If you are on the hunt for the best carry on bag for international travel then you have come to the right place, as this guide takes you through everything you need to know when purchasing carry on luggage.
Of course, the very best international carry on luggage needs to be both stylish and practical whilst fitting in everything you need for your trip. Consideration needs to be given to your preference for a suitcase or backpack as well as whether practicality or fashion is your priority.
This guide on the best carry on bag luggage for international travel takes you through everything you need to know when purchasing the perfect bag. First up, I’ll take you through the various features you need to consider when looking for the best international carry-on bag and then take a closer look at some great options currently on the market.
Whether you’re looking for the best carry on backpack for international travel or suitcase below I will provide you everything you need to know in order to make the perfect choice for you.
This post may contain compensated links. Please refer to my disclaimer here for more information.
Our Pick for the Best Carry On Bag for International Travel: Samsonite Omni PC
Don’t have time to read my entire carry on guide? Well my pick for the best carry on luggage is the Samsonite Omni PC. For a hardcase suitcase this is pretty lightweight so it will protect your items without weighing you down. It’s also expandable and I love the 360 spinner wheels to making it super easy to get around.
Read below for my full review on the Samonsite Omni.
Comparison Chart for the Best International Carry on Luggage
Check out the table below for a quick and easy comparison of the carry on luggage in this guide. For further information, keep reading the reviews below.
|EDITOR’S CHOICE||1. Samsonite Omni PC Harside One Size Spinner
|RUNNER UP||2. Delsey Luggage Helium Aero Carry-On Spinner Trolley
|3. Osprey Farpoint 40
|4. eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender
|5. Chester Carry-On Luggage
|6. COOLIFE Luggage Expandable 20 Inch
|7. Travelpro Luggage Platinum Elite 21 Inch
|8. AmazonBasics Softside Spinner Luggage 18 Inch
|9. TPRC Under the Plane Seat Luggage
|10. Travelpro Luggage Platinum Duffel Bag 18 Inch
What to look for when purchasing the best carry on luggage for international travel
What makes the best carry on luggage depends on a few things. Let’s look a bit closer at a few of the things you should keep in mind when you buy carry on luggage below.
When it comes to the size of your carry on luggage the first thing you need to decide is whether or not this is going to be your only luggage, or will it complement your checked luggage.
If your carry on bag is going to be your only luggage, you’re most likely going to want one of the biggest allowable carry on bags. Unfortunately, there is no standard maximum size for carry on luggage, so I highly recommend you double check with your airline before you travel. However all the luggage I recommend in this guide is generally accepted on most airlines as suitable cabin baggage.
If however you’re just after a carry on bag to complement your checked luggage, then I suggest a small bag or suitcase that is just big enough to accommodate what you need to take on board.
In the reviews below are some of the best large carry on luggage options as well as the best small carry on luggage options. So whatever your preference no doubt there is something perfect for you!
With airlines being strict on the weight of carry on baggage it is super important to choose the lightest carry on luggage which meets your requirements. Even some of the best cabin luggage can be heavy eating into your precious baggage allowance. If your bag is over the limit you may be asked to check your luggage in which can add an unexpected expense.
In the below reviews I have included the best light carry on luggage and the table above includes the weight of all luggage reviewed below.
Suitcase or Backpack
Which is the best carry on travel bag – a suitcase or a backpack? Well there are pros and cons for using either a suitcase or backpack as your carry on luggage.
A suitcase can be wheeled and so in some respects is easier to transport, however this is not always the case. If you need to carry your bag up and down stairs or across cobblestones and through crowded areas a backpack is far easier to transport.
Suitcases often weigh more than a backpack which is not ideal when you are travelling only with carry on luggage. If you are only travelling with cabin luggage, you don’t want to be using precious weight on your baggage.
Clothing and personal items are far easier to find and access from a suitcase. Suitcases usually just require a quick unzip to open, whereas backpacks require you to open various straps and compartments to find things.
As to whether the best type of carry on luggage is a suitcase or a backpack is really a personal choice.
