GeekDad Goes to Taiwan: The Trunki

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Image: Jonathan LiuImage: Jonathan Liu

Image: Jonathan Liu

We’ve done a lot of traveling with our kids and we’re always looking for ways to make it easier, especially on long trips. My recent trip to Taiwan involved a layover in Los Angeles and another in Tokyo, not to mention time spent in the airport in Denver and then going through customs in Taipei. (And since Tokyo-to-Taipei is an international flight, that’s a long connection as well.) For my five-year-old, that’s a lot of walking and standing in lines, but she’s a little big for a stroller and I didn’t really want to deal with one anyway. Fortunately, I found this sweet kids’ suitcase called the Trunki.
It’s a pretty simple idea, really—a suitcase that kids can ride—but the execution is pretty brilliant. The Trunki has four wheels for stability, a strap that can be used either as a shoulder strap or for towing, and two “horns” that serve as handholds. The sides of the suitcase are also sloped inwards and the top is concave to make it easier for small legs to straddle it. It’s made out of pretty lightweight plastic and the latches are on the front and back (rather than in the middle), which makes it look cute but doesn’t shut it as tightly if you overstuff it. I wouldn’t recommend checking it and it’s designed as a carry-on, but I did find it was a little hard to get it fully under the airplane seats if they had the power transformers underneath them. The wheels are plastic, so they’re probably not great for asphalt and sidewalks, but on the slick floors of most airports they do just fine. (And since they don’t swivel, it’s easier to maneuver the Trunki on slick floors rather than carpet.)

The interior is pretty simple as well. The newer versions have elastic straps (“teddy bear seatbelts” according to the website) on one half of the suitcase, a small fabric pouch, and two tiny “secret hiding spaces” tucked into the extra space near the wheels. It was the perfect size for my daughter’s blanket, pillow, and a few books and toys–enough to keep her busy on the trip, but not too heavy for her to manage.

image: Jonathan Liuimage: Jonathan Liu

image: Jonathan Liu

Now, the website has videos and photos of really cute kids riding on the suitcases, but the real benefit comes when your kid looks like this. When my geeklet got too tired to walk, or had to stand in long lines at the airport, she could just have a seat and either wheel herself forward or I could pull her along. I think if we had a big sign with the URL on it we probably could have sold a bunch, because everywhere we went we got double-takes and comments.

My five-year-old is a little tall for her age and her legs were a wee bit long; by the time we make another international trip she’ll probably be too big for it and we’ll pass it down to the two-year-old. I also found that the strap was a good length for me to pull the Trunki but when she used the strap to tow it she became a tripping hazard (being short and having the suitcase a couple feet behind her). We tried to get her to hold onto the center of the strap instead and that was a little better for our fellow travelers.

The suitcase is pricey at $50 (plus an extra ten if you want the adorable black-and-white cow print) so if you don’t travel a lot I’m not sure if you’d get your money’s worth, but on this trip to Taiwan at least I feel like it was a pretty good deal. My daughter loved it and it was a handy way to keep track of her stuff throughout the trip.

Wired: a suitcase your kid can ride—fun, clever, useful! Bonus: adds to the cuteness of your geeklings.

Tired: not cheap; harder to maneuver on carpet; weird shape for carry-on stowage under seat.

Visit the Trunki website.

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