Updated: November 2019
When you live out of a suitcase, good luggage is essential. From carry-ons to day bags to checked baggage, I’ve spent a lot of years curating the perfect collection. Travel is so much easier when you have the right kind of bag for the trip. And, of course, quality is key. You definitely don’t want your bag falling apart at the airport.
Need an upgrade? Here’s a rundown of the best luggage, bags, and backpacks for travel.
Type of Trip
My luggage changes from trip to trip, depending on the type of gear I’ll need for activities, as well as the length of my stay! Typically, I’ll use the following for each kind of trip:
I take my camera backpack with me on every trip just to keep all of my electronics and camera gear organized. Depending on the weather for my weekend getaway, I’ll typically take a roller carry-on and a small bag, like the Lo & Sons OG bag or a small duffel.
One Week Trip
For a week-long trip, I’ll take my camera backpack and check my Burton double-compartment suitcase. If it’s a cold-weather destination, an additional carry-on bag might be needed to make room for boots and heavy coats.
If my trip is about two weeks, I’ll start packing by filling my camera backpack and a larger suitcase to check, and move to my second checked bag if necessary!
Three Weeks or Longer
Typically if I’m traveling for three weeks or longer I’ll pack 1-2 checked bags and my camera backpack. And I really try to pack light, but any longer than three weeks and I may have to bring along a carry-on as well!
Top Carry-On Bags for Travel
When it comes to carry-ons, it’s essential to have the right size bag. For travel within the United States, you can usually take a 22-inch tall carry-on bag. When you are outside of the United States, generally you will be restricted to a 21-inch carry-on.
Since your space is restricted, you’ll want to find a bag that’s easy to organize and maximizes every inch.
Timelessly chic and endlessly practical, the OG bag is the perfect companion. This bag has a detachable messenger strap and an ultra-handy back panel sleeve, which secures over luggage handles.
I love the Herschel style, and the duffle bag is the perfect carry-on. It comes in a dozen different color combinations and measures 16 x 17 inches, so it’s a very versatile pick. It also doubles a great beach bag or tote along your trip!
For long trips or flights where I’m not checking luggage, I love this one. The multitasking High Sierra Roller can be wheeled, strapped on as a backpack, or carried as a duffel bag. Also, the zippered divider panel can be rolled up to create one large compartment!
Carry-On Bags at Any Budget
Budget: $; Measuring at 21 inches, this hard side spinner is perfect for international travel or a long weekend getaway. At only $50, it’s a great option for anyone on a budget.
Budget: $$; Built to endure the harshest of environments, the Samsonite Omni Expandable carry-on is scratch-resistant, super light, and comes with a TSA-compatible combination lock to ensure that all your belongings stay safe throughout your travels.
Budget: $$$; With interior compartments meant for undergarments, chargers, and more, this bag will help you stay organized your entire trip. Plus, it comes with a removable airline-approved battery so you can charge your phone on the go.
Top Day Bags for Travel
When you’re traveling, you’ll want to upgrade your normal handbag to a day bag that can fit more, and that’s safe from pickpockets. It’s good to have a bag that can carry your camera and all of your daily essentials!
Made with lush Italian leather, ONA The Bowery has room for a camera and one small lens. If you are looking to go small and stylish, this one is a must-have.
This leather bag has great space and a signature round-front flap that allows easy access to your items. This is a great option for travelers with small point-and-shoot cameras.
Probably the swankiest camera bag you’ll ever see, the Lo & Sons Claremont crossbody leather bag will keep your SLR camera, an extra lens or two, wallet and other essentials safe and sound while exploring.
For a bit more space, The Brixton is perfect. It’ll hold a DSLR camera with three lenses and up to a 13″ laptop.
Day Bags at Any Budget
Budget: $; This faux leather day bag is scratch-proof, easy to clean, and has large zipper pockets on the back of the bag, roomy enough to hold your cell phone, iPad, camera, etc.
Budget $$; Made of real leather, the Fossil Kinley Crossbody is complete with a flap with a magnetic snap along with zipper closure to keep all your belongings secure. The chic look of it will be sure to match any outfit you wear during your travels.
Budget $$$; The Frye Melissa Tote is a bag that will last you for years. Founded in 1863, the company prides itself on using high-quality material and is the perfect day bag for those who are looking for a long-term option.
