As airlines begin to charge for everything but using the lavatory, clever luggage matters more than ever. Do you know what counts as a personal item? Do you have the optimal sized bag to fit the most stuff while dodging checked baggage fees? We’ve got the best solutions for every budget.

a black suitcase with wheelsBudget

Travelers Choice 21” Rolling Carry On – $39

This is a solid choice at a price you can’t be too mad at. We used one of these for years before upgrading to a more substantial choice. Bell and whistle free, and it doesn’t spin – but it’s durable and dependable with ample space for a weekend trip.

Bago Field Duffel + Backpack Carry On – $59

If you’re not a fan of roller bags and want the versatility of a duffel or backpack, this is perfect. Hidden pockets, solid construction and lots of colors to choose from. This is perfect for travelers on the go, especially those with some walking ahead of them. An excellent choice.

a green bag with brown handlesMid Range

Away Travel Carry On Hardshell Roller Suitcase – $205

This is by far our favorite option, blending reasonable price with exceptional features. The carry on is allowed under the new “smart luggage” ban, thanks to an easily removable battery. It carries enough juice to fully charge your phone twice, on a single charge. The construction and quality are unmatched at this price point, and it offers a lifetime guarantee. Here’s a full review.

Brics X-Bag 21” Rolling Duffel Bag – $175

This is a seriously stylish bag with even more versatility. It looks sharp as a spacious 21” duffel, but also has wheels and a retracting handle for when life is too much to carry. The construction is excellent, the colors are sharp and the extra pockets make it easy to stay organized. For the money, this is pretty perfect.

a black suitcase with handleHigh End

Rimowa Salsa Air – $500

This bag has a few brilliant features, such as a handle which can be set to any height, rather than just super low or fully out. The bag is durable, features nice compression pockets on both sides and comes with the assurances of the Rimowa brand. They will fix your luggage, anywhere in the world. Practical or not, this bag is a status symbol of frequent travelers – and it backs it up.

Arlo Skye Smart Carry On – $375-$550

If you prefer the “heavy metal” approach, this is a more expensive version of the Away Carry On. You’ll be able to charge your phone up to five times, remove the battery with a single click, and most importantly – it looks expensive. There’s also odor resistant lining for the way back home after a few days of hiking in the sun. No judgement!

What’s your favorite carry on?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Favorite carry on? Anything by eBags. Their products simply rock. And their warranties are fantastic. On the budget end, Costco has rolling bags that have defied all the crap that i’ve put them through.

  2. Been using a Patagonia Black Hole duffle/backpack for almost a year now. It’s been great with no issues. Only thing they should have included is a way to cinch it down, when needed. I bout 2 straps and do that, in case I’m asked to make sure it fits the dimensions.

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