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As a travel editor, I’ve tested out my fair share of luggage, from rolling suitcases to weekender bags. And with that, I’ve learned plenty about what to look for in a travel bag. Whether you’re in the market for a tote for everyday commuting, a duffel bag for weekend trips, or a carry-on for air travel, I’ve compiled a list of my five favorite travel bags that come with me on every type of trip.
Before I dive into my favorites, I’ll share my reasoning behind my top luggage picks. First, when you’re looking for a tote or weekender bag that’ll be used in conjunction with a rolling suitcase, you’ll want to make sure your bag has a luggage sleeve so you can secure it on top of your suitcase.
And as far as carry-on suitcases go, make sure to look for a bag that has organizational features, including interior and exterior zippered pockets to keep essentials secure yet within reach and luggage straps for comfortable carrying.
Keep reading for one travel editor’s favorite bags for every type of trip.
Tote Bag: Leatherology Large Zippered Downtown Tote
Credit: Courtesy of Leatherology
This tote was my everyday bag back when I was commuting and it kept up with me through countless subway rides and treks throughout New York City. It’s also a great airline personal item or carry-on because it’s spacious yet easy to carry and store underneath an airplane seat. Unlike many totes, this bag has a zippered closure so you can ensure that your belongings are securely stored inside.
Overnight Bag: MZ Wallace Medium Metro Tote Deluxe
Whether I’m taking the train for a quick weekend getaway or going away for just one night, this is my must-have bag. It’s made from a soft, quilted material that allows you to fill it up entirely without it feeling too bulky. There are also several zippered compartments that offer easy access to essentials such as your phone, wallet, and keys.
And even as spacious as it is, the bag remains easy to maneuver on subways, trains, airplanes, and more. Both the top handles and shoulder strap make the bag comfortable to carry, which makes a huge difference if you’ve packed it to full capacity. There’s also a luggage sleeve, so if you use this bag as a carry-on, you can easily secure it to the top of your suitcase for streamlined carrying.
Weekender/Duffel Bag: Lo & Sons The Catalina Deluxe
Credit: Courtesy of Lo & Sons
I’ve sung my praises for this weekender bag before, and for good reason. With its spacious main compartment and thoughtfully placed zippered pockets and luggage sleeve, this duffel bag offers just enough room for weekend trips. My favorite feature is the bottom zippered compartment that’s perfect for storing shoes, keeping them separate from the rest of your belongings and eliminating the need for shoe bags or extra packing cubes.
Carry-on Luggage: Travelpro Platinum Elite Compact Carry-On Expandable Hardside Spinner
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon
For shorter trips — whether I’m traveling by train or airplane — this compact carry-on is key to helping me stay organized. The bag is impressively durable and comes with a variety of interior organizational compartments, including a waterproof pocket that’s perfect for storing a wet swimsuit. And at just 7.9 pounds, it’s easy to carry and lift into an airplane’s overhead compartment, even when fully packed.
Larger Carry-on Luggage: Paravel Carry-on Plus
Credit: Courtesy of Paravel
As someone who will avoid checking a bag at all costs, I also like to keep a slightly larger carry-on suitcase in my collection, primarily for domestic flights where luggage size restrictions typically allow this size bag (14.7 inches by 22.7 inches by 9.6 inches). I took this bag for a five-day trip to Canada in the middle of winter and it had plenty of room for all my bulky cold-weather gear thanks to its zippered compartments and luggage straps. Plus, this suitcase is carbon neutral and made from sustainable materials like plastic water bottles and recycled aluminum.