If you ask me what the most stressful part of any trip is, I’d say hands down it’s packing.
I rarely worry about when to get to the airport or if my luggage will arrive with my flight. Instead, I find myself contemplating what to bring and how I will fit it into my luggage.
Whether you’re going for a weekend trip to the Caribbean or a two-week-long vacation to Europe, a durable, reliable carry-on luggage is a must have.
How do you choose the best Carry-On Luggage for international travel?
From rolling across cobblestones to having it thrown into the tour bus or other transportation, carry-on bags endure a lot of wear and tear.
Needless to say, I have checked out what seems like every carry-on known to man, from the $20 discount buy at Marshall’s to the $700 Tumi.
And while you may be tempted to splurge and buy a Bluetooth-connected bag with an integrated battery back, many airlines are now imposing restrictions due to the lithium batteries.
When deciding on a carry-on, it’s important to take a few things into consideration, including size, ease of use, the interior and the weight.
General advice: A classic zip and 4-wheel roller bag is usually the way to go.
These bags are ergonomic in that you can push, pull and spin them in any direction making them the ideal bags for tight spaces, like a plane aisle.
Below are 4 of my favorite carry-on bags for flying internationally, each for a different type of traveler or purchaser!
Best Overall: Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner
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If you don’t know the name Samsonite, there’s a good chance you’ve never owned luggage.
Samsonite is known for its innovative luggage, casual bags, backpacks and other travel accessories made to instill confidence in their owner.
You can have confidence that your bag will arrive at its destination in one piece and will survive the adventure, no matter where you explore. So it’s no surprise Samsonite’s Omni PC Hardside made the list.
The Omni PC was designed to face the harshest travel elements. With 100% polycarbonate construction, this suitcase only weighs 6.4 pounds and is scratch-resistant.
If you do weigh it down with its contents, you won’t have to worry about dragging it behind you because this bag features 360-degree spinner wheels allowing it to roll comfortably beside you. Like the AmazonBasics bag below, this one also features a clam shell design with expansion available.
While you may have your carry on beside you for most of your journey, this bag has integrated TSA locks to ensure your belongings stay safe when they’re not beside (or above) you.
Best Carry On for Minimalists: Chester Minima Carry-On Luggage 22
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Tired of carrying around a heavy suitcase?
Get rid of the clutter in your life with the Chester Minima Carry-On Luggage 22.
Weighing in at only 7 lbs, the Minima 22 is made to go where you go, whether it’s running to catch your next flight or strolling down a cobblestone street at sunset. The dimensions are TSA and IATA approved and measure in at 21.5” x 13.5” x 8.5”.
Despite its compact size, it’s surprisingly spacious—the interior dimensions are 19.5” x 13.5” and it has a capacity of 38L. You can easily fit 3-5 outfits in the Minima 22, making it the perfect carry-on for both weekend and long-term trips.
Keeping your things neat and organized is important when traveling and the Minima 22 does not disappoint. It features the standard main two compartments but it also comes with three interior organizers for smaller items as well as a nylon laundry bag for laundry.
The Minima 22 isn’t just light, however—it’s built to last! Silent multidirectional double wheels make for a more stable rolling experience than your standard four-wheel suitcase. It’s also made of 100% Makrolon polycarbonate, making it water-resistant as well as lighter and more durable/flexible than aluminum hard shells.
In fact, Chester is so confident the Minima 22 will hold up during your travels that they offer a 10-year warranty! Coupled with a 30-day no questions asked trial period, picking up the Minima 22 is a no brainer.
A few other neat additional features include the telescopic handle, top/side grab handles, and TSA approved combination code lock.
- Free returns and a 10-year warranty gives buyers peace of mind
- 100% Makrolon shell is lighter and more durable than aluminum
- 38L capacity for plenty of space
- Lightweight at a mere 7 lbs
- Two main compartments, three interior organizers, and nylon laundry bag keeps things organized
- Features 8 wheels vs standard 4 wheels for increased durability/stability
- Telescopic handle with two lock positions
- Top and side grab handles
- TSA-approved combination lock
- Easy to clean
- Leather luggage tag
- Luggage handles can be small if you have large hands
- Hardshell exterior means you have to open the suitcase to get to your gear
Budget Pick: AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage
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This budget carry-on from AmazonBasics is the ultimate bargain and was made with routine travelers in mind.
With a protective hard shell made of extra-thick ABS for enhanced strength and durability, this bag is scratch-resistant and will stay clean and fresh no matter how much it gets jostled in the overhead compartment.
The luggage is constructed like a clam shell, meaning it has unzips into two equally sized compartments. That makes it very easy to organize clothing and toiletries.
The interior is fully lined and is organized with 3 zippered pockets for storing small items. And if the nine-inch depth isn’t enough for you, it expands to an additional 15% packing capacity.
With 4 double spinner wheels and a telescopic handle, this luggage is the perfect carry-on for a smooth traveling experience.
Trendy and Unique Choice: Delsey Luggage Chatelet Hard
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When it comes to finding a stylish suitcase, look no further than this great piece from Delsey.
The French brand founded in 1946 has since become synonymous with excellence when it comes to luxury luggage.
The Chatelet Hard+ is made of 100% Polycarbonate and features a braking system that locks the front two wheels insure your luggage will never accidentally roll away from you.
The luggage features a streamlined TSA lock that’s recessed for maximum security without compromising style, and it has double spinner wheels.
With faux leather accents and a fully lined interior, this luggage is the ultimate travel companion when it comes to style.
The interior features two packing compartments with tie-down straps, a zippered mesh divider and a bonus of two interior bags and a hanger for maximum organization.
To sweeten the deal, Delsey offers a Worldwide Limited 10-Year Warranty.
Ready for take off?
With the wealth of luggage on the market, it’s important to consider your own individual needs and what you will typically be packing.
For my money, I like the Samsonite Omni, though the Delsey bag has a really eye-catching, trendy style that’s hard to ignore.
When choosing your new bag be sure to factor in the weight of the luggage — a carry-on shouldn’t weight more than 8 pounds on its own — and the size. Measure it at home before you leave for the airport, because you can’t always rely on product dimensions found on Amazon.
Once you find your perfect bag, you’ll be cruising.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the standard carry-on bag dimensions?
A: For domestic flights on the big three airlines (American, Delta and United) the maximum dimensions are 14 inches wide, 9 inches deep and 22 inches high. This includes the wheels and pocket protrusions from the luggage.
While the luggage dimensions for international flights are the same, some international airlines require a carry-on weight of no more than 15 pounds.
Airlines change their carry-on requirements frequently, so be sure to check what’s allowed before you head to the airport.
Q: How many carry-on bags can I bring?
A: Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on suitcase that sits in the overhead bin and one personal item, such as a backpack or purse, which sits under the seat in front of you. Your personal item should be no more than 18 inches high by 14 inches wide and 8 inches deep.
If you are traveling with a pet, the kennel or bag you choose counts as your carry-on and there may be a carry-on pet fee.
Q: What should I avoid packing in my carry-on?
A: Liquids over 3.4 ounces are not allowed in carry-ons. All toiletries should fit into one quart-sized plastic bag.
Avoid bringing sharp objects like pocket knives, scissors, and razor blades.
If you’re traveling with sporting equipment, check your airline’s rules before packing because certain items like golf clubs, hockey sticks, and baseball bats may not be allowed.
Need more help packing? Check out this great video guide here: