The Best Carry-On Luggage & How To Choose One

For the past few years, I’ve been traveling with hand-me-down luggage. And as I’ve stepped up my traveling this hasn’t been cutting it. So I decided it was time to invest in a good bag. My search began for what makes the best carry-on luggage. I was looking to spend a decent amount for something I knew would last awhile. I didn’t need something fancy, but cute never hurts, and I wanted something that would be easy to lug around. With a good sized carry-on, you can fit just about anything.The best carry-on luggage. Plus tips on finding the best carry on suitcase. What you should look for before you purchase luggage.

I’m lucky to have a friend who works for the airlines, who is the one chucking your luggage around, and she was able to give me some advice on what to look for and what not to get.

What To Look For In Luggage

Quality Wheeles & Handles

These are the things that the airline won’t replace if they are broken so you want them to be good. Check out the type of material for the wheels, are they plastic or metal, do they feel sturdy. Plus, you want it to roll well so give it some tests. As for the handles, finding ones where they are a part of the suitcase, not stuck on can make a huge difference, they are much less likely to rip out.

Hard Cases Crack Easily

They look sturdy, but the trend in hard cases won’t last you long unless you buy at the top of the line. There are some good ones out there, but they are pricey, and the ones modeled around them are typically an easy to crack plastic.

Warranties Are Key

You suitcase will be thrown around, either by you, or the airline staff. It will get dropped, bumped into things and more. Look at the warranties for the different brands. It can be worth spending more if you know you can use it forever. Other companies have five-ten years that can be helpful.

Where Are You Flying

Keep in mind that different places around the world have different size limits for carry-ons. The United State’s limited are significantly larger than international and you don’t want to have to start checking your back once you get abroad. With that take a look at this comparative carry-on size chart to make sure you get what you need.

Best Carry-On Suitcases

Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2

If you aren’t ready to invest too heavily in a bag this is a great option for only $229 regular, and often on sale on eBags for as low as $170. You have a wide array of pockets, the handles are a part of the overall design, and the wheels are durable. When I first got my hands on this bag I thought this was going to be it. And if I didn’t have some flexibility in my budget it would have been. The only downside is the warranty, which only covers manufacturing defects. No wear and tear on the item. You can get a good five, maybe ten years out of a bag like this depending on how much you travel,
but you’ll eventually need to buy a new one. Check out more details hereHow to pick the best carry-on luggage. What you need to know to find the top carry-on bag.

Eagle Creek Wheeled Backpack

If you’re traveling from place to place or you are going backpacking but want wheels, these bags are a great fit. There are a few models, but all have a lot of pockets and space you can carry almost anything you need. When you’re not adventuring you have the wheels to pull it through the airport, but if you’re trekking around the city you can throw it on your back. It is the best of both worlds. To be honest, I wanted to want this bag, but I am not much of a backpacker. If I was looking at long term travel, I would probably go with one of the Eagle Creek wheeled backpacks. They run from $200-350 depending on the models. They were also the most recommended by the travel bloggers I reached out to. On top of that, Eagle Creek has a lifetime “No Matter What” warranty. You get a lot more with investing only a little more. Find the details on the bag hereHow to pick the best carry-on luggage. What you need to know to find the top carry-on bag.

Tumi Alpha 2 International Expandable Carry-On

Now if you’re willing to invest and you’re looking for style Tumi is a great way to go. You are paying for the look and name, but these bags are beautiful. You can feel the difference in quality in the materials. It just feels good to hold. The bag has a nice expandable feature and all the right compartments. It’s a gorgeous bag that should last you a good while. The only downside to Tumi is that with a $625 sticker price you’d expect a longer warranty than they offer. One year worry free and a five-year limited warranty. If I’m going to spend more than I did on my mattress on a bag I want to guarantee it will last longer than that, but if you’re a fashionista and the style is part of what you’re looking for it a bag it’s still a great option to consider. It’s beautiful isn’t it, take a look inside hereHow to pick the best carry-on luggage. What you need to know to find the top carry-on bag.

Briggs & Riley Baseline Luggage Carry-On

Saving the best bag for last. I ultimately decided to go with the Briggs & Riley bag. Once I got my hands on it, you could feel the stark difference in quality between it and the Samsonite, and I couldn’t go back. The quality of the fabrics, the zippers, and the handles are all a major upgrade. It is beautifully designed with generous pockets and even a hanging clothes section available. On top of that, it is not only expandable but compactable. You fit your stuff in it while it is expanded and then it will contract once packed. I was impressed by the quality, the ease of using it, and then the warranty. It is a lifetime no questions asked. Your retailer, or anyone that carries it, will take it and send it back for repairs no problem. This is what made the $499 price tag worth it. I’m planning on only owning one bag so double the cost isn’t a problem. If it is out of your budget I understand, but it is worth taking a look at. Look a little more into why I love it hereHow to pick the best carry-on luggage. What you need to know to find the top carry-on bag.

I Can’t Wait to Use My New Carry-On Bag

You know you bought the right one when you just can’t wait to use it. I’m planning my wardrobe for my next trip and will soon be filling up my brand new Briggs & Riley. I have no doubt I’ll be able to fit everything in it I need and organize it well. Plus the warranty definitely cuts back my worries on handing it off to someone else. It really is the best carry-on suitcase.

Tips on finding the best carry on suitcase. The best suitcases that can fit you need and your budget. What you should look for before you purchase luggage.

On top of that, my friend who works for the airline was thrilled when she heard which I ended up purchasing.

Have you found a carry-on you love? If so what do you think is the best carry-on? Leave a comment below. 

How to pick the best carry-on luggage. What you need to know to find the top carry-on bag.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.