Cute suitcases for tweens, wheelies, rucksacks, and overnight bags tweens will love
Is your tween looking to pack independently for your next family vacation? Or perhaps they’re just a little over their princess backpack when it comes to sleepover time.
The great news is, that tweens are far more helpful than their younger counterparts and (sometimes) more than willing to carry their luggage independently. They need luggage that compliments their style but is also practical to carry, whatever type of travel they’re undertaking.
In this tween luggage guide we’re going to look at the different types of luggage for different travel occasions, key features you want to look for when picking out luggage for pre-teens, and we’ll round it off with all our favorite tween picks for your family adventures in 2023.
Our Top 3 Picks: Luggage for Tweens
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Different Types of Tween Luggage
Before we jump into all our favorites in detail, it’s important to consider what they will need the luggage for; is this for school camps and simple road trips, or will you be jetting off overseas and need something that can handle baggage carousels and multiple stops on a family vacation?
There’s a balance to be had when choosing tween luggage between something that’s stylish and suits their growing maturity and something that’s practical that they can actually lift and carry!
You’ll find often there’s a big trade-off between weight and style features. Whilst rolling wheels and extendable handlebars are great, they make the luggage heavier, the same with much more durable materials.
The main types of luggage to consider are:
- Travel Totes – This type of luggage, with straps for a single shoulder, is larger than regular shoulder totes. They are ideal for a few clothes and other essentials and day trips to the beach, though not great for long periods of carrying. Some totes come with wheels for easy carrying.
- Backpacks – Small luggage with straps carried on both shoulders. Ideal to be used as a carry-on for flights or for short trips where extensive carrying may be necessary, it’s more practical than a tote but has a similar capacity.
- Rucksacks – More structured than a backpack, rucksacks are also designed to be carried on both shoulders but are larger in size so you can fit more in. These are best for outdoor adventures, but watch the size; the greater the capacity, the more difficult for a smaller-framed child to carry.
- Duffel Bag – A wide, cylindrical luggage with a top opening, a duffel bag is flexible and heavy-duty. It can carry bulky products easily but must be kept light enough it can still be carried over the shoulder (though some larger duffels also come with wheels).
- Scooter Luggage – A class all of its own, this is a hybrid between a carry-on suitcase and a scooter, it can be a really fun addition, though the more grown-up models without novelty characters for little kids do come at a cost.
Remember, there may not be one ultimate solution when it comes to your tween’s luggage; if they are regularly at sleepovers and camping trips, they are likely to need something small like a tote or a duffel for use near home.
For your annual vacations, however, you may want a larger, more durable option with wheels that will last them well into their teens.
More Features To Look For In A Quality Suitcase for Tweens
It’s crucial to keep a practical mindset when it comes to letting your tween pack for a trip. If their packing is left unchecked, they may end up bringing unnecessary items “just in case.” Therefore, it’s essential to consider whether they can realistically fit all the necessary items into a small enough luggage that they can carry independently.
Here are a few of the essential factors to think about to ensure you are making the right choice:
Shoulder Carrying vs Wheeled Luggage – How far will your tween be carrying their luggage? All types of luggage can have wheels; primarily, you’re probably thinking suitcases but even backpacks, totes, and duffels can be wheeled for ease of carrying.
Wheeled luggage comes in a few styles to be mindful of too, each going up in price but also practicality!
- Inline wheeled cases with just two wheels and a stabilizer
- 4-wheeled in-line suitcases that can only be rolled in one direction
- Spinner cases with four wheels that can move independently and be dragged and pulled in any direction for maximum maneuverability (where budget allows, always choose this!)
If you are on smooth surfaces such as an airport concourse or traversing through hotels, rolled suitcases can be great. For any rough or rocky terrain, wheeled cases are far from practical, and the frame and wheels will only add weight; you are much better with sturdy shoulder straps.
Hard vs. Soft-sided Suitcases – Soft suitcases allow more flexibility as the sides can bend and flex to fit more in – especially if they have an added expander zip. Hard suitcases, whilst less flexible, are more durable and better at protecting what’s inside. Hard suitcases, unless you can afford the top of the range, are generally heavier to lift than soft cases, so they are not always practical for a young tween but should last them many years.
Checked vs. Cabin-Sized Luggage – When traveling by plane, your tween can keep cabin luggage under the seat or in overhead lockers. Not just suitcases; these can be totes, backpacks, and rucksacks. Checked luggage is anything too large to fit inside the aircraft, so it needs to go in the hold under the plane. Carry-on rules vary by airline but aim for under 22″ long by 14″ wide to be compliant.
Durability – Your tween’s luggage will no doubt go through a fair bit of rough handling – zips will be tugged and over-packed, not to mention wear and tear from luggage carousels, drops from the back of the car, bouncing on pavements and rough terrain – you name it!
