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Best Travel Luggage

Traveling to Italy for the first time with my adult daughters! Yay! However, very confused on which travel (carry on ) luggage will hold the most and what brand everyone has had a good experience with.

Thanks to everyone!!

Posted by
2526 posts

The best one? Opinions vary. I like my Rick Steves' convertible bag, which has far more capacity than my needs and easily meets carry on requirements of most airlines I fly. It expands if necessary. How far will you carry your bag? Will you pack it fully? Search the Travel Forum for many recommendations. Check requirements of the airlines you will use and carefully consider your needs...I am packing fewer clothes/things seemingly each trip. Lighter is better for me.

Posted by
6950 posts

There are many, many brands of luggage that are very good, and what they hold is generally related to their size.
We've switched over to Travel Pro brand, and purchased it at Amazon.com very reasonably.

The last two rolling carry on suitcases weighed under 7 lbs--a very important thing.
Another great place to purchase luggage is TJ Maxx/Homegoods. Tuesday Morning often will also sell some premium brands.
When our family travels, I've limited everyone to a carry on rolling bag and a small backpack that'll fit under the airplane seat. Sometimes, the rental cars won't hold any more than that too.

Posted by
528 posts

Remember "holding the most" equals heavy in my mind and my wife's. Italy and Europe in general is a lot of walking, if your bag is fully loaded wheeled or otherwise becomes burdensome. Plan on taking less and having some laundry done along the way. Also, as Bruce recommended, check all of the airlines you will fly. Carry-on bags weight, size, number of bags allowed etc. vary by airline. The most restrictive airline is the one you need to follow when packing.

Posted by
1665 posts

I just bought RS rolling carryon and RS packing cubes. I haven't used it yet since my trip in not until August. I did a lot of research and price comparing. These seem the best for the money. Plus on this forum several people talked about how good RS warranty is. From my research: 2 wheels are better than 4 for pulling over cobblestones; expandability is good for souvenirs (check luggage homeward bound); front pockets to hold whatever you want. I like that the rolling carryon has a molded back for stability and am pleased with the interior design. There's a downward facing zipper on the bottom lining. I'm thinking I can hide things in there if need be because my clothes will be on top hiding it. And at 66 y/o I need wheels, not something to lug around. My back and neck won't take that.

Because I want a purse large but secure enough for a day's sightseeing and shopping, I chose a Travelon crossbody bag. I also bought a Pacsack tote for plane and bus travel which will hold my purse, water bottle, books, etc and is secure and almost matches the blue of the rolling bag.

Posted by
1331 posts

I like an expandable hard case, carry on there and expand for the stuff I buy and check in on the way home. Hard case due to not having to worry about mud splashing up or rain. I have one similar to this:

https://www.amazon.com/Samsonite-Omni-Hardside-20-Inch-Spinner/dp/B013WFNS12/ref=sr_1_18?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1488644540&sr=1-18&nodeID=7141123011&keywords=samsonite+suitcase

For my personal item I use the Kipling Sherpa bag that has a sleeve in the back to slip over the handle of my carry on, I feel this is a very important feature in case someone tries to take off with your bag, it will be attached. It fits perfectly under the seat, has pockets in front for quick access to meds, glasses, tablet, chapstick, all the stuff you may need on a long flight.

Posted by
18373 posts

I've tried a number of bags in 15 or so years traveling in Europe, first an RS convertible (ca. 2000), then an Essential Carryon bag because it was a little smaller and lighter. As I learned to pack really light, both of those bags were just plain too big and, when only partially filled, sagged badly. I did an extensive search for a similar bag (convertible, opens like a book) at maybe 1800 ci, but I couldn't find anything.

I finally bought an eTech 2.0 Weekender Jr. from eBags. It's bigger than I need (although still less than regulation size for carryon), but the cinch straps on the side allow me to "tighten" the load. A big bonus that I didn't expect when I bought it is the waist belt. This belt can transfer all of the load to my hips. All I need from the shoulder straps is to keep the bag from falling over. They carry no weight at all. So for those people who claim they have to have a roller because their back and neck can't take the load, get this bag.

