Luggage Buying Guide for Teenagers

November 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

When you travel with children, you long for the day that they’re old enough to have their own luggage and carry it or pull it behind them. When my kids were 4 or 5, we got them their own suitcase, complete with favorite cartoon character on it. It didn’t hold much, although we could fit a week’s worth of clothes into the tiny bag, and they could pull it behind them.

Now that they’re older, they’re responsible for packing their own suitcases when we travel. The only problem is, my 14-year-old son doesn’t want to be seen with a Thomas the Tank Engine suitcase anymore. Ditto for my daughters and their Hello Kitty bags.

The Atlantic Ultra Hardside luggage collection

The Atlantic Ultra Hardside luggage collection

When they were old enough, they wanted new suitcases to reflect their individuality and personal style. But as their father the travel writer, I got them bags that were functional and practical instead, without all the screened print designs. Here was my reasoning.

1. Your luggage will last for years. Your personal style will change.

I got my first suitcase when I was 27, and I carried it on flights for about 15 years. Then I got my first Travelpro bag and I was a convert. It was so much lighter and roomier. And because I took good care of it, I’m still carting it around with me.

I got the basic black, which I admit looks like everyone else’s, but I’m not at the mercy of the latest fashion trends and colors. I don’t have to change out my bag every year or two because it “doesn’t match anything.”

I normally try to avoid mindless conformity, but in this case, I favor practicality. I’d rather buy the right thing once than replace the wrong thing over and over. So if I can buy a single, high-quality suitcase and have it last for years, I will. I don’t want to replace a teenager’s suitcase because their favorite movie character changed.

Having said that, if your teen wants some bright colors, the Atlantic® Debut™ and Lumina™ collections have some bright colors, like pink and blue. And there are other options for decoration and personalization, especially on hardside luggage.

2. You’re going to take this to college or travel on your own one day.

See above. You’re going to be in a position where you want to be taken seriously as an adult. That means not hauling around your R2D2 or “tribal pattern” carry-on when you’re 20 years old.

It also means having luggage that can stand up to the rigors of regular travel, rolling through the airport, surviving the checked bag experience, and being guided over curbs and cobblestones. While the fashionable bags may look cool, they’re not necessarily built to withstand anything more rigorous than being loaded in the family car.

3. Would you consider a backpack or duffel bag?

While this is a suitcase article, I’ll stray from the script for a minute and suggest a good camping backpack instead of a regular suitcase. I had one for years, and I loved it. I never carried it on business trips, but it was great for tossing a couple week’s worth of clothes into the car and going on a road trip, or heading up to the Canadian wilderness for a week of fishing. (Trust me, you can’t drag a Rollaboard® through the Canadian north woods.)

On the downside, if a backpack is their luggage source when flying, your li’l camper will probably have to check it. But if they’re not traveling by air that frequently, the backpack may prove to be the more useful purchase. They often hold more, and are easy to carry.

Of course, you can always get a duffel bag instead. Travel writer Mark Eveleigh once said he favors a good duffel over a backpack anyway, and a duffel can be more useful (and look less hippie-ish) when your eventual-20-something decides to study in Europe for a semester.

Parents, what kinds of bags have you gotten for your kids? What would you consider getting for them? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Atlantic Luggage

About 

Erik Deckers is a travel writer, as well as a content marketer and book author. He is the co-author of Branding Yourself, No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine. Erik has been blogging since 1997, and has been a newspaper humor columnist for over 20 years

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