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Getting ready for your next trip and looking for the perfect carry on luggage? This roundup is full of functional, durable, and lightweight carry on suitcase options for your adventures ahead!
Best Carry On Suitcase Size and Style
Table Of Contents
When it comes to air travel, a great carry on is a must! Whether you’re a packing pro who loves to fit everything they need into a smaller suitcase, or you want an addition to your checked luggage, having the wrong suitcase could make flights difficult and stressful. So, how do you figure out what’s the best travel carry on suitcase for you?
What Are the Best Carry On Suitcase Dimensions?
A lot of readers ask the very important question, what size is a carry on suitcase? When traveling with a carry on, it’s crucial to make sure that your trusty bag will fit the size requirements so it won’t have to be checked.
While some airlines or specific planes may differ by an inch or two, the standard carry on suitcase measurements for domestic flights is 22” x 14” x 9”.
The standard carry on suitcase size for international flights tends to be smaller, with the max height usually being 21”.
In order to figure out what’s the best suitcase for you, check out these comprehensive resources that you can tailor to your specific trip:
- How to Choose the Right Travel Luggage
- Top Suitcase Recommendations
- Best Carry-on Suitcases for Traveling Europe
- Hardside vs. Softside Luggage: Pros and Cons
- Best Checked Luggage
Now, take a look at the top airline approved carry on suitcase options for your next adventure!
Best Carryon Suitcase Styles for Travel
Best Carry On Suitcase Hard Shell: Delsey Paris Helium Aero 21”
The Helium Aero 4 wheel carry on suitcase is lightweight, the spinner wheels make for a smooth ride, and one can easily see it’s also super stylish! It can expand up to 2” for extra packing space (or to even add the odd souvenir or two), and there’s an easy one-button locking system. It weighs a fairly light 8.4 lbs!
It comes in beautiful, bright colors that are easily recognizable from afar, and the durable, scratch-resistant cover will ensure it looks just as good off the plane as it did getting on!
One reader who has this suitcase says, “We have the Delsey Helium Aero and love it. It seems to be indestructible, carries a ridiculous amount, and the compression zipper setup is fantastic. I like that each side is packed independently.”
If you’re headed to Europe, the Delsey Helium 19” version is a great hard carry on suitcase option for European-bound flights!
I’ve owned several Delsey carry-on suitcase styles but the Shadow is my favorite. I love their Helium luggage collection!
Best Soft Sided Carry On Suitcase: Travelpro Maxlite 5 21”
So many readers say that Travelpro makes one of the best soft carry on suitcase! And this 21” Maxlite 5 is the #1 selling suitcase on the blog! The Maxlite is also one of the lightest carry on suitcase picks – at only about 5.4 lbs, it won’t be an annoyance to haul around. At the same time, the packing capacity is outstanding, able to expand up to 2” if you need a little extra room!
This suitcase rides like a dream, with a sturdy handle (that expands up to an impressive 42.5”!) and smooth spinner wheels. Interior and exterior compartments keep things super organized, and the overall quality and durability make it an amazing investment.
One TFG reader shares, “I love my Travelpro Maxlite 5! Easy to pack, cubes fit great inside. Use it for carry on domestically all the time for work travel. Easy to lift in/out of overhead with handles.” It comes in a range of pretty colors!
Read TFG’s review to out why our readers can’t stop raving about the Travelpro Maxlite 5!
Best Hybrid Carry On Suitcase With Wheels: Osprey Transporter 22”
You know I’m a big fan of Osprey and used the Farpoint backpack frequently, so I was excited they made hybrids, like the Transporter carry on suitcase with laptop compartment. This hybrid is crazy durable, with a hard shell and weatherproof fabric. While it’s already spacious, the soft shell gives you some wiggle room, and it also expands, giving you an extra 5L of space!
The oversized spinner wheels glide ever so smoothly, and the firm handle can be adjusted for easy hauling. Users LOVE the fact that this suitcase comes with a separate laptop compartment. And with all these great features, it only weighs 6.5 lbs!
