Investing in the best luggage can make a stressful journey into a breeze in my experience - as long as you leave yourself plenty of time to make your train or flight, they're not magic.
As a fashion editor who travels a lot for fashion weeks and press trips, I've come to rely on good suitcases and bags that will take the stress away from packing and travelling, when there are a million other things to organise, such as tickets for fashion shows and designer interviews.
The research for the right luggage can be time consuming, especially when factoring in baggage restrictions, storage needs, durability, weight etc - but it's worth it.
So I've done the hard work for you and rounded up some of the most stylish bags from mine and team Marie Claire UK's favourite luggage brands. All of these brands have been tested by our editors on various trips over the years. There's everything from carry-on bags, weekend holdalls, large suitcases and more. Whether you're heading off on a two-week trip or a short weekend away, it's all covered.
Best carry-on luggage
If you're going on a short weekend away, or you're lucky enough to be a light packer, then a carry-on suitcase or bag is for you. Cabin size luggage is usually 55cm x 40cm x 23cm, which is the allowance permitted by most airlines including British Airways. However it's always worth checking with your airline for the luggage options, as they can vary.
For example Easyjet's allowance is smaller at 45cm x 36cm x 20cm, so make sure your suitcase is the right size, or you might incur additional costs. Here are some of our favourite cabin size suitcases which also work a treat for weekends away.
July have become my go-to for fun, stylish and practical luggage. All suitcases come in a plethora of hues, some vibrant and some neutral to cater to all tastes, plus you can personalise them which is always a nice touch. This particular style comes with a front pouch you can slip your laptop in, as well as an ejectable power bank so it's ideal for busy professionals.
Most of team MC owns at least one Away suitcase, a brand known for their stylish luggage offerings. The Bigger Carry-On maximises on space as it's slightly bigger than a normal carry-on and still fits in overhead on most airlines (though again, do check before booking). It comes with 360 degree spinner wheels, so it's easier to transport, and the polycarbonate hard shell is light but durable enough to last the long run. Plus it comes with an in-built laundry bag which is always handy. The suitcase is almost 50% off in Away's January sale too so it's a no brainer.
I've been a fan of Antler's Clifton Cabin case for a while, but the addition of a padded, waterproof front-pocket which can store your laptop, passport, pens and other travel documents makes it even more desirable. All suitcases come with a lifetime warranty so you know it'll literally last you a lifetime.
Best large suitcases
Long-haul destinations call for large suitcases, which saves you whittling down your holiday wardrobe too much. The best ones come with four wheels for easy handling, and separate zip-up compartments for your more delicate items. Though fabric suitcases are generally lighter, for long trips I recommend hard shell cases as they're far more durable and are less likely to get damaged in transit.
Horizn Studios create sustainable luggage that is engineered in Germany, and has longevity in mind. This extra-large case not only looks great, but also complies with the largest check-in size, so you know you won't be kicked off the plane for having too much stuff.
Aussie label Nere launched in the UK last year and I'm obsessed with their fun and colourful designs, as well as their affordable price point. With a quality ABS hard shell, it's sturdy and light and will keep your belongings secure for any long-haul trips. Check out their amazing accessories too, their packing cubes are a game changer.
If budget is no issue, you will never regret purchasing a Rimowa suitcase. Despite its big size (85L capacity), this case weighs just 4.8kg, and comes with the label's trademark multi-wheel system, which guarantees stable and effortless steering thanks to ball-bearing mounted wheels with cushioned axels. It's made of high-perfomance polycarbonate so you know it won't budge. I love this catwalk-worthy hue, part of their Sea Blue collection.
Best light suitcases
If you're worried about weight allowance or simply want to save your arm strength, then there are plenty of lightweight suitcase options around, especially those made of fabric shells.
One of our E-commerce Writer Grace's favourite cases is Eastpak's medium travel trolley. It's ideal if you want to pack a lot without running the risk of your luggage being over the weight limit, as thanks to the fabric shell, it keeps it feeling light.
This is one of our go-to cases for shorter trips. It fits quite a lot in thanks to the expandable zipper, and it comes with two exterior compartments, a full-length interior lid pocket and a side pocket. What more could you want? In our experience, it really lasts the long run too.
Samsonite are known for its durable and ultra light luggage. This large check-in (it's 75cm high) weighs in at just 3.4kg, but there's no compromise on toughness thanks to its shock-absorbent wheels and hard polypropylene case. Bonus point: the removable and washable interior lining.
Best travel bags
Though less easy to drag around than a suitcase, a travel bag is a great space-saving choice, especially if you're heading on a mini break by car.
Our Senior Beauty Editor, Katie Thomas, swears by this Barbour holdall. "I use this bag when I'm going away for the weekend back to the country. It's the perfect accompaniment to muddy wellies and cosy jumpers. The fabric is always hardy and long-wearing and I never worry about longevity. I've had mine for years and it's still going strong."
It wouldn't be a travel roundup without featuring Longchamp. This is one of the most iconic travel bags out there, and it seems that our Senior Beauty Editor agrees. "I have almost every version of the Le Pliage and my favourite thing to do when travelling is to match my luggage, which is incredibly easy to do with Longchamp. It's perfect for a short city break - the backpack for meandering during the day, the leather for the dinners out in the evening, the original for holding all of your market buys, and the travel bag to keep it all together."
Best travel accessories
Travel accessories don't often get the recognition they deserve, when they do most of the heavy lifting. Vanity cases and packing cubes might not sound very exciting, but I can't live without them.
I drive back to France regularly and often book my family onto an early Le Shuttle train, and my trick is to load the car the night before, so all I need to add is the vanity case. This Nere one has a hard shell meaning all my delicate makeup is protected, it's literally the last thing to go in before we leave, once I've brushed my teeth. It sounds obvious, but I only got it recently and it's been a total game changer.
I detest twisted chains and a jumble of earrings, so this Missoma case makes me so happy. It keeps all my jewellery nice and tidy thanks to several pockets, hooks and zips. It even has a panel to stick studs on. It honestly makes me so happy.
If you've never used packing cubes before, just do yourself a favour and buy some. I've gifted sets to all my family and they're hooked too. I use them to separate different categories of clothes like socks, underwear and accessories, and it makes finding an item and unpacking that much quicker.
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Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.
Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).
Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at MoneySavingExpert.com, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.
However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.
Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.
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