Shopping around for a travel bag for your next trip? I have a list of the best 12 travel bags for every traveler, tried and tested!
When it comes to travel bags, I have a serious problem. Some have called it an addiction but I consider myself a hobby collector of travel bags. For years, I looked for the perfect bag and only recently have come to the conclusion that the “perfect” bag doesn’t exist. Rather, it’s all about finding the bag that fits your travel style the best. Whether you’re a minimalist or maximalist, the outdoorsy type or more cosmopolitan, I’ve got a recommendation for you.
I’ve purchased a lot of bags over the last decade and finally feel confident to share the best 12 travel bags for every traveler. From solo trips, girls’ weekends, family vacations, romantic getaways, and everything in between, I’m here to share my favorite travel bags for every traveler! And if you like this list of recommendations, don’t forget to read my list of 12 Things I Can’t Travel Without.
Finding the right bag is a financial investment. And sometimes investing in your travel gear is accompanied by sticker shock. But as someone who has bought their fair share of cheap bags and paid the price tenfold on trips with broken wheels and unbuckling straps, I want to save you the agony. Now onto the list and let the packing begin!
BEST IN CLASS – BACKPACK EDITION
This bag is as close to an “end all, be all” as I can get. It’s an ample backpack that converts into a duffel bag by way of a detachable strap. My favorite feature is that it unzips like a backpack and also a suitcase. In addition to the multi-opening configuration, it includes a padded 17” laptop compartment and all the pockets assist with hiding money or making cellphones more accessible. As a frequent budget airline flier, the bag dimensions are budget airline compliant (take that Frontier!). All pieces from the Terra collection are waterproof and made from recycled water bottles. I love this backpack so much, I purchased one for myself and one for my sister in their classic earth-inspired hues. They also released a 50L size in time for this holiday season!
Trip Duration 2-4 days (short trips)
Pros Clamshell opening, luggage trolley sleeve, padded laptop compartment, multiple zipped pockets
Cons Overwhelming amount of straps, very roomy but can easily be overstuffed
BEST IN CLASS – SUITCASE EDITION
This was a social media influence moment… with a happy ending. The Monos carry-on has exceeded every expectation. Finding a great rolling bag is a daunting task and (almost!) as miserable as trying to find a good travel stroller. But the Monos carry-on suitcase delivers in size, durability, and performance. With a polycarbonate hard shell and 360° spinner wheels, you don’t have to worry about your things getting banged up. It comes with a TSA-approved combination lock and a removable compression bag for flat items, as well as a laundry bag. At 7 lbs, it’s featherlight meaning you don’t need to worry about your bag contributing to overweight woes.
Pro-tip: The carry-on also comes in a carry-on plus size but it’s not guaranteed to fit in all airline overhead bins. If you don’t like checking in, it’s best to get the standard Monos carry-on.
Trip Duration 2-5 days (short or long trips)
Pros Ultra lightweight polycarbonate shell, adjustable telescopic handle with 4 height settings. built-in compression bag
Cons Scuffs easily and even thought it comes with a scuff remover, the damage on light-colored bags is extremely noticeable
FOR SPACE SAVERS
When it comes to a unisex backpack for long-term travels, Tortuga is bar none. I was given the award-winning travel backpack and was just so surprised by how comfortable it was to carry given how much it can hold. One testimonial calls it “the nearly perfect blend of backpack and luggage” and I couldn’t agree more with the statement. The front loading pocket is flat and features organization slots for passports, cards, and pens. There is a key clip for airpod cases and keys.. You have a separate panel for laptops and tablets. And inside, the interior mesh zipped area means reducing the need for compression bags. Even after a couple of uses, it looks brand new. I also have friends who were looking to carry backpacks only for a two-week long Japan stay and this bag satisfied those needs with room to spare.
