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Best Travel Bags and Suitcases for Women

It seems like everyone I talk to lately is traveling somewhere this summer! Whether it’s a weekend getaway, heading on a cruise, or going overseas, having the perfect piece(s) of luggage can make or break your trip. Gone are the days of two-wheeled suitcases and lugging heavy totes around. Things have changed quite a bit in the travel world, so I’ve rounded up the best travel bags and suitcases for women.

Plus, if you’re traveling anytime soon, be sure to check out my suggested list of travel toiletries to help you get ready for your trip and my post on how to pack a hat. I’ve also got a post on the 8 Things I Always Pack When Traveling.

What Luggage I Personally Own

My husband bought me several pieces of Hartmann luggage for our first overseas cruise twenty-six years ago. I remember the year because it was for my 40th birthday. I continue to use the boxy handheld (similar) to this day. It’s getting pretty tired looking, so I’m hunting for the perfect replacement.

Here is a very old picture of my first luggage…I used a waist bag even then.
  • Personal Carry-On Tote: There’s just something so spacious and functional about this square one (similar) from Hartmann. It fits over my roller handle, and the corners seem to hold a ton plus it fits perfectly under the seat in front of me.
Carry-on bag with Cashmere travel wrap on A Well Styled Life
I UPGRADED TO THIS SPINNER CARRYON SEVERAL YEARS AGO

I upgraded to a four-wheel roller bag several years ago and felt like someone had flipped a duh switch! Why had I been struggling with two wheels when four pivoting ones made life so much easier?

  • Rolling Carry-On: Last year, I upgraded my carry-on again to this Monos bag which has even better wheels! It is ridiculously lightweight, and the wheels help it just fly with a gentle touch.
  • Checked Bag: I don’t own one, which seems crazy, but I stopped checking a bag so many years ago that the ones we did own became dinosaurs, and we donated them. I did need one for my last blogging trip to Miami, so I’m now on the hunt and think I’ll try this one in black so the inevitable smudges don’t show.
  • Travel Purses: I have several travel purses from Lo & Sons and love them.
woman carrying a lo & sons crossbody bag
I HAVE THIS “PEARL” STYLE IN BOTH IVORY AND THIS GRAPHITE.

It comes with several straps, so you can wear it as a shoulder bag, cross-body, or clutch with a wrist strap.

TRAVEL BELT BAG / SANITIZER WIPES / SANITIZER SPRAY

I also have this Waverly bag in both ivory and pale gray. It’s a great belt bag, crossbody, or shoulder bag that doubles as a tiny evening clutch or a makeup bag inside a larger bag.

Best Checked Suitcases

If you’re in need of a new suitcase, it can be overwhelming since there are so many new brands on the market like Away, Paravel, Beis, etc., and then you have your tried and true brands like Tumi, Briggs & Riley, and TravelPro. It really comes down to your budget, how often you’re going to be using the bag, and what features you’re looking for.

In the case of a checked suitcase, the first thing to consider is what size you will need. They typically offer a medium size checked suitcase or a large one. Make sure to ask yourself these questions:

  • Will you be traveling for an extended period of time?
  • Are you trying to bring home some extra goodies?
  • Will you be bringing an additional suitcase that you have to roll around?

From there, you have to decide if you want a suitcase that has a hard shell or something with a soft exterior. I’ve included some of both below, but my personal preference is to go with a hard shell.

Last, but not least, make sure to buy a bag with spinner wheels. My jump to a spinner bag made all the difference in the world for ease and lessened my shoulder strain.

$$$ (Splurge): Monos 30-Inch Check-In Spinner

I’ve been shopping around for a checked bag, and this 30-inch suitcase from Monos is at the top of my list since I love my carry-on from this brand so much. I like that the handle has four height settings. It comes with laundry bags inside and has a limited lifetime warranty in case anything major happens to the shell, handle, or wheels. Plus, you get a 100-day trial, and if you don’t love it, you can send it back.

$$ (Budget Friendly): Travelpro Maxlite 5 25-Inch

Travelpro makes a solid bag that you’ll see lots of flight attendants and pilots using. This pretty blue will also make it easy to spot your suitcase when it’s time to collect your luggage. The nice thing about this one is that they use a coating to help make the soft case stain and water-resistant. The other thing to note is that this one has a two-inch expansion option and one deep area inside! I love bags that expand.

