In the days of paid checked bags, people are more and more trying to bring everything in their carry-on luggage for air travel. However, it seems that airlines have made that more difficult too! So how do you go about finding the best carry-on luggage for your trips? Can you fit everything you need for your trip in the bag?

Whether you’re crossing state lines or international borders, having the best carry-on luggage can help you enjoy your trip fully. After all, no one wants to pay to check any more baggage than they have to. The trick is to find a carry-on that is big enough to carry your belongings, without being so big it won’t fit in the overhead compartment or exceed the requirements for carry-on bag size.

Keep in mind though, that different airlines may have their own requirements for what is considered carry-on luggage and what will fit in their planes. Generally speaking, the smaller the plane, the smaller the overhead bins — and the smaller your luggage will have to be.

While quality luggage can be expensive, a carry-on you can depend on is more than worth the investment. When comparing different carry-ons, consider not only size and maneuverability but other features like interior pockets, built-in portable chargers to help you stay powered while on the move. Oh, and don’t forget to choose something attractive, too — you want a bag that’s easy to spot, so you don’t lose it or get it accidentally mixed up with another traveler!

Here are some ways to choose the best carry-on luggage


Set your purpose

Consider the items you plan to bring. This will help you determine the ideal features for your suitcase, which will help you when choosing luggage. Backpackers may want straps or pouches for sleeping bags, tents, hiking poles, etc. Business travelers might want a bag with an easily-accessible laptop and electronics compartment. Fashionistas might appreciate straps that hold clothes in place and reduce wrinkling. Determine if you’ll be checking your bags, dealing with difficult terrain, or if your travel is for business purposes.

Look at the size

The majority of airlines follow a fairly standard carry-on size of about 21 – 22inches x 13-15 inches.  However, a lot of low-cost carriers have far more restrictive requirements even below 17 inches. This is where the issue comes in for many flyers…which size bag do I buy? Do I buy multiple bags?

When looking at size, though don’t just look at the outside measurements of the bag. Be sure that the bag has enough internal storage to fit all of your items. You can find volume in a huge diversity that this is really important. Also, note that some bags taper off the ends which can reduce valuable real estate. Also, things like straps, hooks, and wheels can be placed in areas that it reduces the overall size or shape of the internal structure of the bag.

The lighter the better

The lower the weight the better when it comes to carry-on bags. You don’t want your bag to be the majority of the allowed weight for in cabin bags. Several airlines, particularly the low-budget options are adamant about weighing your bag prior to boarding. The weight limit for checked luggage varies between airlines. Check that your suitcase isn’t too heavy before setting off, as excess baggage fees are famously extortionate


Suitcases with handles on the top and side are particularly practical. These extra handles, in addition to the towing handle, make lifting your suitcase on and off check-in scales, luggage racks and baggage carousels much easier. Most top handles are telescopic and can be extended into multiple positions for optimum user comfort. They are also retractable for pushing down when not in use.


Most suitcases are four-wheelers, sometimes referred to as spinners, meaning you don’t have to tilt your case before towing and it can be wheeled alongside you. Suitcases with two wheels tend to have slightly bigger wheels and can be easier to pull up and over kerbs, but spinners win for versatility.


Internal pockets can be found inside most hard shell and soft-sided suitcases, from small integrated pockets and larger pouched compartments that can fit a laptop, to removable laundry bags and garment sections that help keep suit jackets from creasing. External pockets for stowing easy-access items are usually only found in soft-sided suitcases.


Carry-on luggage that is expandable offers you just that little bit of extra storage capacity so nothing gets left behind. However, if you’re going to carry on your luggage in its expanded format, be sure to measure it to see if it meets airline specifications. The expandable feature is really ideal for when you’re using your carry-on as a weekend or overnight bag for non-air travel.