Whether you’re heading off on a two week annual vacation or you’re simply jetting off for a weekend city break, you’ll be wanting a practical, secure, and durable bag to to transport your belongings in. In this guide we’ll give you all the information you need to choose the best suitcase for your needs.
First of all we are going to feature 12 suitcases that we recommend for different travel purposes. Packing for Paris? – you’ll probably want a 29″ suitcase to bring home all your shopping! A long weekend in Portland? – carry-on might suffice.
Then we’ll go over the important things you need to consider why buying your next suitcase.
- 1 Best Carry On Suitcase for a Weekend Trip
- 2 The Best Medium Size Luggage for Two Weeks in Europe
- 3 The Best 29″(height) Suitcase for When you Need the Largest Suitcase
- 4 The Best Large Luggage Size for Family Travel with Kids
- 5 Things to consider when choosing the size and features of your suitcase
- 6 Suitcase Packing Tips
Best Carry On Suitcase for a Weekend Trip
Suitcase dimensions are important when looking at carry on luggage, so check out your airline’s suitcase size guide ahead of time. It’s best to purchase a carry on bag you can be confident will fit within the limit of most airlines. That way you don’t have to worry about being caught out at the check in counter and have to have a costly fee to check your bag. Most airlines have a standard carry on bag size but they do vary a little.
EasyJet (Europe) – Including the wheels and handle, 56x45x25cm, no weight limit
RyanAir (Europe) – 55x40x20cm, with a 10kg weight limit
Allegiant (USA) – 56x36x23cm including wheels and handle, no weight limit
Spirit (USA) – 56x46x25cm including wheels and handle, no weight limit
These following three choices are the ideal carry on size. They have plenty of room for a long weekend away, or even up to a week if you’re traveling light to a warm destination e.g packing for Hawaii, and want to take carry on only.
Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 Softside 21 Inch Spinner
Another spinner, this overhead luggage size case is ideal, and a big named brand too. It comes in black, midnight blue and Cypress green and has four multi directional split spherical spinner wheels for ease of movement, and the side and bottom handles make it to move in and out of overhead compartments. Inside the case there is plenty of organisational room, with extra pockets, and it has an expander. The case has a water-resistant shell. Suitcase manufacturers are notorious for not including the wheel length in their suitcase dimensions. True to form this one measures 23″ long with wheels. Reviewers I’ve read said it has been great for all airlines except British Airways where it’s wheels protrude.
Victorinox Werks Traveler 5.0 WT 20 Dual-Caster Spinner Carry On Suitcase
This quality option is also a stylish one, ideal for those city breaks with a spot of glamour. A durable choice, the trolley handle can lock at three different positions, which makes it ideal for different heights, and the main storage area is more than big enough for everything you will need for a weekend away. There is front panel with a U shaped zipper, where you can store important documents you need to grab quickly, with an expansion area which ups the storage by 2”. It is 9.4lb in weight and comes in black, a mid blue and a grey-green. It has a TSA approved locking system.
This is an handsome-looking case, which stands at 22” high. It meets carry-on restriction requirement and can expand up to 25% more if you need it. This is a lightweight case, which is long-lasting and durable, so it should last you for many years of fun, action-packed weekend trips. There is also an excellent, large U-shaped external front compartment which allows easy access to travel documents on the go. Briggs and Riley is a top quality brand and ,as such, it is at the pricier end of the spectrum but customers report that they last for ever.
The Best Medium Size Luggage for Two Weeks in Europe
Sometimes there is no option but to check our luggage at the airport. Longer vacations, business travel or sharing a suitcase between two people often require us to take more than can be packed into a smaller carry-on bag.
If you’re heading off across Europe for 1 or more weeks, the size of your luggage matters for train and coach travel too. There’s no fun in dragging an extremely heavy and oversized suitcase up and down flights of stairs at train stations, or up and across “the gap” from platform to train carriage. 25 inch spinners are a better option for trips like this.
Travelpro Maxlite 4 Expandable 25 Inch Spinner Suitcase
This mid-price case is seriously nice on the eye, available in blue, black, or purple, and will certainly look the part for your European adventure. With 360 degree spinner wheels, you can move this case around in any direction, with a telescopic handle which has two lockable heights. This is also a lightweight choice of medium case, so you can fit more in for your allowance. The top lid compartment and side mesh pockets are both zip closing and secure.
