I've been reading the forums for a while, but am finally ready to jump in. Hello!
I travel frequently with my 7 and 9 year old kids. We do a fair bit of domestic travel in the US, usually 1-2 weeks at at a time. We also do a couple of longer international trips each year. The kids and I are currently wrapping up an 8 week European trek, which has got me thinking about changing our luggage set up.
For years, the kids and I have each taken a backpack as a carry on, and checked a single extra large LL Bean Rolling Adventure Duffle. The kids currently use the REI Tarn 18 Pack as their carry on (REI Tarn 18 Pack - Youth at REI.com). It's big enough to carry their non clothing personal items and food, but all their clothing goes into the rolling duffle that gets checked.
Compared to many travel families, we pack pretty light, but not ultralight. Still, as the kids have grown, their clothing keeps getting bigger, and I find that the duffle is getting too full and heavy. It usually weights 40-45 pounds when loaded up the stuff for all three of us.
I've decided that the kids are ready to carry their own luggage. And, I'd love to have the option to skip baggage checking. The LL Bean duffle is way too big to carry on, so we just always check it. Thankfully, we've never had any problems with our checked baggage, but with our frequent travel, it's bound to happen eventually.
This leads me to my question:
What bag should I get for each of my kids to carry? I'm not sure if a Tom Bihn bag will fill the need, but I'm open to suggestions. I'd like to find something that will last them into adulthood, so I've ruled out all the cheap luggage that is marketed to kids. Also, I know wheeled bags are controversial, but I'm leaning towards wheels, because I don't think the kids have the stamina to carry all their own stuff through train stations, airports, and city streets. Maybe I'm selling them short, but I really don't want to wind up trying to schlep a bunch of bags by myself because I overestimated what they can carry.
By the way, I haven't bothered to make a signature yet, but to share my own Tom Bihn collection, I have:
Brain Bag, 2 3D organizer cubes, Medium Cafe bag, I-O Bag, Absolute Strap, and a Brain Cell for my 13 inch Macbook.