Trip Duration7 days+ (long trips)
ProsThe straps adjust to any height and torso, fits maximum carry-on size for all flights, two water bottle pockets
ConsWaist straps are only one size so sometimes not the most practical for varying body shapes
I was gifted the redesigned 154 City Pack 2.0 and honestly, it’s the bag I never knew I needed. It’s a luxurious everyday bag that doesn’t compromise style for space. Its timeless utilitarian design dresses up any outfit and unlike other cross-body bags I own, there’s a built-in magnetized pouch for sunglasses storage. The placement of all their pockets are thoughtful. Even though it’s slim, it can carry a ton making it my go-to personal item on flights when I need easy access to my ipad air, Sony A7C camera, and earphones. And yes, it carries all of that on top of essentials like my wallet, sunglasses, keys, and cellphone. I also use it as a drone bag when I don’t want to carry a full on photography bag. Every GRAMS28 bag is debossed in white ink with a unique ten digit product number corresponding to the style, material provider, and the craftsmen behind every creation.
Trip Duration Day use or as personal item on flights
ProsFair pricing for premium design, transparent cost breakdown, magnetized sunglasses pouch, front and back zip packets, lifetime warranty
Cons Masculine appearance, detachable strap can sometimes unlatch
You can’t miss a Baboon To The Moon bag at baggage claim. With a mission to make the world more colorful, they definitely hit their mark with bold and vibrant pieces. It’s a yes when it comes to looks and functionality. The go-bag series includes three sizes: mini (32L), small (40L), and big (60) and feature double layered construction, clippable all-around daisy chains, and zipper rain flaps. Inside, you’ll find equally funky lining and an ultra wide D-Door opening and mesh compartment with key clip. I cannot get enough of the look of this bag but the max interior space doesn’t work great for me as I need compartments for better organization. But this works great for folks who like to throw things in their bags and go.
Pro-tip: There is no internal organization for Baboon To The Moon bags so packing cubes are vital if you want some organization. Also the 60L big bag is not suitable for short people as it’s just too heavy and must be checked-in.
Cost $159 – $229
Trip Duration 1-7 days (short and long trips)
ProsThree handles all for hauling at any any angle, external zip passport pocket, YKK lockable zippers, fun colorways
Cons No internal organization and bag is prone to folding if interior weight is not properly distributed, can get extremely heavy, scuffs very easily and requires constant cleaning
FOR ADVENTURE TRIPS
REI is synonymous to adventure goods and they’ve made a travel/nomad-focused model that is worthy of your attention. This top loading backpack is a win in design, weight, comfort, and convenience. Some of its drool-worthy features include a stowable raincover, a hidden daisy chain for attaching loose gear, easy access side panels, a laptop sleeve, and even a sternum-strap buckle that doubles as a survival whistle. They come in men and women-specific fits. It’s a grab and go type back made with stretch nylon material so you can pack anything and still have room to spare. This will become your home away from home, providing all the room and functionality you need for multi-day excursions.
Trip Duration 5-7 days+
Pros Great for travel and hiking, men and women-specific products, trekking pole attachments can be hidden away, laptop sleeve doubles can optionally hold 3L hydration reservoir sleeve
Cons Comes in one color, laptop sleeve gets crammed when over-packing occurs, lack of interior pockets
I didn’t want to repeat Calpak but I would be remiss not to share the practical powerhouse that is the Stevyn Rolling Duffel. It functions both as a duffel bag and as a rolling bag with an added perk of a spacious shoe compartment. When I mean spacious, you can fit three pairs of shoes and then some on a good day. The main compartment has interior pockets on all four walls. I’m loving all the convertible options especially since traveling requires that kind of flexibility.
Trip Duration 3-6 days (short trips)
Pros Luggage trolley sleeve if you need to stack on larger suitcase, multiple interior pockets, ample separated shoe compartment, converts into rolling suitcase
Cons The two wheels sometimes lead to the bag tilting on its side, also the main compartment is not as deep as you would think due to the shoe compartment
Asian-owned Brevitē has become the prototype for camera backpacks. The classic Jumper does the most with the space you’re given. With a quick access door to get your camera in a jiffy and five configurable dividers, you can customize the layout of the interior bottom compartment to fit any one of your photography needs. On the daily, I can easily pack a compact full-frame camera (my Sony A7C), 1 extra lens, a Mavic Mini drone and its controller and backup batteries, two tripods, and an Instax camera. With that running list, how could you not be sold? But did I mention you can still fit a 16” laptop too? It also has a spacious side pocket for a water bottle or tripod, a hidden pocket for passports or cameras, and front pocket with slotted mesh great for loose wires or SD cards. No wonder it keeps selling out.
