When it comes time to plan for a trip, you’ll want to make sure you have the right bags for your travel needs—and that you’re utilizing those bags appropriately. Some things to consider when choosing a travel bag include the length of your trip, the activities or excursions planned, and, of course, how much you’re able (and willing) to tote around.
After sorting through countless travel bags, we’ve curated this list based on type, size and weight, and organizational features. We also consulted Cuan Hanly, chief design officer at Away, for his thoughts on what to consider when investing in travel bags.
“I’d always recommend prioritizing thoughtful features over unnecessary bells and whistles,” says Hanly. “When it comes to selecting quality luggage, don’t get distracted and splurge on features that don’t have a real impact on your travel experience, rather focus on the details that make traveling more seamless.”
Our top picks include hands-free belt bags, stylish weekender bags, spacious checked luggage, and everything in between.
Who it’s for: People looking for an all-in-one overnight bag that can be used for travel or daily use.
Who it isn’t for: People who want one bag for a multi-day trip.
Beis, a travel brand founded by Shay Mitchell, offers a wide variety of travel essentials from luggage, to organizers, to work totes. Let’s just say, she knows her luggage—and The Weekender bag is the proof. This bag is great for anyone who’s stepping out of their home and going literally anywhere else. It works great as a gym bag, a baby bag, an overnight bag, and as one truly amazing carry-on.
It features a padded laptop sleeve pocket, a water-resistant interior, and a double zip bottom compartment that can house your shoes without having to worry about them touching your clean clothes. It comes equipped with a trolley sleeve so you can easily slide it over a luggage handle. The Weekender comes in black or beige, and if you tend to be a little rougher with your bags, we suggest opting for the black color to hide any scuffs or potential stains.
Price at time of publish: $98
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 15.7 x 19 x 9.8 inches
- Weight: 3.9 pounds
- Material: Polyester with vegan leather trim
Briggs & Riley Large Travel Duffle
Who it’s for: People who want a bag that can keep wet clothes separate from dry.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer rolling luggage over duffle bags.
Hoping to take a dip in the pool before saying bye-bye to paradise? This duffle comes with a PVC-lined pocket that can house your wet swimsuit or sweaty gym clothes without ruining your dry ones. Plus, this duffle fits easily into an overhead compartment, and its soft fabric can expand when stuffed with all of your necessities. It also has tons of pockets to keep all your must-haves organized and easy to grab, as well as a pocket for sliding it onto any rolling luggage.
Price at time of publish: $249
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 11 x 23.5 x 13 inches
- Weight: 3.1 pounds
- Material: Woven nylon combined with coated fabric
Paravel Aviator Grand Checked Luggage
Who it’s for: People who want a rolling suitcase that can fit eight to 10 days worth of clothes.
Who it isn’t for: People who want to avoid checking a bag.
Paravel created the world’s first carbon-neutral luggage, the Aviator, made from 100 percent upcycled plastic bottles. You can fit eight to 10 days worth of clothes in this suitcase, making it a great choice for international or extended travel. With its smooth, 360-degree double spinner wheels, you can mosey through the airport with ease.
If you tend to worry about scuffing up a brand-new hard-shell suitcase, the textured finish is designed to minimize wear and tear to the exterior. Some of our favorite features? The removable laundry bag for dirty clothes and the many interior pockets. Keep in mind this is a full-size suitcase and does not fit carry-on requirements.
Price at time of publish: $425
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 28 x 18.3 x 11 inches
- Weight: 11.8 pounds
- Material: Recycled polycarbonate, recycled aluminum handles, recycled zippers, and vegan leather details
Dagne Dover Landon Carryall Bag
Who it’s for: People looking for a carry-on that can fit a change of clothes and a laptop.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer a bag with more structure.
If packing lists are your love language, then this carryall will make your heart sing with the amount of storage it has available. With several pockets, a mesh zippered pouch, a shoe bag, and a detachable key leash—there’s a place for everything (even if your current travel plans include heading from work straight to the gym).
It’s made from neoprene, which is easily hand-washable but can be prone to pilling. You can use a fabric shaver (like this editor-loved option) to revive the exterior of your bag if needed. If you’ll be traveling for business and want to leave your briefcase at home, this bag also has a laptop sleeve so you can be ready to work anytime, anywhere.