$ (Save): Coolife Luggage Set

While this is technically a 3-Piece set, I wanted to include it in case you’re looking just to upgrade all of your luggage. For the price, it comes with a 20, 24, and 28-inch suitcase, is less than $200, and is perfect if you’re not looking to spend a lot of money or won’t be traveling that often. They nest inside each other for easy and convenient storage in your closet, garage, or attic.

Best Rolling Carry-Ons:

$$$ (Splurge): Monos 23-Inch Carry On

I can say from personal experience that you can’t go wrong with this carry-on. Of course, I love how attractive it is, but it’s truly so much more than that. The wheels are super silent, and I can push it with absolute ease through the airport. The handle has four different settings, which is great if you are taller or shorter than the average person. Fully packed to the brim, it’s still lightweight enough for me to lift into the overhead bin.

$$ (Budget Friendly): Travelpro Expandable 21-Inch Spinner

The contoured grip on this handle looks like it would make pulling or pushing this around the airport a breeze, especially combined with the self-aligning wheels. This carry-on includes a handy garment organizer. The Travelpro brand also sells packing cubes that fit perfectly into their bags. They can help make packing for a trip so much easier.

$ (Save): Amazon Basics Hardside Carry On

I was hesitant to include an Amazon-brand suitcase, but I started to read the reviews and was very impressed. It has 39k+ reviews which said that it was a great value and held up well. At under $85, I think it’s worth a try. Plus, it has four double-spinner wheels for easy rolling and a handy interior organizer.

Best Travel Backpacks:

$$$ (Splurge): Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Have you ever heard of the brand Dagne Dover? Their company was founded by women, and I really appreciate how eco-friendly their products are. This water-resistant, neoprene backpack, for example, was made with 23 recycled water bottles! I’m sharing the camel, but it seems like Onyx would be another great option. The other nice thing I want to show you is that it has a trolley sleeve and can fit right over the handle of your suitcase so you don’t have to wear it the whole time.

$$ (Budget Friendly): Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack

I’ve been a big fan of Longchamp totes for years, so I was pleased to find this backpack. This one could also double as your purse, depending on where you’re traveling. I tend to gravitate towards neutrals that I can wear with everything, but if you prefer bright colors, this one comes in a bright pink, lime green, red, and even turquoise.

$ (Save): Large Travel Backpack

This airplane-friendly travel backpack has all of the bells and whistles for under $40. It’s not only waterproof, but it has padded straps, a laptop compartment, a trolley strap, and an anti-theft zipper pocket for your valuables. It’s similar to one made by CalPak that costs $140+.

Best Travel Totes:

$$$ (Splurge): Tumi Voyageur Packable Nylon Tote

I mentioned before that I am beginning to look for a new travel tote, and this one caught my attention. When not in use, it folds into a compact zip-top pouch that you can easily pack into your suitcase. If you plan to shop once you reach your destination, you could bring this along as a spare bag and then fill it with your travel finds for the way home.

$$ (Budget Friendly): Beis The Weekender Water Repellant Tote Bag

Take this weekender bag with you on your next overnight trip, or add it on top of your rolling bag to bring with you on your next travel excursion. Beis is a newer travel line that I’ve been seeing, and I really like how sleek their bags look. The cool thing about this bag is that you can store your shoes in the bottom of the bag in a separate area.

$ (Save): Women’s Canvas Overnight Tote

If you’re shopping for a new tote bag and aren’t looking for a hefty price tag, this canvas overnight bag is both attractive, durable, and affordable at under $40. Again, it fits over the handle of your suitcase, which is super nice if you are doing carry-on only. If you aren’t a fan of stripes, there are several other attractive colors and prints available.

