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Your bag is one of the most important things to get right when you’re traveling.

Make a smart decision, and your trip becomes a breeze; you can find things easily, your gear is protected from the weather, and there’s much less risk of it being stolen.

Get it wrong, and your vacation can be easily ruined; belongings wrecked, you end up straining your back and neck, and you’re painted as a pickpocket target.

But we don’t just travel with one bag when we go overseas, I’d argue there are 5 types of bag which are absolutely essential. 

Can you name them?

These are the 5 essential bags you need when traveling if you plan to be bag smart, in addition to your main checked luggage.

You can find them all on, who have become my go to for making carrying smarter. The below photos are all my recent orders from their website.

5 Essential Bags You Need When Traveling

… in Addition to Your Main Checked Luggage!

Standard Luggage Best Carryon only travel backpack reviews

The reason we’re not specifying a type of bag for your main checked luggage, is that checked luggage isn’t always essential!

Carry-on travelers have become a growing trend; those packing nerds who know the secrets of traveling light, who make the quickest exits from planes and airports, and breeze past everybody else who is stuck waiting at the luggage belt.

Carry-on travelers have a far easier time maneuvering trains, buses, taxis, and other forms of transport without hauling heavy bags.

And it means you don’t have to deal with the stress of lost luggage if it simply never arrives.

The other reason is that checked luggage could be a suitcase, a duffle, a modular backpack, or a hybrid backpack on wheels; it’s very dependent on the trip you’re taking and your personal style. 

So for these reasons, we’re not counting your checked luggage in our list of 5 essentials. You may however choose to put some of the following in your checked luggage!

Anti-Theft Waterproof Daypack

Bagsmart travel backpack

You don’t land in a new destination and head out exploring each day with your massive suitcase or duffle. Your checked luggage stays at the hotel, and you head out for the day with a smaller backpack.

A daypack itself is essential, for holding all the things you need for the day; your water bottle, camera, phone, wallet, jacket, umbrella, and anything else that will make you comfortable.

However, as far as essential features, make sure you opt for a daypack which is both waterproof and anti theft.

A waterproof bag is important because we travel with electronics; our laptops, tablets, cameras, and smartphones. Global rainfall is increasing, and more and more destinations are experiencing spontaneous storms.

It’s always important to check the weather before heading out for the day, however if your daypack is waterproof, you don’t have to worry about being caught in the rain (I also always recommend packing a compact umbrella).

And then you also want it to be anti theft; petty crime is rampant in big tourist cities (especially in Europe), and if your wallet or phone is in your back pocket, it’ll be pick pocketed before you know it.

Go for a bag with thick slash proof material and straps, with locking zippers that are hard to access, secret compartments, and RFID blocking.

My Choice: Anti-Theft Waterproof Camera Case Laptop Bag

Bagsmart travel backpack

The bag I use is the Anti-Theft Waterproof Camera Case Laptop Bag, which has the added bonus of a laptop compartment (fits 15.6-inch laptop), and modular velcro inserts for customizing the space.

These removable padded dividers are a feature of camera backpacks, but incredibly useful for the everyday traveler who likes to keep gear organized.

The bag is 11.8″L x 7″W x 17″H and weighs 2.3 lbs, which is perfect for a daypack. There are 4 inner pockets and 1 back hidden pocket to store memory cards, power bank, or tech accessories.

And of course you have your water bottle holder on the side.

Electronics Organizer

Electronics organizer

Absolutely essential now that we’re all traveling with plenty of devices and multiple cords. Between your phone cable, laptop charger, USB’s, memory cards, and batteries for devices like shavers, an electronics organizer keeps your tech safe.

Once again you want this bag to be waterproof, because even if it’s inside another bag and not at risk from the weather, if your toiletries explode, or a water bottle leaks and goes all through your bag, you’re going to be wiping shampoo out of your charger.

These are really cheap, and there are plenty of options, but make sure you choose one which is practical for the amount of cables and devices you personally need to organize.

