The 10 Best Weekend Bags
This wiki has been updated 14 times since it was first published in January of 2017. When you're only leaving town for a weekend getaway, you don't want to haul around a a giant suitcase that won't fit in the overhead bin of a plane or on your car's backseat. We rounded up overnight bags that are just the perfect size for two- or three-day trips, are exceptionally well made, and are so stylish you'll want to use them as your daily purse or tote. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best weekend bag on Amazon.
Why Choose The Weekender
Bring too little, and you’ll be running to the store every other minute to grab items that you can’t believe you neglected to bring.
One of the tightest ropes you’ll walk while planning a trip is what you need versus how much space you’ll have to carry it. Bring too much, and you’ll be tired from carrying around unnecessary gear that will only weigh down your vacation. Bring too little, and you’ll be running to the store every other minute to grab items that you can’t believe you neglected to bring. On top of this, luggage space is at more of a premium than ever, with airlines charging baggage fees more and more often. But you can drop some of your luggage stress with a weekend bag, which provides the perfect amount of room for a two- to three-day journey, whether by plane, car, train, or bus.
So, what is it about the weekend bag that makes it such a great piece of luggage? Just start by looking at its size. A standard weekend bag is right in the sweet spot between an average backpack and a rolling suitcase, giving you just enough room for your daily essentials plus some toiletries and a couple of changes of clothes. Because it’s smaller than a suitcase, though, you won’t need to check it, saving you money on baggage fees.
A weekend bag will also be much easier to deal with while you’re on the go. These bags typically open duffel-style, which lets you find what you’re looking for quickly, as opposed to a horizontally oriented backpack that requires pulling everything out to get to the items on the bottom. And while it’s true that suitcases also open easily, you must generally lay them on the floor and open them fully, exposing everything you own for all to see. A weekender gives you the convenience along with the privacy.
You’ll probably also find that a weekend bag is a cinch to carry, as long as you don’t overstuff it. Most feature grab handles, making them easy to pick up and put down as you shuffle through a line, as well as a shoulder strap, which is appropriate for distance carrying. You don’t have to mess around with backpack straps or try to drag a wheeled bag over thick carpet or uneven stone paving. Just remember to switch shoulders occasionally for the sake of your back.
Must-Have Travel Items
Among travelers, there are few topics that will start an argument as heated as which items are must-haves for your weekend bag and which are non-essentials that will weigh you down. Although your gear list depends on what you’ll be doing and where you’re going, there are a handful of items that will almost always be worth the weight and space.
One must-bring that many travelers forget to pack is a sleep mask.
For instance, consider the towel, the most useful item that any interstellar traveler can carry. A travel towel is a must for hostel and dorm stays where towels may not be provided, and having one on hand makes for a stress-free last-minute trip to the beach. Even travelers staying in luxury hotels could use a towel; keep one in your carryon for unexpected messes or to sit on should the bus or taxi seat be less than pristine. Look for a lightweight, portable microfiber model rather than a standard bath model.
A heavier item that’s just as deserving of the room it requires is the power bank or portable phone charger — unless, of course, you’re fine with missing all those Insta-worthy moments that always seem to happen just after your phone or camera dies. Look for external juice with dual USB ports if you’re going to be carrying a lot of gadgets (or you could share to garner the goodwill of your fellow passengers).
One must-bring that many travelers forget to pack is a sleep mask. You’ll want one on the plane or bus so that you’ll be well-rested when you get to where you’re going, but you might need this item even after you’ve landed. Nothing will disrupt your sleep faster than the nightlight your friend won’t let you turn off or the curtains that won’t close all the way, letting that sliver of ultra-bright parking lot lighting fall right across your eyes.
Last but definitely not least is a durable water bottle. While you could rely on buying bottled water everywhere you go, more and more airports, train stations, and even regular businesses are installing bottle-filling stations, so you have no excuse not to save both the environment and some cash. Plus, travelers are no longer restricted to standard Nalgene bottles, as there are reusable bottles to complement just about every weekend bag and style.
A Brief History Of The Weekend
It would be tough to have the weekend bag without the weekend. But although we consider the division of the work week a concrete fact of life, there are no natural cycles or forces that support such a division. Rather, the weekend is a contrivance that got its start in religion, then became cemented through working practices and economic factors that shaped 18th and 19th century labor.
But although we consider the division of the work week a concrete fact of life, there are no natural cycles or forces that support such a division.
Most historians agree that the idea of a day of rest can be first traced back to Judaism, with the two-day break following much later, in 19th century Britain. Workers paid at the end of the work day on Saturday took Sunday for church and Monday to spend their money (often on drink); they called this “Saint Monday.” The heads of factories eventually agreed to give their workers Saturday off in exchange for their (sober) attendance at work on Mondays.
This five-day work week was eventually codified in the U.S. under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Around this time, economists predicted that the amount of rest would continue to grow, with a 20- or 15-hour work week eventually becoming the norm. Although this hasn’t been realized in America, several European countries, including the Netherlands, have begun adopting shorter work weeks, so there may yet be hope that you’ll be able to use your weekend bag more often in the future.
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