Right Bag For The Right Trip

Right Bag For The Right Trip

  • Post category:Resources
  • Post last modified:August 30, 2020

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From luggage to organizers, starting off with the right bag makes any trip easier. You want something sturdy, lightweight, and just the right size for the trip.

Over the years we’ve been through our fair share of bags, and have developed quite the collection. Some have withstood the test of time, while others left us trying to balance 50 lbs on the last remaining good wheel. Far from fun!

These are the various types of bags we routinely use; what they work best for, and the specific bags we can recommend. 

Right Bag for the right trip Pinterest Image

We’ve found Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel 55 Liter perfect for just about every trip.

At 55 liters it’s a mid-size bag. Big enough for both of us to share on short trips, but we need a second bag for longer adventures. We love that it flattens, making it easier to store on trips where we have less space. 

Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel 55L

What we love about the bag:

  • At 3.2 lbs, including the straps, it’s one of the lightest checked bags we’ve found.
  • Shoulder straps convert it from a duffel to a backpack.
  • Flexible and can be flattened. Easy to stuff into the car on road trips.
  • Rugged, durable, and water resistant. We dragged this around South America, Iceland, the U.S. and the U.K., and it still looks new.
  • Folds up small. We’ve kept it as a spare bag on trips where we plan on coming back with more than we left with.
  • We use the 55 liter, but they also have a 40, 70 and 100 liter bags.


  • The bag doesn’t come with a roller, which is what keeps the weight down. The larger version of this bag does come with a roller attached.
  • As it is an open space, we find it works best with packing cubes to give organization and structure.

Carry On Bags

Picking the right carry-on bag is probably one of the more challenging of luggage choices. Different airline carriers have different size requirements, especially when traveling internationally.

The most important factor for us in a carry-on is weight. Ideally, we want them 7 lbs or less.  Both Travelpro and IT Luggage make lightweight bags that hit our value point between quality and cost.

Carry-On Rollers

We look for roller bags with some protection around the wheels, though these are becoming increasingly harder to find.

  • Our favorite roller is the Travelpro Crew Versapack. The 21-inch version gives the most usable space, but is too wide for most airlines. So, opt for the 20-inch.
  • IT Luggage makes the lightest roller we’ve found that also maximizes our space, and is affordable.

Max-out Your Carry-On

If we need to max out our carry-on capacity, we use the Cabin Max Tallinn.

It’s completely flexible so we use packing cubes to give it structure. Best of all, it only weights 1.87 lbs.

Tip: “Backpacks” are less likely to be forced into checked luggage at the gate, like many roller cases.

Checked Lugguge

Likely to be abused in baggage handling, checked luggage will eventually break in some way. It’s not unusual to see cracked hard cases, missing handles, or broken wheels. Sadly, this is true of cheap and expensive bags alike.

The Travelpro Maxlite 5, is a good compromise between price and quality.

The two wheels are reasonably protected by the molding, instead of sticking out from the suitcase body. Plus, the Travelpro brand is well trusted by flight crews and frequent flyers alike.

Camera Bags

We bring a camera bag everywhere we go. It has to be strong, but also ideally not look like a camera bag.

For short trips, we slim down our camera gear and bring Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack 20L as it nicely doubles as a day pack.  It keeps our gear safe while being stylish enough for a city trip, yet rugged and compact enough for hiking. We’ve had ours for over three years now and used it on countless trips; it still looks new.

The 20-liter fits all this, but there is also a 30-liter version.

  • Full-frame DSLR camera with Nikon 80-400mm attached
  • DSLR with Nikon 35mm attached
  • Nikon 50mm
  • Tablet
  • Memory cards, cleaning clothes, etc.

If we need to bring all our photography gear, we opt for the bag we’ve relied on for over 10 years, the Lowpro Vertex 100 AW.  This bag is a workhorse, I love it.

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, the Altura Photo Wanderer mimics the layout.

Bags That Keep You Organized

Packing Cubes

Travel Packing Cubes Eagles Creek - Right Bag

Packing cubes save space, keep you organized, and make repacking a cinch. We have three sets, but my favorite is the Eagle Creek’s Original Starter set, especially the Garment Folder. The other two are more budget friendly options, but they have still held up well over the years.

Toiletry Bags

The right toiletry bag has a sturdy metal hook, plenty of compartments, flexible but firm structure, and a quick drying water resistant material.

Cord Organizer

In the age of technology, everything comes with a cord. To keep us organized, we found a cord organizer keeps us from leaving anything behind.

We hope you find these items useful, we certainly do. For more recommendations on travel gear visit more in our Travel Shop.

If you have questions for us or suggestions for other readers, please leave a message in the comments below.

Travel Resources

We recommend and use these companies to arrange our travel plans; they make travel planning easy and affordable. If you have questions on our experiences, feel free to ask us!

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