The reviews below include some of the best backpack for carry on luggage as well as some of the best cabin baggage sized suitcases.
If you decide to go for one of the best carry on roller luggage options you will want to consider wheels.
When wheeling a bag around a busy airport you want luggage that is easy to manoeuvre. Believe me if you want the best carry on bag for travel it is worth investing a little extra for this. Luggage that doesn’t easily go where you want it to will leave you frustrated and stressed before you even board your plane.
Once upon a time the standard carry on suitcases just came with two wheels, now all the best rolling carry on luggage comes with four wheels.
A two wheel suitcase, also known as rollers, require you to tilt it to wheel it and it doesn’t easily go around corners or through narrow spaces. Even the best wheeled carry on luggage with two wheels has a tendency to fall over when left unaided and are impossible to pull more than one.
However there still are some advantages of using one of the best two wheel carry on luggage options over a four or more wheeled one. Two wheel suitcases are usually easier to pull behind you and quite often once you leave the airport you will tend to want to pull your case rather than push it. The best two wheel carry on luggage options tend to be able to handle cobblestones and uneven surfaces much better than other cases.
Four-wheel suitcases, also known as spinners, are now becoming the standard and are far easier to manoeuvre around busy airports. The best four wheel carry on luggage easily move in any direction, including going around corners with ease.
A light push on the handle is all that is usually required to move the suitcase around the airport and doesn’t require you to hold any of the weight. The best four wheeled carry on luggage are also far easier wheeling through a narrow plane aisle than two wheeled suitcases.
Some suitcases even come with eight wheels, these are referred to has double spinners.
Suitcases with expandable compartments are great. The best expandable carry on luggage provides you with a place to store your various purchases during your travels. No need to buy an additional bag, you simply unzip the expandable compartment for more space.
Some of the best carry on expandable luggage comes with various compartments and pockets for your smaller belongings. Perhaps you are looking for the best laptop carry on luggage? A common feature these days is a dedicated compartment for your laptop which is designed to keep your laptop safe and secure as well as easily accessible whilst travelling.
Hard or Soft
If you decide to go for a suitcase you will need to consider whether a hard or soft cased one is better.
Soft shell bags are more common and are much easier to squeeze into overhead compartments than the hard shell bags. The best soft carry on luggage usually comes with an expandable pocket, although this is also becoming true for hard cases too.
The best hardside carry on luggage will provide better protection for your belongings. The disadvantage with a hard shell suitcase is that it is likely to weigh more than a soft shell case. If you prefer a hard shell suitcase be sure to look for a lightweight one, as you don’t want to use too many of those precious kilograms for your suitcase in lieu of your items.
Regardless of whether you choose a suitcase or a backpack, It’s important that your carry on luggage has an easy to use handle.
On suitcases some handles can be difficult to use in that they don’t retract quickly and easily which is not ideal when you are walking through a busy airport or trying to load your bag quickly on to an airplane. The best telescopic handles are tall enough to allow you to pull your luggage at a comfortable arm length while also contracting to mid-way.
Backpack or suitcase, be sure that your bag has top and side handles in order to make it easier when loading into the overhead compartments.
If you purchase a backpack you will need to ensure your pack is comfortable to carry.
The best carry on backpack for international travel will have a good strap system which will spread the load of the backpack across your back, with most of the weight resting on your hips via the hip belt, some backpacks come with pockets in the hip belt for snacks or small phones.
Things to consider when looking at straps include padding, breathable fabric, are they removable, adjustable, do they stow away for plane travel and do they have any pockets.
Backpack straps are adjustable around the hips, the shoulders, and even across the chest to keep the shoulder straps in place regardless of body shape.
A water-resistant bag gives you extra protection when travelling in wet weather. Whilst water resistant bags aren’t designed to be water proof, they do give you that extra bit of time to seek shelter or pull out a rain cover without have your personal belongings getting wet.
The Best International Carry on Bag Reviews 2019
The Samsonite Omni PC Hardside One Size Spinner is a fantastic super lightweight case for those on the search for the best international carry on luggage at an affordable price.
