We live in a truly global world, full of exciting places to visit and people to meet. Even better, travel is cheaper and more accessible than it’s ever been – at any given time, millions of people are on the move from one place to another.
When it comes to carry-on luggage, the modern female traveller is inundated with choice. Whether you want something simple to keep your passport & cash secure or if you just care about how the bag looks on your arm, there’s luggage out there for you.
With brand names in the field ranging from the heavy-duty Travelpro and Rockland to the haute couture Nicole Miller and Vera Bradley, carry-on luggage isn’t just an item – it’s an accessory, and one that can make a big difference if chosen well.
Below are some of the best options, which for the most part have all been highly rated by women who used them as carry-on luggage. With that in mind, please do keep in mind that airline baggage requirements do vary, so it is important to check with your airline before making a purchase.
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|Name||Dimensions (inches)||Our Rating|
|Vera Bradley Women’s Weekender||18.5 x 12.5 x 8||9.4 / 10|
|Ricardo Beverly Hills Mar Vista Wheelaboard||22.5 x 15.5 x 9||9.4 / 10|
|Delsey Helium Aero International||19 x 13 x 9.5||9.4 / 10|
|Lily Bloom Under the Seat||15 x 14.5 x 8.5||9.4 / 10|
|Travelpro Maxlite3||23.6 x 16 x 11||9.2 / 10|
|Delsey Quilted Rolling UnderSeat Tote||14.5 x 14 x 9||9.2 / 10|
|Nicole Miller Kristina Collection||16 x 15.5 x 9||9.2 / 10|
|Lipault Original Plume||22 x 14 x 8||9.2 / 10|
|Rockland Polycarbonate||20 x 13 x 9||9.2 / 10|
|Travelon Wheeled Underseat Carry-On||13.5 x 13.5 x 8.5||9 / 10|
|Samsonite Winfield 2||20 x 13 x 9.5||9 / 10|
|Travel Cheer Gym Duffel Bag||22 x 13 x 11||9 / 10|
|Rockland Melbourne||20 x 13 x 9||9 / 10|
Luggage has come so far from the days of the trunk that the prospective buyer is now faced with an array of choices when it’s time to prepare for the next getaway. Modern technology ensures that luggage can be trendy, light and affordable.
If you’re traveling by airplane, you might have a weight allowance for large luggage, which will be stored in the plane’s hold and be out of reach for the duration of the flight. Typically, you want something sturdy for this purpose. Depending on the airline you’re flying with, you might also be allowed to store a personal item under your seat.
But other than that, it’s your carry-on luggage that’ll do the job of getting your most important possessions to your destination in one piece. If it can do that while standing out from the sea of aluminium and beige suitcases that flood every airport terminal, so much the better.
Because your carry-on luggage travels on the plane with you, and stays at your side in the airport before and after your flight, you’ll usually want to use it to hold your most essential items. These will probably include your passport, any foreign currency you’ve purchased and perhaps clothes & toiletries for a day or two.
You’ll likely also want to put in something to entertain yourself (and any younger traveling companions) during the flight itself. Because it’s going to be carrying passports and cash, as well as any expensive gadgets you’re taking with you, security is one of the main considerations when looking for a new piece of luggage.
However, it’s not the only thing to keep in mind: because your carry-on is the one piece of luggage you’ll be carrying before, during and after your trip, appearance matters.
Whether you’re a frequent business flyer who needs to be the image of a modern professional, or a serial vacationer who wants to start and finish the holiday in style, there’s carry-on luggage that’ll meet your needs.
Of course, it doesn’t matter how good your luggage looks or how secure it is if you can’t take it onto the plane with you in the first place.
Most major airlines have clear – and strict – guidelines about how large and heavy carry-on luggage can be. Most will want you to put your luggage through a sizer to prove it’s small enough before taking it on the plane; others might weigh it.
Luggage manufacturers selling items designed to be used as carry-on are aware of the rules, and so are unlikely to offer anything too large to be accepted by most of the major airlines. But it’s better to be safe than sorry, so you should check measurements against the airline’s luggage policy to avoid any awkward incidents at the airport.
It’s a fair question to ask: if you’ve already got a solid suitcase to go in the hold, do you really need a separate, dedicated piece of carry-on luggage as well? Can’t you just make do with a rucksack, or a duffel bag?
