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Summer finally feels like it’s around the corner. I could not be more thrilled — or unprepared.
I’m at the age where wedding season hits hard, plus my parents will be moving to the beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and my best friend is moving to London. These facts may not seem related, but there is a constant thread: travel.
I’ve been fortunate enough to do a lot of traveling in my life, from drivable weekend trips to full-blown jet-setting adventures. This summer will include many types of trips, and if I’m essentially living out of bags, I want them to fit everything I need in the most reasonable and organized fashion.
And so I’ve become fixated on finding the perfect lightweight, easy to carry yet ludicrously capacious travel bag. I’m talking about luggage that an airline would consider a personal item — it’s not a suitcase! — but one that can fit a compact toiletry bag that somehow holds all my essential products. Yes, I have a lot of self-care items, and yes, they’re all necessary.
In my experience, a suitcase is a suitcase when it comes to either checked or carry-on luggage. Large or small, anything decently sturdy on wheels is going to do the trick if you know how to pack it correctly (and it fits in the overhead bin). I care way more about the travel bag, which I need to have with me at all times. That accounts for what I’m carrying on my shoulders or sifting through constantly to access necessities.
This is what inspired my quest — because I don’t think I can get through another hefty travel season without some sturdy, reliable, and well-designed luggage.
How could I not be tempted by the Béis Weekender Bag? I know it’s expensive, and there’s a perfectly suitable Amazon dupe, but this bag looks so beautiful and functional and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a hybrid between a tote and a duffel. There’s a trolley sleeve to slip it over your suitcase handle, but you can also wear it crossbody or over your shoulder to easily access your wallet or book. Then there’s this whole bottom compartment to keep larger items like shoes and hair dryers separate from your clothes or other items. It’s perfect for a weekend trip, as the name implies, but it’s also the ideal carry-on luggage when you need to take some of the load off your checked bag.
Promising review: “This thing is so spacious. I fit 7 outfits, one pair of sandals, and 2 flip flops and still have space to put more things in it. If you’re thinking about getting it, the answer is yes! You need this bag! I’m so obsessed, I need all the colors lol!” —Ashley L. via Béis
You can buy the Weekender from Béis for around $98.
I’ll admit that I was a victim of targeted advertising on this one, but now that I’ve seen it, I’m convinced that I need it. I love that this cosmetics bag has multiple compartments for separation of product categories, since I like to keep my skincare away from my makeup and hair supplies. But I also love that you can still zip it all together into one compact and chic little lunchbox of products.
It comes in three different sizes, since not everyone has as much crap as I do, and a bunch of different colors. The color is only on the seams though, since the bulk of the case is clear so you can actually see everything inside and quickly find exactly what you’re looking for.
Promising review: “I have all three sizes. Can fit everything I need when traveling..” —Courtney H. via Calpak
You can buy the Clear Cosmetics Case from Calpak for around $85.
This Dagne Dover duffel has been on my wish list for years, but I haven’t been able to rationalize the splurge. The high volume of travel I’m about to embark upon may be the push I needed to finally purchase. The sleek neoprene texture, the monochromatic colors — it just looks so cool, and it also happens to be super functional.
Neoprene is a durable, water-resistant, and shock-absorbent fabric, so it’ll keep your belongings safe and should hold up for long-term use. The Carryall is also designed to legitimately carry it all, from an external compartment for your phone or ID to internal compartments for laptops and water bottle. It also has separate pouches for shoes and chargers or keys. I think I just sold myself.
Promising review: “I have traveled internationally with this bag, and used it for weekend trips. It's the perfect bag. Love all the compartments, space and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it.” —Amber T. via Dagne Dover
You can buy the Landon Carryall from Dagne Dover for around $185.
This recommendation came straight from Lydia Keating, who learned about it from numerous followers. She was looking for the perfect toiletry bag for her six-month overseas adventure, and everyone seemed quite passionate about this one. People said they’ve had theirs for 20 years and that it has plenty of space for all of your cosmetic items.
The Personal Organizer comes in multiple sizes, but they all have a large main compartment with single-item pouches inside and two smaller zip pockets. You can also hang it up for convenient bathroom access, and it’s more affordable than most of the trendier options.
Promising review: “This is perfect! It is small, but holds the essentials for a couple of days away, with enough room for extra things that I might need ‘just in case’.” —Jane via L.L.Bean
You can buy the Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag from L.L.Bean for around $30.
My current brand fixation is Baggu. I can’t explain it, but I suddenly want everything they make — the mini nylon shoulder bag, the puffy mini tote, and, for traveling, specifically, this cloud carry-on.
There’s just something so cute about it, like you can make a fun style statement while also conveniently holding everything you need for a weekend away. It’s made from durable nylon with two large exterior pockets. It can fold up into a little pouch when you’re not using it, and then that same pouch can be clipped inside for an extra zipper compartment. It also has a sleeve to ride on your roller bag, and it’s machine-washable.
You can buy the Cloud Carry-on from Baggu for around $78.
This small but mighty duffel is sort of a combination of the Cloud Carry-on and the Béis Weekender. It comes in a ton of very fun colors and has nine interior and exterior pockets, including a separate space for shoes. The design makes room for all of your belongings in a more compact vessel than many other travel bags. There’s also a luggage trolley sleeve, and the fabric is lightweight and scratch-resistant, so it’s truly built to last.
Promising review: “The bag is so light and fluffy unlike those duffel bags that are super heavy and hard to carry. It’s spacious and a very functional carry on.” —Zhi Ying C. via Calpak
You can buy the Luka Duffel from Calpak for around $128.