Travel Tip: Consider Carry-On Luggage Even If You End Up Checking It
I know this sounds crazy. Why cram everything into a suitcase that has to be carried on if you intend to check it?
Hear me out.
The first time I flew with Jack, I had a backpack for the plane on my back, him in an Ergobaby on my front and was pulling a rolling suitcase that was regulation carry-on size but that I intended to check for ease of travel. I really didn't want to have to juggle one more thing through the airport and was heading to visit my parents so wasn't concerned if some clothes went missing. En route there, no problem.
Coming back I walked into the airport in Denver to find the longest Southwest luggage line I have ever seen. In all fairness, I hadn't checked luggage in years before this trip so who knows but I calculated it probably would have taken an hour to get through that line and an equivalent amount of time for the security line I ended up in.
After staring overwhelmed at the line options and checking to see if it would be faster to check my suitcase in at curbside (it wasn't) I made the last-minute decision to just bring it with me, panicking slightly at the thought of trying to hoist it into the overhead compartment with a baby strapped to my chest.
It was heavy pulling it through the airport but I did it, thankful for the wheels. I got it in the overhead bin with less issue than I thought and was overwhelmingly grateful that my suitcase was a size that i could do that so I didn't miss my flight home.
Now, when we travel, we've learned to pare down our essentials so we're not lugging a 50 pound suitcase through the airport and so it's easy to lift and carry-on.
The usual bonuses of carry-on luggage also apply: Quick through the airport, no waiting before security or once you get off the plane and no fear of lost luggage.
We also realized that with a toddler who often needs help or a hand to hold, it's better to be hands-free and so recently bought these Patagonia duffle bag suitcases that turn into backpacks. They have a million compartments so we don't need packing cubes to keep things organized and the backpack feature means we can hang onto our little one. I also have a cross-body purse for easier access to essentials and we often pack this awesome collapsible, lightweight backpack for use as a daypack at our destination.
I've also heard awesome things about Tom Binh bags but have never had the opportunity to try them out (although I do have a few of their pouches and the quality is fantastic) and if you want a rolling suitcase so you're not carrying the weight of luggage, I keep hearing rave reviews about Away suitcases. They have three sizes, including one that meets most carry-on requirements.