A lot of stuff for kids — toys, clothing, everyday essentials — is ugly. And if you want something a little more aesthetically pleasing, you’re going to have to pay up for it. Last August, when I was looking for a suitcase for my toddler in preparation for a trip to Los Angeles to visit family, I found myself cursing at the hideous luggage options I was seeing on just about every website I visited, from big-box e-tailers to curated children’s boutiques.
Every rolling suitcase designed for little kids was emblazoned with either characters, superheroes, or straight-up fugly graphics. If it looked remotely sophisticated in any way, it cost way too much for something we’d use just a few times a year. I considered the Stokke JetKids BedBox, which is a ride-on suitcase that also turns an airplane seat into a bed. But in terms of capacity, it didn’t look like it would hold much, and some reviewers complained about how flimsy it was. It also costs $200. Then I looked at the old-timey Olli Ella See-Ya Suitcase, which reminded me of a miniature version of Steamline Luggage, but it was too precious for an active toddler like Augie and too expensive (over $100). Even the offerings from big luggage brands like American Tourister and State were cheesy or overpriced.
I was about to admit defeat and settle for the least offensive-looking, under-$100, highly reviewed rollie I could find on Amazon (I was willing to accept a space-, dinosaur-, or car-themed option) when my husband, after much digging, came across this plain, hardside spinner that was, miraculously, made for kids. It was about 18 inches high, which is the average height for juvenile suitcases, and came in just three solid colors — black, red, and pink. It was $65 and had promising, if not that many, reviews on Amazon. We bought it in red.
Now that we’ve taken it on two cross-country trips, I can confidently say it was a fantastic purchase. It’s a little wider than most children’s bags at a little under 14 inches, but I like that it looks squat and almost portly with its rounded corners. It can hold everything Augie needs for a week-plus trip to California, including all his clothes, books, and accoutrements (like his sound machine). It’s got a zippered divider panel with a mesh pouch on one side, and there’s a buckled strap on the other to keep contents secure. It also comes with a coded lock that Augie loves fiddling with.
The telescoping handle admittedly requires a bit of finagling to adjust, and even at its lower height it is slightly too tall for Augie to comfortably pull the suitcase behind him, but he’ll soon grow into it. (Another major perk of the bag’s minimal design is that it’s ageless and appropriate even for adults.) Instead, he simply pushes the body of the thing, and thanks to the incredibly smooth wheels, he can go super-fast through the airport terminal — a great way for him to burn off some energy before (and after) a five-hour flight.
On our most recent trip last month, a flight attendant complimented the bag as being a really nice size, adding that it might even fit under the seat. We didn’t try and honestly didn’t think it would, but it slides into the overhead no problem. Even though we’ve only used it as a carry-on, I’m sure that despite its extremely lightweight construction, it would withstand the banging and abuse endured by checked baggage.
To zhuzh it up a bit, we also got these fun, silicone-like luggages tags to attach to the suitcase. I even considered adding stickers and decals, but I’ll let Augie decide how he’d like to decorate it when he’s older.
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