With an extremely scratch resistant mirco-diamond texture on the exterior of the case, this top carry on luggage is sure to withstand all the usual wear and tear inflicted by harsh airport elements. Not only is this case super durable it also looks elegant and stylish.
This bag is also great for keeping your things organized with a full zip interior, divider and cross-straps to ensure everything stays where it is supposed to. With added expansion, all your belongings will fit comfortably in the case while still being able to separate items for extra protection or to make them easily accessible during flights.
Other features include a retractable handle, lightweight spinner wheels and a side mounted TSA lock for extra security while travelling. All this as well as the 360 spinner wheels makes this a great and easy option for carry on luggage.
This lightweight carry on bag on wheels would suit people wanting to look professional and stylish as well as keep all their belongings organized and well protected.
The Desley Luggage Helium Aero is a fantastic hard case bag which is TSA approved and a great choice for people looking for a good quality carry on suitcase.
The Delsey carry on bag is a great size and is reasonably lightweight and durable. Made from 100% polycarbonate which is super resilient to cracking. For the security conscious travellers there is a side mounted TSA lock which is designed for airport personal to open your bag without damaging it.
You’ll love how easily this carry on is to manoeuvre around the airport, one of the best roller carry on luggage option in these reviews. The double spinner wheels as well as the two-position handle system make getting around a breeze. This is a perfect choice as the best carry on luggage for those wanting to get around the airport quickly.
Other great features include the 2 inch expandable pocket perfect to store those souvenirs you purchase whilst travelling as well as the two extra-large fully lined pockets inside the case perfect for organising all your belongings. There are two side handles perfect for carrying the case when required such as lifting it into overhead bins or in and out of the car.
This is a great mid-range carry on bag and it also comes with a ten year warranty for peace of mind.
Traveller’s all around the world consider the Osprey Farpoint as one of the best carry on backpacks, particularly for those travelling with just carry on luggage.
Backed by the Osprey “All Mighty Guarantee”, Osprey state that they will repair any damage or defect to this Osprey carry on for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. They claim if they are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, they will happily replace it.
This Osprey travel bag is a good size for travelling, one of the best travel backpack carry on options available. The features of this panel backpack include a laptop and tablet sleeve, external compression straps, stowaway straps for travelling and carry handles. The suspension system is a light wire frame with a mesh back panel to keep you cool while wearing the backpack.
This is a good pack for travelling, not too big, with solid features. The Osprey travel backpack is a good choice for travellers after the best travel backpack carry on option.
The Mother Lode Weekender Convertible backpack is another great backpack for carry on. This non-traditional back-pack is more like a suitcase with shoulder straps, perfect for the woman who likes a backpack but wants to keep organized.
This backpack can be carried over the shoulder using the larger shoulder strap, or on your back using the smaller shoulder straps. This pack also includes carry handles, several outside pockets including a laptop sleeve able to accommodate a laptop or tablet up to 19”, the only thing missing are water bottle pockets.
This best backpack for carry on luggage is easy to use and opens like a traditional suitcase, into two halves. The deeper half is separated into two compartments with straps to keep you clothes in place and a small zippered pocket at one end, while the other half has a zippered mesh cover.
This is a good choice if you are after the best compact carry on luggage.
If you want the best budget carry on luggage as well as one that is the most stylish, then you will love the Chester Carry On Luggage bag. This bag offers amazing value for price with the effortless handling and unbreakable build, this is a purchase you won’t regret.
The four multi-directional silent wheels make it so simple and smooth to get this suitcase to roll in any direction and any type of terrain. This best carry on roller bag has 100% aluminum telescopic handle leaves you with minimal weight on your arm and has two lock positions giving you fantastic control over moving the case around.
Made from 100% polycarbonate hard shell, it is lighter than aluminum (perfect if you are after the best hard shell carry on luggage which is light) and even more durable and flexible than plastic. It is also water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about unexpected rain or drink bottle spillages.
It also features top and side easy grab handles, TSA approved lock, two spacious compartments, removable nylon laundry bag to separate dirty and clean clothes and dual compression straps to keep your belongings in place and maximize space.
