Your travelling teen will look stylish and practical with these luggage ideas
Your teen wants to be independent but style and looks are equally (if not more!) important to them than all the practical features frequent travellers know you need in good luggage. Steer them in the right direction by getting them luggage that you know will achieve both!
There’s not always a one size fits all solution to teen luggage – what they might need for a weekend camping with friends is very different to taking a spring break trip to Europe! We’ll cover our favourite teen suitcases in detail but also some practical suggestions on perfectly sized totes for teens and accessories to make travel easier.
This post is part of our best family travel products series – we have you covered from camping trips to the ultimate family vacation checklist
Types of Teen Luggage
Finding the right sort of teenager luggage can certainly be a challenge; the trade-off between pretty patterns and durable materials; lightweight enough so they can independently carry it and left it, vs being large enough to fit all the essentials for a big trip.
Your teen’s suitcase needs to fit not just clothing but accessories, shoes (how many shoes!) and all their personal items – electronics, chargers, toiletries – it’s much more complex than packing for your younger kids!
There are different types of luggage for teens that you can try:
- Hardshell Suitcase – This is a bag with a hard ABS plastic or polycarbonate frame. It is waterproof and durable – and can handle stress and scratches – though lacks some flexibility and can be a little heavier than other soft luggage. Cheap brands are also prone to cracking and damage from mishandling.
- Softside Suitcase – This type of luggage is made from durable fabric such as nylon. It has more ‘give’ and flexibility, and usually external pockets and expander zips for more optionality.
- Rucksack – A flexible luggage, usually without a frame. A rucksack is worn over both shoulders and can vary greatly in size and capacity. These are best for outdoor adventures without smooth surfaces for wheeled luggage.
- 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).
- Travel Tote – This luggage, with straps for a single shoulder, is larger than regular totes. They are ideal for a few clothes and other essentials, though not great for long periods of carrying, best for short trips.
- Backpack – A smaller luggage with straps to be carried on both shoulders. A backpack is smaller and generally less durable than a rucksack but good for a few items. Ideal to be used as a carry on or for short trips where extensive carrying may be necessary, it’s more practical than a tote.
- Carry-On Luggage – Suitcases, rucksacks, duffels, totes: anything that can fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane is considered carry-on luggage (actual carry-on rules vary by airline – aim for under 22″ long by 14″ wide to be sure).
- Wheeled Luggage – All types of luggage can have wheels, even carry-on luggage and duffels. There are either one-directional wheels (usual 2-wheeled) or rotational wheels (4 wheeled). 4 independent spinner wheels are by far the most practical, but this can add to the cost and weight of the bag.
- Scooter Luggage – although not common, we’re throwing this one into the mix as a fun alternative to wheeled luggage. A carry-on sized suitcase that attaches to a scooter!
Choosing the best teen suitcases depends on the kind of trip your teenage kid is planning. While totes and backpacks are great for weekend trips, rucksacks are best for hiking trips. Hardshell suitcases provide better protection during international travels or if the luggage might be tossed around. But soft bags and duffels fit into small storage spaces in buses, cars, etc and give your teen the most flexibility in their packing.
There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for your teens travel needs which is where luggage sets with multiple options can come in handy. Look for those that have checked luggage as well as a carry-on sized case and a tote.
What to Look for in a Quality Suitcase for Teens
Your teen can stuff a small world inside a suitcase so it’s important to think practically about what they really need. And remember, if the point is for them to be using the suitcase independently the most important thing is how they will lift it, carry it and transport it from A to B. These are the essential features that we look for:
Hard/Soft Suitcase – Soft suitcases allow more flexibility as the sides can bend, however, hard suitcases are better at protecting the contents inside. Given the material hard suitcases are now made from they are much the same in total weight, but do we conscious how much the suitcase itself weighs before you have anything in it!
Checked/Cabin Suitcase – When traveling by plane your teen can keep the cabin suitcase under the seat or in overhead lockers. A checked suitcase is too large to fit on the plane (generally, the height limit is 21″) so needs to sit underneath in the cargo hold and be collected after the journey.
Carrying – Will your teen be pulling the luggage on wheels or lugging a bag on their shoulders? This will depend entirely on where your teen will be taking the case. For long haul journey’s and anywhere that involves going through airports and train stations, you will almost certainly want wheels; anywhere you’ll be without smooth flat surfaces, two shoulder straps or a sturdy over shoulder luggage strap is essential.