Price at time of publish: From $125
- Dimensions: Varies
- Weight: Varies
- Material: Premium neoprene and performance air mesh with recycled Repreve lining
Travelon Anti-Theft Heritage Crossbody Bag
Who it’s for: People who want to protect their valuables while out and about.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a travel bag that can carry more, such as a change of clothes.
If you’d like to spend less time watching your purse and more time taking in the sights, this anti-theft crossbody bag was designed to help you do just that. It includes a slash-resistant mesh barrier on all sides, as well as lock-down straps and locking compartments. Plus, you can protect sensitive information, such as credit cards and passports, with the RFID-blocking organizer. And the crossbody design means your hands are completely free.
In addition to its functionality, this purse comes with a stylish, water-resistant cotton canvas and suede trim that can be dressed up or down no matter the occasion. Choose from three different neutral color options: pewter, navy, and sage.
Price at time of publish: $58
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 8 x 9.5 x 2.5 inches
- Weight: 0.9 pounds
- Material: Cotton-polyester canvas with suede trim
Who it’s for: People who want a carry-on or check bag option that isn’t a rolling suitcase.
Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want to tote around anything they have to carry.
If finding a travel bag that is weather-resistant is a must, then this one from Away may be your perfect match. Its exterior is lightweight and made from 100 percent recycled polyester. When empty, the bag can be flattened (a plus if you’re packing it inside a checked bag to use at a later date on your trip).
In case you’re spending a ton of time outdoors, you’ll love the exterior webbing daisy chains that can be used as carabiner attachments. It also has one of our favorite features—the trolley compartment, so it can slide onto rolling luggage handles for a hands-free way to transport. For added safety, there’s an internal (and easily accessible) storage compartment for your passport and important travel documents, so when it’s time to go through TSA, you don’t have to panic search.
Price at time of publish: $170
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 14.2 x 25.6 x 11 inches
- Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Material: Recycled polyester
Travelpro Maxlite 5 Carry-On Expandable Spinner
Who it’s for: People who want a soft-sided carry-on suitcase with expandable zippers.
Who it isn’t for: People who will be packing breakable or valuable items and want the security that hard-sided luggage offers.
If you’re still weary of moving on over to a hard-shell suitcase because of the potential for scuffs and cracks, then opt for this soft, 21-inch carry-on suitcase. You may be wondering if it’s prone to stains or water damage, but fear not—it has a water- and stain-resistant coating so if it happens to be pouring once you arrive at your destination, you can carry it with confidence knowing it won’t get soaked.
The suitcase also has 360-degree rotating wheels making any trek through the airport a dream, in addition to a rubberized contour handle for comfort. If you’re prone to overpacking and find it hard to maneuver a fully packed (heavy) suitcase, this contour grip will give you more control over the bag, while the expandable zipper will allow you maximum flexibility, should you need to bring home more than you brought with you.
Price at time of publish: $170
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 23 x 14.5 x 9 inches (includes wheels and carry handles)
- Weight: 5.4 pounds
- Material: High-density nylon fabric with DuraGuard coating
Calpak Water Bottle Holder
Who it’s for: People who don’t go anywhere without a water bottle.
Who it isn’t for: People who need a travel bag with a larger capacity.
Staying hydrated while traveling can be difficult, and one of the main obstacles to doing so is having to lug around a heavy water bottle with you wherever you go. This innovative water bottle sling was designed to keep your water bottle on you at all times, while keeping your hands free. Although it’s not going to offer the capacity of say, a tote bag or a backpack, it does come with multiple pockets for storing other essentials, such as credit cards, a cell phone, snacks, etc.
Should you have any spills, the insulated interior and water-resistant nylon are durable and easy to wipe clean. Choose between one of the four classic colors and prints, which include cheetah, mauve, polka dot, and black—or check out which limited-edition options are available.
Price a time of publish: $42
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 11 x 4 x 4 inches
- Weight: 0.04 pounds
- Material: Nylon, polyethylene, polyester
Who it’s for: People who want a hard-sided rolling suitcase that will protect breakable items.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a suitcase that can expand or compress.
If you’re a self-proclaimed “expert packer” and can dwindle down what you’ll be bringing to a minimum, then you can surely get away with bringing the Monos Carry-On as your main suitcase. It fits effortlessly into the overhead bin and has an unbreakable polycarbonate shell, so when it comes time to retrieve your bag, you won’t have to hold your breath hoping it didn’t crack while you were soaring the open skies. And the TSA-approved lock ensures your valuables stay safe and secure, too.