A traveler raves, “The case is very light, yet stable, and easy to load in overhead bins, even in smaller regional jets. It’s very easy to maneuver in airplane aisles and crowded airports, especially when dashing for a connecting flight, and sturdy enough to serve as a footstool during long layovers. I’m a big fan of Osprey products, I can’t say enough good things about them!”
The secret to traveling light is to create a functional but minimalist capsule wardrobe. Learn more in my guide!
Best International Carry-On Suitcase Size: Away The Carry On 21”
So many of our readers love and recommend Away’s 21” The Carry On, and many claim it’s the best hard shell carry on suitcase for international travel. Users report that the polycarbonate hard shell rarely shows any signs of wear, even after lots of rigorous travel. You can fit SO much inside, especially with the mesh zippered compartment on one side, and the compression system on the other.
It’s super easy to maneuver and lift, and it weighs 8.1 lbs. And bonus, it comes with a water-resistant laundry bag, and there’s even an option to add a USB charger! This carry-on is available in some gorgeous colors as well.
It’s clear this suitcase is popular, and one TFG reader says about it, “I managed two weeks in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with the standard carryon (and some careful planning!). I just got back from two weeks in Thailand with my husband and used it, plus one of their Medium Checked suitcases. You can really get a lot in, and they look great, feel like high-quality.”
As a bonus the purple color and gold trim just scream girls weekend away. Fun!
Best All-Around Carry-On Suitcase: Samsonite Winfield 20”
TFG readers love Samsonite, and the Winfield 20” is a top pick, both for domestic and international travel! This cute carry on suitcase only weighs just over 6.5 lbs, so it’s quite light, and readers applaud its durability and stability, even over years of wear and tear!
The interior divider zips fully so nothing will fall out when you open it, and the outer zipper locks keep your belongings safe. One reader says, “This suitcase has survived many weekend trips to Chicago, being gate-checked several times, and two international trips, and still looks brand new!”
Samsonite also makes very popular luggage sets that our readers love, too.
The best part is that they have several colors and prints to fit any personality – take a look at their other carryons!
Best Small Carry On Suitcase: IT Luggage 22″
This IT 22 inch carry on suitcase lives up to its name and its excellent ratings! This style is beloved by readers and is light at 5.18 lbs, yet super durable, with an alumunim frame and abrasion-resistant fabric.
It has a classic feel to it, especially with the stripe print, which is available in a variety of colors.
The four wheels are also maneuverable and durable, able to tackle all surfaces with ease.
While a 22” is likely better for domestic travel, one TFG reader shares their international experience with it, “I first used it in May this year. Did carry-on on planes and then on trains all over Italy, in stops Venice, Florence, Rome, and Cinque Terre. Took this over many, many cobblestones and then I used it in Paris in October. It’s held up well.”
Wow. What else could you ask for in a rugged bag?
Best Cheap Carry On Suitcase: Rockland London 20”
The Rockland London expandable carry on suitcase is a super popular budget option with readers. This 20” carry on is incredibly light, at only 3.6 lbs, though the hard shell is super resilient and will keep your belongings safe. The interior pockets help keep things organized, too!
When everything’s all packed away, the multi-directional spinner wheels and strong handle make travel days such a breeze! Users say that this bag holds up very well, and is a steal given the low price point!
One traveler reports, “It’s even cuter in person, it’s so well made, and it’s held up great. There’s not a scratch on it, and the zippers all work well. It rolls like a dream. I couldn’t recommend it enough.”
At 9.2 lb it’s not a bag if you’re looking to pack light but it is a good choice if you need something “indestructible”.
Best Luxury Travel Carry On Suitcase: Tumi 19 Degree 22’
If you’re seeking the most spacious carry on suitcase for international flights, Tumi, although pricier than other brands, is highly popular with readers for its well-made, durable suitcases.
