When jetting off for a short trip, say, a destination bachelorette party or a mini-moon, who wants to waste precious vacation time at baggage claim? With a trusty piece of carry-on luggage though, you can head straight from the plane to the adventures ahead.
Since you may not be traveling right now, it’s the perfect time to prepare for future trips by upgrading your onboard bag, and there are a few things you’ll want to look for: Of course, it needs to fit within the airline’s stringent size requirements, but you also want a carry-on bag to boast plenty of packing space and weight that you can comfortably carry or roll through airports and layovers. Then there are extra features to consider, like internal battery packs to charge your phone on-the-go and expanding capabilities for extra souvenirs.
From soft-side luggage to durable polycarbonate models, we found the best carry-on luggage to kick your trip off right. Consider the options below as your passport to painless packing.
Read on for the best carry-on luggage.
Best Overall: Briggs & Riley Torq International Spinner
Earning first-class on this list is the International Carry-On Spinner from Briggs & Riley. With interior features that include a hinged front compartment, padded laptop sleeve, an RFID-blocking pocket to protect credit cards from digital pickpockets, cinch-down garment panels, and a built-in mesh suiter, this hard-sided luggage will make for easy-peasy packing. And with a TSA-friendly combination lock, double-spinner wheels for 360-degree navigation, and an external USB port for on-the-go charging (battery not included), it similarly ensures that the journey itself will also be a breeze.
Price at time of publish: $549
Best Budget: Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable with Spinner Wheels
Clocking on at a wallet-friendly price, this stellar suitcase from Samsonite is a winner. Featuring valuable details like a scratch- and impact-resistant polycarbonate construction, multidirectional spinner wheels for smooth rolling, a TSA-approved lock, expanding capability, and a lightweight design (it’s under seven pounds!), this baby is worth far more than its pretty little price tag.
Price at time of publish: $160
Best Splurge: Tumi Latitude International Carry-On Suitcase
Next to missing luggage, seeing your bag come down the carousel dented and scratched is just about the worst surprise to come at baggage claim. You’ll have no reason to fear dents and dings with the Tumim Latitude International Carry-On though: This ultra-sturdy suitcase is crafted with Tumi’s trademarked material that’s specially woven to bend and flex in the face of mishandling. So, come departure, your bag will look just as perfect as it did on arrival—even if you end up checking it.
Best Expandable: Briggs & Riley Baseline International Carry-On Expandable Wide-Body Spinner
If you fear that a carry-on suitcase won’t have the packing space you need, allow us to introduce you to this deceptively roomy model from Briggs & Riley. The short-and-wide design maximizes packing capacity, and the ingenious compression-expansion system expands the bag up to 34 percent and then amazingly compresses it back down to its original size, so it still fits in the overhead compartment.
Price at time of publish: $699
Best Lightweight: Rimowa Essential Lite Cabin
If you break out in a sweat when it comes time to put your bag on the scale, this feather-weight carry-on is the one for you. Clocking in at an unbelievable 4.2 pounds, it’s Rimowa's lightest-ever suitcase but still boasts all the necessary features like a telescopic monopole handle, TSA-approved locks, and easy-rolling wheels. Overpackers everywhere, rejoice.
Best Duffle: Dagne Dover Landon Carryall Bag
For a tote that’ll take you from the plane to exploring new cities, snag the Landon Carryall Bag from Dagne Dover. This duffle’s extra-roomy design is surprisingly organized inside, with zippered pockets, a dust bag for shoes, a leash for keys, an additional pouch, and even a spot for a bottle (be it water or wine!). The neoprene fabric is water-resistant, lightweight, insulating, shock-absorbent, and comes in five cool colors.
Price at time of publish: $245
Best Design: Roam Luggage The Jaunt
No matter your personal style or favorite color, you’ll be able to find your dream luggage at Roam—because you can actually design it yourself! The brand’s carry-on model, The Jaunt, is incredibly lightweight at just 6.6 pounds and features an interior compression system, a polycarbonate shell, and smooth-riding ball-bearing wheels.
Now for the fun part: You can customize the design of every aspect of your luggage, from the color of the outer shell to the trim to the wheels and handle. You can even add a monogram (perhaps your newlywed initials?) to really make it your own.
Price at time of publish: $550
Best Set: Mark & Graham Vegan Leather Carry-on Luggage and Weekender Set
As perfect a match as you and your partner, this Mark & Graham luggage set comes with both a carry-on-size rolling suitcase and a vegan leather weekender. Both pieces are lightweight and durable, and they’re the perfect solution for couples’ getaways (you can take one while they bring the other). Plus, you can add a foil monogram to the set for a fabulous finishing touch.
Price at time of publish: $339
What to look for in a carry on
For a carry-on that’ll simplify both packing and traveling, take to the skies with the Briggs & Riley Torq International Carry-On Spinner that boasts multiple protective packing compartments, as well as spinner wheels and an external USB port that’ll come in handy when racing through the airport. If you’re jet-setting on a budget, consider the Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable with Spinner Wheels for its can't-be-beaten price tag and durable, deceivingly inexpensive construction.
What are the best carry-on luggage sizes or dimensions?
The size limits for carry-on luggage may vary every so slightly from airline to airline, so it’s best to check the exact specifications of your flight carrier before heading to the airport. But 22” x 14” x 9” is usually the standard size of a carry-on bag on a domestic flight. For international flights, it’s best to score a suitcase 21” or less to ensure you meet the requirements of the airline (and any regional airlines you may travel with while abroad).
What are carry-on luggage rules?
When it comes to carry-on luggage, one of the most important rules to keep in mind is that it needs to fit either in the overhead bin or beneath the seat in front for you for safety. Adhering to the airline’s carry-on size requirements will ensure this. As for what you can pack inside, check with your airline and TSA.gov for a complete list of prohibited items, but these include firearms and ammunition, lithium batteries, pocket knives, flammable products, and other hazardous items.
If packing liquid, gel, or aerosol products in your carry-on, be sure that their containers clock in at 3.4 ounces or under, and that said containers all fit in one quart-size, clear sealable bag. (You don’t want to have to throw away that expensive toner at security!)
Why Trust Brides
Brides contributor Jamie Cuccinelli has several years of experience in the wedding and lifestyle industries, first as an editor at Brides.com and then as a writer for home and lifestyle websites like MyDomaine. Her time at Brides made her a pro in the art of planning (and packing) for the perfect honeymoon, and considers her ability to fit bachelorette party decorations, favors, and matching tees in a single carry-on amongst her greatest accomplishments.