As a frequent traveler, you want a carry-on bag that works as hard as you do. You don’t have time for disruptions, and you need your bag to keep up with your busy travel schedule. With so many options on the market, how do you actually choose the best carry-on bag though?
First, check the carry-on dimensions allowed by your favorite airline. It’s important to note that airlines set the rules for carry-on size, not TSA. Keep in mind that as a rule of thumb, domestic flights usually allow a larger carry-on size than international flights.
Next, think about durability, function, and design. I look at the wheels before anything else. Generally, four wheels are better than two. This allows for easier navigation and better balance. But you’ll want to be sure the wheels are durable and having 360-degree swiveling wheels can make it easier to maneuver.
My personal favorite is the Aluminum Edition by Away
Let me start off by saying that It took me far too long to actually invest in a good carry-on. I’ve been traveling a lot for business the last few years, and I’ve gone through more poorly made bags than I’d like to admit. One made it from the plane to have the zipper burst right before exiting the train in New York City. Another contender lost a wheel after a few blocks of cobblestone.
Needless to say, I was quite excited to finally discover Away after several recommendations from friends. The sleek design and affordable price drew me in, and the unbreakable shell and lifetime warranty sold me.
To say I’ve thoroughly tested this carry-on is an understatement. I brought it with me for six weeks of travel to seven cities in three countries (over 70 hours of planes and trains). Aside from the sheer durability on every surface imaginable (including cobblestone), I was quite impressed by the compression system inside, which helped me pack up to two weeks of clothes without checking a bag. It also comes with a built-in, ejectable battery with two USB plugs for charging devices—which means no more searching for the nearest charging station at the airport.
Dimensions: 21.5” x 13.5” x 9”
However, what’s best for me might not be best for everyone else. So, I’ve pulled together advice from a few more frequent travelers to help you choose the best carry-on. Here are their top picks:
Spencer Spellman of Whiskey Tango Globetrot recommends Incase luggage, which he has used for several years.
“I like how concise they are, yet built to protect my tech gear, like my laptop, iPhone, and camera. Their luggage was actually built with Apple products in mind. So, it feels like smart design, while also compact and built for the business traveler who is carrying on.”
Dimensions: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Briggs & Riley
Luxury travel influencer Scott Eddy recommends the Briggs & Riley Sympatico collection.
“I’ve been testing all the big names for the past 2 years, but now I have found that Briggs & Riley, which I have just started to use, is the best.”
Dimensions: 21” x 14” x 9”
Sarah Howell of Road Warriorette recommends the TravelPro Crew carry-on.
“It holds an incredible amount of gear, fits perfectly into the overhead bins, and glides like a dream through the airport.”
Dimensions: 23.5” x 14” x 9”
“It’s great for business travel and when I’m traveling with my kids. It has tons of room and allows me to be hands free and stylish.”
Dimensions: 16” x 12.25” x 5.5”
Have you found the best carry-on? Tweet us @TripIt to share your advice.