The Best Bags for Traveling With Kids

Whether the sunshine season has you hitting the road or exploring your city, the right bag might mean the difference between a successful trip or a downright disastrous one — especially when you're toting everything your kids need on a minute-by-minute basis.

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May 07, 2021

If you've been a parent for a day, you know the importance of a good bag. From the moment you have your bundle of joy, you realize he or she comes with an abundance of stuff — that you have to carry. My kids are elementary-age now. (Do teenagers carry their own stuff?) And even though the needs have changed, the bag requirement has not.

As we make our plans for the summer, which mostly involves a lot of outdoor adventures, I was thinking about what totes, sacks, backpacks and bags we'll need to haul our load — i.e. all the snacks. Keep scrolling to see great finds, some new to me and some of my tried-and-true favorites.

Best All-Around

This is one of my all-time favorite bags. It's a tote bag that quickly transforms into a backpack. It's not bulky or overly big but always manages to hold everything I need. As probably my most used bag, I've grabbed it to go to the zoo, the park, the aquarium, day hiking, Disney World, Dollywood, Universal Studios. Basically, anywhere I've taken my kids in the last seven years, this bag has gone with me.

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Best for Play Dates

Hands-free carrying is a must when keeping up with little and big kids. Designed to work as a diaper bag (with included changing pad and insulated bottle pocket) or as kids get older, this versatile backpack has an easy-to-access and spacious top portion, as well as an insulated bottom compartment to keep snacks and drinks cool.

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Best for Parks

This classic bag has a big fan club and for good reason. It's chic, spacious and works for days with or without kiddos. Throw in everything you need to spend a day at the park, zip and snap it closed for no fear of dropping sippy cups, keys or a favorite toy. The water-resistant finish will give you peace of mind at the splash pad or setting it in damp grass.

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Best for Road Trips

$45

Take the stress out of long car trips with this handy organizer. The insulated tote keeps snacks and drinks chilled for hours, and each side has pockets for storing all your kiddo's essentials — tablets, headphones, books and stuffed animals.

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Best for the Beach

$10

I'm a big fan of mesh bags for the beach because sand in the bottom of my bag makes me cranky. I've carried this exact tote for two summers, and it holds all of our towels, beach toys, hats and other necessities. The outer pockets are perfect for keeping sunscreen and my phone (which goes in a waterproof bag) handy. Plus, it's only $10.

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Best for the Pool

$30

This is also a great bag for the beach, but I particularly love it for the pool since it's a compact all-in-one solution. Often, I need more than one bag for the beach since we're out there all day, but the pool, I can get away with one clever tote. This has my favorite mesh top that dries quickly and doesn’t hold on to odors, but it adds an insulated cooler bag on the bottom. It's big enough to hold 12 cans of soda so you'll have all the kids' snacks and drinks ready.

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Best for Hiking

$50

While I carry the bulk of our gear when we hit the trails as a family, my kids are old enough now to carry small packs, which definitely lightens my load. These mini packs have a safety whistle (a must in the woods) and allow kids to haul their own water and snacks.

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Best for Amusement Parks

$27

Though this pack is designed for day hikes and mountain biking, don't discount it for a day at the amusement park. Not only does it have comfortable mesh shoulder straps, multiple compartments and water bottle pockets, but it's also water-resistant. If you're hopping on a water ride or get stuck in a sudden rain shower, you don't have to worry about all your stuff getting soaked.

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Best for All the Extras

$16

Whether you're spending the day at the zoo, shopping around a quaint downtown or just taking a walk through nature, I've found that it never hurts to have an extra bag at the ready. Kids always seem to collect things as they go. This packable backpack folds up into a sandwich-size bag that you can easily stow inside another bag or suitcase.

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Best for Toting Kids

$150

Give those little legs a break by carting them on this ride-on suitcase. Get to your gate at the airport with ease, or pull sleepy kiddos to your hotel room after a long road trip. The lightweight luggage is easy to steer and has ample packing space.

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