I’ve gone with the Athena Electronic Organizer, which is slim, practical, and stylish. It’s padded for protection from bumps, has a zippered pocket for your cell phone, larger elastic straps to hold a mouse, and has specific tiny SD card slots, so they’re not being tossed around.

It’s slim and portable, and comes in black, pink, or teal.

Toiletries Bag

Toiletries RF

You absolutely want a toiletries bag as part of your travel gear, ideally one which is waterproof (I’m sensing a functionality theme!), has several storage compartments and has a built in hook so you can hang it for easy access.

Toiletries bags keep all of your toiletries together, so you can take one bag into the bathroom without having to unpack everything individually.

Having it water resistant is more for protecting liquids escaping rather then getting in from the outside, and in this sense, one with multiple water resistant compartments is ideal, meaning you can contain any explosions or spills.

Aim for one with transparent windows and zipper closures, so you can see everything at a glance for easy access to your items. A good bag will have elastic straps that keep all your products upright and in one place, and will be expandable so you can unfold it and hang it upright.

The Space Saver Toiletry Bag from Bag Smart hits all of those features, and comes in both medium and large sized options.

The medium size is 11” x 7.4” x 3”rolled and 11” x 30” open, and can hold up to 2 kg when on the hook. The large is 12.6” x 9.1″ x 4.3″ rolled, and 12.6” x 33.5” open, and can hold up to 3 kg on the hook.

Laundry Bag

Laundry sink wash clothes RF

Let’s please be responsible travelers here and stop using single use plastic bags for our laundry and washing.

There’s nothing worse than being forced to throw dirty, possibly even wet, clothes into your bag with your clean clothes when traveling, and not only does this mean they mix, the god awful smell that sticks to everything that should be clean is never ideal.

So having a dedicated bag for your dirty clothes is essential, whether you choose to clean them once you return home, use laundry facilities locally, or scrub them in the hotel sink.

The Washing Storage Bag from Bagsmart is more for toiletries, but perfect for your laundry, with its multiple compartments and soft top handle if you did want to walk down to a laundromat from your hotel.

Laptop Bag

Laptop computer bag

Between your daypack and your electronics organizer, you may already have your laptop covered, and you may argue that this is not essential since you can get many things done nowadays from your phone or iPad.

But if you travel with a laptop, or travel for work, as many digital nomads now do, a laptop bag which can act as your official business center is far superior to keeping it in a daypack with a random assortment of other gear.

As with every other bag on this list, you want it to be made in durable water-resistant fabrics, and if you can aim for one which is both TSA friendly & anti theft you’re golden.

As laptops now come in many different sizes, make sure you choose one which will actually fit your device, and consider what type of other accessories you travel with, ie I additionally travel with an external mouse and keyboard, and multiple harddrives.

My choice: the 17.3 Inch Laptop Bag is a sturdy and expandable bag with a ton of space, and multiple storage compartments. It’s water resistant, TSA friendly & antitheft, and has an adjustable and “C” curve padded ergonomic shoulder strap.

The expandable capacity of this bag is brilliant, and it goes from 17.1″L x 6.5”(up to 8.7”) W x 13″H. There are three huge padded compartments,  with an additional zippered pocket at the front, and plenty of inbuilt dividers.

This bag itself is big enough to carry multiple laptops, or act as an overnight weekender bag in addition to carrying your technology.

Other Bags You May Consider

Female traveler airport phone RF

So there we have it – 5 essential bags to travel with, in addition to your main checked luggage. Do you agree?

You can find all of the above bags on, and browsing their collection will give you ideas for other bags which may be incredibly useful too – jewelry organizers if you travel with bling, document organizers like passport holders, makeup bags, totes, and camera bags. 

Ultimately, what’s essential will depend on the type of trip you’re heading out on, and your personal travel style, though we think the above 5 are pretty standard now for all travelers.

Thanks to for collaborating with us on this article, and providing us with our essential bags. Are you a bag smart traveler?

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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