Samsonite Aspire Xlite Expandable 25 Suitcase
Samsonite is a well known brand in the luggage world and has a good reputation, so you can be confident that you are buying a quality suitcase that should last for years to come. There is a quick access pocket at the front for tickets etc, and then a large compartment for storing your belongings. The spinner wheels move in four directions for ease of use, and the suitcase easily rolls in the upright position so you don’t strain yours arms and shoulders when wheeling it from A to B. There is also an expander section if you need it.
Samsonite DK3 Spinner 25
This mid-price range spinner case is ideal for weekends away when you need to take a little more in the way of luggage, or for week long beach breaks. The four spinner wheels mean you can easily manoeuvre without issues, and again, the case rolls upright easily. The zippers are large and self-mending, so the case is a long-lasting investment. It comes in space blue, charcoal and orange zest, the latter being easy to spot on the luggage carousel. Again, remember to check the luggage size guide for your particular airline, and include the measurement with the wheels in addition.
Briggs & Riley Transcend Medium Expandable Spinner
Samsonite Aspire Xlite Expandable 25 Suitcase isn’t the cheapest option on our list, but it is certainly quality and lightweight too. Available in sleek black or red, this is a smart-looking choice, with two exterior organiser pockets, and a large interior section which easily expands if you need more space. Again, spinner wheels mean you can move the case in any direction you please, without jamming.
The Best 29″(height) Suitcase for When you Need the Largest Suitcase
A larger suitcase allows you the luxury of extra room when you plan to bring home all the things you’ve bought in Paris, or from 5th Avenue in New York! You will need extra room when packing for London, or other destinations with changeable weather, as you’ll need more layers of clothing.
Most US airlines have a maximum checked luggage limit of 62 linear inches, that is the Height+ Width +Depth. Alligient’s maximum is 80inches, and the British budget airlines Ryannair and Easyjet are much more generous at 116 linear inches and 126 inches respectively, but that is a ridiculously large suitcase you’d be lugging around! A 62cm bag is a good option if you are traveling as a couple or a family, or you are high maintenance and have a lot of stuff :-). Don’t forget to check your airline’s weight limit too. This is usually 40-50lb in the US, but Britain’s Easyjet for example has no weight limit! Of course these large suitcases are perfect for family travel too.
American Tourister Llite Xtreme Spinner 29
If you want to fashion up your choices, this one comes in blue, black, or a funky pattern choice! In terms of functionality, the fully lined interior pocket is big enough to fit everything you need inside, and it expands even further if you need it. The pull handle is corrugated for grip, and the spinner wheels ensure you can easily pull the case along in any direction. There are also top and side handles, for lifting, and two large front panels for important bits and bobs.
Delsey Luggage Chatillon 29 Inch Lightweight Expandable Suitcases
This 29″spinner very lightweight at 9.9lb. It is excellent value for money and comes in blue and black. It has an amazing feature which I really like – an patented, inbuilt overweight meter which goes red if your bag is over 50lb. The suitcase is actually 63 linear inches but it’s very unlikely you’d be pulled up at the checkout over such a small discrepancy.
Olympia Luggage 29″ 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag
OK this is a strictly speaking a suitcase, but it is a great, spacious bag and it’s affordable for the budget conscious traveler. It also fits within the 62 linear inch limit set by most airlines. It comes in black and red, as well as lavender, pink and royal blue. It has 2 recessed wheels and 2 corresponding “feet” to keep it balanced in the upright position.
The Best Large Luggage Size for Family Travel with Kids
Standard luggage sizes aren’t always big enough for family travel, and it may be that you need more than one case. If you are travelling with more than one child however, one large case might be all you need, provided you streamline your packing needs.
The standard suitcase size you need here is large, and these suggestions are top choices.
