Which Carry-On Is Right For You?

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What you first need to do to pick the right carry on luggage is assess your needs. What’s your budget? How often do you travel? What kind of wheels do you prefer? Asking yourself these questions will allow yourself to hone in on the features you need and the features you don’t.


Perhaps the very first consideration many of us take into account is the price. Carry on luggage has a wide range in price from 150 dollars to 500 dollars. A good carry-on bag can be found at any price point, but the saying you get what you pay for’ is very true when it comes to luggage. This isn’t to say that a 150 dollar carry on is cheaply made or won’t last you a good long while, it simply means that a 500 dollar carry on will probably last you longer.

With that said, the amount you should pay for a carry on will depend on how much travel you do. People who travel only once or twice a year if that will do just fine with a bag at a lower price point. If it’s properly cared for while not in use, a cheaper bag will last you years. If, however, you travel quite often for business or pleasure, then investing in a more expensive bag is a must. More expensive bags are built for more continuous use and so are made with materials and designs that can easily stand up to that use.


The next quality you need to keep in mind is perhaps the most important: size. Usually, the size of the luggage doesn’t matter much so long as it can carry everything you need. However, size is incredibly important when it comes to carry-on luggage because many airlines have restrictions on size. What makes this especially difficult is that different airlines will usually have different size requirements.

On airlines such as Delta, United, and American Airlines, carry on bags can’t be any larger than 22 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches high. Meanwhile, Southwest and Jetblue can accept slightly bigger bags that are 24 inches long, 16 inches wide, and 10 inches high.

If you travel with only one preferred airline, or if you have some loyalty program with a specific airline, then find out the maximum dimensions a carry-on bag can be and get one that fits. Since you usually only use one airline you only need to worry about one regulation. If, however, you use multiple airlines, then the smaller, the better. Research which airline has the smallest allowable measurements and pick a bag that will fit that. Though this will mean that you can pack less clothing and other items.

Many luggage manufactures have provided ways to make the size of their carry-on bags a bit adjustable. Many have zippers that when unzipped allows the bag another inch or two of height to allow more packing space and others have compressors and straps that press down clothes for them to take up less space. These bags allow you to adjust the size of your bag in case it’s too big or can be a bit bigger without going over airline requirements.

Also, it is extremely important to note that the size advertised when choosing carry on luggage is not always the actual size. Sometimes the advertised dimensions of a bag do not include wheels or handles, and only measure the compartment itself. Airlines, however, do count wheels and handles when checking to see if a bag fits their requirements. Always make sure to get the right measurements. Bring your tape measure if you have to.


Price and size are important, but so is figuring out how you’re going to get your carry on bag from point A to point B. This is where wheels come in. There are two types of wheel styles you will find on carrying on luggage: rollers and spinners.

Spinners are four wheels evenly spaced on the bottom of the carry-on. These wheels can turn in any direction and roll in any direction. This means that when your moving your luggage, you’re moving it as you would floor dolly or a shopping cart. Spinners are convenient because it allows you to simply push your luggage without supporting any of the weight.

Rollers, on the other hand, are two recessed wheels placed toward the handle side of the bottom of a carry-on bag. When transporting carry on luggage with rollers, you need to tilt the luggage and support a part of the weight with your arm strength.

Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, rollers are faster than spinners. If you’re rushing to your gate and need to go as fast as possible, then rollers are for you. However, if you regularly pack heavily and don’t want to tire yourself out by supporting a lot of weighing, then spinners might be more your style.

Picking what wheels to ultimately go with is a completely personal decision. One is not more beneficial than the other. It should be noted that spinner wheels stick out more than roller wheels. This not only adds an inch or two from the overall size (and subtracts and inch or two from packing space), it also means that these wheels are more exposed. Depending on how often you travel they will need to be replaced more often. Thankfully, many stores offer wheel repair and replacement kits at very low prices.


It may sound simple and not worth your consideration, but there has been so much innovation when it comes to pockets that it’s worth talking about. You may be familiar with the large and small pocket that decorate the front of the luggage. Well, because of the increasing prevalence of laptops and tablets these pockets can now be padded to better protect fragile electronics. Though, as a side note, you should be aware that overfilling these pockets might make your luggage top heavy and fall over. That’s not all that luggage manufacturers have done with pockets.

Some carry on luggage backs have a pocket specifically designed for damp items such as lotions and filled baby bottles. These pockets ensure that if anything leaks then the spillage will be contained within the pocket. There are also bags with an added pocket to fit shoes.

These extra features might be nice if you’re a frequent traveler, but might also be utterly useless if you’re not. Either way, things like this are an extra bit of convenience that could make or break a purchase decision, so it’s always a good thing to keep in mind.

Now that you know what to look for in carry-on luggage, here are the top five best-reviewed carry on bags in the market today. These bags have received rave reviews, are very well-constructed, and have features that are convenient. Any one of these products is sure to satisfy. As well, they are also a great jumping off point to do your research and figure out which bag is right for you.

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