How to Pick the Perfect Traveling Bag?



DoraThis is Dora.

Dora is an explorer with more adventures than Alexander the Great. She is also bilingual and can also communicate with animals. With so much on her plate, she always remembers to take her backpack with her.

She loves her backpack as her travel companion when she ventures out to conquer the world. Whenever she performs amazing feats, she always has her bag with her.  It’s helped her so many times along her path to greatness.

Dora is awesome.

Be like Dora. Grab a bag.

Messenger Bag

Historically used as travel storage by postal workers, bicycle couriers and the like, they actually originated from the 1950s by utility linemen to keep their tools in while they climbed poles. The 50’s, so full of innovation… What a time that must have been to be alive. Today, they’re all the rage among fashionable college students, writers, and photographers because of the ease of removing textbooks, laptops, and other supplies. Functional aspects include the strap used to sling diagonally across your body so that the weight of the bag is distributed evenly along your torso. Nylon versions of messenger bags provide more protection against the elements whereas the classic leather versions are undisputedly more stylish.

They are particularly popular for photographers because of the easy access to the camera for a quick shot. Photo opportunities can last only a second and instead of fumbling around with a backpack, it’s an easy grab at the hip with a messenger bag.

Messenger Bag

Best for: Mobility, quick access to storage, style.


Popularized by lawyers because they always carry their “briefs” (not the underwear, the documents) inside it to court, hence the name. A sturdy frame encased in fine leather, briefcases share the same qualities as you would want in a businessman: Strong and well-put together. An added bonus to the functional storage aspect of briefcases is that modern technology has shrunk laptops to be small enough to fit in them as well.

There are three types of briefcases:

  • Portfolio: Briefcase with no handles. Basically a very big, expensive envelope. Lightweight and made to hold a limited amount of documents.
  • Folio Case: Retractable handles that can transform a briefcase into a portfolio and back again. Inspector Gadget-like. Very cool.
  • Attaché Case: Those briefcases that click open. Probably the most common type of briefcase used. The name comes from attaché officers, who were diplomatic representatives of an embassy. Attaché cases have leather pouches inside to store documents in multiple departments.


Best for: Professionalism, document storage, no carrying weight on the body.


Anyone who had a childhood knows what this is. What was your design? Backpacks are used to carry heavy loads, from hunted prey in ancient times to schoolbooks and vodka in modern times. Keeping it close to the body allows the weight to be distributed evenly across your back instead of only leaning on one side like a briefcase. Bags made for heavier carrying also have straps around the waist so you can disperse the weight along your hips as well.

Modern backpacks have been modified to serve a multitude of situations and are thus the most popular due to their versatility. Student backpacks usually have a sleeve compartment inside the bag to fit their laptops as well as a bottle sleeve on the side of the bag as well.

Runners have a lightweight backpack that holds a liquid compartment on the inside with a straw extending out for easy drinking access. Kind of like those beer hats, except publicly acceptable.

Militants have larger backpacks composed of heavier, rugged material for the day-to-day wear of an army combatant. Hosting more compartments than a candy store’s shelves, this is functionality at its finest. Whatever the journey, there’s a backpack out there for you.


Best for: Mass storage, freedom of movement in front, multiple compartments to organize.

Fanny Pack

Just kidding. Could you imagine?! But seriously, no.

Duffel (Travel bag)

The bag with the largest storage capability, duffel bags (also known as travel bags) are rightfully named for their usefulness in extended excursions. The name comes from an actual town in Belgium named Duffel where the cloth used to make the bag was first made.

Cylindrical in shape with a drawstring or zip closure, they were used initially as regular travel storage and were, believe it or not, popularized by surfers in California and Australia in the (you guessed it) 1950’s.

These days they are also known as “weekender bags”. This is an accurate description because the amount of storage it holds is approximately two days of clothes and toiletries during a trip. Usually fairly large in shape, they are also fancied by the military due to their durable material and large storage capability. Can be carried by two strap handles or slung over the shoulders.

Duffel Bag

Best for: Obscene amount of storage, durable material, many ways to carry.

  • ZBass says:

    For duffel bags I’d say it’s always worth checking how they compare to hand luggage requirements if you’re someone who flies for short trips. I’m also a fan of a padded strap and some outside pockets.

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