Posted by
1330 posts

"I finally bought an eTech 2.0 Weekender Jr. from eBags."

I just went to the eBags website and it says this bag is "unavailable".

Posted by
11613 posts

I have the RS 20" rolling carryon, has worked perfectly for almost 300 nights in Italy. I recently bought the Ravenna daybag as well. Still have my old Civita bag, as an "extra" since it weighs almost nothing, and if I need it for gifts/purchases, I would check the rolling carryon.

Posted by
6774 posts

start with what the maximum size and weight allowed by the airlines you will be using. They are different - there is no standard carryon size. European airlines use metric measurements too and sometimes the conversion is rounded up in translation. Then note that just because a bag is named as "carryon" doesn't mean that it meets those measurements. Measure them yourself. Then note that just because it meets the limit empty, it won't if you cram it to the max.

You'll never be able to identify the elusive "best" bag. Many brands and styles will work just fine. I use the Rick Steves classic bag from this website, but I prefer a backpack versus a roller bag.

Posted by
8392 posts

I just got back from a trip and the 4 spinner wheel 20" carryon I took had zero issues on cobblestones. Absolutely no different than the RS 2 wheel carryon. Total myth imo.

Posted by
308 posts

I have used an Eagle Creek carry-on packpack for over ten years now for most of my trips to Europe. I use it for trips with lots of destinations and walking to and from train stations. However, I also have the REI Stratocruiser, which is a carry-on size rolling bag that can also be carried as a packpack. I use it when I only have one destination, like my recent week in Paris.

Posted by
763 posts

I have the RS 20" rolling carry-on, which I've used for multiple trips at home and on our first trip to Europe. I'll be using it for our upcoming trip to Italy. I have a set of the RS packing cubes, which work very well in this bag. I've been very happy with the bag, no complaints at all. It weighs just under 7 pounds.

I use the Euro Flight Bag to carry my CPAP, camera and on-plane essentials. It fastens over the handle of the carry-on, making it all pretty easy to wheel through airports and such. I pack the Civita day bag for daily use while traveling. I'm well pleased with all of these products.

Posted by
11432 posts

Bob (Reading, Pa)...The bag is either out of stock or may be redesigned. eBags is supposedly working on some new designs.

In the meantime, check out the eBags TLS Motherlode Weekender Junior.

For everyone else, Eagle Creek has three new bags that measure 55 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm (21.7" x 13.8" x 8"). The first is the new Tarmack International Carry on (a few were released early and can be found but will be back in April.) I have one and it is very well built. I'll be taking it to Europe next month for 10 weeks. The old Tarmack international carry on is 20".

The others are from a new line that will have both a two wheel and 4 wheel international version. It will be officially announced and out next month.

Posted by
3713 posts

You don't say how long you will be gone, but for many who participate here, traveling light or carry-on only means packing for a week and planning to do laundry. It also means wheeling or carrying on your back no more than 20 pounds. That includes the weight of the bag empty. Take a look at the info about packing light here.

My current favorites are:

Lipault Paris 22" spinner. This is my biggest bag. Note the details, especially the weight and measurements. The wheels and handle are included in them. Often that is not the case when dimensions are given, sometimes making the bag bigger than is allowed as a carry-on. You can find this brand and 22" bag available online from a number of vendors. It is not expandable. You can also find smaller roller bags. I have not had any issues with 4 wheels on cobblestones so long as I tilt it to roll it over them.

Eagle Creek Load Warrior Wheeled Duffel. Although the measurements are very similar, this is actually a bit smaller. It's expandable, but that makes it too big to carry on and you have to check it. It's 41L not expanded. One advantage of this over my Lipault is that there are more places to grab it, making it easier to put in the airplane bin or overhead rack on the train. It has 2 wheels. That makes more packing space inside, but exactly opposite of most people, I found it more difficult to maneuver than the spinner.

