Choosing the best carry on bag for international travel
January 7, 2018

As a full time nomad and prolific traveler, I need something that’s both useful and stylish to carry my stuff around on flights. While my main checked bag is a big backpack, there’s also a need for a carry on bag to keep my laptop, chargers, tablet, and all that other stuff in.

To figure this all out, I’ve got Dylan Littlefield, the messenger bag guru over at Stylish Carry, to help us decide on a great carry on bag for traveling with.

Hello A Lawyer Abroad readers – I’m Dylan Littlefield of Stylish Carry

For carrying your in-flight essentials, I’m a big fan of the messenger bag or satchel form factor. However, there are a few types of bags that work as carry-on bags, each for a different type of traveler and with a very different style.

Let’s start with my go-to:

The Messenger Bag

This classic type of bag, dating back to ancient times, is the perfect form factor for lugging around a relatively lightweight amount of stuff. If you’re a minimal traveler, or you’ve got the bulk of your stuff in your checked bag, this type of bag is perfect for you to carry on.

Messenger bags come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and materials. For a carry on type situation, I think something in a canvas-type material is best. It’s going to be shoved in and out of the overhead compartment, stuck under seats, and generally mucked about quite a bit. Getting a nice leather bag might be something you regret.

Personally, I use a Jack Spade messenger bag that isn’t available any more. However, there’s a great alternative bag from the same manufacturer – the Jack Spade Tech Oxford Field Messenger.

It’s got a slick grey color material, plenty of interior room (fits up to a 13″ laptop), and adjustable canvas shoulder strap for carrying around. The laptop pocket is neoprene-lined to protect your devices.

It’s just an awesome bag that is super stylish.

The Backpack

Another option for the flyer who’s got a bit more stuff or a heavier carry is a great backpack. Using two straps helps to balance the weight across your back and avoid neck and shoulder pain, if you’ve got more weight in the bag.

There’s plenty of great backpack choices out there, and even though I don’t use one, there’s one particular brand that often catches my eye. That’s the super trendy Fjallraven Kanken backpack.

While I often see women using the smaller FK packs, the larger form factor works for both sexes and looks great. The eye-catching logo is a great complement to an otherwise-clean pack. This pack comes in a variety of colors, but I’m partial to the blue or leaf green ones.

If you’ve got a laptop that doesn’t quite fit the Jack Spade messenger bag, this backpack will fit a 17″ laptop with no problems. It’s also quite durable, sporting a nylon material. Lastly, it’s got a removable seat pad on the bottom and a roomy front pocket.

The Carry-On Luggage

If you’re rolling out for just a weekend trip, then you may want to carry everything in one piece of luggage. While there’s no end to the carry on brands you can guy, I like this one from Ciao – it fits either up top or under the seat, and features a handle to roll it from taxi to gate.

The Ciao Weekender bag is roomy enough to keep a weekend’s worth of clothes and stuff, with plenty of interior pockets to keep you organized. It also clocks in at under 4 lbs.


That’s it! It’s been fun recommending some great bags. If you’ve got any other recommendations, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

If you’re interested, you can check out more about the best men’s messenger bags and more over at my site,

Bon voyage!

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