Best Travel Purse:

$$$ (Splurge): Lo & Sons The Pearl Crossbody

If you spot me while I am on a trip, odds are that I am carrying this bag from Lo & Sons. It’s not only stylish but functional. It has so many pockets that I can stash all of my favorite on-the-go products (like emergency meds or extra sunscreen) while staying organized. Carry it as a shoulder bag, or remove the strap to use it as a large clutch which I like doing for dressier dinner plans.

$$ (Budget Friendly): Madewell Mini Leather Carabiner Crossbody

Sometimes a big bulky purse is annoying and burdensome when you are doing a lot of walking and exploring. This small, chic bag from Madewell is perfect for packing the essentials like your phone, a slim wallet, hand sanitizer, and lipstick.

$ (Save): Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag

I’m always fearful that I’m going to be the target of a pickpocket when I’m traveling, especially internationally. I love that this bag has locking zippers to help keep your belongings safe and secure.

Shop More of the Best Travel Bags and Suitcases for Women:

What are your favorite travel bags? Please share…I’d love you hear what works for you.

55 Comments

  1. Marni Brown says:

    I use a Lug Propeller 2 duffle bag for my personal item. It is stylish, durable and has lots of handy pockets. It fits on top of my carry on suitcase.
    Thanks for the informative posts

    1. I’ll have to check that out! I really love the easy of a personal item that slips over the handle. Thank you

  2. There are so many great choices for traveling! I love the carry-on.

  3. Cath🇨🇦 says:

    I will try this again…somehow what I wrote this morning went ‘pouf’ ! And it was gone.
    I wanted to say that several years ago Air Miles had a Canadian brand of luggage as merchandise to use their points. Heys had hard shell spinner wheel luggage covered with maps of the world 🌍 🌎 which I ordered, and was so pleased I did. No shipping charges either, so no money required as it was all Air Miles.
    They came in three sizes, the two smaller ones being my go to for travel. All fit inside each other for storage, so if there’s space for the larger one, you’re set. Being unique, they are easily seen on a carousel , and a bonus is seeing the faces of kids as they see the maps as I pass by.
    What I do see a lot of these days is so many black , and now dark navy luggage , all looking so much the same. People so often picking up what they think is there’s only to see a label showing it’s not.
    Something unique certainly works for me. There was one incident with my husband’s luggage , a royal blue set, also ‘ free’ using more Air Miles.
    The rather impatient taxi driver in London tried shoving the case into his trunk, closing the lid on a wheel. It was only after we left the taxi at City Airport in London to continue our trip to Italy that we realized he had snapped the wheel. Made travel difficult for us for the next couple of weeks, but Heys fixed it easily for us, once home, and I purchased an additional wheel just in case of any future problems. His spinner wheels were slightly different than the ones on my cases, which I thought glided better.

  4. I am a MONOS fan all the way. I bought mine and then added their packing cubes. The cubes have a zipper that travels around the cubes and compresses as it goes. Monos has MANY positive reviews on all the travel sites (like 50,000 reviews) so it is not just me that likes them

  5. I have the blue TravelPro carry on, and I love it! As you said, the color stands out, too.

  6. My beef is those that have carry on luggage that is more than they should. A carry on plus a backpack plus a tote. Really?! On my last trip home a couple had three carry on suitcases when they are trying hard to get people to check their carry on so we could board. Why were they allowed to get through with 3 when only 2 people. So we are delayed. People! Your carry on is 1 small carry on bag that you need to be able to pick up and put above and 1 personal item! Let’s be considerate so others can have room for theirs. End of rant!

    1. I totally agree! We noticed a lot of this on our last out of country trip. My fear is that if this keeps up, the carry-on rules will become even more restrictive.

  7. DeborahLM says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post. I have been traveling for years with only a tote that fits under the seat. I have done up to 10 European days with it. I am looking for an under the seat with wheels now. At 70 my shoulders can’t take lugging it anymore Would you consider another post with anti theft cross body bags links and under the seat carry ons with wheels? So much great information here! Thank you so much.

