I’ve always considered myself pretty skilled at the art of packing. I gave up checking luggage long ago, and now always opt for a carry-on bag whether the trip is two days or two weeks. One of the things I’ve learned about packing for a week-long (or longer) trip in one carry-on, though, is that the key to making it all work is really just about mastering the art of the personal item. We all know by now that every airline allows one free personal item (a purse or backpack, usually) in addition to a carry-on suitcase.
For years, I used various tote bags and backpacks and purses, trying to find one that held everything I needed and felt as comfortable resting on the top of a rolling suitcase as it did on my shoulder. I found a lot of options that worked just fine, but it wasn’t until I received Calpak’s Luka duffel bag as a gift that I realized just how much my personal item game could improve.
Functionally speaking, the best aspects of this quilted duffel bag are its different compartments. There are so many (nine to be exact, but who’s counting?) that I truly forget about some of them sometimes. There are multiple zippered pouches inside the bag itself for chargers or headphones—all of which are easy to reach for on-the-go access. There’s a side compartment for a reusable water bottle, so you always have a way to hydrate when on-the-go. There’s even a built-in storage compartment for shoes (the best part, in my opinion) at the bottom of the bag. In terms of design, the straps are long enough to rest comfortably and securely on your shoulder, and there’s a detachable, longer strap that comes in handy as well. Aside from all the organizational aspects, though, the duffel is also sizeable enough to stash away a crossbody purse right before going walking onto the plane—the easiest way to get around the one personal item rule, in my experience.
Plus, it’s specifically designed to travel well, with a sleeve on the back for sliding it onto the handle of your carry-on rolling suitcase and dimensions that allow it to fit perfectly under an airplane seat. I’ve even taken out my crossbody purse and placed it on top of or next to the duffel while under the seat and still had room to store everything under there comfortably. The bottom line is that the bag isn’t just a duffel bag that happens to work as the perfect personal item for plane travel. It was made for travel, and as soon as you use it, you can tell. Boarding a plane can be a stressful experience, and there are enough things to worry about (turbulence, sitting next to a total stranger, delays, etc.) without having to also worry about whether or not your personal item will fit comfortably down the aisle or under your seat. This bag eliminates all of those stressors for me—even if it had no handy organizational compartments at all, that alone would make it worth it for me.
But, hey, if you don’t believe me, there’s someone else who happens to be a big fan of the bag: Oprah, who put the bag on her Favorite Things list for the 2019 holiday season. But while Oprah’s approval and love of the Luka duffel is probably reason enough to convince you to buy it, it’s also why every color of the bag keeps selling out again and again—a common reaction to something being named one of Oprah’s favorite things.
Luckily for us all, though, there’s a waitlist to be notified of exactly when the bag is back in stock, meaning a restock is happening soon and your 2021 travels are going to be just that much better.