Traveling is on the horizon but I assure you this post is not to convince you to pack your bags and jump on a plane if you are not there yet. Do what makes you feel comfortable/safe, be aware of Covid spikes and new variants. Be vigilant, folks. We are not out of the woods yet. Now I do think people are planning trips or will be in the near future, hence the inspiration for this post. I for one am staying in the states this year but overnight and weekend trips are certainly happening, which got me thinking: Is it time for a luggage upgrade? I personally have zero travel swag with my completely mismatched luggage and zero functionality tote bags that I lug around with me when I have to bring anything other than what I have on my back. Not surprisingly, things are more enjoyable when you are adeptly prepared and bonus points if you can combine function and style. As I was absently searching for the best carry-ons and weekend bags, I figured many of you might be on the same page. If anything 2020 made me realize I have taken for granted the freedom to travel for far too long. Once I get the A-OK I will be traveling more and experiencing things other than my four walls. Anyone with me? If so, I am happy to share my heavily researched findings, with a variety of budgets and needs in mind. Let’s get into it.
Best Reviewed Carry-On
By now you probably know all about Away but have you heard the competitor, Monos? They are almost identical but some reviewers are claiming that the Monos version is superior. What I am gathering is those who have tried Away before prefer Monos as it has more compartments inside and the inside feels a lot more spacious. Price-wise, Monos is more expensive but marked down right now at $220 (for the small carry-on) and the Away small carry-on is $225. Talk about tough competition, folks!!
Side note: Mallory was telling me that at baggage claim it’s pretty wild how many Away bags come through and it must be incredibly frustrating trying to spot yours amongst the plethora. I have a cheap purple one from Amazon with yellow zippers that’s as embarrassing as it is easy to spot, so I don’t have this problem. Yet. If and when I do upgrade I don’t want to regret it and I certainly don’t want one more thing to worry about at the airport (i.e. someone grabbing my bag on accident or me grabbing someone else’s). Away bag enthusiasts, what are your thoughts? Is it as annoying as it seems or no big deal? You tell me.
BEST (And Most Affordable) Away DUPE
This guy seems more my speed. Like I said, in the before times I didn’t travel a bunch. I am at like a first-grade level when it comes to traveling (never been out of the country, never have had a passport, slightly anxious flyer–you get it). That said, I can’t justify spending over $100 on a carry-on because it won’t get a ton of use. At least not right away. I am also shamefully not the best at taking care of my things. It’s a horrible character trait of mine so sometimes I think it best to avoid expensive things that I might not take the best care of. This one is affordable enough, durable, and has all the compartments one needs.
If You Are Looking For A Show Stopper
She’s cute. She’s glamorous. She’s probably going to be the only rose gold number on the plane. It also comes in gold if you are into that (and if you are, more power to you). It’s a little more affordable than Away or Monos coming in at $195 (currently marked down to $146) and has a similar amount of compartments and GREAT reviews. In fact, all Calpak products seem to be well-loved by the populace so they might be coming for Away’s crown too. Ohh I love the DRAMA.
Best Weekender Bags
1. Large Foldable Travel Bag, $26: This bag is made from the same material as a parachute which I think points to the fact that it is extremely durable. It is also waterproof and foldable so it’s so easy to stow away. As someone who doesn’t have a ton of storage (you didn’t think I’d get through this post without mentioning storage did you?), I appreciate anything that can be made more compact.
2. Luka Duffel, $110: This little number is stylish and has NINE pockets so you can stay uber-organized. I love that it has two straps and it has luggage sleeves so you can slip it on your carry-on and live your best life!
3. Weekender Bag, $80: This sleek bag from Target has surprisingly great reviews. People say it is the perfect carry-on and is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you on a plane so it can be your plus one carry-on (aka it might just save you from having to pay ridiculous checked bag fees).
4. BAGGU Travel Cloud Bag, $78: BAGGU is a brand that I have been a fan of from afar for a long time. I don’t own any of their bags yet but I love all the colors and patterns and the fact that they are ethical and sustainable. At $78, this bag is not wildly expensive and it’s lightweight so you can shove as many clothes in there as possible without it becoming way too heavy to carry.
5. Tech Novel Duffle, $170: You can never go wrong with a Hershel bag because they practically ooze functionality. This duffle has a shoe compartment and internal organizers AND it can be easily attached to luggage so you don’t have to lug it around.
6. Murphie Underseat Carry-On Luggage, $110: If you are an over-packer like me, this little guy might need another companion to house multiple pairs of shoes and outfits you probably won’t wear. I do love that it is compact and can fit under the seat on a plane and it has WHEELS. Cause who wants to carry a bag when you can roll it, right?
