By Madeline Diamond
January 27, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
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Courtesy of Retailers as Credited

Packing for air travel is all about maximizing space, without exceeding airline luggage size or weight limits, that is. On most airlines, in addition to your carry-on suitcase, you're allowed one personal item, which must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. And while airlines' specific size restrictions vary, the standard personal item size allowance is around 16-18 inches tall, 10-15 inches wide, and 7-9 inches deep. Given these size requirements, there's plenty of flexibility when it comes to your personal item, whether you prefer a tote, backpack, duffel, or even underseat rolling luggage.

Related: Check out our airline carry-on size guide

Keep reading for our top personal item bag picks.

Tumi Sheppard Deluxe Brief Pack

Courtesy of Tumi

Tumi is known for its laptop backpacks that are specifically designed for the business traveler, and this bag is no exception. It's full of handy compartments, including a laptop sleeve that can accommodate devices up to 15'' and tablet pocket. There's also a convenient luggage pass-through, so you can easily store the backpack on top of your rolling luggage.

To buy: tumi.com, $475

Lululemon On My Level Duffel Small 22L

Courtesy of Lululemon

If a tote/duffel combination is more your style, this option from Lululemon is the perfect blend of sporty and stylish. The lightweight nylon tote is full of convenient pockets so you can store all your essentials without overstuffing it. Compartments for your laptop and spare clothing will be sure to keep you organized while traveling.

To buy: lululemon.com, $148

Dagne Dover Medium Landon Carryall

Courtesy of Dagne Dover

This carry-all duffel from Dagne Dover comes in five sizes, but the medium size is just right for underseat storage. It fits comfortably on top of rolling luggage thanks to a convenient pass-through sleeve, but its compact size makes it easy to carry as well. The bag is also made from water-resistant neoprene, so no matter where your travels take you, you know your belongings will stay nice and dry.

To buy: dagnedover.com, $155

eBags Haswell Carry-all Tote

Courtesy of eBags

eBags sells all kinds of luggage, so it's no surprise that the company's house brand makes stellar bags of its own. This tote has an easily packable main compartment, as well as a zippered bottom compartment that's perfect for storing a spare pair of shoes and other items you want to keep separate.

To buy: ebags.com, $44 (originally $80)

Dagne Dover Classic Signature Tote

Courtesy of Dagne Dover

Many people choose a traditional purse or tote for their airplane personal item. If that's your style, this chic leather tote from Dagne Dover is an excellent option. It has a simple yet stylish exterior, although the inside of the bag has a padded laptop compartment and other helpful pockets to keep your essentials organized.

To buy: dagnedover.com, from $189

eBags Professional Slim Junior Laptop Backpack

Courtesy of eBags

Many travel backpacks are bulky, but this one from eBags is the perfect combination of compact and secretly spacious. It features a unique front organizational panel that keeps travel must-haves at the ready, as well as several other internal pockets and a laptop sleeve that keep your valuables securely stowed away.

To buy: ebags.com, $65 (originally $120)

Leatherology Uptown Vertical Tote

Courtesy of Leatherology

A stylish vertical-style tote is a great personal item option that will seamlessly take you from the airplane to your destination. This bag may be simple, but it still has just the right amount of organizational features, including an interior zippered pocket and several slip pockets, that will keep you from losing your passport and other travel essentials.

To buy: leatherology.com, from $150

Herschel Supply Co. Travel Tote Backpack

Courtesy of Nordstrom

When it comes to travel bags, there's nothing better than a bag that serves multiple purposes in just one item. Depending on your preference, you can wear this bag as a tote or backpack, making it a great versatile option for travelers who are always on the go.

To buy: nordstrom.com, $120

Tumi Compact Large Screen Laptop Brief

Courtesy of Tumi

For business travelers, a briefcase that can also accommodate a laptop is great personal item option. This brief from Tumi can hold up to a 17'' laptop, as well as a tablet. Plus, you can use its top handle or luggage pass-through for easy carrying.

To buy: tumi.com, $425

MZ Wallace Medium Metro Tote

Courtesy of MZ Wallace

This sleek quilted tote is easy to carry and fill with all your travel essentials. Its soft shape allows for flexibility when packing, and comes in handy when storing it under the seat in front of you on the plane. As an added bonus, the bag folds up and can be stored in a small, packable bag if you end up needing to save space on your trip home.

To buy: mzwallace.com, $225

Tucano Tugo Medium Travel Backpack

Courtesy of eBags

This sleek backpack zips completely open, allowing you to pack it like a traditional suitcases, which gives you as much space as possible within the compact bag. A laptop sleeve and luggage pass-through make this backpack even more convenient for travel.

To buy: ebags.com, $64 (originally $80)

Lo & Sons The Rowledge Backpack

Courtesy of Lo & Sons

If you want to carry a backpack for travel but refuse to compromise on style, the Rowledge Backpack from Lo & Sons is for you. The nylon bag with leather accents has a slim, sleek look, but a 13'' laptop sleeve and a variety of interior and exterior pockets make it easy to take on any trip.

To buy: loandsons.com, from $225

Knomo Luggage Grosvenor Place Travel Shoulder Bag

Courtesy of Amazon

Amazon shoppers love this sleek black tote from Knomo, and it's easy to see why. It features a 15'' laptop sleeve, RFID-blocking pocket, and luggage pass-through, making it a traveler's dream.

To buy: amazon.com, $175 (originally $199)

Samsonite Spinner Underseat with USB Port

Courtesy of eBags

If you prefer rolling underseat luggage, this suitcase from Samsonite is the way to go. It has multiple zippered pockets on both the interior and exterior of the bag, as well as a 14'' laptop sleeve. Plus, there's a handy USB port that you can use to charge your devices on the go.

To buy: ebags.com, $70 (originally $130)

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