Eagle Creek Afar Backpack. This is for my next trip, I hope. At 34L, it's a good bit smaller than my roller bags, weighs much less and seems to fit me perfectly. I'm 71 and haven't used a backpack in years. I do have a Rick Steves Convertible Backpack. It's a great pack, but its shape and larger size is no longer very comfortable on me.

Posted by
1878 posts

I like my Eagle Creek Tarmacs--I have one 25" which packs to around 40 lbs. unexpanded and a 22" that packs to around 30 lbs. unexpanded. The last two Europe trips I have used the small bag and it works great. I always check it though. You would probably have to go a little smaller than 22" to fit European airlines carry on limits.

Posted by
11432 posts

Eagle Creek also has a lifetime "No Matter What" Warranty on its bags.

Posted by
31510 posts

rebecca,

The "best" is often a matter of personal opinion and preference. Could you clarify which type of luggage you're looking for - wheelie bags, backpacks or ? Are you planning to use some checked luggage, or carry-on only? What size?

Posted by
11292 posts

I used to check a 24 inch bag and have a large carry-on. For my most recent trip, I downsized substantially, to a carry-on and personal item, so I didn't have to check luggage. I plan to travel with this lighter and smaller stuff going forward.

The posts above are quite correct when they say that you must look at the rules for carry-ons for your airline, as they vary. You must measure them yourself with a tape measure, as the "official" measurements often don't include wheels and handles, but the airlines use sizer boxes; if your bag doesn't fit, it's considered oversize, no matter what its official measurements are.

Beyond that, it's personal preference. Do you want two wheels, four wheels, or no wheels? Do you want to be able to carry it as a backpack? Do you like hard sided or soft-sided? If soft-sided, do you want compressible or not? Do you want a lifetime guarantee, which will mean a fancier brand that costs more but is likely to be sturdier, or is a less expensive bag good enough?

I flew Aer Lingus, and these bags met their requirements. My carry-on was the Delsey Hyperlite (I prefer two wheels): https://www.macys.com/shop/product/delsey-hyperlite-2.0-20-expandable-carry-on-rolling-suitcase-only-at-macys?ID=2579056&CategoryID=25691. Note that even though it's called 20 inches, it really measures 21 inches tall. It's only 4.7 pounds, and is so light, it flew up when I picked it up in the store (I was expecting it to weigh more!)

That listing says it's a Macy's exclusive; if you want to buy from somewhere else, the Delsey Chatillon line has something similar: https://www.amazon.com/Delsey-Luggage-Chatillon-Carry-Trolley/dp/B019PDQ6TQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488771691&sr=8-1&keywords=delsey+chatillon+21

For my personal item, I used an earlier version of Rick's Euro Flight Bag - for the simple reason that my mother gave me hers, as it didn't work with her packing style. It fits over the handle of rolling luggage, and fits nicely under a seat: https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/flight-bag

Posted by
1549 posts

Eagle Creek. My husband and I have done 5 trips to Europe with the 20" Tarmacs and a small backpack each. I'd guess I've used my roller on at least 30+ trips in past 4 years. At one point the handle would not stay up and sent it back and they fixed. We like the Eagle Creek brand so much that we just ordered larger versions for extended trips. Wheels work on cobblestones no matter how much you stuff in you never have to worry about a zipper breaking.

Posted by
5697 posts

Everybody has different criteria for "best" -- for me, spending $$$ for a "lifetime" suitcase is overkill, since as I age my travel style may change, or airline rules may be revised just enough that last year's bag won't work. So as I wander through my favorite thrift shops or Ross/Marshalls I keep an eye out for possibilities under $50 (and preferably under $20.) Use a RS Euro-tote as my personal item (bought on one of the occasional sales) to carry on the rolling bag handle.