Best Travel Backpacks
1. Metro Backpack, $195: This sleek guy is the perfect companion for someone who loves a minimal design. I think anyone who is in the tech industry would love this one just judging by the look of it and the fact it has many sleeves for various laptops, tablets, etc.
2. Travel Pack 2 Backpack, $160: This is Caitlin’s favorite and I would trust her with my life so I certainly trust her backpack recommendations. From Caitlin: “I will recommend this backpack till I die – it’s that good. It’s very Mary Poppins-esque in that you get it and you’re like, ‘shoot, there’s no way it can fit all I need’ and then BAM, it does. I backpacked Europe in winter with this as my lone piece of luggage and it held everything – all of my cold-weather layers, my shower shoes (there’s a separate shoe compartment!), my souvenirs…everything. As an added bonus, it can still generally fit under a seat, so you’ll never have to gate-check if the luggage bins get too full on a plane or pay any extra baggage fees if you’re overseas (TBH it’ll take up a liiiitle bit of legroom, but I’m tall and have had it underneath the seat in front of me on 10-hour flights without it being too annoying or frustrating). It’s been almost 4 years and it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get this thing looking even a little dirty or raggedy – even pet hair doesn’t stick to it. Plus, it’s normal-looking enough to use every day while still having some of the amenities that make carrying or traveling with it way easier, like a great side handle and buckled shoulder straps. AER MAKE ME THE SPOKESPERSON, I LOVE YOUR BAGS!”
3. Standard Rucksack, $460: This one is made by a Black owned company and while it is on the more expensive side, it is handmade with vegetable leather and will likely last a lifetime. It’s perfect for someone who travels a lot for work as it’s the ideal size for a laptop and would be an exceptional gift.
4. Hartmann Metropolitan 2 Executive Backpack, $192: I really appreciate the functionality of this one. It’s no-nonsense, but still cute (I love mustard colored anything) and has ample pockets so you can stay organized.
5. Gathering Bag, $68. This is my top pick because it’s affordable, unique, and utilitarian, with lots of pockets for various travel necessities (which in my case is mostly snacks and 4-5 books I probably won’t open once). It has a seasoned backpacker look about it and I would assume anyone who has it is well-read and sophisticated. It’s just cool and it is sold by a sustainable Black-owned brand we love.
6. Tech Backpack, $130: I trust anything Hershel makes. They think of everything and their designs are just sleek, modern, and cool. As always, this backpack has like 10 sleeves so you can be super organized and let’s be honest, anyone who wears a Hershel backpack looks scholarly af.
Best Toiletry Bags
1. Hue Toiletry Bag, $48: I am starting to realize Calpak really knows what they are doing. This toiletry bag is solid and functional, perfect for a one-night getaway.
2. Premium Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag, $24: This is another great toiletry bag if you are going somewhere for one night and just need the essentials. It has room for skincare products and has compartments for makeup and makeup brushes and over $10,000 have things mostly great things to say about it so if you wanna go on an Amazon review rabbit hole, here’s your chance.
3. Sonia Kashuk™ Weekender Makeup Bag, $20: I can always trust Sonia Kashuk products to be practical and stylish. This one has two sleeves so you can keep your makeup and skincare separate and at $20 it’s just a solid and affordable travel companion. Its slender design means it can slide easily into luggage and take up less precious space.
4. The Hanging Cosmetic Case, $58: Here we are getting into the big leagues. If you have a good amount of makeup, skincare, vitamins, serums, etc etc. you will want something that has multiple pockets and can spill down like so. It also has a little hanger so you can hook it on the back of a door so it doesn’t take up precious bathroom vanity space.
5. Nimbus Cosmetic bag, $65: This one comes in two sizes and has RAVE reviews. People love how much it can hold and how stylish it is. The material is also nice and it is easy to clean which is a plus if you know how gross toiletry bags can get.
6. BAGSMART Toiletry Bag, $23: Okay, sign me up for this bad boy that has 4 separate pockets that spill down so you can see everything. I have actually acquired a ton of makeup and skincare over quarantine so I need something big and ridiculous like this. Over 13,000 have reviewed it and highly recommend. And you know strangers on the internet are the best people, right?
Alright, that is all from me but you know I have to ask, what are your favorite travel bags and accessories? Drop em below and have a lovely Monday, sweet friends. xx
Opener Image Credit: Design by William Hunter Collective | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | Produced and Art Directed by Emily Henderson | Styled by Velinda Hellen and Erik Staalberg |From: 5 Outdoor Ideas & Hacks That’ll Instantly Add Style (& Save You Money)