Even the most careful of tweens need luggage that can last the distance; resist buying cheap materials such as thin polyester or cheap plastic; you really get what you pay for when it comes to luggage. Check for tear-resistant materials and robust zips when comparing reviews.
Size – Remember, despite the huge number of prized possessions your tween thinks they need for a week away, they still need to be able to independently lift their luggage. Most tweens hate bulky suitcases that are too heavy to lift, so look for luggage with appropriate grab handles and either wheels or shoulder straps as an alternative transport method.
Style – Although your tween’s taste and favorite animal or character probably changes faster than their favorite YouTuber, look for a design to fit their growing maturity.
Stick to fairly mutual colors and patterns if your child frequently changes their mind, as you’ll be surprised just how quick Llamacorns or Spiderman suddenly go out of favor; at the same time, avoid boring old black so your tweens luggage is easily identifiable – and don’t forget a name tag!
Best Types of Travel Luggage for Tweens
Now you know what to look for in tween luggage, let’s take a look at each of the different types. After many years of our tweens testing different kinds of luggage around the world with their globetrotting family, these are our favorite brands:
Best Hardsided Tween Suitcase: American Tourister Moonlight Hardside Suitcase
When your tween is ready for their first “grown-up” luggage, American Tourister is the perfect investment. This hard-sided suitcase is designed to be durable but stylish, coming in several great fashionable patterns to suit your tween’s ever-changing taste.
Your tween will love the ease of maneuverability with 4 swivel wheels. The 24″ version will give them plenty of room to grow into, or a slightly smaller 21″ model makes for the best carry-on luggage for tweens.
Best Softsided Tween Suitcase Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Spinner Wheel Luggage
The Travelpro Maxlite 5 is designed as an ultra-lightweight suitcase with soft sides. The 360-degree wheels give your tween excellent maneuverability and the expander zip will help with the ever-expanding luggage while you’re away!
The 21″ size will keep them cabin compliant, or upgrade to the 24″ for your growing tween to last them through the teenage years.
Most Stylish Tween Luggage Set: Rockland Fashion Softside Upright Luggage Set
If it’s a wide variety of colors and designs your fashionable tween is after, you’re sure to find it in the Rockland Fashion Softside Upright Luggage Set.
A 20″ wheeled suitcase with a matching tote in one set, it’s ideal for whatever type of travel your tween will be undertaking, be it a sleepover with the BFF or her first overseas vacation with the family.
The telescopic handle adjusts easily to your tweens height, and there are side and top grip handles as well as in-line wheels to have your tween whizzing around with their stylish luggage.
Best Value Tween Luggage Set: U.S. Traveler Rio Rugged Fabric Luggage Set
Keeping it simple, both the rolling carry-on suitcase and tote in this tween luggage set are small enough to fit on the plane. Take either one or both, depending on the type of trip you’re taking, this makes for perfect tween carry on luggage.
Made from soft polyester material, we love that it’s expandable and available in several bright, easy-to-identify colors! The two inline wheels make it easy for your tween to pull along, and the tote comes with a sleeve that conveniently slips over the rolling luggage handle.
Best Wheeled Tote for Tween Girls: Lily Bloom Luggage For Woman
Another cute tween luggage option is the Lily Bloom wheeled tote. A 2-wheeled carry-on option, the ergonomic handle will make your tween girl move easily while looking super stylish and grown-up. The bag itself is only 4lbs making it easy to pick up, but spacious enough to fit everything she needs for a weekend away.
Best Rolling Duffel for Tween Boys: Rockland Rolling Duffel Bag
A really grown-up step for your tween boy, get him ready for his next independent adventure with his own travel duffel. Set on two inline wheels, it makes carrying this 22″ duffel a breeze; with several additional grab handles and an optional shoulder strap, this is among the best rolling suitcase for tweens.
4 pockets are handy for storing all his gadgets, while the wide U-shaped opening top makes it easy to pack. The extendable handle comes with a hideaway pocket for use as checked luggage.
Best Tween Girls Shoulder Duffel: Kids Overnight Duffel Bag Girls
If you’re seeking out overnight bags for tweens, these stylish Octsky bags are not only stylish but inexpensive; perfect for your tween who wants to keep her luggage light but cram a lot in!
Available in half a dozen stylish and feminine colored patterns (as well as a few darker graffiti and camo patterns), it includes several pockets to keep wet and dry clothes separated, along with a separate shoe pocket.
It even has a super-practical trolley sleeve if you want to slip it onto the handles of a suitcase.
Best Tween Boys Shoulder Duffel: WolfWarriorX Tactical Duffle
Is your little guy ready for a much more grown-up look? This 21″ men’s duffel could be the ideal graduation to a more sophisticated set of luggage for their sleepovers and weekends away. With four separate compartments, your tween boy can place shoes separate from their cleans and dirties – though no guarantees he’ll help with the washing!!
Best Foldable Tween Luggage: Girls Cute Floral Weekender
Available in several cutsie and floral patterns for your maturing girl, we love this foldable duffel that can fold down to almost nothing when not in use. It’s ultra-light but can carry up to an incredible 150lbs!
