9 carry-on bags that are as cute as they are practical.

As a chronic over-packer, I have no business telling people how to travel light. Going away for three nights? Big suitcase plus giant tote, minimum.

But then I went to Melbourne last weekend, and I finally DID IT. I took carry-on only, for the first time in my life and yeah, okay, it was a literal one-night stay so I would've dragged myself if I'd needed more than a carry-on's worth, but it still felt like an achievement.

Also it was slightly terrifying. But also... wildly liberating? Strolling straight off the plane and through the airport doors, no need to wait around, doing the anxious 'has-my-bag-gone-to-China?' dance at the carousel, itching to get outta there. What. A. Feeling.

So now that I am *checks notes* an expert (ahem...) in packing light, I've pulled together my list of dream carry-on luggage, ready to be over-stuffed and allow you to breeze on through airport arrivals gates like a boss.

I don't discriminate when it comes to the type of bags I'm willing to take on board. Every style has its place, in my opinion. I love a chic mini suitcase (hard-shell, if you please). I froth a fab weekender (the Maison de Sabré piece below is the one that travelled with me to Melbs recently). Backpacks couldn't be handier – and a fold up bag to throw in there in case you need *something extra*? Well, that just makes sense (#girlmath).

Maison de Sabrè The Duffle, $549.


Why we love it: Um, do you see it? Are you looking? This bag is a thing of beauty. AND it's a thing of practicality, because it is roomier than it looks (holds 35L to be specific), has exactly as many pockets as you want INCLUDING an extra outer pocket that has a zip along the bottom, which you can open and slide over the handle of your suitcase for handy wheeling should you need a big suitcase too. Genius.

Lululemon Quilted Grid Tote Bag 26L in Trench, $149.

Image: lululemon.

Why we love it: It's giving relaxed athleisure, and I'm loving how well that vibe pairs back with a comfy plane outfit. Looks aside, this tote is super-roomy (can confirm: it will fit two laptops. If you happen to be lugging two laptops. For some reason, like I've been known to do). Holding 26 litres and fitted with pockets galore, it's the carry-on for the sporty girlies. Or just... anyone who likes a quilted tote.


Antler Clifton Cabin in Taupe, $299, and Chelsea Overnight Bag in Taupe, $249. 

Image: Antler.

Why we love it: I'm a sucker for a matching set, and this one ticks all my boxes, especially the I-tried-but-I-couldn't-fit-everything-in-my-carry-on-case-so-this-extra-weekender-is-my-handbag box. The other thing to froth over with this particular duo? Both pieces come in approximately a billion colours (read: 10 for the bag, 15 for the case), so you've got options (and we like options).


Kmart Casual Weekender Bag in Navy Stripe, $18.

Image: Kmart.

Why we love it: There's definitely something to be said for a classic duffle, not to mention a navy-and-cream stripe. And that price? Three for three.


American Tourister Rollio Spinner 52 in Grey, $315.

Why we love it: Aside from the fact that it's round and cute as heck, it's round. And cute as heck! Did I mention round? It also comes in black (for those worried about marks) and coral (for those worried that grey and black aren't loud enough).

Louenhide Boston Weekender Bag in Denim, $149.95.

Image: The Iconic.

Why we love it: Denim dresses are having a moment. So are denim maxi skirts. Why not denim overnight bags? It's roomy enough for all your overnight needs, features pockets (if you know me, you'll know I feel a kinda way about pockets), and – v. importantly – super cute.


Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack in Warm Quartz, $169.

Image: Everlane.

Why we love it: Backpacks got a bad rap for a long time. Nerdy, uncool... except backpacks these days are far from those things, and this one from Everlane is perfect for hands-free travel. Apart from looking super-chic, it's packed with sneaky pockets (including a 15" exterior spot specially for your laptop), holds 27L, AND it's made of 100 per cent recycled polyester, so you can feel smug knowing you're quietly saving the world.


OiOi Fold-up Tote, $59.95.

Image: The Iconic.

Why we love it: If you're the kind of traveller who likes to shop (puts hand up), a fold-up tote bag just makes sense. Throw in into your bag knowing you've got an extra carry-all on hand to take all your new stuff home without having to try to sqeeeeeeeze it into your suitcase.


Kmart 46cm Albany Hard Case 4 Wheels in Taupe, $59.

Image: Kmart.

Why we love it: The classic hardshell carry-on case is a winner, and while they can range up to several hundreds of bucks, this one's a deliciously affordable option (and who doesn't love affordable?). It's the perfect size to comply with carry-on rules, holds 35L of *stuff* and has all the separate-y zips and pockets to keep your clean clothes away from shoes.

Alix Nicholson is Mamamia's Weekend Editor. Want to catch more of her travel, beauty and lifestyle thoughts? Head on over to her Instagram.

At Mamamia, we independently choose and write about products our writers genuinely recommend. We have affiliate partnerships so if you use these links to buy something, Mamamia may earn a small commission.

Feature image: Supplied; lululemon; American Tourister; Kmart.

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