There’s no doubt that you could – and if you’re worried about thieves and pickpockets, which can be a legitimate concern depending on where in the world you’re traveling, it might make sense to opt for something low-profile and inconspicuous.
Unfortunately, that line of thinking is counter-productive, as the soft material and easy zips of a rucksack make it a prime target for opportunists. A well-built, sturdy and lockable piece of carry-on luggage is a far less attractive target, and it’ll do a better job of protecting whatever’s inside from accidental damage too.
Besides security, the other main reason to consider buying a piece of carry-on luggage is convenience: there’s nothing to say you can’t use it in everyday life as well, but having a dedicated ‘travel bag’ can make packing and unpacking for a trip that much more smooth.
You can even use it as a travel storage locker of sorts when you’re back at home, keeping all your passports and booking receipts in it so they’re ready to go when you are.
There’s also the convenience of making the absolute most of the carry-on allowance the airline has given you: if you use an old rucksack instead of a purpose-built piece of carry-on luggage, you’re probably not going to be able to carry as much with you. If you’ve got kids to entertain on a long-distance flight, you’ll want to use as much space as you’re able.
None of this is to knock the humble rucksack, which is a great carry-all for when you’re out and about once you’ve arrived at your destination. Simply fold an empty one up and stow it at the bottom of your carry-on, and you’ve given yourself the best of both worlds!
Alternatively, if you’re happy with the storage space in your duffel bag, but wish you had something with a little more charm for vacations, the weekender style of carry-on luggage that some designers offer could have the mix of style and substance you’re looking for.
If you’re looking to buy a new piece of carry-on luggage, there are a few points to bear in mind when making your purchase:
Luggage is available in a range of different styles, and carry-on luggage is no exception.
The suitcase style, as the name suggests, simply represents a compact suitcase. The spinner and trolley styles come with attached wheels, making transporting your luggage a walk in the park. The weekender style is somewhere between a duffel and a tote bag, and will prove most popular with fashionistas and those looking to make a statement.
As with every new purchase, think about your needs.
How much stuff do you like to take with you on vacations? How about business trips? How long are you usually away from home for? What’s your means of transportation? Where are you going to stow the luggage when you’re back home? How much are you looking to spend?
These are only some of the questions you could ask, but even just answering these will help you narrow down what style of carry-on luggage is best for you.
When you’re comparing different models of carry-on luggage, keep convenience in mind.
This means everything from how easy it’ll be to carry around and how much of your stuff you’ll be able to get into it, to how compact it is for storage and how easy it is to fix if something breaks.
The materials your luggage is made from will make a big difference.
If you’re mainly interested in protecting what’s inside from accidents and theft, a hard plastic exterior will be a lot more attractive than the soft fabrics of a weekender bag.
Conversely, that hard plastic shell won’t be available in the same colors and patterns as the weekender bags – so once again, make sure you know what’s important to you before you make a purchase.
It’s a simple question, but it bears repeating: will the luggage have enough space to hold everything you want it to?
For someone who regularly makes short trips, it might be a bad thing to have too much space, but typically the roomier the luggage, the better.
On the other hand, most airlines now give luggage allowances by weight, which means an excessively sturdy piece of luggage might do more harm than good if the luggage itself is eating up a sizeable portion of your allowance.
Traveling can be a lot of fun, but it also opens you up to risk; the security of your carry-on luggage is therefore very important.
A hard exterior body makes a difference when it comes to keeping your possessions secure, as does a design which makes affixing an external lock easy and safe. Pieces of carry-on luggage built with integrated locks are rarer, but score top points here.
It’s worth checking if the carry-on luggage you’re thinking about buying comes with any kind of warranty.
Most pieces of carry-on luggage are built to resist a lot of force, and are advertised as such, so if they fall short in that task, it stands to reason that you should be able to get a refund, or at least a replacement.
Be careful not to overfill your luggage when it’s time to pack – if you’ve taken your time and picked a quality piece that meets your needs, you don’t want to damage it by trying to fill it with more than it was designed to hold.
As well as being careful packing, you should pay attention when you’re stowing your luggage on the plane: if it’s not properly secured before take-off, it could come crashing down if the plane hits turbulence, causing damage to the luggage and potentially injuring anyone unfortunate enough to be under it.