When it comes to investing in a new piece of luggage, if you prefer something that looks luxe and sleek, then this is your answer. It comes in eight colors, not including the limited-edition offerings. Should you want a bit more room, it also comes in a “Carry-On Plus” size, all the way up to a “Check-In Large” size.
Price at time of publish: $272
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 22 x 14 x 9 inches
- Weight: 7 pounds
- Material: Polycarbonate hard shell
Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack
Who it’s for: People who want a stylish travel backpack with many compartments.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer the space provided by a rolling suitcase or duffle bag.
This functional travel backpack can be used as an add-on to your rolling suitcase, a carry-on bag, and/or your daily travel bag. It comes with a 15-inch exterior laptop pocket, catch-all zip pockets for travel documents, an interior slip for magazines and books, two water bottle holders, a magnetic closure, and a sleeve for sliding over the handles of a rolling suitcase.
Plus, the spacious interior leaves enough room to pack a change of clothes. It’s made from 100-percent recycled polyester and comes in six different stylish color options, such as warm charcoal and warm quartz, so it looks great while you’re wearing it.
Price at time of publish: $95
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 17.5 x 12 x 7.3 inches
- Weight: Not listed
- Material: Recycled polyester with water-resistant finish
Lululemon Crossbody Camera Bag
Who it’s for: People in need of a hands-free bag for travel activities.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer a roomier bag.
While you’re traveling, you’ll probably be heading out on a ton of excursions, whether that be shopping, eating out, hiking, exploring new sights, and much more. With that in mind, a hassle-free crossbody bag is a travel necessity and this one is designed specifically for people who are always on the go.
The Lululemon Crossbody Camera Bag is made from a water-repellent fabric that’ll come in handy for any outdoor activities, or if you happen to get caught in the rain. If you love to have quick access to your smartphone, it features a back pocket where you can slip it in and out with ease.
Since it has an evergreen camera bag shape, it can be worn with sportier outfits and upscale dinners, depending on the color you snag it in! We suggest opting for a neutral color like grey sage or black, if you want to utilize it as a dinner or going-out bag option with various outfits.
Price at time of publish: $78
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 4.9 x 8.1 x 2.6 inches
- Weight: Not listed
- Material: Body: Recycled nylon with polyester lining
Who it’s for: People looking for a two-in-one bag that’s great for overnight stays.
Who it isn’t for: People who are not in a position to spend much on a carry-on suitcase.
Is it a backpack? Is it a duffle bag? It’s both! Made from an eco-friendly fabric with three separate exterior pockets for easy and quick storage (think your cell phone, ticket, or wallet) the Roam Duffel is a travel no-brainer. A major plus for anyone doing some business traveling is an internal laptop pocket for your must-have-at-all-times tech devices. What’s more, you can completely customize your bag by choosing your own combination of panel and strap colors.
Once you get to your final destination, you can utilize this duffle as a backpack to take with you on your excursions…no need to pack an additional bag! You can test it out with their 100-day free trial and even bring it on a few trips with you to see how you like it. If you’re not satisfied, you can return it within the allotted time frame for a refund.
Price at time of publish: $295
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 9 x 22 x 13.5 inches
- Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Material: Recycled and eco-friendly materials
July Carry-On Light Expandable Suitcase
Who it’s for: People who always pack an empty bag for souvenirs or additional clothes.
Who it isn’t for: People looking for a lot of packing space including several pairs of shoes.
This expandable, lightweight suitcase is a great piece to carry on in case you plan on doing some shopping while away, because odds are, there won’t be much room left in your checked luggage for any additional buys on your trip. It has a zipper that allows the bag to expand from 35 to 40 liters for a smidge of extra room when needed. And at less than five pounds, the suitcase weighs less so you can get away with carrying more.
This is a great business trip companion for quick overnight stays that won’t be a burden to lug around. It’s a great vegan luggage option that is also water-resistant and can be personalized so it’s easy to spot if you do end up checking your bag. This and a briefcase will be the perfect business trip duo.
Price at time of publish: $265
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 21.3 x 14.2 x 8.7 inches (9.5 when expanded)
- Weight: 4.9 pounds
- Material: Polycarbonate shell with nylon lining and PVC hinges and trimmings
Baggallini Triple Zip Bagg
Who it’s for: People who love a versatile bag that can be worn in different ways.
Who it isn’t for: People whose favorite travel companion is a backpack.
