Quick Family Travel Tip: When to Have Your Kids Pull Their Own Bags

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There’s no one trick to making flying with a family easy, but there is a network of tips, tricks, and strategies that work together to make it as smooth as possible. One strategy we have used for years, and that seems to have really paid off, is to get our little ones pulling their own bags as early as possible.


We occasionally get some strange looks as our little toddlers haul their own bags around the airport, but the sooner they take ownership in that part of the process, the better. It may slow everyone down at first thanks to their tiny legs and arms, but the temporary slowdown is just that, temporary. While our strategy may not have translated well if we had several really little kids at once, we prefer to get our little travelers out of the stroller and responsible for their own things sooner rather than later.

Not only is this better for them in the long run, but it is also so much better for us as we can transition from serving as the family pack mule to instead just serving as the shepherd guiding our crew through the busy airport. Well, at least until they get old enough to help with that, too.

We have started our kiddos off with their own bags as early as two-years-old. I think that a newly turned two-year-old may not always be ready for bag duty, but by the time they are two-and-a-half, they can absolutely take a turn pulling their own little bag towards the next flight.

She wasn’t quite old enough to pull the bag on this trip

The keys to success are to not be in a hurry, be sure their bag is appropriately sized, and make it a fun privilege that they are now big enough to do for themselves. If you are running to the next gate or they are exhausted on a particular day, then be ready to take care of the bag yourself.

Our first daughter as a two-year-old with her bag

For our toddlers, we have used a couple of different versions of the Travel Buddies line by Trendy Kid as their first rolling bags. Our first daughter used the Percy Penguin for many years before the handle unceremoniously died on a train platform in London after about four years of use. It was actually legitimately sad throwing that much-loved suitcase away after the trip ended. Our second daughter had the Popo Parrot version of the same bag. Both are around 16 inches in length and are the perfect size for a preschooler from about two to six years old.

The light-weight six-pound roller bags have a polyester lined divider so you can zip wet or dirty items away from your clean items. The outer shell will scuff with use, and it will scuff in a hot hurry if your little one starts pulling it wrong-side-up without the use of the wheels. You can see some of our penguin’s tummy damage in the photo above.

Two-years-old and ready to fly

If you think that Travel Buddies is the right luggage for your kiddo to start pulling around the world, you can find Travel Buddies Luggage on Amazon or directly on their Trendy Kid website. After we lost our first piece of Travel Buddies luggage thanks to the train platform incident of 2015, we have found that a backpack was a good next primary piece of travel luggage for an elementary-aged kid. It is big enough to hold clothes for a warm-weather trip or serve as a supplement to a larger bag on a longer or colder trip. I think our older daughter’s next luggage transition will be to a four-wheeled spinner bag in the next year or two as her packing needs grow.

For us, 2.5 years old has been the right age for our daughters to start pulling their own bags in the airport. It may make for a slower walk to the gate, but before long they have the hang of it and are on their way to becoming full-fledged travelers.

Packed and ready to rock!

When did your little ones start pulling their own bags and what type of bag is your favorite for traveling kids?


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  1. My kid has a trunki to pull or sit and ride on, either self propelled or with some pulling assistance from me. It has worked since 18 months but at almost 5 now I think we are outgrowing.

  2. We started with a small backpack to hold her on the plane entertainment items at 2. When she was 4 we encouraged her to roll our carry on luggage when we weren’t in a hurry to get used to it. At age 7, she was fully responsible for a regular size carry on luggage and her own backpack. Our daughter being responsible for her own bag was key in that transition.

  3. Love this! My girls, now 10 and 8, have pulled their Skip Hop bumblebee and ladybug bags since their first flight at five and three. Forty-ish flights later, those little bags are still kicking. They’re really much too small now for my big girl, so we are transitioning to her spinner for longer trips along with a Kavu (one-shoulder) backpack for her “flight stuff.” Although they don’t hold as quite much as a traditional backpack, we find that the Kavus annoy them a lot less.

  4. I see this a lot in airports nowadays and I think it’s great! I never rush a little one carrying their own bag. While we didn’t start as early as you (good on ya though) we made a big deal of letting them pick out their first “big kid” roller bag, which they seemed to really enjoy. Getting kids to carry their own bag helps with more than just the airport. Once my kids had their own suitcase I was able to start a conversation about packing; what to bring, what not to bring, weight of the bag, and of course rolling clothes vs folding. This last trip to NZ we introduced packing cubes, with each kid getting their own set. Now at 11 and 9, my kids can pack their own suitcases (with very little supervision from Mom) for a weekend at the Grandparents.

  5. Ah, I was just wondering this exact thing about what age you started giving your kids bags. Do their bags generally hold most of their stuff or do you find you’re still packing a lot for them?

  6. Just started on my kid – she has her own carry on suitcase from the Disney Store, sort of a bribe. We said if she wanted her own, then she was responsible for it. Went to Cabo for Spring Break and she was a champ – kept up with us as well.

  7. I think we started our now 15-year old son at about the same age as your kids. We always managed to find kid-friendly character bags at Costco. One of them was a matching rolling bag and back pack with a friendly animal face on it. He took great pride in owning that part of the traveling process. He is now using a carry-on size spinner, a smaller version of my wife’s fancy spinner we bought in Osaka.

    He has been packing his own bag for about four years now. He usually does a pretty good job, though one time a few years ago he forgot underwear. As I was leaving for the WalMart near my parents’ house to get him underwear, he tried to convince me he could go the whole ten days with the one pair he was wearing. His persistence and passion that he could do so made me chuckle.

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