This case is sure to withstand the harsh elements of airports and would be perfect for anyone who spends a lot of time travelling and wants one of the best hard case carry on luggage options currently available.
The COOLIFE Luggage Expandable Suitcase trumps others for practicality, and its compact size and sleek design also keeps the suitcase looking stylish.
With four quiet spinner wheels and an adjustable handle, the COOLIFE suitcase makes maneuvering heavy luggage easier and swifter. The exterior of the suitcase is a hard-plastic shell for a sturdier performance and guarantees to keep your belongings safe while travelling, especially with the additional, TSA approved locking system.
The interior of this bag is fully lined and very spacious. It features straps that go across the body of the bag to keep your clothes collected and compressed, as well as having large, mesh zipper pockets for the organization of smaller items or keepsakes.
Available in four different colours – Caribbean blue, charcoal, radiant pink and teal – the COOLIFE suitcase is a sophisticated and stylish looking suitcase. The bag also comes with a two year warranty, so you don’t have to worry about the risk of any possible travel damage.
This is a great little suitcase for your carry on travel and includes unique features that are perfect for everyone. This Travelpro soft case bag is a good choice for compact overseas travelling.
This is a 21 inch, expandable suitcase so you can optimise on space while flying. All its features – while still remaining a spacious bag – are designed compactly to ensure storage and manoeuvring are made to be easier.
The stand-out feature however, is this USB port embedded in the exterior of the bag with a powerbank, all which meet the FAA regulations for carry on and checked baggage. So, when you’re frantically looking for an available charging point in the airport, you can simply find a seat with your bag while you can recharge your phone.
Other inclusions of this bag are the many mesh pockets, inbuilt and removable, as well as the wet bag for toiletries and the interior straps that compress clothes with other belongings. The colour accents of the inside compliment the chosen colour of the bag, whether that be burgundy, brown, black or grey.
With a lifetime warranty that covers the cost of damage repair and a sturdy structure, you can trust that your items will be kept safe while you are travelling abroad.
For those travellers wanting a compact budget carry on bag to complement their checked luggage, this soft side case from Amazon makes a great choice.
Being only an 18 inch bag, this bag is designed to store all your onboard travel essentials. Inside the case you will find two zippered pockets and compression straps to keep your items well stored. There is also an additional compartment on the exterior of the case.
Other features of this case include 4 wheels and a long telescopic handle for easy manoeuvring. It also includes an expandable zipper for any extra items you purchase whilst traveling.
For those budget travellers, looking for a good carry on case, you can’t go past this one from Amazon.
If you are simply looking for a suitcase that you can fit your basic and non-hefty carry on items in, this TPRC bag is an ideal option for you. Just tuck it away underneath you during flight for easy access and store the essentials.
Due to it only being 15 inches, the features of this bag are limited. However, it does include a very handy USB port for charging your device, however the powerbank is not included in the bag. To keep its compactness, this bag is made of fabric but is very durable. There are also many sections in the inside of the bag which can separate and organise your belongings.
For ease of carrying and movement, the bag has small hidden wheels at the bottoms and a long, extendable neck to assist with proper steering.
For a lightweight and effective travel bag with the essential features, look into the TPRC Under Plane Seat Luggage.
If you are looking to only travel with a very lightweight carry on, this Travelpro duffel is perfect for you. It is an extremely compact bag, designed to fit only your essentials, whether you are travelling a long-haul or short flight, this is an ideal bag for the smaller packer.
The Travelpro Regional Duffel Bag has many zips on the outside of the bag for convenient additional storage. This would be a great travel bag for business trips, as along with its sleek design and small size, it has a padded tablet sleeve to keep your technology safe before your landing.
A removable, long strap is attached to the duffel for ease of carrying, as shorter straps can sometimes prove to be inconvenient. However, these smaller straps can fit around the handle of a regular suitcase for secure stacking of luggage around the airport.
The Travelpro duffel is the perfect bag that acts and a non-obstructive carry on, either for a business or shorter personal trip.
Disclaimer: Travel Passionate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and its partners. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.