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  • Writer's pictureThe Editors

The One Personal Item Bag We Always Bring on Board

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

The personal item bag is, by far, the most underrated travel accessory. You read article after article about the best carry-on bags and everyone raves about how much they can fit in the newest Away bag. But here's the thing: Utilizing your personal item is actually how you hack the luggage-limit system.

On any given flight, your personal item bag is usually carrying some version of the following: laptop, laptop charger, phone, phone charger, wallet, sunglasses, chapstick, makeup, snacks, and a book or Kindle. And if you're on a red-eye flight, the personal item bag will have to be even more stocked—mini versions of your favorite skincare products, contact solution, and possibly a change of clothes. If you're really desperate, it sometimes even serves to carry your actual purse.

That said, this bag needs to do it all. It has to be easy to carry, built to last, and spacious enough for everything you'll need on your flight—oh, and it has to fit under the seat in front of you. If you're someone who prefers to travel with just a carry-on and a "small handbag" (hi, you came to the right place), then it's time to invest in the absolutely perfect personal item bag. Below, see the styles our founders bring with them on every single flight.

#1 Pick for Best Personal Item Bag: Lo & Sons "The Rowledge" Travel Backpack

lo and sons the rowledge womens laptop backpack in black with gold hardware

"Using a backpack as a personal item always feels like a bit of a travel hack—you can load it up and still navigate the airport with free hands. This nylon backpack from Lo & Sons with leather accents and gold hardware holds so much, and in such an organized manner, it's hard to believe it even qualifies as a personal item (but miraculously, it does).

There's a laptop sleeve with water-resistant zippers to help ward off rain or spills, interior and exterior pockets galore, and it can even be converted into a tote should you wish to carry it that way. It comes in nine different colorways, but black and gold is always a winning combo."

#2 Pick for Best Personal Item Bag: Cuyana Oversized Carryall Tote

oversized carryall tote bag in dark olive pebbled leather from cuyana

"First and foremost, any personal item bag has to have a zipper. You want to avoid any potential scares with passports, boarding passes (if you haven't gone digital), and wallets falling out in airplane aisles. Especially if you're someone who carries a laptop with you at all times, you need a sturdy bag that has the ability to slip over your suitcase handles as you maneuver around other travelers.

This carryall from Cuyana checks every box. There's room for a 15-inch laptop, and the leather is flexible enough that you can store it under the seat with ease. It even has the option for a small, stylish personalized monogram—which we love to add to luggage and travel accessories."


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