out the Percy Penguin backpack and rolling luggage for kids and my son was stoked for our next "cation."
- We love that they are hard-sided (there is an abundance of soft-sided luggage and bags/packs for kids on the market -- but lets face it, kids are tough on stuff and SO ARE airlines!)
- lots of styles - monsters, birds, bugs...
- carry-on sized based on world-wide standards
- light weight and appropriate for smaller frames like toddlers/preK kids
- roll easily - not a cheap design, well-made
- pockets and velcro closures for better securing what is packed
- non-swivel wheels (this would be a nice touch for maneuverability)
- for folks that do not pack light, plan to buy a bigger bag -- but for kids they are great
- scuffing and scratching occurs easily - hard cases just aren't going to look new as long - no matter what age group you're dealing with! If this is important to you, it's something to consider
A cool feature if you get the set is that the backpack stows inside the luggage for storage when not being used -- I LOVE nesting penguins! Haha! They are also large enough rolling luggage systems that you can pack an entire vacation of clothing in there -- around five to seven days for us anyway!
A bonus from this luggage is that it's a total crowd pleaser -- not only for your kids and you as a parent, but take a look around at the other travelers in the airport or bus station and they are all grinning! It's so fun to see them smiling at the cute little cases!
I think this would be a fun and practical gift for kids -- so tell the grandparents! It is functional disguised as pure FUN. We are loving Percy and will likely need to add a friend to the mix when #2 is old enough to pull their own weight in the family while traveling!
Disclosure: We received a complimentary Travel Buddies set for the purposes of this review and event. We were not compensated in any other way.