The Best Carry-On Bags, According to Professional Travelers

It’s time for a much-needed vacation, but there’s still one thing left to do before you board the plane and head off on your next adventure: Pack your bag.

With all the restrictions airlines have been putting on luggage lately, plus the rising prices of checked bags, the idea of stowing everything away in a carry-on has become a lot more appealing.

But with so many options out there, how do you choose which one’s right for you? Here, seven full-time travelers (aka jet-setters who really know what they’re doing when it comes to packing a lot of stuff into a small suitcase) tell us their favorite bags to bring on board. Now, all you need to do is fill one up with fabulous outfits.

New North Duffle Bag ($140)

“This bag is my FAVORITE,” says Carin Skowronsky of Pairs Well With. “It’s perfect for the digital nomad or long weekend adventurer.” The bag has multiple compartments for easy packing, including a special zip pocket to protect a tablet, and is specially designed for easy access from an overhead compartment.

Samsonite Spinner Cabin Luggage ($210)

What has four wheels, is crazy light, and rolls through the airport with a shocking amount of ease? Samsonite’s Spinner Cabin Luggage. At only 1.5 kg, the bag is basically weightless, which means that even if there’s a limit on your carry-on weight (some airlines require that it’s under 7 kg), there’s still plenty of leeway for clothes. It’s soft-sided and has multiple zipper compartments for easy storage, plus it comes with an additional overnight bag rolled up inside. “The Samsonite Spinner is an excellent, functional, and handsome piece of luggage that I can see myself using for many more trips to come,” says blogger Slobodanka Graham. “I highly recommend it to anyone considering a new small carry-on bag.”

Delsey Carry-On Expandable Spinner Luggage ($300)

Looking for something both sleek and functional? Delsey’s got you covered. “If a traditional suitcase is more your style, I would go with one of Delsey’s hard-sided spinner suitcases,” says Amanda of travel blog A Dangerous Business. “I like this brand because they make quality hard-sided luggage that’s actually pretty affordable.” Their suitcases are straight-up stunning and come in 27- and 25-inch styles.

Lifepack Carry-On Closet ($299)

This “carry on closet” from Lifepack is every traveler’s dream: It has a built-in retractable shelving system and charging station. “The bag is incredible – I never have to worry about charging my phone because it has a speaker/solar charger,” explains one full-time traveler. The bag also comes with a lock, so you’ll feel totally comfortable in the fact that no one can steal your stuff.

Standard Luggage Company Carry-On Backpack ($179)

If you’ve been looking for the perfect backpack for your next trip, consider the search over. “Designed by travelers for travelers, this is truly the ultimate travel bag,” says blogger Mae Davis. The bag packs like a roll suitcase (as in, it fits a lot of stuff) but can be easily carried on your back to keep your hands free during travel, plus there are also dozens of compartments meant specifically to hold travel necessities like your cellphone, laptop, wallet, and passport. And even if you aren’t a backpack person, it has a stylish side strap, so you can carry it like a messenger bag.

Steamline The Sweetheart Carry-On ($780)

Slightly more “fashion” than “function,” this trunk from Steamline will make your next trip your most stylish one yet. “I am obsessed with the gorgeous collections from Steamline Luggage,” writes Kiersten Reich of The Blonde Abroad. “With a nod to the elegant trunks of days gone by, this is a carry-on you’ll want to have in every single vintage color scheme.” Yes, please!

Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffle ($299)

Finally, my pick: Over the course of the past year, I’ve brought this bag on 52 flights, and nearly a dozen more buses, boats, and trains, and it has never steered me wrong. It’s durable, lightweight, and fits a lot more than you’d expect. Bonus: The shiny black material makes me feel effortlessly chic walking through the airport in sweatpants and sneakers.

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