And we have no qualms about checking luggage on flights.

Posted by
21283 posts

I'm with Laura B. There are some pretty clear trade-offs with luggage. Sturdiness/better quality usually means the bag is more expensive and heavier. Convenience for me dictates wheels, but that increases the measurement of the suitcase and can take it beyond the maximum carry-on size.

Although I'm generally all for buying quality products, I don't do that with luggage because of the weight and my assumption that if something goes wrong, I'll have to ship the suitcase back for repair/replacement. The cost of shipping such a bulky item is not inconsequential, not to mention the hassle of finding a box to put it in. So I'm a serial purchaser of $50 suitcases at places like Marshalls.

Posted by
18373 posts

Bob, the eBags website currently only shows the plum colored bag. It says it will ship March 17. The eTech 2.0 is about ½ lb lighter than the TLS bag.

Posted by
24 posts

Great advice here! In reading this I'm guessing most of you recommend just a carry if doing two weeks in Switzerland and Italy? My family of four includes 18 and 17 year old kids capable of carrying their own bag. I dread trolling around with a large suitcase as we will be using train bus etc and not renting a car.

Posted by
21283 posts

Under normal circumstances you should be able to manage with just a carry-on bag. Take some sort of collapsible tote that you can use on the plane (water bottle, snacks, reading material, etc.) and can serve to bring home souvenirs.

I say "normal circumstances" because as I have aged, the list of medications and vitamins I need has increased from zero to ten. On a really long trip, that pushes me beyond carry-on range. So take advantage of being able to travel light while you can!

Posted by
1125 posts

I second Lee's comments about the benefit of a waist belt. It really does make all the difference in the world, especially for someone with a bad back. I wish more bags came with them, or at least as an option. I have improvised some with the bags I use, but it isn't as good as if they were designed from the start.

Posted by
1132 posts

I agree with David - I bought the Travelpro 22 inch at ebags for $119.

With this and my small backpack, I can travel for 2 months.

Posted by
8392 posts

I'm finding more and more airlines limit a rolling carry-on to 20" so I just bought the RS 20" rolling carry on (on sale now), even though my RS 22" is still in decent shape.
Many airlines are requiring your carry on to fit in their 20" sizer so 22" will not be allowed.

Posted by
11432 posts

Except for a handful of ultra low cost carriers, what airlines are limiting to 20"?

Posted by
358 posts

Luggage is all about your personal likes and use preferences. Firstly you'll need to determine if you're carrying-on, or, you'll be checking. Secondly, are you interested in wheeled luggage, or, backpack style?

Of the many brands out there, my personal favorites for wheeled luggage are Briggs & Riley and Eagle Creek. Briggs & Riley has the best warranty in the industry, a no-question about it lifetime warranty to repair any and all models regardless of how old. I've used it twice and they've fixed my rollers without any problems or, delay. B&R is a premium brand and their price point reflects that, however, they're a standard bearer of brands amongst professional business travelers, I can't recommend them enough.

Eagle Creek is not as premium as B&R and they're equally familiar with travelers and outdoors enthusiasts. While their pockets and pouches helped establish them as a leading brand, their luggage always been regarded as being amongst the most well thought out and robust on the market. While not as refined or, diverse as B&R, Lipault or, Tumi, Eagle Creek's Tarmac and Gear Warrior collections are very popular and held in high regard. In fact, the Tarmac feature set is arguably the most copied in the travel luggage industry. eBags, Travel Pro, Osprey and Delsey should also be considered.

Just remember three things: 1) There are weight and size limitations as set by the airlines, 2) You're going to Italy, which means a lot of walking, trains and cobblestones and 3) Nobody ever returned from a vacation and said, I wished I brought more.

Posted by
358 posts

Except for a handful of ultra low cost carriers, what airlines are limiting to 20"?

International carriers.
If you fly over on an American carrier, a 22" roller will fit in the overhead bin. Not so with a international carrier, the hatch will not close.

