Over the past few years, what I call the “Ryan Air” model of travel has become increasingly popular within the United States. Frontier, Allegiant, and Spirit are all a la carte airlines, which means that if you want to reap the benefits of luxuries like an assigned seat and carry-on luggage, you have to pay for it. If you are anything like me, you are always looking to save time and money when traveling. If I can only bring a personal item, a personal item is what I bring.
Most airlines have strict size requirements for personal items, usually around 7 x 15 x 16 inches. That may not seem like a lot of space, but if you roll your clothes and wear your bulkiest items on your person, you can fit a shocking amount of things in that tiny little space…as long as you think strategically. Fortunately, there is a type of luggage that is perfect for situations like these – duffel bags!
Duffel bags offer a ton of interior space. With minimal internal compartments, it means that all of the space inside of your bag is dedicated to the items you are bringing with you. Below are the best duffel bags on the market for traveling minimally. Fly safe and don’t forget about all of that unused space in your pockets.
This bag is lightweight and compact, with dimensions of just 18” x 14” x 6”. When not in use, it folds into itself (the dimensions become 8” x 7” x 1.5”). It also has a sleeve that fits over the luggage handles of roller bags, just in case you are traveling with both. Luggage often goes through a lot of banging around, even when it is carried on, which is why it is made of waterproof and tear resistant nylon material.
There is one exterior pocket, but no interior pockets, which means that none of the precious space will be taken up by anything other than your items. The only real downside here is that it doesn’t come with an over-the-shoulder strap, just two handles. It comes in 4 color options.
If you want the benefits of a small, personal sized duffel, without having to carry it around lengthy airport terminals, this is the bag for you. The dimensions are 17” x 10” x 8” and it has soft sides, two wheels, and a handle for easy rolling. It features one large pocket, one front pocket, and a side pocket for a water bottle.
It even has a strap across the back which means you can still hook it over the luggage handles of larger bags if you are traveling with one. There are some interior dividers, which isn’t great for maximizing space, but the added benefit of wheels make up for that. It comes in three fun patterns.
This bag is the shape that most people envision when they picture a duffel bag. It lies horizontally, has one large pocket, and two end pockets, which means there is a ton of space for your things. Made of sturdy, 600D polyester and dimensions of 17” x 10” x 9”, this bag will hold plenty. It comes in three colors, red, dark green, and royal blue.
This bag is also a traditional duffel bag in regards to style and durability. With dimensions of 27.5″ x 12″ x 11″, it can be folded up to lie completely flat or expanded as needed. It has an expandable side pocket, is lightweight, and water repellent. The shoulder straps are removable should you want to carry it with the two handles.
This duffel bag is 21.7″ x 14.8″ x 10.2″ and can be used as a carry-on. This stylish bag has leather trim to further protect your items. It is made of a high-density cotton which allows you the ability to wash it. It weighs 4.5 pounds and comes in a number of colors including blue, army green, coffee, gray, khaki, and black.
This duffle bag will definitely stand out in a crowd, with a bold design and a few large exterior pockets. Its dimensions are 17″ x 13″ x 9”, and with two handles and an over the shoulder strap, it will be easy to carry. The exterior pockets are great for small toiletries and a water bottle, and the large pocket is sure to fit all of your items.
So whether you are bound for a weekend get-a-way or a weeklong trip with access to laundry, sometimes all you need is a little personal item to get you through it. Pick which bag speaks to you. Learn to prioritize which items you truly need and which are not worth the extra luggage fee.