The 19 Degree 22” is designed with high quality, flexible materials that boast great organization on both sides, retractable side and top handles, a USB port, so you don’t have to fuss with cords, and a TSA lock. And though slightly taller than other sizes, it’s compact and still holds a lot at 8 lbs!
Take this pretty suitcase for travel within Europe and internationally, and it will hold up over many trips. One reader loves hers and says, “Tumi is an excellent brand, and I love mine!”
Use slim packing cubes to save space in your suitcase and travel carry-on only.
Rolling Carry On Suitcase Comparison Chart
|BRAND | MODEL||FEATURES | REVIEWS||RATING | PRICE|
|Best Carry On Suitcase Hard Shell: Delsey Paris Helium Aero 21”||“We have the Delsey Helium Aero and love it. It seems to be indestructible, carries a ridiculous amount, and the compression zipper setup is fantastic. I like that each side is packed independently.”||Check Price|
|Best Soft Sided Carry On Suitcase: Travelpro Maxlite 5 21”||“I love my Travelpro Maxlite 5! Easy to pack, cubes fit great inside. Use it for carry on domestically all the time for work travel. Easy to lift in/out of overhead with handles.”||Check Price|
|Best Hybrid Carry On Suitcase With Wheels: Osprey Transporter 22”||“The case is very light, yet stable, and easy to load in overhead bins, even in smaller regional jets. It’s very easy to maneuver in airplane aisles and crowded airports, especially when dashing for a connecting flight, and sturdy enough to serve as a footstool during long layovers. I’m a big fan of Osprey products, I can’t say enough good things about them!”||Check Price|
|Best International Carry-On Suitcase Size: Away The Carry On 21”||“I managed two weeks in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with the standard carryon (and some careful planning!). I just got back from two weeks in Thailand with my husband and used it, plus one of their Medium Checked suitcases. You can really get a lot in, and they look great, feel like high-quality.”||Check Price|
|Best All-Around Carry-On Suitcase: Samsonite Winfield 20”||“This suitcase has survived many weekend trips to Chicago, being gate-checked several times, and two international trips, and still looks brand new!”||Check Price|
|Best Small Carry On Suitcase: IT Luggage 22″||“I first used it in May this year. Did carry-on on planes and then on trains all over Italy, in stops Venice, Florence, Rome, and Cinque Terre. Took this over many, many cobblestones and then I used it in Paris in October. It’s held up well.”||Check Price|
|Best Cheap Carry On Suitcase: Rockland London 20”||“It’s even cuter in person, it’s so well made, and it’s held up great. There’s not a scratch on it, and the zippers all work well. It rolls like a dream. I couldn’t recommend it enough.”||Check Price|
|Best Luxury Travel Carry On Suitcase: Tumi 19 Degree 22’||“Tumi is an excellent brand, and I love mine!”||Check Price|
A super practical addition to your new suitcase is a luggage tag! TFG readers have been raving about luggage tags, and highly recommend them for every trip.
Luggage tags are handy little trackers that you attach to your belongings and then track through an app on your phone. The most popular option in the TFG community is Apple Airtags, which hook up to the Find My iPhone app so you can see where your item is in real time. Readers say they’ve been lifesavers for finding lost luggage in an airport!
For non-iPhone users, readers recommend the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag and the TilePro, which are compatible with Android devices, and the TilePro also works for iOS.
Luggage tags are not only handy for your luggage, but for your purse, keys, wallet, or even your parked car. You can enjoy your vacation with the utmost peace of mind!
What’s your top pick for the best women’s carry on suitcase? Please share in the comments below!
For even more carry-on suitcase ideas, please read:
- How to Choose a Suitcase
- Best International Carry On Luggage
- Best Under Seat Luggage and How to Pack with Minimal Space
- Best Luggage Sets for Every Budget and Type of Trip Imaginable
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Both my husband and I now use the IT carryon bags, the ones a bit smaller so they only weigh 3.75 pounds. Since Luthansa only allows 8 kilos, every ounce counts. Plus as a 74 year-old woman I can still lift it up myself for those trips when I am alone. This year we fly this way to Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania.
