The Best Carry-On Luggage Choices That Make Travel Easier [2024]

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These pieces of luggage are high-quality, easy to carry, lightweight, and won’t break the bank. These are the top criteria we use when picking new luggage. So you can have peace of mind that the carry-on luggage we recommend is perfect for all types of travelers.

Whenever you fly somewhere, it’s always a race to get on board fast just so you have a place to stow your carry-on luggage. When too many ill-fitting suitcases get stuffed in the bins at odd angles, there’s less room for everyone. That’s why we’ve done our research to find the best carry-on luggage choices, that meet the airlines restrictions and fit nicely in the overhead bin.

minima suitcase
Chester’s Minima Carry-on Suitcase

All of the recommendations we make fall into the acceptable airline size range. This is very important, especially when traveling on a low-budget airline in Europe or Asia, where the requirements are quite strict. See this chart on carry-on luggage size.

If you want to check the exact weight of any particular item of luggage, an easy way to do that is to check the specifications on the website of an online luggage retailer like Luggage Direct.

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See all of our travel gear reviews.

Best Carry-On Luggage

In case you don’t have a lot of time to read all of the reviews below and just want a list of the top carry on luggage we recommend, we’ve put together a quick-pick table for you.

Looking for luggage sets? Check out our full luggage set reviews here.

To jump straight to the section of your choice, clicking a link below will take you straight to that section:

If you’re looking for garment bags, check out this review.

Airline Luggage Restrictions

You may not think the regulations for carry-on luggage has changed much, if you’re one of those lucky few who haven’t faced the scrutiny of the luggage czar when checking in for a flight. But, if you’ve ever had to squeeze your suitcase into the sizer to prove its worthiness to fly in the cabin, you know – most carry-on suitcases are egregiously over the allowable size.

Every airline is different. There is no “one-size-fits-all” carry on regulation size.  The typical dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels. Yes, there are airlines that allow larger sizes and even a few that require something smaller.

You should plan to fly with the lowest common size for carry-on luggage. And don’t forget that weight matters too! Check out our carry-on dimensions infographic for more information:

Carry-on luggage requirement sizes
(infographic by Savored Journeys)

The Best Carry-on Luggage for 2024

I don’t know about you, but I love the ease of purchasing on Amazon, so I set up our guide right in an Amazon viewing window to make it easy for you to click to read reviews or check out pricing. If you’d like to read our full product reviews, you can find them below the table.

Best Carry-On Backpack

Best Lightweight Carry-On Suitcase

CHESTER Lightweight Carry-On Luggage

chester suitcase

The CHESTER lightweight carry on spinner suitcase weighs only 7lbs. It will stay looking good, due to the 100% Makrolon polycarbonate hard shell with scratch-resistant surface. So you get the best of both worlds with this suitcase.

The dimensions of this suitcase are 21.5” x 13.5” x 8.5”, which falls right below the typical size requirement, so you wont’ face problems carrying it on, even on many International airlines. There’s also a TSA-approved lock that you can set with a combination code to keep your belonging safe. The interior of this suitcase is what makes it so unique and useful. 

When you open it up, there are two large compartments on either side, each with interior organizers to store smaller items. The interior organizers zip into place over the large compartments, which keeps the stuff you put in those sections from falling out.

There is a removable nylon laundry bag as well, to keep your clean and dirty clothes separated. The 360-spinner wheels take away the need to pull a heavy suitcase behind you. You can push the suitcase in front of you rather than dragging it behind, which is a welcomed reprieve for your arms and shoulders.

Buy with confidence, as free returns are available and there is also a 10-year limited warranty. If you purchase directly through the Chester website, you will get 10% off using our code below. Click the link below to purchase directly.


Best Soft-Sided Carry-On Spinner

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Carry-On Spinner

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Expandable Luggage with 4 Spinner Wheels, Lightweight Suitcase, Men and Women, Black, Carry-On 21-Inch

This TravelPro Spinner suitcase is one of the easiest pieces of luggage to travel with. The 21-inch size will fit in almost every overhead bin, including international and budget airlines.

It measures 21.75″ x 15.75″ x 7.75″, and it is one of the lightest carry-on suitcases you’ll find. If you’re familiar with this line from Travelpro, you’ll be happy to hear that the Maxlite 5 is half a pound lighter than the Maxlite 4 was. That’s a huge improvement in my opinion. The lighter the better!

It has a couple of convenient zipper pockets for tucking things away, plus a lid compartment for pressed items to keep them wrinkle free. The criss-cross, adjustable straps will hold everything else in place. It has quite a bit of internal space, plus it’s expandable up to 2 inches for times when you’re not flying in tight restrictions and want to put more in it.

It has spinner wheels that glide in all directions, so you don’t have to always be pulling the suitcase along behind. The gliding mechanism eases stress on the arms and shoulders, which you’ll definitely notice after a few miles trekking through an airport.

The aluminum handle locks in two positions so you can set it at the height you want. It also has a comfort grip handle to ease stress on your hands as you pull. This suitcase comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Best Hard-Sided Carry-On Suitcase

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner 20

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels, Carry-On 20-Inch, Teal

Samsonite is one of the top luggage brands on the market, so you know you’re getting a durable and reliable product for your money when you buy one. I’ve had some of my Samsonite suitcases for 8 years and after all the trips I’ve taken with it, it’s still one of the best suitcases I own.

