If you can bring only one "personal item" on a flight, you should pick from these top-tested bags

Our fiber scientists prepare you for your next mini getaway with these weekender bags.

Harper's Bazaar India

When flying, what is considered a “personal item”?

A personal item is a bag that will fit under the seat in front of you during air travel. A common size limit is around 18" x 14" x 8", but each airline has its own rules, so double-check before heading to the airport. With some airlines charging for a carry-on, many flyers are opting to bring just a personal item. Small weekenders, travel backpacks, and spacious totes are great for maximising packing space without going over the size limit. You can bring only one personal item, so make sure your purse fits inside your larger bag for when you are going through security and boarding the plane.

Is it worth it to have a weekender bag in addition to my carry-on suitcase? 

A: It depends on your personal needs, but in general, weekender bags are a great size if you want something bigger than your everyday commuting bag and smaller than your regular luggage. A true travel MVP, this item is ideal for short trips or to use as an extra bag on longer vacations. Some versions are even small enough to fit underneath an airplane seat. Here are a few of our favourites:


Beis is one of the fastest-growing travel brands for a reason: Its clever products are just as stylish as they are functional. The brand’s best-selling weekender bag has a wide opening, a separate bottom compartment for shoes and a padded laptop sleeve. 

LAB RESULTS: Analysts liked this small option because it was lightweight and compact, making it easier to tote when flying. A tester highlighted its “thoughtful pockets on the interior and exterior”. Just note that we found the zippers a bit finicky at times.  



If you’re carrying a big load, this spacious model from Lo & Sons is your best bet—it is suitable for road trips or train travel and has a variety of pockets. Choose small or large in recycled polyester or canvas.

LAB RESULTS: It fit the most in our lab’s packing test, though that made it heavier than others when fully packed. One tester told us, “It fits more than one of the suitcases I have. I brought this for a four-day trip (with extra stuff), and it fit everything easily.”

LO & SONS CATALINA DELUXE SMALL, $215 (₹18,000 approx.)


This Herschel duffel has a timeless shape and comes in a range of neutral colors, making it a great option for most style preferences. It’s also built to last out of a heavyweight polyester fabric that is made from recycled water bottles.

LAB RESULTS: Its outer material aced our abrasion-resistance tests, and users said the padded shoulder strap was comfy to wear even when carrying a heavy load. Though some wished for a trendier appearance, one called it “the ultimate travel companion”.


This piece originally appeared in the November/December 2023 print edition of Good Housekeeping, USA.