The Best Bags, Backpacks and Luggage for International Travel

bags for international travel

As avid backpackers and travelers, we know how important it is to invest in bags for travel that you truly love and provide the most functionality. We believe that a sturdy travel bag is absolutely worth investing in as it should hopefully last you for years! If you have luggage that you love, it is one less thing to worry about when you plan your next international trip.

This post will help you choose the best bag for international travel, depending on your travel style and needs. Happy shopping!

Choose a travel bag that is right for you and your trip

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to travel luggage. We love our backpacks and prefer to use those over a rolling bag. A rolling bag can get in the way when trekking through the cobblestone streets of Europe. On the other hand, using a rolling bag takes the stress off of your back and it is much more comfortable to stroll through the airport. Depending on your location and duration of trip, one may make more sense than the other!

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The best personal item bags for travel

We are huge advocates for investing in a sturdy personal item. It is so important to utilize the space in this bag as it typically is free to have a personal item on a flight. You’d be surprised how much you can really fit in this sized bag! We usually fit extra clothes and toiletry items in this bag to free up more space in your larger bag of choice.

What is a personal item?

A bag is considered a personal item if it can fit under the seat in front of you on the airplane. Airlines worldwide will allow you to bring a personal item on the plane for free while charging different rates for checking or carrying on a different bag. You are only allowed one personal item on a flight.

Below are the best options for a personal item that will allow you to fit as much as possible on your trip!

Calpak Terra Laptop Backpack

We have grown to love the Calpak brand and this is our preferred backpack to use as a personal item. It fits so much and can either open at the top or be completely unzipped and opened like a suitcase. It also has a sleeve to slip it on a rolling bag! We can typically fit everything we need for a long weekend trip in this bag alone.

The Backpack BEIS

This is another great option for a smaller backpack that will fit under the airplane seat and it fits the same amount as the Calpak. You can’t go wrong with either, it just comes down to personal style preference.

Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack

Cotopaxi has recently become one of the most popular travel brands for good reason! They have tons of unique and functional designs. This design is perfect for a short weekend trip because of the different compartments to stay organized. One thing to note is that there is no side pocket for your water bottle. To offset that, you can attach your water bottle on a carabiner to a loop on the bag.

Amazon Travel Backpack (budget option)

This is a more affordable version of the Calpak bag on Amazon. This is one of the best personal items to purchase at a very reasonable price and there are tons of different color options!

Cotopaxi Uyuni Sling Backpack

This is another unique Cotopaxi design with excellent reviews. It is a sling (one-strap) backpack, so if two straps are essential, this is not the right bag for you. We have confirmation from a friend that it does indeed fit under the airplane seat!

Amazon Carry-On Duffel Bag

If you prefer for your personal item to be a duffel instead of a backpack, this bag will be perfect for you! The medium size fits under the airplane seat and there are tons of colors to choose from.

The best travel carry-on backpacks

best backpacks for travel

We are very passionate about our favorite travel backpacks and love living out of a backpack! These options have very similar features so again, it comes down to personal style preference and what features are most important to you.

One thing to note is that not all travel backpacks are approved as carry-on size. We have tested lots of different backpacks and always make sure that the options listed can fit in the overhead compartment of the plane.

Calpak Terra Large 50L Duffel Backpack

I recently purchased this backpack duffel to match the Calpak personal item listed above and love having the matching set! This fits in every plane’s overhead compartment, and it allows me to pack more than any other bag I have owned.

One great thing about this design is that it can be carried as either a large backpack or over the shoulder. I love having the option!

Osprey Farpoint 55

We have used these exact bags for years, and they have been literally around the world with us! The Farpoint 55 comes with a smaller day bag, but with complete transparency, we ditched those and got bigger personal item backpacks. The one that came with the 55 was too small for our purpose of travel. We still recommend this as one of the best travel backpacks because the main bag is the perfect size to fit everything you need in a carry-on item.

Cotopaxi Allpa 50L Duffel Bag

This is another carry-on backpack that we love. We used this on multiple trips and particularly enjoyed the functionality of the bottom pocket! It will fit in the overhead compartment as long as it is not stuffed to the brim.

Patagonia Ascensionist Pack 55L

This Patagonia functions similarly to the Osprey Farpoint and fits the same amount. They are shaped slightly differently and have a variety of color options so again, the best choice for you comes down to personal preference. We met lots of other backpackers who love this as their main bag for travel!

The best carry-on rolling bags for travel

If you prefer a rolling carry-on bag, there are tons of great options out there for any budget! These are the highest rated rolling bag options for international travel.

Calpak rolling bags

Calpak is a trusted travel brand and they have a variety of carry-on rolling bag options. There are also tons of different colors and price points to choose from! You can’t go wrong with a Calpak bag and then you can get larger luggage to match if you need it.

Away Carry-on Suitcase

Away is a trusted brand for any sized luggage and they are especially known for their lifetime warranty bonus. If you splurge on an Away bag, you will be set for life with your luggage. There are also tons of unique color options to choose from!

Monos Travel Carry-on

Monos luggage is another tried and true brand to optimize space in a carry-on bag. Again, it is a splurge but the bags are chic, practical and will last you years of travel!

Amazon carry-on option

This is a more affordable carry-on option on Amazon. We have used this one on multiple trips and it is great! If you need a cheaper option, this is a great choice.

The best travel day bags

luggage for international travel

A day bag to carry while you are walking around and exploring new places is an essential travel item! Depending on your travel plans and destinations, you will need a variety of bag options.

Belt bags for travel

Belt bags are such a great bag to carry while you are traveling! They hold all of the essentials and are the easiest to keep safe from potential pickpockets. It is super easy to grab anything you need since it easily and comfortably sits across your body. Belt bags are also great because you can wear them along with your personal item on a flight. They are perfect to hold the essentials like your passport, wallet, headphones, kindle and portable chargers on travel days!

Here are a few of the best belt bags for travel.

Mini travel backpacks

Sometimes you may need a little more space in your day bag and a mini backpack is the perfect solution. These are comfortable to wear all day long and carry all of your essentials. There is also more space in a mini backpack for larger cameras or other travel products that you want with you all day.

Here are a few of the best mini backpacks for travel.

Here are a few other travel essentials we love!

We hope this list of the best bags for international travel helps you pack for your next international trip! Be sure to browse our other travel resources to make sure you have everything you need for your trip.

Hi friends! Welcome to The Jet Lag Journey.

This is an online destination that tackles difficult travel questions in order to make worldwide travel practical and accessible. Happy exploring!

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