Briggs & Riley Large Expandable Spinner, Black, One Size
This particular choice isn’t the cheapest, but if you want it to last then you are probably going to have to spend a little more. Available in black or red, this is a smart and sleek looking case, which is lightweight and very durable. Water resistant, you can easily clean it if it gets dirty, whilst having a strong zipper closure and expanding section if you need it. Basically, you will fit everything you need in here, and probably have a little spare room.
American Tourister Disney Minnie Mouse Polka Dot Softside Spinner 28
This particular choice might not be the largest travel bag size product, but it is a fun one for families, and it will be easily seen on the luggage carousel thanks to the red and white polka dot Disney design! There are single spinner wheels on this one, and a push button locking mechanism for the pull handle. The interior compartment is large and there is a mesh pocket on the interior, with cross straps for keeping your clothes where they should be. Kids will love this one.
Things to consider when choosing the size and features of your suitcase
Buying Cheap is Short-Sighted
Buying cheap, sub-standard suitcases is simply not worth it. They just don’t stand up to the rough and tumble of airport baggage handlers, being rolled along city streets, or being carted on and off the subway. The old saying,”You get what you pay for” is so true. What you want is quality at the right price. When shopping for suitcases, you need to be cognisant of the following things: travel luggage size restrictions of different airlines; the quality and durability of the suitcase you are purchasing; and any specific design features that appeal to you and set it apart from other models on the market.
Spinner vs 2 Wheeler
I love spinner suitcases because they are so much easier to maneuver, and cause less strain on the arms and shoulders. A reasonable criticism of some spinners is that they can overbalanced more easily c.f with a 2 wheeler with corresponding foot pads which help with balance. I guess a 2 wheeler also has 2 less wheels that can get damaged too! All in all I still think spinners have a distinct advantage.
How does the main compartment of the suitcase open?
I personally dislike suitcases that:
– open length lengthwise. They are very awkward to open in a small hotel room. Many hard shell suitcases have this design and I avoid them for that reason.
– suitcases that open into equal halves. I find that each half is not deep enough to pack my items. I prefer one larger, deeper main compartment for my clothes while I use the more shallow but expandable “lid” to pack one or 2 pairs of shoes, toiletries +/- jacket.
Bigger isn’t always better
Some big suitcases are technically classed by airlines as oversized, and you could end up with a hefty charge at the check in desk if you go over the designated allowance. It’s a good idea to check the luggage size allowance of the airlines you usually fly on before purchasing your next suitcase. Remember that the maximum size allowed includes the wheels and handle, but suitcase manufacturers are notorious for not including the extra length of the handle and wheels in their specifications.
Consider weight as well as size of your carry on luggage
This is especially important for international travel, and you may be asked to weigh your carry on luggage at the check in desk from time to time. Many airlines have strict limitations on both the size and weight of carry on luggage, whereas some US airlines are only really concerned with size, not weight. The best advice? Check it out before you go.
Renting a car?
If you’re going to be renting a car when you get to your destination, give some thought to what size of suitcase is going to fit in the car size you’ve rented. A 29″ suitcase may not fit in the trunk of a small rental car. This is another thing to consider when you are choosing the dimensions of a large suitcase.
Think about your travel terrain
Will you be carrying or wheeling your suitcase across busy train platforms, or along uneven footpaths? If you are travelling within Europe on the train network, you’ll find that you will need to carry luggage up and down stairs quite frequently. In this scenario a medium sized suitcase is preferable to a large suitcase, and wheels are essential.
Suitcase Packing Tips
If you are thinking of indulging in a little retail therapy at your destination, consider taking a large suitcase with you and only packing it half full on your flight out or, alternatively, buy another suitcases on sale in your destination and check in two for your return journey.
If you’re a party of two adults travelling with, say, two children, it’s a good idea to take one large suitcase with the majority of your stuff in it, and then arm everyone who is big enough with a carry on bag. This means one adult is in charge of the suitcase, leaving the other a little freer to watch the children. Compression bags and packing cubes are fantastic ways to organize your suitcase and pack most efficiently, especially when a whole family is sharing one suitcase.
Now for your onwards journey …
This guide has hopefully helped to give you a clearer picture of the luggage bag sizes on offer, and the best ones for each type of travel adventure. If you need a great travel purse, then check out our guide here.
Now, all that’s left to say is … bon voyage!