    1. Yes I will and I want the same bag you’re looking for!

    2. Sorry to butt in on Jennifer’s reply. But, I spent months researching anti theft bags and Pacsafe have a good choice of cross body and a couple of carry on bags. I only used Travelon because I was given one, but my brother had a Pacsafe x body which had an extra locking features

  8. My luggage needs have evolved over the years. I used to wear a backpack on to the plane, but I can’t handle the weight anymore. I use a wheelchair more often now, so the backpack is cumbersome. I don’t do carry on. I can’t lift the bag into the overhead bin, and there isn’t always some kind person handy to help me. I check my carry on size bag. I need to use a cane all the time now, so wielding that while trying to roll a suitcase at the same time is difficult. I am trying out an under the seat bag with spinner wheels this month (on a short trip.) If that works, I’ll take it to Europe next month for a long trip. I have been practicing using the smaller bag and cane at the same time. Able-bodied people have more choices, but those of us who need alternatives try to make do.

    1. Wheeling a roller bag while using a cane must be very difficult! It’s so smart of you to experiment on a short trip. I’d love a small on wheels that goes under the seat. What brand did you find?

  9. Lois Williams says:

    I’ve always loved my classic Hartman luggage that went all over Europe with me but once I started traveling more for business and wheels on luggage became available I switched but I still have my Hartman which I’m sure no one want😢

    1. I still have both my originals too. I love them.

  10. When shopping for luggage, have the airline’s website up on your phone to see what their carryon requirements/measurements are. Some include wheels in their measurements. Depending on where you sit, you may not be able to stow an underseat luggage as I experienced on Southwest-sitting by the window the wall comes inward & makes the space too narrow for my bag. Some airlines have the phone charger outlets on the chair legs. So again, too narrow for my underseat bag. Just sharing.

  11. Sydney Haskell says:

    All of these comments make me wistful for when I could travel around the country to see all of my family. It has become way too difficult as a disabled small woman to get around an airport and way too expensive for me. My husband hates to travel so I always went alone. Our luggage is old and heavy with two wheels. Not appropriate for todays travel. We don’t even travel by car to Arizona or California anymore to see two of my sons and their large families.

    1. Sydney Haskell says:

      If I did have to make a trip by airplane, I now know how to do it thanks to all of these wonderful tips. Thank you Jennifer and ladies.

    2. I’m sorry to hear that Sydney. I prefer to travel with someone as well.

  12. Hi Fellow Travelers, I would like to give a shout out to Travelpro luggage. I retired as a flight attendant in 2007 and I continue to use the Travelpro that was issued to me in the 1990’s. We travel often and I always appreciate how much I can pack. It’s beginning to look a little worn, and I will be shopping for a Travelpro once again. Happy traveling!

    1. Thanks for the positive vote!!

  13. Great post, so helpful. We have used TravelPro for years, all over the world. They have endured much abuse and travel trauma and are still great. We carry-on only these days. I use a Baggallini Metro Backpack for a purse. Years ago AAA hosted a travel packing workshop with Anne McAlpin (www.packitup.com). I still use her technique. No wrinkles, plenty of room. Also, 3 tops + 3 bottoms = nine outfits. I use scarves for variety to dress up. Easy to do now with kids & grands scattered all over the US! Kudos to you for this interesting post!

    1. I’ll have to check that out! Thanks for sharing

  14. I’m in Italy on a 3-week trip. We always travel with carry on only, as I don’t want to lose my luggage or wait for it after flights. I have a capsule wardrobe that can be interchanged and do hand laundry along the way. I wear the heaviest items on the plane. Do I get tired of my clothes? A little, but it’s worth it.

    We bring a collapsible duffel and often check bags on the return to accommodate purchases.

    1. I agree, I’d rather get bored with my wardrobe while traveling than haul too much around.

  15. We’ve been traveling with AirTag by Apple. Approximately $90 for 4. It works with your iPhone and it lets you know where your baggage is at all times. Puts your mind at ease when do several transfers.

