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Best carry-on luggage (backpack & suitcase), best hand luggage, and ultralight packing tips for women.

There are so many benefits to traveling with carry-on luggage only. First, it will save you time by not checking your bag and waiting for it at the carousel after your flight. Second, it will save you money by avoiding excess airline baggage fees and the risk of the airline losing or damaging your bag.

Recently, Max and I were flying with Aeroflot airlines from Barcelona to Hong Kong with the layover in Moscow. Our backpacks didn’t make the connection which meant losing time at HK the airport filling out paperwork, communicating with the courier company, and then waiting for the bags to be delivered to our hotel. Not a fun way to spend your holiday!

Then when we were flying with Cebu Airlines in The Philippines, Max checked his bag only to have it returned covered in honey. The airline was less than helpful, and eventually, after a long discussion, the staff cleaned the honey off his bag. Another woman’s bag which had been affected was actually damaged. In both these cases, we received no compensation from the airlines.

If you aren’t already traveling with carry-on luggage only, this is your time to improve your travel experience! And if you are but need a new bag, this article will help you choose the perfect lightweight backpack or suitcase.

Here are 3 steps to traveling lighter and faster:

  1. Best carry on suitcase for women
  2. Best travel backpack for women
  3. Best travel handbag or tote for women
  4. Best travel daypack for women
  5. Ultralight backpacking tips.

Packing tips for a carry on backpack

1. Best carry-on luggage for women (backpack or suitcase)

Best carry on suitcase for women

Switching to carry on luggage doesn’t mean that you have to buy a backpack. You can still travel in style with a small suitcase. Personally, I love the Hedgren Transit Trolley and have been using it for almost three years.

The Hedgren Transit Trolley has plenty of pockets and compartments to make packing a breeze. Its front compartment is the perfect size to fit a laptop or document folders, so you can keep your business in order while traveling.

Best travel backpack for women

Durable and quality-made, Osprey backpacks are famous for a reason. I bought my Osprey Porter Travel 46-Liter Backpack around five years ago and have used it to backpack through South East Asia twice as well as Central America for 9 weeks.

It amazes me how much I can fit into the Osprey Porter 46L, including 14+ days of clothing, three pairs of shoes, and my laptop. See my ultralight backpacking tips at the bottom of the post to maximize space when packing.

2. Best hand luggage (backpack or tote)

Best travel handbag or tote for women

I chose a Hedgren Swing Large Tote Bag specifically because it was large enough to fit my laptop inside but not too large that it can’t be stowed under airline seats. In fact, I can also fit my laptop, wallet, two phones, and other electronics.

It comes with plenty of pockets so that you can easily find your sunglasses and personal products rather than searching around or emptying the whole bag out.

Best travel daypack for women

The Hedgren Rallye Backpack with RFID Blocking is great for day trips, so you can keep your hands free. The Belgium-designed backpack is quality-made with three compartments to keep your stuff organized. The Rallye may not be able in the US but you can check out the Hedgren Vogue Backpack.

I got my Hedgren bags in April 2017 and have been using them ever since. I interchange between the Swing Tote and Rallye Backpack depending on the trip that I’m going on.

Hedgren campaign - Chantell Collins

3. Ultralight backpacking tips

Packing list for a carry on (summer or winter)

Once you have chosen your carry on luggage, you might need to review your current packing list to get rid of unnecessary items and weight. Choose from the warm weather carry-on packing list or cold weather (for both men and women).

Get your printable packing list as part of the free, online Budget Travel Bootcamp.


Packing tips for a carry on backpack

Below are my packing tips for the Osprey Porter Travel 46-Liter Backpack. By using these ultralight backpacking tips, including the packing lists and tips below, you will be able to maximize the space in your backpack.

  • Roll smaller items and store vertically inside pockets first (e.g. tank tops, shorts or men’s briefs)
  • Place heavier items like shoes at the bottom of the bag
  • Lay any items that need to stay flat on the bottom of the bag (e.g. shorts that don’t roll well)
  • Put a larger item (e.g. travel towel or toiletry bag) at the very front of the bag where it is curved.
  • Fill up space in between with larger items. Roll clothes first before placing in the bag.
  • Place any other flat or bigger items that don’t roll on top
  • Store your laptop in the back pocket.
  • Put any smaller items that you need easy access to in the front pockets.

See my 10 best travel accessories for women to save time, money, and the planet.

This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 


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About Chantell Collins

Avatar for Chantell CollinsChantell is a perpetual bargain hunter, veggie lover, and minimalist. She created Budget Travel Babes for women, like YOU, who want more affordable, responsible, and sustainable travel.