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What's the best carry-on travel luggage?

Now that checking bags costs an arm and a leg, I'm having trouble staying organized on short work trips. Any tips for packing everything I need to work, exercise, and dine out?


I always envy the travelers with those sleek black suitcases that fit perfectly into the overhead compartment. That's not me: My bag usually earns honors as the most likely to explode by the end of the week. It’s tough to fit a laptop, running gear, and presentable clothing into two microscopic carry-ons. But I've honed my system enough to know this: Your best bet is to get a big wallet and second carry-on item, and reserve your primary carry-on for clothes and shoes.

Eagle Creek’s Marian Zip-Around Wallet ($42) is the most inexpensive personal assistant I've ever come across. If you’re an organization nut like me you’ll appreciate its numerous pockets: There’s an outer zipper enclosure for change, two interior zippers for your passport, receipts, business cards, and other important documents, two expandable pockets for a cell-phone or tape recorder, and plenty of slots for plastic. It's made from ripstop nylon with a satin interior, and a detachable wrist-band. Best of all, the Marian's two-toned exterior is fancy enough to double as a party purse.

I've also had great luck with Overland Equipment’s ballistic nylon Nantucket bag ($75). The Nantucket measures 21 1/4" by 12 1/2" by 6", and it has one big compartment, a padded laptop sleeve, a mesh zippered compartment, and three interior pockets. I've squeezed my behemoth MacBook, a pashmina, pens that won’t explode mid-air, a notebook, a few energy bars, my toiletry bag, and phone into the Nantucket with no problems. If I buy lunch en route, there’s even a roomy exterior sleeve that won’t smoosh a sandwich. Best of all, it's easy to lug around airports thanks to its padded shoulder strap and a flap that slips over the handle of my wheelie luggage.

—Stephanie Pearson

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Filed To: Air TravelLuggage
Lead Photo: Courtesy of Overland Equipment