The Omni PC Hardside spinner suitcase will stay looking good, due to the 100% polycarbonate construction with scratch-resistant surface. It’s one of the best bets for hardsided suitcases. The 360-spinner wheels take away the need to pull a heavy suitcase behind you. Push it is a breeze with the lightweight wheels.

The zippered interior divider and cross-straps make organization on the inside easy. The suitcase is fully expandable for when you need to fit in more. Just don’t add more when you’re flying, because the expansion makes the case too big for most airlines.

The side-mounted, TSA-approved locks are an added bonus.

Standard Luggage Co. Carry-On Backpack

Standard Luggage Co carry-on backpack

This carry-on backpack is so versatile, it can fit just about any trip you’re planning to take. It meets the airline carry-on standards, even for the budget International airlines, so you don’t have to worry about having to check it.

While this backpack has many great features for a frequent traveler, one of the best is that it has a 3-in-1 design, so you can carry it however is most convenient for you – as a duffle bag, as a backpack, or as a suitcase. It has hideaway backpack straps, a padded shoulder strap, and both side and top padded carrying handles.

The capacity of the backpack is 35L, but it can be expanded to 45L for those longer trips when you need a little more space. The dimensions of the bag are 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5″ when zipped and 21.5 x 13.5 x 9.5 when expanded, which means it fits within carry-on regulations even when expanded.

The padded and ventilated back panel and removable hip belt make this a backpack that can be carried comfortably, even when it’s full. It comes with a water bottle pocket, a built in safety whistle, interior compression straps to hold everything in, and a detachable laptop sleeve so you can easily remove your electronics at airport security.

The material is sturdy and is water resistant and easy to clean. It also comes with two interchangeable leather accent colors. There’s no reason not to give this backpack a try. It comes with all the features you could need in a backpack. Plus, it comes with a lifetime Warranty + 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Best Luggage Set

Samsonite Omni PC 3 Piece Spinner Set

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels, 3-Piece Set (20/24/28), Black

Choosing a set of luggage can be a very difficult decision. What’s best in a small carry-on suitcase, may not be best for a larger case. However, there are some luggage companies who just do it all very well, and you can trust the construction, quality and years of experience they’ve had building the best suitcases possible.

For that reason, the Samsonite Omni PC Spinner set is the winner for us. We’ve tried many different suitcases over the years, and we’ve come to learn three firm truths about luggage: softsided suitcases get destroyed faster than hardsided, spinner wheels are superior to fixed wheels, and it’s always best to spend a bit more money for a trusted, proven brand name.

We often interchange our luggage based on the type of trip we’re taking. With the set, we can choose which piece to take – the 20″ carry on, the 24-inch for slightly longer trips, or the 28-inch for longer-term travel. The side-mounted tsa lock ensures security while traveling.

For the price, this is one of the best values you can find for luggage. The durable construction and the sturdy zippers will take you on many trips without being damaged.

⇒ See all of our luggage set recommendations.

Best Packing Cubes

eBags Packing Cubes

eBags Classic Packing Cubes 3pc Set

These little packing cubes did wonders for my packing and I’ll never pack again with out them. Fitting a week or two’s worth of clothing into a carry-on sized luggage has never been easier or more organized.

You can fit so much into these cubes and they keep everything nicely folded and stowed in the bag. Even if TSA has to perform a random bag check, you can be sure all of your unmentionables aren’t being flung around the screening room for everyone to see.

⇒ Read more about packing cubes in our full guide to finding the best packing cubes.

Carry-On Luggage Buying Criteria

For frequent travelers, the same set of criteria for luggage always rises to the top. You want the lightest luggage possible, easy to manage, that you don’t have to worry about fitting within the regulations of the various airlines. So those are the criteria we used when determining the best carry-on luggage for 2024.

Price is obviously also a major factor. Also how well it will stand up to the brutal beating it receives from baggage handlers.

  1. Light weight
  2. Easy to manage
  3. Fits within airline regulations
  4. Price (each option hovers around $100 or under)
  5. Durability
  6. Features
  7. Warranty and Guarantee (good customer support is key!)

Luggage Style

We are typically backpack-only travelers and prefer to pack as light as possible, but there are times when a backpack is just a bit too small, or more often, when it’s too cumbersome to carry for a longer length of time. In those cases, we take a light weight suitcase.

Our recommendations for top luggage range from travel backpack to hard-sided suitcases and spinner suitcases. This is because it’s impossible to suit every traveler’s preference and needs with just one style of luggage.

