Travel to breathe, travel to live, travel to escape...
I love to travel, and while I'm great at itineraries packing wasn't always my forte. My mother however, is one of those that packs a week in a teeny tiny carryon that fits under the seat. She also is about 100 lbs though. Nevertheless on my last two trips I was able to whittle it down to a domestic carry on and a backpack. I spent a month traveling all around France and Slovakia. So I will get to my favorites and why. The following links are ads and As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Soft sided expandable carryon spinner
Personally, I liked this one (but I bought it 70% off at a Macy's sale, I highly suggest looking for sales or visiting a local TJ MAXX, Marshalls or similar. Soft sided will ultimately last longer- you can sit on it and it won't crack, and you can usually stuff more in:) Expandable- I like to shop, what can I say. Domestic Carryon- is larger than an international, so do note it won't be allowed on international flights, but it is still compact enough to haul on and off trains and buses and up to flats without elevators. (FYI the largest I recommend is a 25 inch even when checking everything- suitcases larger than 25 inches will likely weigh over 50 pounds, and cost a lotttt more.) Spinner if you can. I like spinner's because in long airport hikes balancing weight as oppose to titling and hauling. I recommend a double handle- although single look sleek you can't attach your backpack, or purse to it- it just swings around and flops. (PS DO NOT get one with an imbedded charger- If you end up needing to check it in a smaller plane you'll be screwed. ) Also if you can - choose a non black bag- it makes the baggage claim much easier.
Cincha Travel belt - speaking of attaching a spare duffle or your backpack, this one is sturdy, useful and beautiful! Trust me it will make things easier.
Packing cubes - suggested by mom to well everyone. I like the compressible ones, but there are so many varieties- definitely read reviews as some have better zippers than others. I recommend the small and medium sizes, the large ones are only good for coats and bulky items. For kids you can put a set of clothes for each day in each cube. Or you can color code peoples clothes in different cube designs. When traveling on my own I have cubes for each clothing type: shirts, bottoms, unders, socks, electronics, and I have one small one with an emergency change of clothes in my carryon- I'm always 'randomly selected' so I prefer my unders not to be flung around TSA.
Travel Duffle for extra purchases or if you want to stow part of your luggage. So far these are sturdy and packable. I also like the variety of patterns, so if I have to check it I can find it easily. (They have a few sizes but this is good start).
Backpack -three options I like a Patagonia compressible pack, but my sister's choice worked great too. After two days of 15,000 plus steps my big purse had my back aching. Then there is the version my friend likes.
Large crossbody fabric bag - I recommend a medium to large size, many museums don't allow backpacks or totes, but if you are traveling across a city, you may need or want to carry a bottle of water, umbrella, a scarf, a sweater or jacket, wallet, phone and incidentals.
Packable shopping bag and silicone or ziploc bags. Most European grocery stores don't support waste, so it's bring your own bag and fruit containers. We have all been gifted reusable bags but these are my favorite- they are comfortably carried over the shoulder, can be stuffed to carry 40lbs and have lots of fun designs.