So you’ve managed to beat the price surges on flight tickets by securing seats for the whole family this June school holidays. You’ve got the itinerary planned right down to the minute, you’ve got all your passports renewed way before international travel began opening up, and all that’s left is to get ready for the trip, right?
If you are anything like this writer, then one headache that I never foresaw was that I’d have to spend weeks looking for a replacement carry-on bag. After almost three years of staying put in Singapore, my old cabin carry-all finally came out of the closet yellowed, mouldy, and looking very much worse for non-wear. Sounds familiar? Thought so.
Given that this is your return to travelling, you really deserve a chic new carry-on bag to hold all your essentials – including the kitchen sink, because who knows when you might need it! Whether you’re hunting for a new carry-on bag or in desperate need of a replacement to your trusty ol’ plane sac, we’ve rounded up some of our fave pieces that won’t skimp on practicality and looking good.
Let’s start with the obvious go-to: Longchamp’s Le Pliage is an essential in the world of “cabin bags”. Known for their extremely sturdy canvas material, this one comes with a removable shoulder strap for easier use, and plenty of room inside to store every single travel essential that you’ll ever need. Plus, the graphic LGP monogram is a fun addition to everyone’s go-to monochromatic airport style.
What it fits: A cushion that’s actually comfortable enough to help you last a long-haul flight, and several bags of chips – because you saw how some airlines are switching their in-flight meals into tiny takeaway boxes.
Featuring an elegant navy-blue update to the house’s signature interlocking G monogram, this tote bag is a great option if you’re looking for one of those bags that can see you from the office to the airport lounge. It’s spacious enough for a laptop, an amenities kit, and several other need-to-haves on your next flight. Bonus points for a shoulder strap that lets you stay hands-free while you stroll around the duty-free aisle!
What it fits: Noise-canceling headphones, a melatonin sleep patch, and an iPad with Encanto pre-loaded in to distract the fussy baby on your flight. You can never be too prepared when it comes to crying infants.
Add this bag to your Maldives vision board, stat. From the Loewe x Paula’s Ibiza collection, this gorgeous basket bag screams “take me to a tropical island and let me sunbathe all day long”. Reinforced with calfskin handles for durability, the main body of this beaut is crafted in iraca palm that has been “cultivated, harvested, and sun-dried in Colombia where it is then woven by women artisans from Corporación Oficio y Arte, an organisation guided by fair trade principles.” Chic and conscious? It doesn’t get any better.
What it fits: A never ending flow of paper umbrellas that you can put in everyone’s in-flight drink, and a set of maracas so you don’t have to wait until your plane lands to kickstart the festivities.
Two bags for the price of one? We love a good deal. Elevating the casual grocery tote bag silhouette by cutting it out of supple lamb leather and lining it with suede, local designer Ling Wu’s Le Sac is a great find for those who want to just throw everything into one bag and dash out the door. Even better, it comes with an adjustable shoulder strap, so you can take it off your wrist and wear it on your shoulder.
What it fits: All your usual holiday essentials, including that bestselling book that you may never open, but you’re bringing it along anyway because it looks so good in your Insta snap next to a croissant and a flat white.
Not everyone’s a big fan of big carry-on bags, and this is a great option for them. A brand that’s well-loved by Meghan Markle, this Strathberry tote bag doubles up as a functional go-everywhere bag. Whether you’re boarding a flight, or walking down a street in New York, you’ll only ever need this one bag.
What it fits: A lipstick, some sunglasses, your phone, and no wallet – because it’s 2022 and you’re a tech-savvy queen. Oh, and hand sanitizer, because it’s still a pandemic.
Another smaller-but-no-less-mighty option is this soft leather option. Think of it as the quintessential summer basket bag, but with an urban twist with its hardy leather exterior. Inside, a drawstring pouch keeps all your belongings safely stowed away, whilst curved straps sit comfortably on your shoulder.
What it fits: Perhaps a book on how to Marie Kondo your entire travel regime, so that you can fit everything you really need into a smaller carry-on. Teach us your ways!
Totes are a go-to for most, but occasionally, we love a good backpack for our travels too. Equally suited for commutes on the trains, planes, and everything else in between, it is the perfect companion on your next short getaway. Plus, the addition of labels on the bag’s pockets – from keys to a first-aid kit – saves you time when you’re searching for something. A wine for practicality!
What it fits: A beret, a loaf of baguette, and a healthy dose of side-eye and sass à la Camille from Emily in Paris to complete your look.
If you’re looking for a solution to your problem of not being able to identify your carry-on bag in the overhead compartment – so many black bags! – then this is it. Made of molded rubber for that extra durability, the signature Grass colour (or as fashion insiders like to call it, “Bottega green”) can be easily spotted amidst the bags on the plane. You’ll turn heads (of both passengers and airport security personnel) as you casually walk through the transit lounge with this bag in tow.
What it fits: A disposable blanket, a hazmat suit, gloves, masks, and an endless supply of Dettol wipes. Naomi Campbell, is that you?
The philosopher Plato once said, “you should always have a slouchy bag in your bag arsenal because it’s impossibly chic” (and if he didn’t say that, well then he should have because it’s true). Jokes aside, the allure of this piece from Tory Burch is undeniable. Made of layered pieces of hide that cascade in a nonchalant slouch that’s supposed to resemble the “collar of a trench coat, it can be worn open, semi-buttoned or fully-closed”. Plus, the whipstitched detailing around the bag, and the colour-blocked suede and leather? Chef’s kiss.
What it fits: Your passport, some snacks for the trip, and a bouquet of flowers that you can hand out to the tired cabin crew. Who knows, you might get an extra pillow in return.
It’s class and a little sass, thanks to the side eyes logos on the front. Plus, it’s pink on the inside! Aside from the style factor, sometimes one needs a rollable cabin bag that’s strong enough to withstand a few heaves here and there. This one by Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni stands up to the task, with a hardy exterior shell and two large internal compartments with a slot pocket. Plus, a pull-up top handle and four wheels on the bottom means it’ll keep up with you as you sprint for your flight.
What it fits: The question is, what can it not fit! A change of clothes? Your entire beauty routine? All your hopes and dreams? Consider them safe and secure inside.