A reliable carry-on.
Seriously. It may be simple, but a carry-on can be a lifesaver, especially in the event that your checked luggage gets lost. Whenever you're flying you should always take a carry-on that has an extra set of clothes, medications, chargers for your devices, and any important travel documents that you'll need to have close by.
Here's exactly what I look for in a carry-on:
Size. Yep, it matters. How much room is there and how much stuff can I fit inside the bag? I always carry a lot when I'm flying — don't be judgy, I like to be comfortable. (You can read about the 21 items I won't travel without, here.)
Straps. The straps need to be long enough for the bag to sit on my shoulder even when it's packed to the brim — otherwise it's completely useless. I've had a bag that wouldn't sit on my shoulder once it was full and it was a hassle to drag around everywhere. I also like to make sure the straps are wide enough (or soft enough) that they don't dig into my shoulder when the bag is bogged down.
Is there a zipper? When you pack a carry-on as full as I do there's a good chance something will fall out and get lost or trampled. Plus, a zipper helps keep strangers out of your bag and away from your personal documents and money just in case you happen to look away for a moment.
Compartments. With all the stuff I pack into a carry-on I need it to stay relatively organized so I don't have to dig around for something when I need it. There's nothing worse than holding up a boarding line because you can't find your ticket or passport, or the uncomfortable feeling of trying to find something at the bottom of your bag when you're sitting in a cramped plane seat next to a stranger. We've all been there. I like to have a bag with a lot of different compartments to keep items in specific places that are always easy to locate.
Weight. I always choose bags that are lightweight. All of my junk weighs enough as it is, I don't need to lug around a bag that's extra heavy just on its own.
Sturdiness. Will the bag tip over if I'm not constantly holding it? What a headache.
Material. What's the bag made out of? Will it hold up while getting tossed around through airport security and all the other abuse I'll put it through while traveling? I don't want a strap to break during a mad dash to catch a plane, and I definitely don't something that's made out of a material that will scuff easily, because carry-ons get pretty beat up over the course of a trip. I need something that will hold up well and for a long time.
My favorite carry-on is a leather bag made by Madewell and I have it in two different sizes and two different colors — brown and burgundy. Here's a similar option if you want to save money.
Here are some of my other favorite carry-ons:
Read Next: Beauty & skincare products that are remarkably travel-friendly.
Follow my Carry-On board on Pinterest for more great bags.