September 27, 2018

These Two Carry-Ons Will Make You an Airport Pro


Being a budget travel blogger, you guys know I’m all about that carry-on life. Although when I do need to check a bag I can usually do so for free as a perk of my various airline credit cards, but that only works if I’m flying that domestic airline and who wants to wait around forever at baggage claim for a checked back? I know I don’t! 

Not checking a bag not only saves you money, but so much time! When I fly domestically, I can check-in online in advance and save my boarding pass to my phone and go straight to security with my carry-on. And if you enroll in TSA PreCheck (my lifesaver), you’ll skip the long lines and get through security in minutes.

But what you’re going on more than a weekend trip? How can you possibly fit everything into tiny little carry-ons? Well, that’s why I’ve been on the hunt for the most organized and functional carry-on bags out there, and I believe I’ve found the winning combo! They are the Lo & Sons Hanover Deluxe Backpack and the Genius Pack Carry-On Spinner. Now let my explain why I love these two bags so much and believe they are the perfect travel combination:

Lo & Sons Hanover Deluxe

This Lo & Sons backpack is the perfect bag to pair with carry-on luggage because it’s just small enough to pass as a personal item but big enough to fit everything you need. And let me tell you, this bag is ultra organized. It has so many compartments and sections inside that allow you to fill your bag without it being a total mess and hard to access things. There’s two water bottle pockets on the outside AND on the inside (which I use to stick some camera lenses), there are padded sections for miscellaneous gear, and a removal laptop sleeve for up to a 15″ laptop. I love this feature because you can just remove the whole sleeve when you’re headed out and don’t need your laptop and free up a lot of weight and space in the bag.

lo and sons backpack

But what I love most about this back and the reason I knew I needed to have it is it has a sleeve to slide onto your carry-on luggage handle so you don’t even have to carry it through the airport or worry about it falling off!

I had been looking for a backpack with this kind of feature for years since I have back problems and would always rest my bags on my luggage, which is really annoying when they fall off every 5 minutes. To my surprise, no one was doing this for backpacks, and only for travel totes which are the worst bags possible for carrying through airports. But thankfully Lo & Sons got the right idea with their Hanover backpacks, which have two to choose from: a smaller and larger model. I ended up going with the Deluxe because I wanted the water bottle pockets and extra pocket in the front to store smaller items like my chapstick and headphones. 

Best of all, the eco-friendly polyester is made from recycled water-bottles  which not only is good for the planet, but makes the material super lightweight and durable. Although this is not the lowest budget bag, I am all about investing in quality over quantity and know that this bag will be my go-to personal item hack for years.

Genius Pack Carry-On Spinner

The other bag I discovered recently on Instagram is the Genius Pack Aerial Hardside Carry-On Spinner, which they describe as a “maximum size carry-on with minimal design” (aka, everything I look for in a bag). Before I found Genius Pack, I was about to purchase an Away bag which you’ve probably seen all over social media thanks to their huge marketing pushes. Although the Away bags are the best looking out their in my opinion, functionally they were not much different than my budget Amazon Basics Carry-On which is only $59.99 on Amazon versus $225 for the Away bag. The Amazon Basics bag is a fantastic bag and for the price, the best budget option available.

The reason I went with the Genius Pack is its center divider has compartments for smaller items like underwear, toiletries, chargers, and all the little things that are always the most annoying thing to pack since they usually get thrown in somewhere. As a photographer, it’s very important for me to have my gear organized and have a place for my spare camera batteries, chargers, etc which I don’t need to carry in my backpack since I use them at night. And a cool bonus feature is the built-in packing list which is a nice reminder as you’re packing.

best carry-on bag
best carry-on luggage

I’ve taken carry-ons of this size on trips up to two weeks, and could probably even do longer trips with doing laundry. Packing light is all about learning to transition into a more minimalist wardrobe, only bringing the things you need, and having the right gear that helps you stay organized and avoid unnecessary stress. And with this combo, you’ll never have to carry around a heavy backpack through the airport again and your back will surely thank you! 😉

airport hacks

meet the writer

I'm Donna Irene.


A photographer, writer, and educator with a passion for helping people quit the hustle and live filled with purpose. When I picked up
a camera over 10 years ago, I had no idea it would take me around the world getting to photograph for everything from fortune 500
companies, brands, and people like you.

And now that I've been to 40+ countries and counting, I want to
use my talents to inspire others to use their creativity to make the world better. Follow along for resources on authentic travel experiences, sustainability, and building a business with intention.



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Photographer, educator, environmentalist, and dog mom. I've turned a passion for photography into my dream job and I want to
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