    1. I now have them in all our bags and my husband’s key fob:)

  16. We have the Amazon expandable hardside luggage in carryon and check sizes and they are great. The wheels work great I love having the luggage sleeve on my tote bag. I’ve not had my luggage lost in a long time, but on our cruise last year the cruiseline “misplaced” my suitcase…lol.

    1. I find a luggage sleeve invaluable!

  17. I have both of the check in size monos bags and love them. They glide so easily!
    The best thing is you can purchase covers for them that prevent markings when flying.

    1. I need to order the covers😉

  18. What a timely post for my husband and I. We definitely need new travel bags. Now we have many to choose from. Thanks for all the research.
    .

  19. Jeanne Claire says:

    I bought the Travelon 25” bags for our last international trip pre Pandemic. My husband and I were looking for lightweight but sturdy and I wanted the spinner wheels. We both were amazed with the difference the spinner wheels made. I also bought the small carry on that fits under the seat on most planes. Mine is like a really cute overnight bag and his looks more like a backpack. They both have rollers and also fit onto the larger suitcases easily for travel through airports. We have used them for several domestic trips and will use them again for a trip to Germany this fall. I can definitively recommend their durability and ease of use.

  20. Anti-theft bags only work if you’re wearing them on your body. As soon as you put it down on a bench, hang it on the back of your chair, or place it on the hook on a restroom door, it’s gone. And nothing screams “vulnerable tourist” more than the Travelon branding.

    A shout-out to those of us who will never give up our two-wheeled suitcases and carry-on bags. I find four wheels difficult to maneuver, esp if changing directions when walking or on non-flat surfaces. My absolute favorite carry-on suitcase is by Osprey — it’s indestructible, well-designed, relatively inexpensive, soft not hard, with strong wheels and frame. It is astounding how much I can fit inside. Here’s a similar version:

    https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/127573

    1. Great point Bette! Your bag sounds great.

  21. Great post, Jennifer. Before the pandemic, I flew all the time, now, not so much
    and my luggage is looking dated. Really helpful to know the bags that are best for
    women, especially those of us who are not as agile/strong as we once were (I’m thinking of hoisting those heavy carry-ons into the overhead). Lots of good information!

  22. My sister gave me that Travelon anti theft bag and although it not the most stylish it was perfect. Am a bit ambivalent about expensive suitcases. Bought a new, rather expensive hard shell Samonsite ( for my recent overseas trip). By the time I reached Israel it had a massive hole in it and then had to rush around to buy a new one. For my carry on I bought an American Tourister soft sided 4 wheel spinner and it was great. It would have been light had I not stuffed it so full it ended weighing about 10 kgs. Luckily (for me) the airline staff (or a kindly male) hauled it up and down the overhead locker. Love the Longchamp Pliage bags for both home and travel.

  23. Teresa Landers says:

    Of course, what is an advantage depends on what you are looking for. I love a 2 wheel bag. Those extra inches are invaluable in a carryon suitcase. The wheels are a lot less vulnerable to damage if you are forced to check. And 4 wheels are restricted to smooth surfaces and do not cope well with sand, gravel or cobble stones. I traveled when employed so have been “everywhere, man”. A 19” Penguin by Munsingwear (blue and white palm print) 2 wheel roll aboard with an Eagle Creek Pack-it organizer, a large Pliage Longchamp tote (with necessities and valuables in case the larger bag must be checked), a Travelon purse that I pack empty to comply with the 2 item carryon limit. I spent 12 days in Costa Rica with this rig. Perfect!
    In a private moment, the guide told me “You always look nice”.

  24. I purchased the light blue backpack last year before a months long trip to Europe. I wanted one that you could open it all the way flat to pack clothing in and the price was right too.

    1. I have owned Hartmann (before wheeled luggage) and TravelPro and was very happy with both. Stood up well and took lots of abuse. But storing the bags is an issue. If I was purchasing now, I would look at Lipault (a French brand). They make foldable luggage. We have several carry-on roller bags. Their genesis is similar to TravelPro, designed and developed by pilots.