Posted by
11432 posts

I've flown on international carriers with a 21.7" (55cm) carry on numerous times with no problem. In fact, if you look at the carry on size limits on most international carriers, it is longer than 20". Only those flying propeller or regional jets limit this to 20" or under.

Posted by
154 posts

Of course, everything is personal preference, but here are a few points (my two cents):

I've just purchased the RS rolling bag due to its European airline-friendly size. I've come around to the "smaller is better" school, and with some smart packing, think I can get away with this anywhere.

My general packing philosophy is a rolling carryon and a medium to small backpack/daypack that will fit under the seat in front of me. I prefer keeping the items that I'll need in flight (reading material, iPad, headphones, etc.) handy and not have to rummage through the overhead for my carryon. Most backpacks, if you don't overdo it, should squeeze under the seat. I don't like the rolling underseat bags; too much variability in seat dimensions. They often don't fit. Go for the backpack or soft sided tote.

I've seen the eBags lines touted on this thread. I'm a longtime customer of that company and love their stuff--very durable and good quality. BUT, their brand luggage tends to be heavier than most other brands. So while they have great capacity and durability, don't pack them too full if you're concerned about weight, particularly with the "convertibles". I got rid of the 21" TLS Motherlode convertible for this reason. With a full load, I couldn't handle the weight on my back (though to be fair, I'm 60 and not a big guy--might be fine on a younger, more fit dude;).

Spinners: Fine for the airport, but lousy for the long haul (cobblestone streets, rough sidewalks). With some high end exceptions, you're going to have a wheel failure on a spinner long before you have one on a good quality two-wheeler. That said, for a short hop in "civilized" terrain, you have to love the ease of a spinner for navigating through airports and hotels. I have a couple of Travelpro spinners and love them!

Just my experiences. YMMV.

Posted by
358 posts

I've flown on international carriers with a 21.7" (55cm) carry on numerous times with no problem. In fact, if you look at the carry on size limits on most international carriers, it is longer than 20". Only those flying propeller or regional jets limit this to 20" or under.

Based upon personal experience flying both British Airways, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Swiss Air, I was flagged by the flight attendants for my 22" being too large; I use a Briggs & Riley roller, pretty standard. Even the common Airbus 320 or, Boeing 737, which I have no problems here stateside, the overhead was found to be too small.

Luggage size is always long debatable subject, which ultimately can be adjudicated by a subjective gate agent or, flight attendant. Perhaps you've lucked out or, been fortunate to avoid the praying eyes of the bag police. In any event, there's a reason why all luggage brands have a 20' International size in their assortments.

Posted by
11432 posts

Sorry, but not all luggage brands have a 20” international size. B & R is 21”, Eagle Creek increased theirs from 20” to 21.6” because customers wanted bags that equal the international airline rules.

It’s true that a 22” bag will probably not fit in the sizer. Especially a B & R which when you include wheels and handles may be more than 22”

Most bag manufacturers that have an “international” line make their bags either 21” or 21.6” (when using 55cm as a guide—the gold standard for most non-U.S. airline’s carry on limits.) Remember, you have to think metric when discussing international size bags.

According to the airline’s printed carry on bag allowance, LH, AF and Swiss allow bags up to 55 cm (21.6”). BA allows bags up to 56cm (22”).

Saying that a 22” bag won’t fit on many European carriers is true. But saying you have to go down to 20” is not true. Look at the RS bags.....the two most popular are 21" and I can't remember too many people saying they wouldn't fit in the overheads.

I have a menagerie of carry on bags. Most are over 20” The majority are 55 cm including wheels and handles and I have never had a problem putting them in the overhead.

U.S. overhead bins are slightly larger then most international airlines. But I suggest you measure your bag to see if it is really 22”

I know bags. I write about bags. I have professional relationships with many bag manufacturers and I can tell you that on most airlines you do not have to go down to a 20” bag to comply.