Very helpful!! I’m 73 every once does count
This was so helpful! I bought a hard sided spinner based on your recommendation. Perfect for my trip to Ireland.
Have an amazing time in Ireland Liz!
This was a helpful post. I am still on the fence on whether to give hard sided a try. I also have been looking at Away v. Monos. I don’t see Monos listed here. Is there a reason?
I too am on the fence with hard sided. I see the pros and cons of both hard and soft. I think always having soft is part of my reluctance to try something new.
Do you recommend AWAY luggage?
Hi Sarah, I have personally never used Away luggage. I usually travel with the Delsey Turenne suitcase: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/delsey-carry-on-review/
It is popular with many of our readers, so if you have any specific questions about this luggage, then I would highly recommend that you join our TFG facebook group and post your questions there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/travelfashiongirls/ Its a fabulous community of helpful female travelers that love to share their awesome advice and feedback!
Hi Alex, I love your site! So helpful. I’m going to Italy in September and can’t decide if I should use one of my hardshell suitcases or get the Osprey Ozone. I’m very petite and worried about the cobblestone…but also carrying the backpack! Any advice is so appreciated.
Hi Lori, thank you so much for your lovely comment, so happy you love the site!! Have a look at this post for the pros and cons for a using a rolling bag or a backpack for some help in deciding which is best for you: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/backpack-or-rolling-bag-which-is-right-for-me/ Also have a look at TFG’s review of the Osprey Ozone backpack: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/osprey-ozone-46-review/ Hope this helps! Have an amazing time in Italy! 🙂
I have been searching for a new carry-on since my convertible backpack (with wheels) blew up in France in May. I will not be going back to a backup this time, just getting too old for that. I appreciate these posts and blogs because it helps me so much narrow down choices. Plus, it is always a roll of dice, when ordering online.
Thanks for allyou do!
Thanks Joy! Take a look at the latest post: https://travelfashiongirl.com/best-lightweight-luggage/
Hey! I am trying to find a carry on that meets Icelandair’s 50x40x20cm (21.6×15.7×7.8in). standards, and I can’t even find a manufacturer that makes bags that size; even European makes are 55cm instead of 50cm. I really want to travel carry on only for this 5 week European vacay, but finding a carry on bag is looking impossible! Especially because some bags are listed by the seller as meeting those measurements, but then reviews prove they are actually bigger. I would really appreciate any suggestions you guys may have!
Hi Lauren, take a look at our latest round up to see if you can find one that works: https://travelfashiongirl.com/best-lightweight-luggage/ most items featured are international carryon size 🙂
Thank you so much for this info! My husband and I are traveling to Switzerland in July for 10 days and want to pack lite. (I’m a chronic over-packer) I just bought the helium international carry on and I think it will be perfect! Thank you! Love your blog!
Yay! That’s awesome Leigh 🙂
I know I’ve read your post in a comment before (of course I can’t find it!), but what are you currently using as your rolling carry-on bag (non-backpack)? Do you use a different rolling carry-on for domestic and international travel? Thanks so much for your ever informative website, blog and newsletter!
Hi Vicki! I’ve been using the Osprey Ozone 22″ https://travelfashiongirl.com/osprey-ozone-46-review/ but I’ve just bought a few new carry-ons to test out 😉
has anyone used Hauptstadtkoffer cases?
researching a new case and they getting good reviews. doing some short European trips next year as based in UK and they seem to be recommended by airlines as fit the stringent baggage sizes we have
Hmm haven’t heard of them! I’ll have to check them out! Thanks for reading Linz!
I read this back in December, and now that I am in the market again for a good carry-on, I came back to check this post. The Delsey is very tempting.
This is exciting 🙂 I hope you find one you love
I’m saving up for a complete set from GlobeTrotter – but in the meantime, I’m going to stare at that Delsey suitcase until it comes to me! Thanks for the list!
Haha, yes it’s gorgeous!