Personal bag

Your Perfect Travel Companion: The Personal Bag for Flights

When it comes to air travel, most of us are familiar with the term "carry-on bag," but the concept of a "personal item" may still seem unclear. A personal item is essentially a smaller bag that counts as a personal item and not as your main carry-on. This can be a laptop bag, a purse, or even a camera bag. What sets this apart is its size, generally designed to fit under the seat in front of you. Understanding personal item sizes can make your journey more comfortable and keep you in compliance with airline rules, especially if you are flying basic economy where only a personal item is allowed at no additional charge.

Key Features of the Ideal Personal Item Bag

Easy Access and Quick Retrieval

One of the most crucial features to look for in a personal item bag is easy access to your essentials. This often involves having a side pocket where you can store items like passports or snacks for quick access without having to open the entire bag.

Laptop Compartment

If you are a business traveler or someone who likes to stay connected, a laptop compartment is a must. This keeps your laptop secure while providing the convenience of easy retrieval during security checks or while on the flight.


The best personal item bags are those that can adapt to different types of travel. They should function as more than just a camera bag or a tote bag. Some bags, like the ones with convertible straps, can switch between shoulder bags and travel backpacks, providing you with more options to suit your travel style.

Why the Bento Bag is an Excellent Choice

While the focus here is not exclusively on any particular brand, it's hard to discuss perfection in personal item bags without mentioning the Bento Bag by Nomad Lane. Designed with the modern traveler in mind, the Bento Bag offers a well-thought-out laptop compartment, and ample side pockets for quick access, and it fits comfortably under the airplane seat in front of you. This makes it a fitting companion for those flying basic economy, where overhead bin space is often limited or comes at a premium. Moreover, it is versatile enough to function as both a personal carry-on bag and something that can slip into overhead compartments if needed.

Delving into the Materials and Durability

When selecting the perfect personal item for air travel, the material of the bag plays a significant role. You'll want something durable but lightweight, such as nylon or high-density polyester. These materials are not only resilient against wear and tear but also fare well against the elements.

Waterproofing and Water Resistance

Water-resistant features are a bonus. Imagine walking across the tarmac on a rainy day, clutching your personal item. A water-resistant bag will protect your laptop, documents, and other essential items from getting wet. Bags with water-resistant zippers or coatings add an extra layer of security against accidental spills or adverse weather conditions.

Going Beyond the Basics: Advanced Features

RFID-Blocking Pockets

In an increasingly digital world, protecting your information is paramount. Some personal item bags come with RFID-blocking pockets, safeguarding your credit cards and passports from potential skimming.

Expandable Compartments

Let's face it, even with the best-laid plans, we all end up with more stuff than we started with. Expandable compartments can prove invaluable when you need that extra space for souvenirs or other acquisitions made during your travels.

Luggage Compatibility

Another feature to consider is how well your personal item integrates with your main luggage. Look for a bag with a trolley sleeve that allows it to slide over the handle of a rolling suitcase. This is particularly useful for long walks through sprawling airports.

Making the Most of Space: Organizational Tips

Use of Packing Cubes

Packing cubes can be a lifesaver when you want to organize your belongings efficiently. They help segment your items, making them easier to locate when you're in a rush.

Managing Tech Gear

Elastic loops and mesh pockets can help manage your tech gear, from charging cables to SD cards. These small yet significant features can make the difference between a frustrating experience and a seamless one.

Revisiting the Bento Bag as an Example of Perfection 

While the market is full of options catering to various needs and tastes, the Bento Bag by Nomad Lane deserves another mention. It incorporates nearly all the advanced features and organizational components discussed in this guide. Its material is both durable and water-resistant, it offers RFID-blocking pockets, and its design facilitates seamless integration with your main luggage through a trolley sleeve. The Bento Bag's expandable compartments and clever use of space also make it an excellent choice for those who value both form and function.

Closing Thoughts: Selecting the Right Personal Item for Flights

In the complex orchestra of air travel, your personal item plays a significant role. As we've delved into its various facets—from size and regulatory constraints to design and functional elements—it's clear that choosing the right personal item is about much more than just grabbing a bag that fits under the seat in front of you. It's about smart packing, convenience, organization, and above all, maximizing your comfort during travel.

The personal item serves as a bridge between your carry-on bag and the larger checked luggage, offering quick access to essential items. Whether it's a camera bag with padded compartments for lenses, a tote bag with a dedicated laptop sleeve, or a travel backpack with multiple zip pockets for passports and other necessities, the features are myriad. The various designs and formats offer something for everyone, from the business traveler needing a structured bag with a laptop compartment to the backpacker looking for easy access to water bottles and maps.

For those in basic economy seats who are typically limited in what they can bring aboard, the personal item becomes even more crucial. It serves as a lifeline to hold all the necessities, from in-flight snacks to a pair of earplugs to help you sleep through the engine's hum.

The Bento Bag, as a prime example, provides a balance of efficiency, organization, and style that makes it a strong contender for anyone seeking a reliable personal item for flights. It comes equipped with multiple compartments and pockets for optimal organization, a laptop sleeve for easy access during security checks, and a design that easily fits under the seat or in the overhead bin. While the bag itself is certainly an excellent option, it serves to illustrate the overarching points about what to look for when choosing a personal item for air travel.

As you contemplate your options, remember that the best personal item will align with your specific travel needs. It will complement your carry-on and serve as a convenient repository for those items you wish to keep within arm's reach. Whether you're looking for a bag with a slip pocket for a travel journal, a side pocket for a water bottle, or a main compartment spacious enough to hold a change of clothes, the perfect personal item is out there for you.

In short, as we traverse the evolving landscape of air travel, with ever-changing regulations and passenger needs, the personal item stands as a constant companion that can make or break your flying experience. Therefore, investing time and thought into selecting the right personal item can translate into a smoother, more comfortable, and ultimately, more enjoyable travel experience.

Back to blog