The family that packs everything into a single checked bag… stays together? Well, we like to think so—especially since all of your belongings are in one convenient case. But there are other benefits for families who decide to check a single bag instead of several separate bags when they travel.
We’ll start with the obvious—unless you’re planning to carry everything on (which can easily be done with older kids), you’ll save on baggage fees when you check just one large suitcase for the family.
When traveling with our two toddlers, my husband and I often choose to pack everything in one large suitcase since the kids are still too young to drag their own bags and we’re usually pushing them around in two strollers. The fewer moving parts, the easier it is to get around.Packing everything in one big suitcase won’t work for every family—or for every kind of vacation, for that matter (winter’s necessities make it particularly challenging)—but when it does, these are our favorite large suitcases for holding everyone’s belongings.
Heys luggage offers colorful and uniquely designed suitcases that’ll be impossible to miss on the luggage carousel. For all its bold aesthetics, what we love best about this large four-wheel spinner suitcase from price-conscious brand Heys is how light it is. The exterior is made from a sturdy polycarbonate composite, and the lined interior comes with buckled compression straps that make it easy to cram in a whole family’s worth of clothing. Amazon has a few good Heys options, but you’ll find the best selection (and sometimes the best price, too) on the Heys website.
This one’s my family’s favorite when we go the route of packing everything into an extra-large soft-sided suitcase. The Samsonite Silhouette 16 Expandable Spinner has a hardy nylon exterior that’s not only water resistant, but has proven to be exceptionally resistant to the wear and tear of my family’s near constant air travel this summer (it still looks brand new). The bag weighs 12.5 pounds when empty, and has an extra zipper you can unzip to expand its load by an extra 1.25 inches. I usually pack flat shoes like flip-flops and sandals in the deep exterior pockets, and there are tie-down straps inside to keep things organized, too.
For a large hardside suitcase from Samsonite that can carry a load, this scratch-resistant bag is made from 100-percent polycarbonate to be as strong and light as possible on the road. The removable wet pocket inside is a good place to store bathing suits and rash guards after a last swim at the hotel before you head to the airport. You can keep toiletries prone to spillage sequestered in there, too. This large suitcase weighs just over 12 pounds and is easy to push (even when fully loaded) thanks to the large, spinner-style wheels that roll in all directions. Opt for the deep red color case if you want it to stand apart from the black suitcase crowds on the luggage carousel.
Amazon makes an appealingly affordable Basics Hardside Spinner that measures in just an inch smaller than the Samsonite hardside, but still does a good job at packing it in. We like the divider zipper inside that makes it easier to open up the suitcase without everything getting crazy. The sturdy spinner wheels make it easy to push this thing in the most convenient direction, too, while you’re no doubt juggling other moving parts at the airport. This large luggage weighs just 8.5 pounds and can be unzipped to expand an additional two inches to get everything loaded inside. Even when it’s maxed out, chances are this large suitcase won’t go over the 50 pounds checked bag weight limit on most airlines since it’s so light to begin with.
Ultra durable and lightweight, the expandable suitcase by Travelpro allows you to cram in a lot. It comes in a variety of sizes, but you’ll want the 29-inch spinner if you plan to pack in a family’s worth of vacation necessities. The expandable handle can be locked in two different positions to work best for travelers of varying heights.
Here’s another excellent option for a large suitcase in the affordable hardcase category. COOLIFE’s 28-inch spinner may not have the lifetime warranty that some better known brands come with, but it’s hard to beat paying less than $100 for this bad boy. The suitcase’s expandable zipper adds an extra 15 percent of room to the scalable space inside, and mesh organizational pockets and tie-down straps are among the interior features to help keep everything in its proper place.
Frequent fliers rave about AWAY bags. They’re made from a durable polycarbonate shell that you can put through the wringer, only to have it emerge unscathed, trip after trip. AWAY’s best big bag is the 29-inch suitcase that weighs less than 12 pounds, and has an interior capacity of nearly 100 liters (read: a lot of space). What sets this hardcase suitcase apart is that the hard exterior actually has some noticeable flex to it, making it all the easier to get even more stuff inside. There’s also a nifty compression pad feature you can buckle down to make the suitcase all the easier to zip shut, even when maxed all the way out. Want your bag to stand out from the rest? Snag one of AWAY’s limited-edition, rainbow color bags.Longtime travel writer and adventurer Terry Ward lives in Florida with her husband and young son and daughter. She’s constantly on the lookout for the next Scandinavia Airlines Kids Fly Free deal to save money on flights to Norway, her favorite place to visit both in the winter (Northern Lights!) and summer (Midnight Sun!). A travel writer since 2001 (read: long before the kids came along), she’s written for such publications as Endless Vacation Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Scuba Diving Magazine, among many others. Find Terry on her website, Terry-Ward.com.