Toddler Travel Backpacks – Is Your Toddler Ready?

Author: Celine Brewer

As soon as my toddler could carry his own backpack, I started to get him to carry a travel backpack on our family trips. Giving him a toddler travel backpack made such a big difference to his confidence when traveling.

I also let him choose what we packed in his carry-on. As an added bonus, this helped to separate out all the toddler flying essentials, that we could keep under the seat within easy grasp.

two toddlers wear their own toddler backpacks for airplane as they wait for board a flight at the airport.
I’d fill my kids’ travel backpacks with their books and toys for the plane.

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Is Your Toddler Ready for a Travel Backpack?

As a mom who has extensive experience traveling with a toddler, I recommend that you get your toddler a backpack for travel. Assigning a toddler the small responsibility of packing their own stuff in a toddler backpack for travel will help them develop a sense of ownership and independence early on.

As a bonus, you won’t need to pack all of your kids toddler travel toys in your own carry-on bag!

Toddler Carry-On Packing List Image

Grab my FREE & PRINTABLE Toddler Carry-On Packing List that your toddler can use all on their own!

You toddler can start carrying a small backpack once they are steady on their feet. Just start with a small backpack that fits your toddler well. Make sure you never overload it, because you’ll just end up carrying it if it’s too much for your toddler.

I’ve shared my top 8 favorites when it comes to toddler backpacks for travel. Make sure you keep scrolling below that where I share important considerations when looking for your toddlers first backpack.

Best Toddler Travel Backpacks

I highly recommend you let your toddler have some say in picking the backpack. They’ll be far more excited if they have their favorite color or a fun design.

Here’s my list of the best options that work for both travel with a toddler and even hiking with toddlers. Narrow it down for yourself, then let your toddler choose!

a small child wearing a toddler travel backpack runs on a cobblestone street on a family trip to Europe.
My son loved wearing his toddler travel backpack on our family trips.

1. Mountaintop Toddler Travel Backpack

This Mountaintop Kids Toddler Backpack is my favorite choice for both travel and hiking with toddlers.

One large main compartment plus a small zippered pocket.

Two side pockets making water bottles easily accessible.

Padded straps and chest strap for comfort.

Ideal travel backpack for 2-year-old with several color options.

2. Buckle Toy Buddy Backpack for Airplane Travel

The Buckle Toy Buddy Backpack is an interactive bag that can keep your toddler busy on a flight. 

Plush fabric in bright colors.

Pocket fits snacks and small toys perfectly.

12 buckles to encourage problem-solving and build motor skills.

Ideal travel backpack for 1-year-old.

3. Skip Hop Toddler Backpack for Travel

With so many fun options to choose from, comfortable adjustable straps and at only 11 x 5 x 12 inches, this is a great travel backpack for toddlers.

Main compartment is roomy plus there is an insulated snack pocket.

The side pocket is adjustable to fit a water bottle or sippy cup.

Comes in fun animal designs including a unicorn, dog, dinosaur and narwhal.

4. Yodo Insulated Toddler Backpack

The Yodo toddler backpack for travel is insulated to keep toddler snacks cool and still easy for toddlers to carry with a size of 8.5 x 4.5 x 10.5 inches.

Main compartment is insulated and has mesh pockets on outside for water bottle.

Includes a 50-inch safety rein that attaches with metal carabiners for extra safety.

Chest strap makes it more comfortable for toddlers to carry.

Fun animal designs to choose from (shark, dog, dinosaur and panda).

5. Wildkin 12-Inch Toddler Backpack

The Wildkin backpack measures 12.5 x 10.5 x 7.5 inches and has plenty of space for toys, snacks and a water bottle on the outside.

Has a main compartment, a front pocket and mesh side pockets.

Front pocket is insulated.

The larger size makes it the perfect travel backpack for a 3-year-old.

8 colorful designs to choose from.

6. Teddy Bear Backpack for Toddlers

If your toddler loves stuffies as much as mine, this the perfect backpack for toddler who want to carry a stuffy too. The stuffed animal sits on the outside of this toddler travel backpack, not taking up any room inside.

Has only one main compartment and side water bottle pocket.

Small size makes it an ideal travel backpack for 18-month-old.

Several fun animals to choose from (the triceratops is my favorite!)

7. Monkey Toddler Backpack with Harness

If your toddler is just getting used to carrying a backpack, this is a great starter option. The safety harness is also great for young toddlers who love to bolt!

Small pocket for a few small toys.

