Gift Guide: My Favorite Bags, Backpacks and Pouches for Travel

I like bags, ok? And I do not believe that one bag fits all. In fact, there is a perfect bag for every activity, occasion or mood. Here is a round-up of my favorite bags for travel, just in time for holiday shopping – and travel season! I own and use every single one of these bags pictured below – from backpack to pouch – and they have become my favorite travel must-haves. You will find something for everyone on your list!

But first, here is a little disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of these items for yourself, I may receive a small commission fee at no extra cost to you (woohoo)!

Mother Lode Weekender Travel Backpack (eBags) – $129

Um, hello. Meet the perfect carry-on bag with the best features, smart design, and a lifetime warranty. I wish I was Oprah so I could give one of these to every person I know. This is hands-down the best piece of luggage that I have ever owned. It is durable, attractive, and has the perfect amount of pockets: enough to stay organized yet not so many that you can’t find where you stashed things.

And don’t let the name “weekender” fool you! This is like the clown car of luggage: I have fit more into this bag than I thought possible (with the help of packing cubes, see below), and it still fits into the overhead bin. Wear this bag as a backpack for hands-free travel, tuck backpack straps away and carry brief-case style or throw the bag over your shoulder with a duffel strap. 

Need some wheels? Try the Mother Lode Rolling Weekender Travel Backpack with Wheels ($199).

Perfect for: Every single person you know, especially those who insist on carry-ons ONLY. This is also a great gift for the teenager/graduate/college student in your life.

Totepack No. 2 (Fjällräven) – $135

I use this for my “personal item” on the plane. On a flight, it fits a wallet, extra layer, tablet, headphones, water bottle and snacks. In summary: everything for me and nothing for my kids (perfect).

Fjällräven bags are made from heavy duty G-1000, which is a durable, densely woven fabric made from recycled and organic polyester and cotton. G-1000 is hard-wearing and gets better looking the more the bag is used.

The main compartment has a zippered opening and a little inner pocket for keys, wallet, and other items you want to keep safe – plus a key ring on a textile strap. There is also an outside zippered pocket. It includes short leather handles and long textile shoulder straps, the latter which can be adjusted so the bag can be carried as a backpack (see pics below).

Want a smaller size? Try the Totepack No. 1 ($99).

Perfect for: Those ladies in your life who have graduated from the diaper bag, or women traveling without kids.


Duck Bag Canvas Tote (BAGGU) – $32

This bag is very similar to the Totepack above, but without the backpack functionality, zipper enclosures and steeper price. Use as your personal item on a flight (it can fit a laptop) – or pack in your luggage for beach days and shopping outings.

The Duck Bag has one large pocket and one small inner pocket, both with snap closures. Carry it in your hand, over your shoulder, or across your body with two short handles or an adjustable shoulder strap. Made from 100% recycled cotton. 

Looking for another color? Duck Totes also come in black or ochre.

Perfect for: Anyone who enjoys simple style and function.

Packing Cubes – 6pc Sampler (eBags) – $49

Every traveler needs a set of packing cubes, or ten. These make the best gifts and can be used for anything! Packing cubes make it easier to find things in a large bag and enable you to fit more in your bag in general. This set includes two small, two medium and two large packing cubes.

For example, you could have one large cube for your clothes, a medium cube for workout gear, a small cube for underwear and socks, and another for your electronic accessories—chargers, cables, etc. You know exactly where each item is kept, and when you need it, you just take out the appropriate cube. Packing cubes are also helpful for families on the go. Going to the pool? Pack all the swimsuits, travel towels and goggles in a large cube; no need to sort through everyone’s luggage. Arriving to your destination after bed-time? Pack your kids’ pajamas and bedtime needs into one cube so you can grab this out first.

New to packing cubes? Start with a set of three ($29). FYI: You will want more.

Perfect for: Over-packers! Families! Also great for those who love to be organized and those who need to get their sh*t together. In short, everyone.

Compact Backpack (Kikkerland) – $17

My son gave this to me for Mother’s Day one year, and I bring it with me on every trip. It’s extremely lightweight and surprisingly comfortable. The small, one-pocket backpack folds up into a tiny pouch and takes up no extra space in your luggage.

It holds a sweatshirt, water bottle, wallet and a few snacks. An interior zipper pocket holds your keys and chapstick.Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 7.14.37 AM

Want more options for lightweight packable backpacks? Try the Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack by ZOMAKE ($15) or the Ripstop Backpack by BAGGU ($32)

Perfect for: Kids!

3D Zip Bags – 3pc Set (BAGGU) – $32

3D zips are: simple, high quality, bright, durable, multi-purpose. Available in the cutest prints and vibrant solids, these zipper pouches are awesome to pack in your purse, carry-on or suitcase. They are machine washable and affordable. The best feature is the hook on one end that allows you to carry or hang them from a hook. They are great for organizing and quickly locating all your things from large to small – because thankfully, there are 3 perfect sizes.

Obsessed with pouches? Check out BAGGU’s Go Pouch Set ($36).

Perfect for: Makeup (small), toiletries (medium), shoes (large). You will want to buy all your friends a set of these – they make great gifts for kids and adults – alone or full of fun things.

Flash 18 Pack – REI Co-op – $40

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 8.11.53 PMThis is one of the best purchases we have made to date! It is our go-to bag for hiking and sporty activities because of it’s hydration-compatible design: it includes an internal sleeve for a water reservoir (sold separately). The large pocket provides ample room for hiking essentials (like sunscreen and snacks) and the straps are incredibly comfortable and easy to adjust. I have worn this for hours on long hikes and have been completely comfortable. The strap on the outside allows you too hook additional items to the exterior for easy access, and there is a small exterior zippered pocket for keys and small items. 

Need a water reservoir? The Camelbak Crux Reservoir ($27) is a perfect companion and holds 1.5 liters or water.

Perfect for: Hikers and festival-goers. This is a great gift for teenagers!

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