More than anything, a superior luggage set will elevate any on-the-go experience, allowing travelers to breeze through an airport, hotel, or conference center with ease. Our editor-approved travel bags take into consideration all the main concerns of anyone setting off for a big trip: dimension (no carry-on should be more than 22” x 14” x 9”), mobility, and functionality. At Travel + Leisure, we spend large amounts of time on the road—just like you—and know the importance of stylish, lightweight luggage with plenty of room for all your belongings.
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Made of durable canvas and “genuine Crazy Horse” leather, this weekender was made to last. Reviewers were so impressed with the amount of space in this bag that they posted lists of all the items they were able to fit inside of it. They also noted the thick shoulder strap, which makes it easy to carry four to five days worth of clothing hands-free.
Hands down, the easiest duffels to pack, unpack, and rummage around in are those with a large, U-shaped opening. Duffels such as the Patagonia Black Hole feature this design: a zippered flap extends around three of the four sides of the top of the duffel and opens to reveal most of the contents. These bags provide easy access whether in a hotel, tent, or on the road. Other bags, such as the Filson Field Duffel, open in a more traditional style, with one zipper that extends across the top of the bag. With a smaller opening, access to the contents is more limited, and especially when full (this means more rummaging and disorganization). If you’re looking to prioritize convenience above all else, large roller duffels like the Osprey Shuttle offer the most rigid structure and largest opening for packing and unpacking.
Exemplifying its motto of “fewer, better things,” Cuyana makes beautiful, minimalist products that instantly become wardrobe staples. This bag in a soft, luxurious Argentinian leather — and available in an array of muted, sophisticated tones — transitions from work to brunch to the farmer’s market perfectly. And while many classic leather totes have open tops, the zipper closure on this one is especially useful for warding off pickpockets on international adventures. Might we also recommend getting the Tote Organization Insert to add even more structure?
We can’t sing the praises of this bag enough. It’s spare but polished, made of lightweight, stain-resistant nylon, and hits the sweet spot of form and function. The interior offers plenty of pockets for keeping your stuff organized, and it’s got wheels and a retractable handle hidden in a zip pocket, so you can roll it through the terminal if you overpack.
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What is the REI Roadtripper Duffel best for? It makes a great gear hauler for those who need space and protection without the bells and whistles. We’ve used the 100-liter version on a number of big trips including going all the way down to Patagonia (4 flights plus bus rides) and came away impressed. The bag is well built, functional, and has withstood quite bit of use and abuse. At the same time, it’s definitely not a fully-featured bag. If you want conveniences like backpack straps, internal storage, and side compartments, we’d recommend the Patagonia Black Hole above instead.
Get a travel credit card with a limit on it. If it does get lost or stolen, it will prevent a lavish spending spree. Also carry a cc that doesn’t have charge fees associated with use, some cards will charge 3-5% per use. If two of you are travelling together, each person should have a different credit card in the event one gets lost/stolen and you need to cancel it, the other person has a different one for expenses. Do not travel with items you never want to loose, leave them at home.
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The size is perfect for I'd say a two-to four-day trip, and it's absolutely the ideal carry-on. I just recently checked at the airport. It fits headlong or sideways into any larger plane's overhead bin — a major advantage — and will never rouse the contempt of flight attendants or gate checkers looking to cut down on carry on by forcing you to check your bag. At the same time, I was able to pack it for a week-long international trip recently (which is pushing it somewhat) but worth it all to skip the airport carrousels and keep all my important things close by.
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Some travelers may not care about the weight of their duffel, but for others it’s a factor, and particularly with heavier rolling models. Most non-wheeled duffels weigh just a few pounds or less, which makes them easy to carry, throw in your car, and store when not in use. Rolling duffels, on the other hand, tend to get a bit heavy. For example, The North Face Rolling Thunder weighs 9 pounds 14 ounces empty for the 80-liter version, which already accounts for almost 20% of the standard 50-pound limit for checked bags. And the Osprey Shuttle weighs 8 pounds 3 ounces but has a larger capacity at 100 liters (and comes in a massive 130-liter version). We can tell you that a loaded Osprey Shuttle 100L with things like shoes can get awfully close to the 50 pounds: we’ve been in the high 40s on a number of occasions. It’s also worth noting that a 45-pound bag isn’t the easiest to get in and out of your car or up a flight of stairs.
"As a video producer for Travel + Leisure, I often need to get to remote locations and carry everything on my person. The Osprey Farpoint has a break-off day bag that functions as a camera bag — I can fit my camera, microphones, a tripod, and my laptop all in one bag, and leave everything else back at the hotel. It's rugged and stands up to the weather, and is still relatively comforable fully loaded. The entire bag can be carried on most planes, as the backpack converts to a duffel and the day bag becomes a 'personal item.' If you've got expensive equipment, multiple connections and don't mind carrying everything on your back, this is the bag for you." — Tom Grahsler, Video Producer
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I do not carry an anti-theft bag yet, but I will be looking into it as the only times I’ve had things stolen while travelling are from a backpack! My travel tip is…also to do with bags..but I always chuck in a couple of roll-up nylon shopping bags when I am packing. They are great as dirty washing bags, shoe bags, beach and pool bags or to put your shopping in as a way to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags. My ones hold up to 20kg so they can carry a lot of groceries! And when you have bought too many souvenirs you can also use them as an extra carry-on bag (and I’ve never been charged for it). My favourites are envirosax (Australian) and Loqi. They all have beautiful eye-catching designs too.