If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck when it comes to wearability, this little wonder can be worn three different ways—as a waist bag, a wallet bag, and a crossbody. It’s also fuss-free to wash when it gets dirty; simply throw it in the washing machine with warm water, a hint of detergent, and voila! Good as new. To be safe, we suggest putting it in a delicates’ bag when washing.
With loads of colors and patterns to choose from, you’re sure to find one that fits your style to accompany you on your next trip. To avoid any stains while away (if you can’t get to a washer ASAP), try going with a darker color.
Price at time of publish: $55
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 6 x 8 x 2 inches
- Weight: 0.5 pounds
- Material: Nylon
Pond Los Angeles Transform Tote
Who it’s for: People looking for a stylish laptop bag that can be worn in multiple ways.
Who it isn’t for: People who need a roomier bag that can fit a change of clothes.
This classic tote-style bag has a cool hidden feature—it turns into a backpack. Depending on how much you’re planning on storing inside this little beauty, carrying it as a backpack may in fact be more comfortable when heading to your final destination. In order to use it as a backpack, simply add the detachable straps to the three metal hoops.
It has a sturdy structure, if shapeless bags peeve you, and a laptop sleeve that can fit most 13- to 15-inch laptops. Since it’s made from Saffiano leather, the bag also comes with protective feet on the bottom so it can stand up when placed on a surface or floor.
Price at time of publish: $279
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 11.5 x 16 x 7 inches
- Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Material: Saffiano leather with nylon lining
Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack 35L
Who it’s for: People who are on the move but need to be able to pack several clothing options.
Who it isn’t for: People who struggle to carry anything heavy on their back or shoulders.
For a compact and efficient way to pack for your next trip, the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack is carry-on size approved and has a surprising amount of storage space for a backpack. It can pack up to one week’s worth of clothes with room for additional toiletries and undergarments. It opens and closes similarly to a classic suitcase for easier packing and unpacking.
If you end up maxing out the available space in the bag, it has sternum straps and a hip belt to take the strenuous weight off of your shoulders for a more comfortable fit. It can also double as a hiking backpack and has a breathable, sweat-wicking fabric on the back to avoid unwanted back sweat (as anyone who has worn a backpack for a long period has experienced).
If you’re looking to utilize it as a personal item or carry-on, you’ll want to take advantage of its electronic storage capabilities; it can accommodate up to a 17-inch laptop in addition to a 9.7-inch tablet.
Price at time of publish: $299
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 20 x 13 x 8 inches
- Weight: 4.5 pounds
- Material: Nylon
Who it’s for: People in search of a sustainable overnight bag or carry-on.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer a more casual or utilitarian travel bag, such as a duffle.
In case you’re trying to make conscious choices when it comes to finding sustainable and long-lasting products, you’ll be tickled to know that this bag is made from recycled landfill plastic that is durable and machine-washable.
Now you can look good and feel good with this stylish bag option that will serve you well as your new carry-on. It has three compartments that can accommodate travel essentials like your e-reader, tablet, and laptop, as well as a luggage sleeve for stacking on rolling luggage. The spacious middle compartment has enough room for a head-to-toe outfit and a lightweight pair of sneakers so if you’re only planning to stay overnight somewhere, this bag plus a crossbody will be quite the dynamic duo.
Price at time of publish: From $298
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 13 x 19 x 5.5 inches
- Weight: 3.4 pounds
- Material: Recycled plastic or leather
Herschel Tech Novel Duffle
Who it’s for: People who need a bag to carry their abundance of tech devices.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer a sturdier fabric, such as leather.
If you’re traveling with your laptop, the Herschel Tech Novel Duffle comes with an internal fleece-lined sleeve that may ease your worries. It’ll be perfectly protected during your travels and can fit devices up to 16 inches. Another standout feature of this bag is the signature shoe compartment that can separate your sneakers from your clothes without adding extra bulk. If you don’t need to use it for shoes, you can take advantage of the additional storage space for other must-haves.
The longer padded strap is a nice touch so you don’t have to settle for only using the shorter handles for carrying. If you’d prefer not to carry it all, it can be placed on top of rolling luggage and held in place by its exterior trolley sleeve.
Price at time of publish: $140
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 12.8 x 20.5 x 11 inches
- Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Material: Polyester
Cotopaxi Coso 2L Hip Pack
Who it’s for: People who want a hands-free bag for carrying just the essentials.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a bag with less of a sporty look.
