One of the most important, and often most overlooked, decisions to make when traveling abroad is what luggage to take. Most of us would rather be scoping out a cool weekend getaway, finding new restaurants to try, or making lists of must-see attractions. Figuring out the best luggage for your trip seems boring and dull in comparison.
But, great luggage is essential for a great trip. We have assembled a list of go-to options for all your travel abroad needs. A lot of time and research was invested into this list as we believe your travel gear should propel you forward on your adventures. It shouldn’t be a burden. With the right gear, you gain the confidence to explore further and push more boundaries. And that’s what meaningful travel is all about.
Read on to learn our breakdown on the best luggage for travel abroad this year.
What makes luggage “good” vs “great?”
The luggage industry is huge! The amount of companies and products available will make your head hurt if you look long enough. In this endless sea of luggage options, there are many good options out there for you. But, with how big of a decision it is to travel abroad, we wanted to show you the options we considered great! Use these guidelines (as we did) when doing your own research in finding the best luggage options out there:
- Ability to be hands free. Being able to carry your luggage like a backpack is a must. Wheeled luggage is very convenient, no argument there. But, have you ever tried to wheel a suitcase on the old cobblestone streets of Italy? Not fun. The best luggage for travel abroad allows you to be hands free, giving you the ability to perform nearly every other task required to travel (while your luggage is in tow!).
- Durability. The rigors of travel are tough on our luggage. You need something constructed out of strong, durable materials that will hold up to the wear and tear that a life of travel will inflict. All reputable companies will disclose the materials used in the construction of their products. A few common, quality materials to look for are 600D Nylon, Tarpaulin, 1000D Polyester and Cordura.
- Company values. Purchasing quality luggage is a big investment. When doing so, be sure the company you are purchasing from has your best interests in mind. We prefer products from smaller companies, as they are more focused on providing the most value possible to you. Luggage companies that were started by travelers also tend to produce great products. Being travelers themselves, they have the knowledge and experience to know what works best.
Your study abroad backpack—or backpack for any kind of meaningful travel—should fulfill the above requirements at minimum. That’s the sweet spot!
The best all-around luggage
The Travel Bag by Nomatic
Our vote for the best all-around luggage is the Travel Bag by Nomatic. Started by John and Jacob out of their basement, Nomatic is driven by a passion to create the most functional travel gear ever. This passion shines through in the design of their Travel Bag which boasts over 20 features! The bag is constructed out of durable and waterproof Tarpaulin material, so it is made to last and keep your belongings dry.
A wrap around zippered flap opens the bag up lengthwise—giving you easy access to the entire bag. This flap also has a built-in padded sleeve for a laptop and a tablet. Thanks to an innovative strap design, you can either wear this as a backpack (hip belts included) or carry as a duffel. Hate putting your dirty shoes in the same space as your clean clothes? There is a separate, self-contained pocket made just for shoes!
There is even a built-in sleeve which allows you to slide the Travel Bag over the handle on a rolling suitcase if needed. The combination of its carry-on size, durable and waterproof construction, and endless features make this great bag our vote for Best All-Around Luggage.
- Best For: Study Abroad, Intern Abroad, Long Term Travel (i.e. Teach Abroad), Carry-On Travel
- Cost: $240
- Buy It Now!
Best carry-on luggage for international travel
Minaal Carry-On 2.0
Looking for the perfect carry-on bag that fits all the strict international airline standards? Minaal Carry-On 2.0 is just the bag for you—it’s the best luggage for traveling abroad with only hand luggage.
The team at Minaal designed this bag specifically to be compliant with all international carry-on bag restrictions.* Don’t let the sleek design fool you. The Carry-On 2.0 is made of heavy duty 600D Nylon, so it’s built to last. The backpack straps include a sternum strap for added comfort while carrying. The bag opens into a lay-flat design, making the process of packing and unpacking simple. While it is a bit on the smaller side (allowing it to be a universal carry-on), there is still ample space to pack for an extended weekend trip. Avoid checked bag fees with this great bag from Minaal!
- Best For: Carry-On Travel, Weekend Trips, Intern Abroad
- Cost: $299.00
- Buy It Now!
