When you’re heading away, you need a bag that’s easy to carry on or off transport, gives easy access to your passport or phone and is big enough to take your holiday wardrobe. With plenty of packing room, small enough size to be carried onto to planes and strong enough to keep your stuff safe, duffel bags are a great travel bag option. But are they the perfect choice for everyone?

Why is a duffel bag called a duffel bag?

Dating back to 1677, Duffel was the Belgian town where the material used for the bag originated. This cloth’s robust, durable nature was originally used to cover ships before Spanish and Portuguese sailors used offcuts to create bags to protect their belongings. The material has since been used for expedition coats and military-issued uniforms.

What is a duffel bag used for?

Originally used as a military kit bag during World War II, the simplicity and robustness of the duffel bag make it suitable for a range of uses. Cylindrical in shape and with a drawstring closure, many are now fitted with shoulder straps and extra compartments making them a great option for short breaks or weekend trips.

Can a duffel bag be a carry on bag?

In the UK, the standard for carry-on airplane luggage is around 55x40x25cm in size and 10kgs in weight. This means that (as long as they’re not overfilled) most duffel bags will be suitable to carry on and fit perfectly in a plane’s overhead compartment.

Waxed canvas bags

As British sailor’s alternative to the Spanish invention, waxed canvas bags are just as robust as duffel bags. As well as being waterproof, its hard-wearing, stain repellent nature means they’re easy to care for and will last for years. Plus, they come in a range of sizes and designs, so you’ll be sure to find one that suits your travel needs.

Holdall bags

Although duffel bags are sometimes categorized as ‘holdall bags’, the term can also apply to bags that are bigger, more square and closed with a zip fastener. Holdalls tend to only have carrying handles or over-the-shoulder straps, with some specifically designed for business trips including laptop and notepad compartments. They’re also available in a range of materials, from cotton to leather.

Can you travel with a gym bag?

Although mainly used for sports and recreation, some gym bags are great options to travel with. From drawstring sacks to waistpacks or totes, they’re the perfect choice for people who prefer to travel light, or keep their personal items on-hand. They’re also useful for exploring and day trips when you get to your destination.

Or, are trolley bags the best option?

If you’re someone who likes to travel in style, then trolley bags are a great choice. Without having to carry them by hand or on your back, pack as much as you like and simply wheel your luggage across the airport. Available in a range of sizes and styles, they’re perfect for luxurious holidays in a single destination.

Can you travel with just a rucksack?

If you’re heading on a backpacking holiday, then there’s only one practical bag choice. For long trips where you’ll be hopping from one place to the next, large rucksacks are ideal. They can carry all your gear, have smaller compartments to keep your essentials safe and can easily be swung onto your back as you climb on the next plane, train or bus.

Think about it: what do you really need in a travel bag?

Considering the type of traveler you are and the length of your stay will help you to decide what style of bag will be best. Although a travel duffel is perfect for shorter breaks away, longer trips or a glamorous destination may mean that a holdall or trolley bag is a better option. Despite being invented nearly 500 years ago, the hard-wearing nature of the duffel bag means they’re still a versatile, stylish luggage option for modern travelers.