When it comes to travel, never underestimate the function of a fanny pack (which also goes by the more appealing name, “hip pack”). This lightweight and durable bag can be worn as a traditional fanny pack or as a crossbody bag, depending on your preference. The 100 percent recycled nylon is durable and water-resistant, and wipes clean should you have any spills.
Given its small size, this hip pack comes with an impressive number of compartments, including a main opening for essentials, a fleece-lined phone pocket, an interior front flap for easy access to a wallet or a packable windbreaker, and a back security zippered pocket. Plus, the side straps allow you to compress the pack as necessary. Choose between seven different multi-color options.
Price at time of publish: $55
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 7 x 11 x 3 inches
- Weight: 0.6 pounds
- Material: Recycled nylon
Samsonite Women’s Executive Leather Convertible Brief
Who it’s for: People who want an elevated storage solution for their tech devices and work supplies.
Who it isn’t for: People who travel without electronics.
Perhaps you’re heading out to a work convention, meeting with some new clients, or just planning to get some work done while you head out on a relaxing getaway, either way, you’re probably looking for an elevated bag to store your laptop, tablet, or maybe both. This durable Saffiano leather briefcase can be worn on the shoulder, crossbody, or handheld. It can fit up to a 15-inch laptop in its padded compartment and has a sleeve on the back that allows it to slide onto rolling luggage.
Price at time of publish: $200
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 11.8 x 15 x 4.8 inches
- Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Material: Saffiano leather
How to Shop for Travel Bags Like a Pro
You may already have an idea of what kind of bag you’re looking for for an upcoming trip. Several factors to consider when it comes to the type of bag you’re sourcing include the length of your trip, your method of travel, and trip activities.
When looking at the mode of transportation for your trip, think of how much space you’ll have and what is actually approved (especially by airlines) that will help you avoid unnecessary fees. Most airlines, if there is no longer any more overhead bin space on a flight, will check your carry-on at zero cost. Just be sure to take into consideration what is a necessity for you on the flight like your laptop or tablet. In those cases, we highly suggest opting for a bag that can fit under the seat in front of you, like a briefcase or backpack, and wouldn’t have to go in an overhead bin or get checked by the airline.
Size and Weight
Regardless of whether you’re traveling via train, plane, or automobile, you’ll certainly need to figure out what your storage options are for the baggage you plan to bring.
When flying, be sure to check your specific airline’s FAQ page for acceptable dimensions for carry-on items and checked luggage, in addition to what you’re allowed to bring onboard. Some airlines, depending on your seat choice, only allow you to bring a personal item, while others allow a personal item and a carry-on; double-check for these important details when choosing an airline and the travel bags you decide to bring. There are certain bags that can be carried on but won’t fit well under the seat in front of you and will have to be stored in overhead bins. In the case of being able to bring a personal item and a carry-on, you should opt for something smaller like a briefcase, crossbody, or small duffle bag for under the seat, and reserve a weekender or a rolling suitcase for the overhead bins.
For any checked luggage, there are weight limits, so investing in a luggage scale will protect you from getting bulldozed with any overweight bag fees. Think about what kind of packer you are and consider the weight of your empty suitcase before purchasing, so you know what bag is suited to you. It may be better to opt for a suitcase that weighs less when empty, so you have more wiggle room when packing more things—especially for a longer trip.
Tons of bags on the market are extremely innovative in their designs. With loads of removable features like laundry bags, shoe storage compartments, and rolling luggage sleeves, think about what will make traveling as effortless as possible for you.
“Plan around your shoes!” says Hanly. “Shoes are typically the least malleable thing in my suitcases so I pack them first, in shoe cubes, along with toiletries and other hard or bulky items on the zippered side of my suitcase. Keep clothing and softer items on the other side of the bag to ensure the maximum benefit of the compression pad. This approach helps utilize every inch of packable space.”
Some key organizational attributes that can take any bag from basic to a travel treasure include storage pockets, laptop sleeves, and wear versatility (meaning it can be worn in multiple ways). These features will make it easier for you to maximize the space in your bag so you can be smarter about how you pack. One of these attributes can be the difference between being able to pack 10 outfits instead of nine and for some, that’s a game-changer and worth shelling out a couple of extra bucks for.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Allison Faccenda, a lifestyle, pop culture, and commerce writer with experience in video content creation. She was previously a market writer at BuzzFeed and also produced short-form video content for their various social platforms. To write this article, she spent hours researching the best travel bags and spoke with Cuan Hanly, chief design officer at Away for tips on what to consider when investing in travel bags.