Carry-On Luggage is by far one of the most popular types of luggage today, and with good reason. As airlines continue to add restrictions and new fees, it has become even more important to travel with luggage that not only meets airline requirements, but also helps you avoid baggage fees. Even if you plan to check luggage, a carry on bag is a great idea for packing some essentials and a change of clothing in the unfortunate event that your luggage is lost.
Before buying a new carry-on, here are some things you should consider:
Carry On Size
Knowing the size of your carry on luggage is crucial for making sure your bag not only fits in the overhead bin, but also meets airline requirements. You can easily calculate the size of your suitcase by adding the length, width, and height of the bag, making sure to take into account all handles, wheels, expansion, and other extrusions. eBags has identified 22″ x 14″ x 9″ as our basic guideline, but your carry on should be no larger than 45″ in total measurement. However, size restrictions do vary by airline so please check your carrier’s website before travel.
Overhead vs. Under Seat
If you’re traveling for one day (or less) or you plan to check luggage and want to take only a few items with you on board, consider a small carry on bag like a rolling travel tote that fits underneath the seat. Overhead bin space is often scarce particularly if you’re one of the last people to board the plane. On the other hand, if you plan to travel with your carry on luggage only, choose a larger size bag that can fit in the overhead bin but still hold your clothing and other travel necessities.
Most domestic flights in the United States allow passengers to take one carry-on and one personal item on board. While a carry-on includes carry on suitcases, garment bags, and duffels, a personal item is generally a bag less than 36 inches in total dimensions like a handbag, small backpack, laptop bag, briefcase, or tote.
Many international flights have additional restrictions on carry on luggage including weight restrictions. As a general rule, an international carry on should be 20″ or less and should weigh no more than 50 pounds when packed. Again, be sure to check with your airline for their specific rules as they can vary by carrier and destination.
You may want to consider when purchasing new carry on luggage include spinner wheels for easier maneuverability and built-in suiters to help prevent your suit or dress from wrinkling during travel.
For more information about carry on luggage sizes and rules, see our Airline Luggage Restrictions guide and our TSA Rules guide.
Scott McCartney on Lunch Break shares his favorite simple travel tips. Put a shoe you wear when flying into the room safe with your passport so you’ll never leave the passport behind when you leave. Tear off little paper with the room number when you check into a hotel and keep it handy so you don’t have to remember. Print boarding passes in advance to claim your seat and reduce chances of getting bumped. We discuss the perils of calling home from a business trip when you’re having fun and your spouse is ankle deep in diapers, proper prep for TSA body scanners, tips on cash aboard and why you should ribbon your black suitcase and put a business card inside.