Durability – Your teen’s luggage will no doubt go through a lot of manhandling over the years. Getting shoved and pulled goes hand in hand with being forced to carry stuff they can’t hold. Plus, there’s rain, rough terrain, and drops. So pick suitcases made of durable materials that will last your teen several years – ideally, you want them to last into the early years of adulthood.
Size – Determine the size of the suitcase based on the distance and duration of the trip and the modes of transportation. Most teens hate bulky suitcases that are too heavy to lift, look on larger checked suitcases for adequate grab handles on the top and sides so you’re not tugging too hard on the pulling handle which can snap with misuse – remember even wheeled cases still need to be picked up in and out of cars or up and down stairs. The biggest mistake we’ve seen parents make with teen luggage is assuming wheels means they can take a heavier case.
Flexibility – When choosing a suitcase, whether hard-sided or soft-sided, look whether there is an option to expand the case if additional space is needed. Remember additional internal size will add to weight, and may make a previously carry-on complaint case too wide once expanded.
Security – You’ve no doubt heard horror stories of items being slipped into suitcases unawares to the owner. For any flight or international travel, we highly recommend you lock the zips together so this does not happen to your teen. If the suitcase does not come with a padlock, get them a TSA approved combination lock for their safety and peace of mind (TSA approved locks can be opened by airport security staff for any checking requirements without damaging the bag).
Style – Companies create different types of suitcases with sleek designs and stylish patterns and colors. Check with your teen and see what kind of a suitcase they are comfortable with – neutrals may be a little boring but can still work best if your teen suddenly can’t stand florals or vivid colors.
Make sure to consult your opinionated teen kid. Offer your perspective, but don’t ignore their point of view while browsing through the best suitcases for teenagers.
Top 10 Suitcases for Teenagers
Now you are aware of what to look for in teen luggage, here are our recommendations for the best suitcases for teenagers to choose from; we look at a variety of carry-ons, checked luggage and luggage sets that give your teen multiple matching options to choose from (we will cover rucksacks and backpacks for teens in a separate review).
|Product||Brand||Material||Wheels / Carrying||Carry on?|
|American Tourister Moonlight Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels||Hard ABS/PC||4 independent spinner wheels||No - 24" (comes in other sizes)|
|Travelpro Maxlite 5-Softside Expandable Spinner Wheel Luggage||Soft sided nylon fabric||4 independent spinner wheels||Yes - 21" (comes in other sizes)|
|Heys America Colour Herringbone Fashion Spinner 3-Piece Set||Hard Polycarbonate||4 independent spinner wheels||Yes - 21" option in set|
|Regent Square Travel - Luggage Set||Soft sided fabric||4 independent spinner wheels||Yes - 20" option in set|
|Jetstream 2 Piece Hardside Carry On Luggage Set||Hard Polycarbonate||4 independent spinner wheels||Yes - 20.25" option|
|urecity Vintage and Cute Carry-on Non-wheeled Mini Leather Trunk Suitcase||Leather||Shoulder carry strap||Yes - 16"|
|Rockland Fashion Softside Upright Luggage Set||Soft sided nylon||2 wheels + tote with carry strap||Yes 19"
|Lily Bloom Large Expandable Design Pattern Luggage||Fabric from reycled bottles||4 independent spinner wheels||No - 28" (comes in other sizes)|
|Regent Square Travel - Luggage Sets with Build-In TSA Lock and Spinner Goodyear Wheels||Hard shell||4 independent spinner wheels||Yes - 20.5" option in set|
|U.S. Traveler Rio Rugged Fabric Expandable Carry-On Luggage Set||Soft sided nylon||2 wheels + tote with carry strap||Yes - 21"|
Best all-rounder teen suitcase: American Tourister Moonlight Hardside Suitcase
A hardside suitcase by one of the world’s favorite travel bag manufacturers, the American Tourister Moonlight, is trusted teen luggage that you simply can’t go wrong with as your teen’s first hardsided suitcase. Available in various colors and sizes, this suitcase can be bought individually or in sets. Your teenager will love one of the many designs!
What we love:
- Multiple colors and patterns to match the varied tastes of teens
- Mesh divider and cross straps to keep content well-arranged inside
- Four wheels that rotate in different directions for easy movement
- Single suitcases available in both carry-on and checked designs
- Available in sets of 2 or 3 suitcases of different sizes – from 21″ to 28″
Best teen carry on suitcase Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Spinner Wheel Luggage
The Travelpro Maxlite 5 is specially designed as an ultra-lightweight suitcase with soft sides. There’s something for each type of traveler, with different colors, sizes, and sets of multiple suitcases. It has numerous pockets and exterior compartments for easy access to small items.
