OK, you are ready to set off with your kids for the first time or the 100th, but just haven’t figured out how to pack. Our top recommendation for traveling families is to invest in a great kids travel backpack. Considering life on the road has its own obstacles to overcome, functional travel gear is a great way to help reduce everyone’s stress.
Through the years we have found that the best travel backpacks are much more helpful than roller bags while schlepping through airports or train stations. That said, my son used his monkey roller bag in over 15 countries for several years. It was a great bag which kids love, but it is not always convenient. My son often struggled getting on escalators and up and down stairs, which meant I was left carrying it along with my bag as well. For parents with more than one kid, this is not fun to deal with as you run for your tight connections.
Enter, the best kids travel backpack options for all ages. When my son was smaller he would carry just his travel essentials (i.e. art supplies, toys and snacks) in his backpack. Now at age 9, he carries everything he needs for our trips on his own.
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The Best Kids Travel Backpacks – For All Ages
Mini Trek 6L Kids Travel Backpack – Best Toddler Backpack
We were gifted the Mini Trek 6L Mountain Warehouse backpack years ago as part of a travel game gift set. The backpack was not even part of the gift set, but ended up as our favorite part of the package! Several years later, my son requested a second bag to replace his first that was totally worn out. These bags really are the best kids travel backpacks and we know since ours have gone to more than 32 countries and countless hikes around the world.
The Mini Trek 6 liter backpack from Mountain Warehouse is small, but perfect for kids ages 3 and up. It is cheap (less than $15!), but durable, lightweight, has several pockets for goodies collected along the way, a water bottle holder and even reflective stripes for the dark. These bags have all the bells and whistles for little kids and allows them the space to hold just what they can carry. We even saw a grown up wearing it in Singapore – so it’s not just for kids!
These bags are hardy, have all the necessary bells and whistles for little kids and can hold just what they can carry! We have used this bag through the ages from a main pack to now as a daypack.
Looking for a cuter kid specific 6L option? The Dueter Kikki backpack comes in several adorable animal designs that will have all the kids swooning!
Skiphop Toddler Backpack
The Skiphop Toddler backpack is a cute carry on backpacks version of the Skiphop Roller bag that my son used for years. The roller bag was a hit in our family for ages, but often caused unnecessary struggles on escalators or going up and down stairs. We occasionally convinced our son to leave the roller at home in favor of the backpack which made our travels so much easier. The bag itself isn’t large and doesn’t hold a ton, but is perfect for toddlers who want to help out. They can keep their snacks, water and in flight/travel toys close at hand.
If the little ones can’t carry it the entire time, it is small enough that you can easily strap it on to your backpack or roller bag with ease. This is a perfect starter kids travel backpack when your kids are just small and just getting the hang of travel life.
Fjallraven Kanken Mini Kids Travel Backpack
Do you follow the Bucket List Family like we do? If so, you know their kiddos all carry the trendy adorable Fjallraven Kanken mini kids travel backpacks. We love the stylish look of the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Travel backpacks. You might think there isn’t a ton of shoulder support with the thin straps however they are ergonomically designed to spread out the weight making them light and easy to use.
Regardless, our suggestion is to use these mini kids backpacks for smaller kids who are just carrying along their little trinkets and toys for the road. This is not a heavy duty backpacking backpack, rather just a fun, cute travel pack for easy flight days!
Osprey Jet 18 / REI Tarn 18
An 18 liter backpack is the perfect kids travel backpack for kids aged 4-9 who aren’t quite ready to carry all of their gear, but can handle more than just a daypack. The Osprey Jet 18 is a great starter pack for a hiking backpacks and/or camping families. My son loves that this bag can also be used with a water reservoir to replace his water bottle when packing lighter. There are several little spots for all the little keepsakes kids pick up along the way as well as the front pocket for jackets, lovies and more!
REI’s Tarn 18 is also a great option in this size range. This bag offers a compact size for kids to easily use as carry on luggage and all day on the trail. It also has a great hip belt which helps for heavier packing days.
We have used both of these kids travel backpacks for long weekend trips and for day trips where we needed to bring bulky winter gear. Packed well, both of these can hold about a week’s worth of small kids clothes and typically weigh no more than 10 lbs.
Osprey Ace 38
Yep, we love the Osprey brand. Osprey provides great bags for kids and adults, with a variety of sizes to choose from. The Osprey Ace 38 is the best kids travel backpack for kids, especially for backpacking families. My 8 year old digital nomad LOVES this bag. He takes it on week trips as well as on our longer trips around the world. Pack it lighter for smaller kids and heavier as time goes on. By the end of our 4 month trip in Asia it reached 9.2 kg which my son was still able to carry.
The Osprey Ace 38 is weather resistant, but also has an included rain cover, plenty of pockets for organization as well as a wide open top for loading. There is also a removable “shelf” towards the bottom to seperate things like sleeping bags or in our case swimwear, jackets and shoes. This bag has a great suspension system, compression straps and can also be used as a carry on travel backpack.
For the older kids who need more space and have the capacity to carry more, check out the larger version of this bag with the Ace 50 and Ace 75. We love to use our Eagle Creek packing cubes with this bag to keep it organized and help in packing light.
Best Travel Backpack For the Older Kids (aka Grownups!)
Yes, you are here for kids bags, but what about for the grownups too? For grownups and older kids, check out the Osprey Farpoint 40 (and one for women) which is also a great carry on bag for travelers. Lastly, make sure to check out our favorite Osprey Nova daypack with laptop compartment that packs a ton of stuff. Need a little more sophistication? Check out the Tortuga Outbreaker travel backpack. Fully featured carry on perfect for travelers looking for ease and style.
Need More Help Packing? Check out our top travel items for long term family travel.
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