      1. OOPs didn’t mean to post as a reply to Lynne…….

  25. Pat Patterson says:

    Sorry for the spelling mistake of course you all know I meant compliments “long week”😂

  26. I am a big fan of MZ Wallace totes to use as your “Personal item”. They have several styles & colors, many with sleeves to put over your carry-on handle which I find essential. Don’t forget to leave room in your personal item for your belt bag or crossbody bag! I’ve been on planes where every woman wearing one was told that was a third piece and had to pack them away! One personal item & one carry-on only!!

  27. My Tumi nylon tote is no longer available, but it’s my go to for air travel. It fits under the seat and holds more than I could have imagined when I bought it while at my last job before retirement. I have a TravelPro carry on purchased long ago to replace my favorite Briggs & Riley because…weight. And I borrowed that LePliage backpack while visiting my DD in the UK and promptly purchased it in the Harrod’s (duty free) at Heathrow on my way home. The right bags make travel so much easier. Perfect day bag that folds up so perfectly. If I travelled more, I would definitely look at a new carry on with spinner wheels, but for now the TravelPro holds a lot and I can still lift it into the overhead. 🙂

  28. I highly recommend the Travelon purses because of their slash-resistant body and straps in addition to locking devices. Plus the straps are wider which is more comfortable. I used one during the many years that I travelled in Southeast Asia while teaching at a university there, and it still looks great.

    1. Thank you Memee. I’ll look into them.

      1. Jennifer, Pacsafe do quite a good range of X body bags. They have an extra locking system and whilst they may scream, ‘tourist’, I am glad I had an antitheft bag in Europe as the crowds in the museums etc, Ponte Vecchio, were ‘cheek to jowl’ and a pick pocket’s paradise.

  29. I’m in Italy now and had my new MZ Wallace crossbody stolen right under my feet at a restaurant. I had no idea I might be vulnerable on a sunny afternoon. Never saw the thief.
    My advice if coming here- wear your bag on your body at all times. I instinctively take off my bag when I sit down at a restaurant. I brought a waist bag as backup and it is reassuring to see my stuff in front of me. Not much room though.
    My Longchamps tote has been a lightweight champ for rain gear, wet wipes and purchases along the way. Small bags easier to steal than a large one.

    I would buy the MZ Wallace again older but wiser! And bring my tote. I put my crossbody in the tote on the plane and had an under seat wheelie. Highly recommend.

    1. Thieves are so canny. My daughter had her wallet stolen out of her zipped bag which was on the bench between her and a friend in a Dublin restaurant.

    2. Sorry to hear about your experience in Rome. I just returned from Europe and in both Paris and Rome wore an anti theft cross body neck wallet under my clothes., in which I kept my credit card and phone. Used my Travelon for small amount of cash etc.. Glad I did as we were sized up by the pick pockets on the train in Paris. On the train from Paris to Rome we used a Pacsafe wire chain looped through our suitcases (which were stored at end of carriage) as we heard of people getting their cases stolen. Paranoid? Probably,

    3. Oh no!! I’m so sorry. Thanks for alerting us all to be diligent.

    4. Sorry to hear that. It’s troubling we have to worry about theft while traveling. I enjoyed the information on luggage. I travel with a convertible backpack, crossbody , handle bag . I love that it holds my Canon camera wallet , etc . I like having to keep up with only my one bag . If anyone has a favorite please share.

  30. Pat Patterson says:

    Good morning and Happy Friday, I did purchase an anti theft cross body bag for my travels this summer. As a matter of fact it’s the one you posted several months ago from Amazon. I was pleasantly surprised how roomy it in on the inside and very light on my shoulder. For years I’ve had a set of Samantha Brown luggage that purchased from HSN, I still get complaints when I’m in an airport.
    Have a most wonderful weekend😍

    1. That’s great! Happy Friday Pat.

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