The optional shoulder strap is great if you have a heavy load, and several pockets to keep your tween girl’s most valuable items in easy reach.
Best Small Weekender Luggage for Tweens: Wildkin Kids Weekender Duffel Bag
This 22″ Duffel made from a tough 600 denier polyester is a wonderful roomy bag for your tweens’ travel needs and includes a removeable padded shoulder strap.
With four compartments it will help keep them organized, making for an ideal overnight bag for a tween.
Best Scooter Luggage For Tweens: iubest Scooter Luggage for Kids
Did your tween grow up with the likes of a Trunki or a JetKids Bed Box when they were younger?
If your child simply adores scooting their way around an airport on their own wheels but really needs something more grown-up now they’re a tween, and their knees hit the floor, a scooter suitcase may well be the way to go.
Most scooter suitcase designs are quite “babyish” and too small for tweens, so we suggest you upgrade them now to a more teen-friendly model such as the iubest Scooter.
The scooter is made of high-quality aluminum-magnesium alloy so is strong and stable with a capacity of up to 331lbs.
Just a one-push button to fold your scooter down for stowing, and the suitcase is detachable from the scooter. With a 50L capacity, it’s ideal for short trips.
Best Hiking Rucksacks for Tweens
Hiking rucksacks really do fall into a league of their own when it comes to kids’ luggage. We’re only going to touch on them lightly here if you are seeking luggage for your pre-teen that will also work for hikes and camping trips.
The rule of thumb if you’re seeking a tween rucksack, look for a capacity that’s less than 20% of their body weight and a length that’s no longer than their back.
As your tween is no doubt about to hit their growth spurt, this can make it a very difficult age for buying. Occasional hikers, you can easily get away with a small everyday backpack still.
Serious hikers at this age, you will really need to take into account your child’s frame size and comfort. We will touch briefly here on two reliable brands we’ve used, both excellent for unisex outdoor gear.
The Deuter brand is our first go-to choice for anything hiking and outdoor with kids. All the way from baby carriers to adult packs, they know what’s needed for a comfortable fit.
A smaller tween or occasional hiker may still be comfortable in a Deuter Junior, but a growing tween with big ambitions will be ready for the 30L trekking pack with the VariQuick back length adjustment.
This hiking rucksack for tweens is ergonomically designed to fit their smaller frame with plenty of adjustable straps and storage compartments.
Made from 600D PES and 210D PA Ripstop fabric, it is a highly durable product that should last them well into their teens.
The CamelBak Hydration Pack is another good hiking choice for tweens, perfect as a day pack. The breathable air mesh back panel makes for a lightweight, comfortable fit perfect for a pre-teen hitting the trails.
The shorter torso length still delivers 12.5L in capacity for their extra snacks and safety essentials, with a 1.5L reservoir for easy hydration. Available in both a blue and pink/purple design, this is an excellent tween luggage choice for your active and sporty tween.
Travel Accessories For Tween Luggage
Once you have your tween sorted with the right sort of luggage, don’t forget they’ll want to accessories too! Here are some personalized finishing touches to think about for your family vacation (these could all make ideal tween travel gifts!):
- Luggage tags – make sure everything is labeled inside and out. Keep an adult’s contact details on the tag.
- Jewelry box – your tween fashionista will still want to take some of her favorite accessories on vacation. Prevent tangles and keep her organized with a travel jewelry box.
- Toiletry bag – small essential hygiene items should also start to be packed once you hit the tween years. Remember, if you’re carry-on only luggage, your toiletries should be kept in small and see-through containers
- Packing cubes – maybe not as cute and stylish, but still, a vital packing tool that will help teach your tween to keep organized day by day, separate clean items from their laundry, and makes packing hard-sided cases, especially a breeze.
- Stylish passport holder – will you be heading overseas? Some tweens are ready to carry this all-important document on their own (though we’d suggest not for your entire trip!). Give them something stylish to hold their most prized possession in.
- Combination Locks – Whilst they may not be ready for the responsibility of holding on to a key, a simple combination lock is a great way to get started keeping your luggage secure if you will be separated from your bags at any time. Make sure to look for brands that say TSA compliant.
Where ever your tween is looking to head next, we’re sure you’ve found some inspiration here to get them packing independently for their next adventure – to help you out, grab our Tween Vacation packing Checklist PDF over here!
Tweens luggage is not just a beautiful accessory you can gift your tween but super practical too – you could even gift a new piece of luggage as an elementary school graduation gift.
If you are looking for more practical items for kitting out your tween, you may also be interested in
- Best Digital Camera For Tweens
- Best Smartwatches For tweens
- Best Headphones and Earbuds For tweens
- Best Road Trip Toys & Games For Teens
And don’t forget to check out all our favorite tween vacation destination ideas if you’re wondering where to head off on your next tween family adventure.