The 11 Best Weekender Bags for Women, According to Editors and Experts

In case you needed another reason to be pumped about your trip.

woman carrying a weekender bag
(Image credit: Future)

Fact: There's never a bad time to use up your hard-earned PTO by booking a quick trip. And unless you’re a chronic over-packer like me, you’ll need to find the best weekender travel bag for your next getaway. Weekender and overnight bags are basically like the smaller, cuter version of carry-on luggage and are perfect for carrying the essentials.

Traditionally, weekender bags were sold as a part of an entire luggage set. Now, however, they’re sold on their own, giving you the perfect excuse to have a little more fun. And with quick trips becoming increasingly popular, it’s about time for you to invest in one that can carry you through the seasons. 

And if we’re talking about the best weekender bags, there’s no one more equipped to turn to for advice than two founders of the best luggage brands on the market: Karla Gallardo, Co-Founder and CEO of Cuyana, and Shay Mitchell, founder of BÉIS. In addition to being incredibly stylish and sleek, the best-selling weekender bags they design are some of the most functional suitcases around. Read on for their tips and recommendations, in addition to weekender bags tested by the very well-traveled editorial team here at Marie Claire.

How We Chose the Best Weekender Bags

We know that there are plenty of weekender bags for you to choose from. Every weekender and travel bag on this has been specifically chosen by Marie Claire’s E-Commerce Editor, Julia Marzovila (a.k.a. me!), our Fashion Director Sara Holzman, Style Editor Emma Childs, and the rest of our editorial team. Each has been either tested for its size and durability or has been recommended from an expert we trust. These are the details we looked for when putting this list together:

  • Functional Design Features: "Thoughtful function,” says Mitchell, is the most significant aspect to consider when shopping (and designing!) weekender bags. “A lot of times people are so focused on the way a bag looks that they can forget the very important consideration of how the bag is going to serve the person carrying it."
  • A Good Look: Function is important, but aesthetics are, too. "I recommend looking for a bag that is spacious, durable, and beautiful," Gallardo shares. "It’s important to ensure that the bag you invest in has an aesthetic that you are confident will stand the test of time. I personally prefer a darker color, so it doesn't show any dirt—travel can get messy!"
  • Organization: "You want something that is going to carry your essentials seamlessly from one destination to the next," explains Gallardo. "I suggest a piece that has multiple compartments, allowing you to maximize your organization when packing." Mitchell agrees with Gallardo, saying organizational ease is top of mind when she's designing weekender styles. “Most of us have similar things we need to carry with us—phones, wallets, cards, passports, water bottles—so when we design we always think of an organization that will accommodate all of the things people need while still being something they feel cute carrying." 
  • High-Quality Materials: "You want to ensure your weekender bag is made of quality materials—especially zippers—that are built to last," advises Gallardo. Look for styles made of sturdy materials like nylon, leather, and polyester (ideally recycled), and bonus if the materials are water-resistant or waterproof, as that will help to extend the lifetime of your bag.

The Best Weekender Bags

What Is a Weekender Bag?

Not just any slightly larger tote bag can be considered a weekender bag, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for when you’re shopping, especially if you’re shopping online. "A good weekender travel bag should be bigger than a backpack, but smaller than a carry-on suitcase, and it must be easy to fit in an airplane, train, or however you choose to travel," says Gallardo. "What's key for me is being able to keep my bag organized; The interior should be roomy enough to fit the essentials but also have separate compartments to keep things tidy." Many of the options on this list work as a personal item that will fit in the overhead compartment on the plane. Some of the smaller options can also fit under the seat in front of you on a plane. 

Mitchell echoes the Cuyana expert: “I’d define a weekender as a bag that is big enough to fit every single thing that you need and small enough to sling over your shoulder and be your tagalong for a quick jaunt,” she shares over email.

How to Pack a Weekender Bag

"Organization inserts are a must in my book," shares Gallardo. "They help compartmentalize my items and keep my bag tidy. This way, I know where everything is and it’s easy to quickly grab my passport, laptop, toiletries or anything that I need when I’m in a rush."

Meet The Experts

Karla Gallardo
Karla Gallardo

Karla started Cuyana alongside co-founder Shilpa Shah with the vision of creating a global design house that inspires intentional buying through pieces that are crafted with integrity. Founded upon the philosophy of fewer, better, Cuyana encourages customers to purchase fewer, high-quality pieces that they will love and treasure for years to come. Born and raised in Ecuador, Karla moved to the United States as she earned her Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics from Brown University and then joined Goldman Sachs. Karla then earned her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where Cuyana was born. Since its launch in 2011, Cuyana has become the go-to brand for women seeking beautiful, functional, and sustainable pieces built to endure their everyday lives.

Shay Mitchell
Shay Mitchell

Shay Mitchell is an actress, multi-faceted entrepreneur and travel expert. Shay founded the travel and lifestyle essentials brand BÉIS in 2018, which offers stylish, functional, durable, and responsible fashion-forward luggage, baby bags, pet travel and accessories, cosmetics cases and more. Shay has been traveling extensively over the past 20 years. Whether flying cross-country or cross-continent, or navigating the daily hustle of an active lifestyle, Shay knows firsthand the joys and pains of every type of travel. With over 45 million followers across all platforms, Shay is one of the most celebrated voices on social media.

Julia Marzovilla
Fashion E-Commerce Editor

Julia Marzovilla is the Fashion E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she reviews the latest launches from fashion and beauty brands, finds the best on-sale items around the internet, and interviews experts to find the best products in any category to share with her readers. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site as an expert in everything from the best laptop bags to the best laser hair removal devices.

In her near decade of experience, Julia has both written for several top outlets in the E-Commerce space and worked at major fashion labels. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and worked as the Trending Fashion and News Writer STYLECASTER. You can find her across the internet at @JuliaMarzovilla. In real life, you can find her creating shopping guides for her friends, cooking or baking in her too-small kitchen, or buying tickets for the next time Harry Styles is in town.

Julia has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Journalism from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. She lives in New York City, her hometown.