Want to pack light but don't know where to start? Let's find the perfect size bag using this quiz!

Four Bags Every Female Traveler Needs

If you’re a frequent traveler, you should have a high quality piece of luggage, but one bag usually won’t do. Each trip calls for a different type of bag; one will work best for your long-term backpacking trip, while another works best for your weekend escapes.

Every female traveler needs four bags in their repertoire, each for different trip lengths and uses that we discuss below!

Travel Purse or Daypack

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you’ll want to have a travel purse or daypack to carry and store necessities (like a map, water bottle, etc.) while you walk around at your destination. Our favorite daypack is certainly the PacSafe Slingsafe, which Brooke and I both have, which is sturdy with lots of pockets and room for your electronics.

But if you’re more looking for a travel purse, we recommend any of the following:

Another great option is stuffable bags that can easily be packed away when not needed:

Personal items for carry-on should fit under the seat in front of you.
Personal items for carry-on should fit under the seat in front of you.

Overnight Bag

A small duffel or large tote is ideal for an overnight trip. For this purpose, I bought a $20 “genuine imitation” Longchamp bag in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown in Malaysia. It slipped perfectly under my seat as my carry on and was great for spending the night at a friend’s house.

Even if you’re traveling long term, it’s good to bring an overnight bag (a daypack or oversized purse can also serve the purpose), as for specific excursions you might want to leave the non-essentials in your backpack locked up at the hostel. This has been the case for me for Fraser Island and the Whitsundays in Australia, Halong Bay in Vietnam and a trip to the Douro Valley in Portugal.

Great overnight bags include the daypacks mentioned above, as well as:

  • The Travelpro Crew 10 rolling bags – These also function as garment bags. You’ll see business travelers and flight attendants with these.
  • The Herschel Strand – It’s another cute option that comes in many colors (see the bag on Amazon).
light packing for the carnival spirit cruise
This is the eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible bag.

Weekend Bag

Don’t bring a larger bag than you need, especially for a short weekend getaway. You don’t want to be that girl that needs help with her bag that’s overflowing for a quick trip!

Every traveling girl needs a weekend bag, which in my case is usually my Timbuk2 Aviator. I’ve recently brought it on trips to Puerto Rico, New York and Kentucky.

I also like small duffels, specifically one I bought years ago at Urban Outfitters, as well as the weekender bags by Eagle Creek and Baggu. Brooke liked her Ebags Motherlode Weekender backpack for short trips, but actually thinks the size works better as an extended trip bag given it expands to a whopping 60 liters!

Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack review
Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack

Week or Longer

This is where the backpack versus suitcase debate begins. Only you can decide which is right for you, but the smaller you can pack for a week or longer, the better.

Some of our favorite backpacks include:

If you’re not interested in a backpack, try:

What’s your go-to piece of luggage for each of the above sections?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

Add your voice & leave a comment!

Gear We Use

speakeasy hidden pocket travel scarf ad
Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


tom bihn 3d organizer toiletry bag
Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

HPL Packing Method – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing course by HPL founder, Brooke.

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe.

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Bonnie says

    I absolutely love my Pacsafe Slingsafe. It has been on my wishlist since I read Brooke’s review and was delighted to receive it for Christmas from my boyfriend. I have been using it instead of my handbag most days since, but am looking forward to testing it out when we head to Bali in April and then rtw in June.
    My current travel backpack is the Entrada by Kathmandu and it’s great quality but at 65L it is very cavernous. I am looking to downsize and am liking the Osprey Fairpoint 40 and Lighthaul 38L by Kathmandu.

  2. sarah says

    I used the Osprey Farpoint 40 this year many times: 2 week trip to Europe, 1 week trip to Canada, 1 week trip to San Diego, long weekend trips all over new England. It is so well built and comfy to wear or carry. The only thing I added was my timbuk2 chest strap padding to make it more comfy whe using it to carry over my chest or shoulder. I am 5’2″ female and the size small fits perfect. I bought it online thru LL Bean (lifetime warranty on all products from them).

  3. Elizabeth says

    Those all kind of look the same to me! I can see why you’d want a daypack or handbag separate to your main travel bag, but I don’t really understand the difference between a ‘weekender’ and an ‘overnight bag’, and if they’re different, why can’t the ‘daypack’ backpack be an ‘overnight bag’?

    I use a CabinZero 44L for almost every trip, whether it’s a long weekend or six months. I tuck a handbag in the top or carry it along (depending on airline regulations etc). For one or two nights, I just sling a few extra things in my hand bag or a canvas shopping bag.

    I do have at least 4 bags though, including a daypack, a couple of collapsible duffel bags, a hiking backpack. My largest is my ‘moving countries’ check-in bag my parents bought me when I left for uni. Full, it holds 20kg of stuff, which is about all I can carry anyway.

    • Brooke says

      Hi Elizabeth – you can definitely have bags that cross over, and there are going to be different bags for different types of travelers and trips in particular. A daypack can absolutely be an overnight bag! But it really depends on the trip, and the person packing. Just like you mentioned, you do have different bags for different purposes. These are just some more normal classifications to point out the different bag purposes.

  4. Tonya says

    I’m due to go on two trips next year and I stumbled across this website soooo good. I would like to use my roots duffle bag as my carry-on and my purse. I made a check list of stuff on my phone and when I traveled the last time in 2014 the rules weren’t so tight and pricey. I used the roots duffle bag as my carry-on and a small wheeled suitcase for my luggage. Everyone I talk to likes using just one bag as a carry-on. So how can I pull this off for both trips successfully? I’m bringing the exact same stuff on both trips

Leave A Reply