Chest buckles and harness keep toddler safe.

Ideal travel backpack for 18-month-old.

8. Yisibo Toddler Backpack

This fun space-themed toddler backpack is small at 6.7 x 3.5 x 8.3 inches, yet it will fit all your toddlers must-haves.

Has a roomy main compartment and detachable leash.

Fun see-through window pocket on front.

Chest strap and adjustable padded straps for comfort.

Do make note that while most of these toddler travel bags work great for packing their travel essentials or for daycare, they will be too small once your child reaches school age. Kindergarteners need more space in their bags for folders, artwork and papers, which only larger backpacks can provide!

What to Look for When Buying a Toddler Backpack for Travel

Safety Harness on Toddler Backpacks

An adjustable harness that secures your toddler to a leash allows them to have fun in crowded places without you having to worry about losing them. It's a win-win (ignore the naysayers)!

Size

Consider the age and weight of your child before making your purchase, as this will help you decide how big of a bag your toddler can carry. Whether it be toddler backpacks or toddler suitcases, you need to make sure your toddler is able to carry weight safely while at the same time accommodating their items in an optimal way.

The size of toddler backpacks range from 7-12 inches. I wouldn't go any bigger than 12 inches for a toddler travel backpack.

toddler in luggage size checker at airport
My toddler fits inside the carry-on - even with his travel backpack on!

Lightweight

Ensuring that the weight of the travel backpack itself does not add on too much to the weight of your toddler's load is crucial, but is something parents often forget to check. Check for lightweight materials, as well as back and shoulder strap padding.

You'll also want to make sure you don't pack too much, just a few toddler travel snacks, your toddler headphones for planes and some small travel toys. If you pack too much, it's likely you'll end up carrying your toddlers backpack.

A toddler sleeps on an airplane using an Original Fly Tot inflatable airplane cushion.

Don't miss my post where I share all the best toddler must-haves for travel!

Durability

Keep an eye out for warranties and guarantees. The best quality toddler backpacks come with reinforced seams, finished edges and double or even triple layered backs. Make sure to check for adequate foam padding to ensure it doesn't wear out too quickly.

For toddler backpacks with safety harnesses, check for metal clasps over plastic ones and sturdy straps. A durable backpack should last you no less than three years. 

Waterproof

Spills and leaks are the name of the game when it comes to toddlers, so having water-resistant accessories only makes sense. Look for materials like neoprene and coated fabrics.

Side Pockets

Water bottles are prone to leakage, and a side pocket in your toddler backpack can ensure that your toddler’s books or clothes don’t have to bear the brunt of it.

Use

What type of bag you choose for your toddler will be heavily influenced by its intended purpose. Younger toddlers might want a stuffy to cuddle with while on the move, while older toddlers might need a more spacious backpack for all they want to pack.

For parents who want it to double as toddler hiking gear, opt for a ruggedly designed bag with features like wear and water-resistance. 

Color/Pattern Variations

From dinosaurs and spaceships to farm animals and mythical characters, the toddler backpacks on my list cover them all. Picking out a bag that your kid is excited to wear makes the process of getting them accustomed to it so much easier. 

Price

While brand certainly has a part to play in deciding how much a toddler backpack costs, the above mentioned factors hold just as much weight. By carefully weighing out which characteristics are most important to you, you might end up making some big savings with your purchase. Backpacks for toddlers can cost anywhere between $10 and $40. 

Toddler Travel Backpacks - Canada

While we Canadians don't get quite as many options when looking for the best toddler backpack for travel, you'll still be able to find some great options on Amazon Canada.

The Yodo Insulated Toddler Backpack (with safety harness) is available in 5 fun styles, including a dinosaur, owl, puppy and unicorn.

You'll also find the Mountaintop Little Kid Backpack, which I think is one of the best toddler travel backpacks given the pockets for organization and so many color/pattern choices. You'll be able to use this one for both traveling and as a hiking backpack for toddlers. While it won't be the best for kindergarten (given it's small size), you'll get plenty of use out of it for toddlers 2 to 4 years old.

Probably one of the most popular toddler backpacks is the Skip Hop toddler backpack. On Amazon Canada, you can get find plenty of fun options for the Skip Hop toddler backpacks.

toddler wearing backpacks in an elevator
My little cuties wearing their toddler backpacks for travel.
Best Toddler Travel Backpacks

This post was written & edited by:

info@babycantravel.com | Website | + posts

Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.

Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.

Read more about Celine Brewer.