What we love:
- Available in a vast range of colors for girls and boys
- Available in sets of 2 or 3 suitcases of different sizes
- Single suitcases in both carry-on and checked luggage of various sizes
- Water and stain-resistant Duraguard coating
- Comes with handles on 3 sides and 360-degree wheels for excellent manouverability
- Sturdy Powerscope handle extends to 38″ ideal for taller teens
- Expandable by 2″ with a tapering design to prevent tipping over
Best hard-sided luggage set for teens: Heys America Colour Herringbone Fashion Spinner Suitcase
A matching 3-piece suitcase set with a hard body, the Heys America Colour Herringbone Fashion Spinner is an excellent suitcase for teenagers. The different sized cases nest inside each other so you have the right sized case from carry-on to larger checked suitcases to cover every travel occasion. The abstract design in marbleized black and white is ideal for both boys and girls. The 360 degree spinner wheels make it easy to steer on all different terrains.
What we love:
- Polycarbonate material that’s impact absorbent
- Spinner wheels to allow 360-rotation and easy motion
- Expansion system allows 20% extra space for items
- Unisex marble print for fashionable teenagers
- Dividers and straps inside to keep clothes in place
Want matching accessories? Check out this marble make up bag, toiletries and travel organiser set
Best soft-sided luggage set for teens: Regent Square Soft Case Travel Luggage Set
If your young-adult traveler has a sophisticated choice, the Regent Square Travel Luggage Set is one of the best suitcases for teens. It is available in two stunning colors, gray and navy blue, and the design is perfect for both leisurely and educational trips. It’s ideal for boys and girls.
What we love:
- Comes in a set of three suitcases of different sizes that nest for storage
- Shock-resistant wheels that rotate in all directions
- 3 handles on the top and one side, including 1 height-adjustable handle
- A stylish, sophisticated, and unique look
- Available in two neutral shades
Best suitcase for teen girls: Jetstream Hardside Carry On Luggage Set
A two-piece luggage set in colors ranging from rose gold to cobalt to black, the Jetstream Hardside Carry On Luggage Set will capture your teen’s imagination. It’s light and easy to carry or haul around. Plus, the suitcases are designed to hold more stuff – in an organized way.
What we love:
- Available in a range of glamorous colors
- Available with edgy chevron surface design
- Zippered divider and straps inside for better storage
- ABS material that’s resistant against scratches and shocks
- Rotational wheels and two handles on two sides for better portability
Also consider: Urecity Vintage Carry-On Trunk Suitcase
Urecity Vintage Carry-On Trunk Suitcase offers a range of trunks with retro looks! The metal rivets not only makes this bag sturdy but also adds to the vintage look. This is complemented by the leather cover, borders, and corners. It’s light, compact, easy to carry – and attractive! It’s small but super cute that many teen girls will love as a simple weekender travel bag.
What we love:
- Retro trunk with a leather finish and rivets on metal
- Comes with both shoulder strap and handle
- Combination lock system for better security
- Available in 2 different sizes for light trips
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Comes in several other color and size choices if you’re seeking more retro options
- Also comes with a larger retro-look matching 26″ check suitcase
Most Stylish Teen Luggage: Rockland Fashion Softside Luggage Set
The Rockland Fashion Softside Luggage comes in a surprising range of stunning suitcases. There are bright solid shades and fabulous patterns like polka dots, animal prints, camouflage, etc. With lots of space and straps inside, packing and accessing content is really easy!
What we love:
- Wide range of colors and patterns for boys and girls
- Comes in sets of 2 and 4 bags
- Long-lasting unidirectional wheels for easy hauling
- Zippered sections on the inside and outside
- Top and side handles for better portability
Also worth considering: Lily Bloom Luggage For Woman
If your teenage kid has an eye for all things cute, the Lily Bloom Luggage is one of the best suitcases for teenagers. Equally a mini work of art as a practical way to lug around your gear, this suitcase made from recycled bottles comes in various feminine designs with floral and animal patterns in different color combos. The teen luggage with a soft case is heavy-duty and spacious, too.
