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Have you ever noticed that your dirty laundry takes up more space than your clean, neatly folded clothes did? Do you travel with sweaters, jackets or other cold weather gear in your checked bags? I bring a compression sack on almost every trip - it's simply the best way to save space in your luggage. There are many different products made for leisure travelers, but I prefer these sacks, made for campers, because they do a better job of removing the air from your clothing and therefore pack up the smallest.
My last carryon suitcase lasted over ten years and countless air miles, so I have a high standard when it comes to quality and durability. I have been testing the Eagle Creek Luggage Ease Upright 22 Carryon Bag for 6 months now, and I'm happy to report that I just love it. It's thoughtfully designed, with features like a bungee cord for my jacket and an extra handle on the bottom that helps me load it into an overhead bin. It's also light and easy enough to roll that the kids can handle it, which means it's a good piece for parents who want to invest in kids luggage that will carry them into their teen years.
What makes this rugged and roomy duffel particularly great is particularly great for families because it has a pocket that slides over the top handle of a rolling bag, making it stack easily and securely on top of your bag. It's a great way to bring along a second bag without doubling the number of bags you need to pull, and our family of four is able to travel with one large rolling bag plus one duffel, meaning only one item to pull through the airport.
Segmenting different types of items into different bags within my suitcase makes it easy for me to find what I need and to re-pack each time we move. I use Eagle Creek Packing Cubes because they're sturdy and not bulky. I use one bag for myself, one for each of the children, one for toys, and a half cube for my accessories. I also have waterproof bag for cosmetics (which I wrap in a ziplock for extra safety). Separating everyone's items also makes it easier to set size limits and easier to find what I'm looking for. It also gives each kid a bag that they can call their own (without me actually packing a separate suitcase for them).
I pack a lightweight but durable Le Sportsac Weekender in my suitcase on almost every trip. Why? To hold any new purchases we make on the road. Le Sportsac isn't the cheapest luggage you can buy, but mine is still going strong after over 10 years of use, and there are lots of fun colors and patterns to choose from.
The Okkatots Travel Baby Depot Backpack has compartments for everything you might need when you're traveling with a young baby, including a neat diaper dispenser. It's sturdy and well constructed and can be balanced on the floor or hung up in a closet.
We've fussed with lots of different backpack options for the kids, but in the end the one I like best for travel is this adult-sized ultralight backpack. I knot the straps to be as tight as they can so that it fits. What's great is that it's not bulky, so that if the kids are too tired to carry a backpack, I can stow it inside a larger bag. Once we're at our destination it makes a great daypack for an adult. The ultralight material is reasonably durable, but does wear over time. Since these backpacks cost under $30 we don't mind replacing one every once in a while.