Trust Me, You Need This Family-Friendly Duffel Bag—Even if You Don’t Have Kids

The innovations that make this bag great for traveling with littles are just as beneficial to those traveling without younger companions.

Packing the No Reception Club duffel bag with interior built-in dividers

No Reception Club Hideaway Carry-On Duffel

Courtesy of No Reception Club

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→ Buy now: No Reception Club Hideaway Carry-On Duffel, from $295,

The days are long but the years are short. It’s a common piece of advice that most first-time parents hear. And as much as it doesn’t feel that way during the bleary-eyed baby stage, it couldn’t be truer. Which is why, as a parent of two younger kids (ages 5 and 7), I steer clear of travel gear or luggage that’s designed specifically for a single, fleeting phase or stage of life. I would rather invest in pieces that withstand the test of time.

It’s also why I have come to love the No Reception Club line of versatile backpacks, fanny packs and, most recently, the Hideaway Carry-On Duffel. This is gear that works for babies, toddlers, and older kids, too, as well as for when you are traveling without kids (imagine!). I first joined the No Reception Club fan club after traveling with the gear brand’s Getaway Bag travel backpack (which measures 19.7 x 10.2 x 6.5 inches and has a 24-liter capacity), allowing you to organize and store items in cleverly designed individual compartments (no more spewing out all the contents to find the wipes). So, when No Reception Club released a 42-liter duffel bag this past November, I knew I had to try it out. At 22 x 13 x 9 inches, the Hideaway Carry-On Duffel still meets carry-on requirements (per the name), but my assessment is that it’s the perfect weekender or road-trip bag—with or without kids.

A versatile bag with built-in organization

The Hideaway Carry-On Duffel includes a removable cubby insert with five compartments (one large, four slightly smaller—though you can alter these to suit your needs thanks to collapsible barriers that snap and unsnap to the sides of the pack with small straps; more on that below) and a laundry sack (which is honestly never a bad idea for adults and/or kids). You can either carry it as a standard duffel, using the clasping top handles or grabbing handles on the sides; as a shoulder bag with an included strap; or as a backpack, using the two detachable straps that tuck away. You can also attach it to roller luggage handles using the luggage pass-through pad at the back.

The option to include or remove the cubby insert is key to the bag’s flexible charms. You can also use this cubby feature to hang the bag inside of a closet and let it serve as a vertical shelving unit of sorts, but I have yet to try this option. Using the cubbies, I can easily divide my two kids’ clothing into their own compartments (two smaller cubbies each), and I use the large section for things they both need, like toiletries and first-aid items. I also sometimes use the larger compartment to store their dirty clothes in the included laundry bag. There’s a mesh interior pouch, which is great for extras that you may want to keep separate from the rest of the clothes, like shoes or accessories. The Hideaway Carry-On Duffel also serves as an all-in-one bag, as it has insulated outer pockets that can double as food, drink, and snack storage.

Another reason to love the Hideaway Carry-On Duffel is that the exterior fabric and the majority of the interior lining is made from 100 percent recycled polyester (the mesh interior lining is 81 percent nylon and 19 percent recycled polyester), making it both durable and sustainable. The bag comes in two colors: black and olive. You can also purchase a matching toiletry bag for $45.

Exterior of the No Reception Club Hideaway Carry-On Duffel with the removable cubby system insert

The No Reception Club Hideaway Carry-On Duffel comes with a removable cubby system for built-in organization.

Courtesy of No Reception Club

I use it even when I travel solo

When traveling alone, I typically remove the cubby insert to use the bag’s open space, which I organize the same as I would a roller bag or any other getaway bag. But, if you want to still use some compartmentalization, similarly to how you would use packing cubes, you can collapse some of the cubby walls to, for instance, have three larger compartments versus five, which can be helpful in organizing larger clothes and items for either an adult or older kids. A few different outer pockets can be used for any number of additional smaller items, including electronic cords, an iPad, or books.

The price point and value

At $295, No Reception Club’s Hideaway Carry-On Duffel isn’t necessarily cheap, but it’s an investment that can withstand the test of time because it can accommodate families’ traveling needs from the early baby years to elementary school and beyond—and when parents head out on their own travels. The Hideaway Carry-On Duffel comes with a lifetime warranty, so even though I have yet to experience much wear and tear with mine, I can easily replace it if some damage does occur.

Cons: Due to the bag’s sheer size, I don’t think this is an optimal option for any situation in which you’ll be carrying the bag for long periods of time. Thankfully, it does come with the luggage strap that allows you to attach it to a roller bag, because carrying the Hideaway Carry-On Duffel for long stretches, either as a backpack, shoulder bag, or duffel, could get heavy. For air travel, I prefer to use the more compact Getaway Bag travel backpack. But if you’re throwing the Hideaway Carry-On Duffel into the back of the car for a road trip, it’s perfect.

The bottom line

There is little better feeling as a parent than getting the most bang for your buck by buying items that last across ages. I would argue that the Hideaway Carry-On Duffel fits that bill.

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at Afar where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined Afar in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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