Day bags are the perfect way to keep your belongings protected from pickpocketers all while still looking stylish!
Top Gear Backpacks for Travel
When you have a ton of tech to haul, a good backpack is in order. For photoshoot days, I like to carry a bag that’ll hold my camera, lenses, drone, laptop, and more.
With waxed canvas and high-quality leather, the ONA Camps Bay Backpack has a compartment for laptops up to 17 inches, space for up to seven lenses, and room for a camera. It’s very sturdy and made of durable materials that will last you years on the road!
This bag will fit a DSLR camera with a lens attached, a 15″ laptop, a customizable organization for 2-3 additional lenses, flash, and other camera accessories. It also has a hood that’ll keep your gear safe and dry!
Gear Backpacks at Any Budget
Budget: $; This professional camera bag is waterproof, scratch-resistant, and lightweight and houses 1 camera body, 4 lenses, an iPad, a tripod, and other accessories.
Budget: $$$; Made with waterproof and durable wax canvas, the vintage-inspired backpack has dual compartments where you can store clothes, food, etc. along with your camera gear.
Budget $$$; The Lowepro ProTactic camera backpack can hold up to 2 DSLR cameras, 8 lenses, a 15″ laptop, a tripod, and accessories. It also fits some drones. The quick grab sides and full back entry allows you to quickly store and take out your gear without any chance of damage.
Top Travel Backpacks
If you’re going to travel, you need to experience backpacking at least once; and of course, you’ll need the perfect bag for it.
This backpack has a light frame, perfect for women. It has soft, edgeless padded mesh that offers a breathable surface (and ventilation) and can support large loads. It makes it easy to stay organized for a few weeks.
This is a great lightweight backpack for a shorter trip. It has a mesh back panel that allows ventilation and the mesh on the harness and hip belt reduce chafing on your long travel days!
Travel Backpacks at Any Budget
Budget: $; Weighing only 0.6 pounds, the Songwin backpack is extremely lightweight, making your backpacking travels extremely easy. But don’t let that fool you, it can still hold up to 50L in its multiple different compartments.
Budget: $$; An Amazon best-seller, the Teton Sports Scout 3400 is perfect for your adventures. Fitted for both men, women, and youth, the bag is easily adjustable and complete with a foam lumbar pad for your back so you’ll be comfortable throughout your trip.
Budget: $$$; Made specifically for women, the Osprey Packs Sirrus 24 backpack is complete with a ventilated mesh back panel, an integrated rain cover, zipper hip-belt pockets, and trekking pole attachment.
Backpacks are perfect for every travel scenario. Whether you’re going backpacking or looking to hold your photography gear, there’s a backpack.
Top Checked Bags for Travel
When it comes to checked bags, I opt for double-compartment luggage for optimal organization and space. Having different compartments to stash things makes it infinitely easier to know where everything is (and re-pack at the end of a trip).
This big bag comes in cool designs with internal dividers, zippered storage pockets, and space-adding “cram zones.” If you’ve got a lot to carry, the Burton Double is a dream. It has been my go-to checked bag for over two years!
I travel with a rolling rose gold suitcase just like this. It’s a hard shell and rotates 360 degrees so you can stuff your suitcase full and still pull it around like it’s nothing.
Checked Bags at Any Budget
Budget: $; Just like the AmazonBasics carry-on, the checked spinner is protected by a hard outside shell with a scratch-resistant finish. It’s the perfect bag for those who aren’t looking to break the bank.
Budget: $$; With a built-in TSA-approved lock, this hard-shell suitcase is strong and sturdy for whatever your travels may bring. The fully lined interior includes multi-use organizational pockets to help you stay organized.
Budget: $$$; Let’s face it, luggage gets pretty beat up over time so if you’re always on the go, getting a bag that is going to last is extremely important. The Rimowa Original Cabin Spinner is made solely of aluminum so you won’t have to worry about any scratches, dings, or broken pieces.
Even the best suitcase doesn’t organize itself. To keep things sorted, you’ve got grab a few add-ons like packing cubes, clear pouches and a good passport cover. Oh, and, don’t forget your luggage tag. A lot of luggage looks alike, so grab a tag that screams “that’s MINE!”.
Do you have a favorite brand of luggage or bag for when you’re on the road? Please share it in the comments below!