If you travel frequently, you may choose to purchase more than one type of carry-on luggage to suit multiple use cases. This list should satisfy all of those needs. The styles of luggage available today are:

Soft-Sided Luggage

  • Made from lightweight fabric
  • Doesn’t show damage as well
  • Flexible so you can load it up and fit awkward shapes
  • Loaded with features, both internal and external
  • Expandable to add extra packing capacity

Hard-Sided Luggage

  • Made from tough materials like ABS plastic & polycarbonates
  • Waterproof shell exterior
  • Absorbs shock and resists scratching, denting & cracking
  • Loaded with internal features (but no room for external pockets)
  • Easily fits in the airport sizer – there’s no way to overpack it

Spinner Suitcase

  • Has multi-directional wheels that make pushing and maneuvering very easy
  • Easy on your arms and shoulders (you don’t have to pull along a heavy case)
  • Loaded with internal and possibly external features
  • Can be purchased as both hard-sided or soft-sided

In-Line Wheeled Suitcase

  • Two in-line wheels allow you to push or pull your case
  • Has front feet to keep bag from tipping over
  • Loaded with internal and external features
  • Can be purchased as both hard-sided or soft-sided
  • Most available and affordable option

Convertible Backpacks

  • Provide the most flexibility and maneuverability
  • Can be purchased as both wheeled and non-wheeled
  • Keeps your hands free to do other things
  • Doesn’t have to be dragged over cobblestone streets
  • Typically have a side and top handles, plus a shoulder strap and hideaway backpack straps


You really can’t go wrong with any of these carry-on suitcases. They are all the best carry-on luggage choices. All of them offer ease of packing and carrying. We switch between them depending on the situation and like having the flexibility.

What is your favorite carry-on luggage? Have you tried any of these choices?

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The Best Carry-On Luggage Choices That Make Travel Easier [2024]

31 thoughts on “The Best Carry-On Luggage Choices That Make Travel Easier [2024]

  1. Charles S. says:

    We go through carry-ons pretty quickly as we are transporting geodes, gems and minerals during our trips. These are great choices though for our non “rockhounding” trips.

  2. Stacey says:

    I’m very confused. Samsonite Omni on its website and also on Amazon says it may not meet airline’s carry on restrictions. Looking for recommendations for a carry on that will universally meet restrictions.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      The reason they say that is because all airlines have different restrictions, and they don’t want to be responsible if you fly a really small airline that won’t take it. I’ve never seen any of these suitcases I’ve listed here be rejected by the airlines. They are all within standard size. The only time you may have an issue is on smaller European discount airlines, but even then, I’ve seen all of these suitcases pass on those airlines, too. If you want to be 100% safe, the iT luggage is absolutely universal.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      All of the luggage listed here is also great for business. We have recommendations for garment bags too, if you search the site.

  3. Jill says:

    Are any of them left-handed suitcases? Meaning as you face the front of the bag, the side handle is on the left and not the right? I’ll probably end up with another Delsey since they seem to be the only company making left-handed bags.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      No, unfortunately none of them are specifically left-handed. It’s too bad they don’t have that option. I’m sure it’s a pain for lefties.

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  5. Joseph Kumukoa says:

    The Maxilite 5 international carry-on measures 20-in. H x 15-in. W x 7.75 in. D. United Airlines carry-on baggage sizing is 22″ x 14″ x 9″. Will this bag pass even though the width requirement exceeds by one inch? Also, any thoughts on the spinner vs the rollaboard for the Maxilite 5?

    Very Respectfully,

    Joe K.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Joe. The width is the least important measure. If the airline makes you measure the bag, it has to fit height and depth, but not width. This bag definitely meets the requirements. I personally prefer the spinner over the rollaboard, but both are good bags. For me, I hate the only option being to pull the bag. When in busy situations, it’s much easier to push the bag upright. I hope that helps.

  6. Renee Walker says:

    Great read! Can seem to access the Standard luggage backpack on So disappointed as wanted to give this a try for our upcoming trip to Morocco!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Renee, you can order the Standard backpack directly from the company: It’s well worth it.

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  8. Gillian Babcock says:

    My sister will be going abroad and she wants to use sturdy luggage that she can bring with her. It was explained here that she should keep in mind the luggage restrictions when looking for a carry on luggage. Furthermore, it’s recommended to go to trusted shops when looking for a good carry on.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      That’s a tough one, Barbara. There are some that fit regulations, but they often have a single telescoping rod, which makes them nearly impossible to pull without tipping over repeatedly. The one I like the best is the High Sierra Powerglide with two rod handle It is carry on regulation size, but it’s wheel base doesn’t fit into all carry on sizers at the airport. They’ve never stopped me from taking it on, though.

  9. Rachael says:

    I purchased a Samsonite Hard-sided carry-on 20” with expandable zippers. My airlines dimensions are 22x14x9. So I’m good with the length and height but I’m worried about the width with the expanded zippers. I did NOT fill it to capacity and when I lightly press down on the suit case the zipper diminishes very easily. It is expanded some; will this cause an issue?

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Rachael. Most airlines have a pretty strict 20-22″ policy, but it really varies whether they’ll actually weight and size your luggage. I have been asked to size my luggage only like 5 times in all of my travels. I would err on the side of not using the expander for flights outside of the US. Inside the US, you can probably get away with using the expander if you can crunch it down enough to fit the sizer, in case you’re asked. Weight is usually the bigger issue.

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  14. Bright says:

    I really want to thank you for sharing this post as it contains a lot of information, keep up this good work.

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