The Best Carry-On Luggage for Any Type of Traveler
A dependable carry-on suitcase can make traveling a breeze. They allow you to keep your essentials safe (and close by) while you fly—but a quality carry-on can also make everything from the packing process to the journey itself a little bit better. "Luggage can transform your travel experience," says Cuan Hanly, the Executive Creative Director at Away. "If your hand luggage doesn't fit under the seat in front or is falling off the top of your suitcase in transit, it distracts from the amazing impact travel can have on you."
So, what are the elements of a superior suitcase? "With carry-ons specifically, people look for ways to maximize space, so a key feature is enabling you to pack in as much as possible," Hanly explains. "Wheels are another important element, since most travelers will inevitably be rolling over some unforgiving surfaces." Another pro tip: Don't sacrifice function for style. With all of the chic luggage options available online, separating the stellar from the so-so can be tricky. That's why Hanly suggests shopping for luggage in person. "It may seem easy to shop online—and in many cases it is—but nothing beats being able to visit a store and see how easy the wheels glide or how light the suitcase is when you pick it up."
Don't have time to go to a brick-and-mortar shop to pick out a piece of carry-on luggage? Don't fret. We rounded up some of the best overhead bin-approved suitcases on the market, based on Hanly's advice. From expandable options to styles with rose gold-colored spinners, here are 10 carry-on bags that will make traveling that much easier.
A carry-on suitcase with a serious following, this Away best seller features a lightweight, yet durable polycarbonate shell, an ejectable battery that charges your phone, and, most importantly, a lifetime guarantee. "You don't want something that's going to break and ultimately end up in a landfill shortly after getting it," Hanly explains.
Shop Now: Away The Carry-On, $225, awaytravel.com.
Nothing is worse than lugging a heavy carry-on through the airport. That's why it's important to pick out a piece with rotating wheels. This option features wheels with a 360-degree spin functionality; they also come in rose gold, gold, and silver finishes for added sophistication.
Shop Now: Calpak Ambeur Carry-On Luggage, $165, calpaktravel.com.
Why buy just any suitcase when you can own a sustainable one instead? This option from Brandless is built with a sturdy polycarbonate shell and an interior lining made with recycled plastic—just one piece keeps 20 plastic bottles out of landfills and our oceans.
Shop Now: Brandless Carry-On Luggage, $180, brandless.com.
Sleek and fashion-forward, this leather-trimmed piece features a round polycarbonate shell and three inner compartments—appropriately labeled "I'm Messy," "I'm Clean," and "I'm Dirty"—to help you stay organized wherever you are in the world.
Shop Now: Ookonn Leather-Trimmed Hardshell Suitcase, $203, net-a-porter.com.
Consider Rimowa's Essential Cabin the Rolls Royce of carry-on luggage. Designed in Germany with a state-of-the-art polycarbonate exterior, this luxe hard-shell suitcase comes with a built-in TSA lock, inner storage compartments, spinning wheels, and a glossy finish to boot.
Shop Now: Rimowa Essential Cabin, $640, rimowa.com.
Don't let this option's vintage-inspired exterior fool you. It comes with all of the bells and whistles—a fun handle ejector, silent glide wheels, and a built-in travel kit.
Shop Now: Steamline Luggage "The Entrepreneur" Navy Carry On, $495, steamlineluggage.com.
Not a fan of hard-shell suitcases? No problem. Constructed of water resistant reinforced nylon, Lipaults' colorful, compact carry-ons come in eleven stylish shades, including mustard yellow, steel blue, and plum.
Shop Now: Lipault Original Plume Spinner, $245, lipault-usa.com.
The only thing better than an attractive carry-on suitcase is a reliable one. This workhorse luggage, however, gives you the best of both worlds: It boasts a tough injection-molded polypropylene shell and three-point lock system that will keep your belongings secure.
Shop Now: Lojel Voja Small Luggage, $180, us.lojel.com.
Ask any jetsetter and they'll say the same: Extra storage room is essential for carry-ons. "The soft-shell Expandable Carry-On at Away features an interior compression that allows travelers to make the most of every inch and ultimately fit more in their bag," Hanly explains, "and unzips to add an extra 1.75 inches of precious packing space."
Shop Now: Away The Expandable Carry-On, $275, awaytravel.com.
If you're tired of struggling to unpack your laptop in the security line, then we have the suitcase for you. This carry-on features a faux leather foldout front pocket with an inner laptop sleeve, so you can load (and unload) your computer with ease.
Shop Now: Calpak Hue Carry-On Luggage with Pocket, $195, calpaktravel.com.