Trip Duration Day use (photoshoots, photography-oriented trips)
Pros Quick access door for cameras, front pocket is organizationally-friendly, top compartment can fit essentials, luggage passthrough
Cons Very niche use, the bottom straps can get loose so don’t secure expensive items, customizable dividers are little flimsy, interior layout build requires creativity
FOR SLING WEARERS
I am a huge fan of the Cotopaxi brand and their Del Dia line in particular, which uses scraps of old products to create these one-of-a-kind fanny packs. The side release buckle closure on the belt is adjustable, meaning you can wear it front-facing, on your back, or even across your body. I used to find fanny packs so tacky but I am converted after becoming a mom and needing both hands free while on-the-go. And having the pocket access makes it easier for me to carry my essentials and my toddlers. For another Del Día item I love, check out my favorite daypack for outdoor and sport activities.
Trip Duration Day use or personal item on flights
Pros No two fanny packs are alike, ethically made, features Philippine sun motif
Cons The mismatch color block looks is not for everyone
FOR DAYPACKS – CITIES
The only Amazon item on my list but for good reason. I was in the market for months for a daypack that had the look and feel of a purse and also had side pockets for water bottles and umbrellas, and interior organization. When it felt like that was asking for too much, enter this beauty from ZOCILOR. It’s stylish, versatile, spacious, and most importantly: affordable. The double zipper makes it easy to access items while also keeping things secure. You also have an anti-theft zipper pocket to hide valuables. And every strap is adjustable, making it inclusive of all body types. Made of vegan leather, it’s the perfect travel companion when I need something to match with every type of outfit I’ve packed.
Trip Duration Day use or as personal item on flights
Pros Comes in 30 different colors, roomy secure side pockets, anti-theft pocket, two front pockets with zipper, does not mark easily
Cons Amazon purchase so I can’t vouch for environmental impacts, you can’t mix and match straps and the straps are usually in bold patterns
FOR DAYPACKS – OUTDOORS/SPORTS
The Del Día collection from Cotopaxi is ethically made in the Philippines using fabric left over from other companies’ production runs. These bold pieces reflect the creativity of the employees who make them and are uniquely yours. With a cinch drawstring top and mesh side pockets, this is really for the thoughtful adventurer on the go. It’s an ultra lightweight vessel with breathable shoulder straps for a comfy carry and packs like a dream. You also have a zippered shoe pocket to keep things clean and an internal organizer section with a key clip. This bag is also only one of two Cotopaxi products that features the half Philippine sun print, which is very meaningful for a Filipino-American travel blogger. This was the selling point for me. If you want to see the other Philippine sun product, check out my preferred fanny pack.
Trip Duration 1-3 days (short trips) or day use
Pros Zipper compartment for shoes, two mesh side pockets, waterproof nylon material, expansive main compartment, breathable straps for outdoor activities, extremely lightweight and packable
Cons Drawstring cinch top means lack of top protection, can rip easily due to lightweight shell
I never knew how important diaper backpacks were until I became a parent. The Dagne Dover diaper backpack has garnered a cult-following for good reason. With its utilitarian design and neoprene makeup, you’d never guess it was a diaper backpack! It comes with its own changing mat (a serious perk!), a scout pouch perfect for little bits and bobs like balms and pacifiers, a zipper water resistant bag for wet items, and stroller clips. Other ways it was tailored for a frequent flier parent is the zip-up top, meaning easy access to all your children’s must-haves on the plane and the separated area for ipads or compact laptops. It also hides an insulated bottle holder inside, which is genius if you need to keep bottles cold or hot. And it also fits most breast pumps. A bonus is the backpack straps are so comfortable, making it an equal opportunity bag for parents of either gender to use while on the move.
Trip Duration Day use or as personal item on flights
Pros Changing mat, comes with stroller clip attachments, insulated bottle pocket, easy to clean neoprene exterior
Cons The fabric will crease as normal wear and tear, on the heavier side, stains easily, not breathable fabric
Do you have a favorite travel bag? Share your recommendations in the comments below. If you ask in the comments, I’ll tell you which brands I’ve been unsuccessful with.
Give me a shout-out on Pinterest pretty please?