*Note, these are changing all the time, please refer to your airlines rules before purchasing
Best luggage for travel & work
Standard Luggage’s Daily Backpack
When work coincides with travel, there is a delicate balance to achieve. You want a functional and comfortable bag, but you don’t want to show up to the office with your hiking backpack and its 57 straps dangling everywhere. You want something that is professional and practical. Look no further than The Daily Backpack from Standard Luggage.
The Daily is constructed with hide-away straps, which allow it to function as a backpack, a briefcase, or a shoulder bag. Constructed out of 310D Nylon, the Daily is durable, yet sleek and professional looking. The compartments and pockets are designed with the young professional in mind, complete with padded laptop and tablet sleeves.
- Best For: Carry-On Travel, Work Related Travel, Intern Abroad
- Cost: $119.00
- Buy It Now!
Best luggage for adventure travel
Allpa 35L from Cotopaxi
Looking for best luggage for traveling abroad that can keep up with your ultra-adventurous ways? The Allpa 35L from Cotopaxi is perfect for you.
Constructed from heavy duty Nylon ensures this bag can withstand even the most rugged adventures. Cotopaxi designed the harness system with backpackers in mind. There are padded shoulder straps and a padded hip belt to help evenly distribute the weight while carrying. The Allpa 35L has a full, wrap around zip opening, allowing you easy access, comparable to a suitcase. Inside, Cotopaxi included zippered mesh pockets, keeping all your stuff organized. There is even an included rain cover, which can be stowed in the pack, making it a natural pick as one of the best backpacks for study abroad or volunteer abroad with a healthy dose of adrenaline.
- Best For: Adventure Travel, Weekend Travel, Short-Term Study Abroad, Carry-On Travel
- Cost: $199.95
- Buy It Now!
Other essential gear for every traveler:
- Packing cubes. No meaningful traveler should leave home without packing cubes. This essential piece of travel gear is for perfect for trips of all types. By subdividing your luggage, there is no more unpacking your entire bag to find that one specific thing you needed. Packing cubes keep you organized, which makes packing and unpacking less of a chore.
- Daypack. All the luggage we have shown you so far is great for getting your stuff from your home to your destination. But, you don’t want to lug your large bag around with you everywhere you go. That’s where a good daypack comes in. Use your daypack for your daily adventures. Perfect for exploring new cities or taking day trips, a smaller bag is a must during longer-term meaningful travel.
- Adapter. Traveling abroad introduces many new and exciting differences to your daily life. For new travelers, one of the least expected differences are the various electrical outlet types found abroad. Don’t cross everything off your list before leaving, only to forget an outlet adapter. Make sure to research what you need before leaving, allowing you to keep your devices charged while abroad.
- External battery. Long haul flights, cross-country train rides, and action-packed days of exploring take their toll on the batteries of our electronic devices. Taking an external battery pack ensures your devices stay charged, all day long. Never miss a picture, Instagram post, or text again by keeping one with you in your daypack!
#TravelHack—Buy it all at the same time!
You’ve read through this long list and thought, “I need all of these for my trip—yikes!”. Well, cast your travel-gear-purchasing worries aside because you’re in luck! Our company, Traveling Tranquilo, has created the No Borders Bundle specifically for you, slightly worrisome travel worrier. We have researched and tested a full line up of travel gear and accessories to bring you a one-stop shop solution. Awesome, right?
Complete with a carry-on bag, a daypack, packing cubes, outlet adapter, external battery, and even a phone case to help you break language barriers. Don’t need everything, no problem. Customize the Bundle to fit your needs.
Get what you need and get out there!
When preparing for any trip abroad, be sure you take an honest look at your travel gear situation—don’t sacrifice comfort and durability for quick and cheap stuff. You deserve the best luggage for travel abroad.
Your luggage and accessories need to be built for the type of travel you plan to do. It may not be the most exciting part of planning a trip abroad, but it's one of the most important. Being properly equipped ensures that you get the absolute most out of your adventures. Stay focused on your travels, not your stuff. Hopefully this guide helps provide great options to suit your needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions—it's our mission to help!
This article was provided by Traveling Tranquilo. Traveling Tranquilo was started with one purpose in mind—help travelers get the most out of their adventures by properly preparing and packing beforehand.