What we love:
- Wide range of stunning feminine patterns
- Ergonomic handles and four wheels for better portability
- Several internal and external pockets for tidy packing
- Carry-on cabin luggage with a lightweight and compact design
- Wide structure for greater stability to prevent falling
- Approx 100L capacity with extra 12L using expansion zip
- 28″ checked luggage size
- Carry on and tote options also available
Best Suitcases for teen boys: Regent Square Travel Luggage Set
A luggage set with a rugged look – the Regent Square Travel Luggage Set is perfect for teens, especially boys. An exciting feature of this luggage is the ultra-durable Goodyear wheels. The hardside case is made of durable and scratch-proof material that can withstand some pretty tough handling.
What we love:
- High-quality Goodyear wheels for smoothness and durability
- Available in sets of 3 suitcases of different sizes, including carry on
- 3 handles, including a push-button handle for a trolley system
- Zippered sections and straps inside for convenient content arrangement
- A lightweight suitcase that’s easy to carry and store
Best Value Teen Luggage: U.S. Traveler Rio Rugged Fabric Luggage Set
U.S. Traveler Rio Rugged Fabric Luggage is one of the best luggage sets for teenagers who love to travel. The luggage is made of soft and flexible polyester material, allowing it to be manoeuvred into small spaces. It is also expandable to increase the carrying capacity. At a very reasonable price, you get both a carry on bag and a smaller carry tote.
What we love:
- Available in various unisex colors
- Comes in a set of two bags with a suitcase and a tote
- 3 handles and 2 wheels on suitcase for better portability
- Polyester material for better flexibility with durability
- Straps inside and pockets inside and outside to keep everything in place
Best Tote Teen Luggage
We’d also like to give you a few tote options for your teens. These smaller bags are ideal for short weekenders where you don’t need a huge amount of luggage space and you can easily sling a bag over your shoulder (think festivals, beach trips or glamping trips where a wheeled suitcase simply won’t be practical).
Large Foldable Travel Duffle Bag For Women Girls Cute Floral Weekender
We love that this tote can fold down and fit insider your luggage, perfect for when you know you’ll be coming back with more than you started with! Available in a huge variety of colorful and playful designs, its the ideal emergency bag which even has a pocket to slip it over your suitcase handle, Ultra light material but a carrying capaity up to 150lbs (though given your teen probably can’t carry the groceries without moaning, watch how much you pack!)
Jadyn 19” Barrel Womens Weekender Bag
This super cute and inexpensive barrel bag is the ideal weekender for your stylish teen who wants to keep their luggage light. It has a 13″ drop handle for easy over shoulder carrying, plus you can add an adjustable shoulder strap. A handy exterior phone pocket and available in 6 colorful and playful designs to choose from = sleepover weekends sorted!
Original Floral Water Resistant Duffel
A sturdy and stylish weekender, we love that this simple duffel includes a separate zip pocket for shoes,
BLUBOON Canvas Overnight Bag Travel Duffel
A lovely stylish option for your teen boy, you can fit in an impressive 52L but it’s still classified as carry-on compliant. Coming with a large adjustable shoulder strap perfect for your larger lads, its made from druable canvas and leather. A wonderful tracel piece that they can treasure well into their college years.
Travel Accessories For Teen Luggage
Let’s be honest, it’s all about the accessories! Don’t forget some wonderful personalised finishing touches to go with your teen’s luggage, you could also include:
- Luggage tags – goes without saying, make sure everything is labelled inside and out (stages can easily be ripped off so always have a backup system)
- Stylish passport holder – ready to handle their own passport? Give them an attractive case to keep this protected
- Packing Cubes – an invaluable packing tool to introduce your teens to, sort your outfits, keep you clean underwear separated and your stinky trainers away from the rest of your clothes!
- Toiletry Bag – so many to choose from! We prefer a hanging toiletry bag if room permits in checked luggage, or if flying carry-on only, something small and see-though is ideal for those security checks.
- Jewellery box – ideal to fit inside any type of teen luggage to keep jewellery from getting tangled
- Portable Bra Storage- you teen girls will soon see the value in keeping their precious undergarments protected when they travel to maintain shape
- Combination Locks – trust us, keys get lost! Give your teen a combination lock as an essential safety extra especially if they will be separated from their luggage at any time
What should teens be packing?
Don’t forget about what your teens should actually be packing! We have a detailed guide here on helping teens to pack including how to assist them in making wise choices and preventing the over-pack. Don’t forget those all-important plugs and toiletry items they’re probably used to parents packing for them!
You can jump straight to the printable packing list when you sign up to our mailing list here.
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