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Carry On Luggage Recommendation

I am flying on several European flights (RyanAir, Vueling, easy jet, air Malta, and wizz).

Anyone recommend the best budget carry on luggage??

Posted by
8058 posts

Look at the carry on size restrictions for RyanAir, Vueling, easy jet, air Malta, and wizz and then take your tape measure to the goodwill and look for bags that meet the restrictions for those 5 airlines. That is one idea.

Posted by
8234 posts

We like our 21 inch ultra light Travel Pro carry on bags with the swivel wheels. They were relatively inexpensive on

Posted by
5697 posts

For true budget travel, ask around to see if friends have anything you could borrow. As Jazz+Travels suggests, there are sometimes amazing deals at thrift stores -- people trading up to this year's model or changing their travel style. I have a 4-wheel spinner (Ricardo) and a 2-wheel (Travel Pro) both 22" carry-on size -- neither over $25. Or many people have had success using TJMaxx or similar stores.
Take a measuring tape to make sure the outside measurements (including wheels and handle) meet the requirements of the airlines you will be using.

Posted by
15665 posts

Be wary of the size AND weight restrictions of the airlines and find something that matches the most restrictive one. (Airlines can set their own carry on limits and they vary.) Tape measure and luggage scale are both important when shopping.

Just remember, the cheapest luggage may not be the most durable.

Posted by
5837 posts

Be aware that specified size specified isn't always a true out-to-out size. Airline carry-on size restrictions are out-to-out measurements needed to fit the overhead storage bins. If the bag is hard or rigid, being a half-inch too long may mean that the bin's door does not close and latch. And if your bag is soft sided but severly overstuffed, it may buldge beyond it's specified thickness.

Here's how Consumer Union measures luggage size:

Also be aware that rollers tend to be heavier than "backpack" bags, all other things being equal. Airlines with weight limits on carry-ons may also check weight in addition to size. My wife's RS roller met size limits but Austrian Air recently gate checked her bag because of weight (> 8kg).

Posted by
1259 posts

You could spend a few hours researching “onebag travel” and “minimalist travel” on the web. Folks perfected traveling with carryons only a decade ago and have plenty to say about it. A good carryone travel backpack will cost you anywhere from $50 to $500. I have a Pacsafe Vibe 40 liter bag that is simple and light and cheap. I only use about 80% of its capacity. The Rick Steves travel pack is highly regarded and inexpensive.

Your list of budget airlines includes outfits that change their permissible luggage dimensions and baggage charges often so there’s no telling if the hardware you acquire today will be allowed when you get there.

Posted by
19169 posts

It takes a lot of gall to call a 5.9# bag "ultra light"!

Posted by
1221 posts

Also, if you don't need a bag right away, it's common for many 'better' brands to send their discontinued models and colors to the discount web sites around January. I'll check web sites like Sierra Trading Post, the Clymb and Left Lane Sports a few times a week that time of year, and have found some good deals like Eagle Creek bags for 70% off MSRP. And yes, the bags in question are neon green, but I figure that just makes it easy to spot them on a baggage carousel if I have to check it.

Hey Selkie,
Another benefit is ugly bright bags are probably less likely to be stolen or lost. A thief would probably prefer a Tumi and its contents.

Posted by
1194 posts

You could spend a few hours researching “onebag travel” and “minimalist travel” on the web.

This is a true statement but you have to be careful with terms. “Minimalist” is often overused by those that don’t understand the term. For example, one travel fashion blogger uses the term for when she brings a full sized carry on plus a full sized personal item!! This isn’t minimalist and doesn’t comply with most European airline luggage allowances.

I would suggest looking at sites where the traveler is using a bag that is under 25 liters. That bag is going to comply with even the strictest airline standards. Looking for “personal item only travel” might get you closer to what you want, especially for airlines like Wizz air. Their free carry on limit is 24 liters.

Also know that bags with no wheels get on board long after wheelie bags get the gate check.

It will be a real challenge for a first timer to make the 24 Liter limit. That said, you will love, love, love the incredible freedom that comes from it. I travel for over a week with a 16 Liter bag so it’s possible. Go for it!

Posted by
15665 posts

Rolf Potts traveled around the world with a zero liter bag.

No Bag Challenge

The question is would you want to? A traveler could make any size bag work. More importantly, what would make you comfortable.

I helped a friend become a one bag traveler. Only carry on. It didn't last. She wanted to have more choice in what she brought and didn't mind checking a bag. That's her choice. She's not traveling wrong, she's doing what's right for her.

What would be the worst thing that could happen if on one of your flights you had to check a bag? For some here, it would mean the end of the world. I wouldn't be surprised that they would consider their vacation ruined.

As for me, I pare down as much as possible and continue to fine tune. Occasionally, I have to check my bag. I could take five or six things out to not have to but is it worth it to not have certain items that would make my 2+ months trip more enjoyable just to make an airline's weight limit? I don't think so. I don't belong to the "he who takes the least stuff wins" club.

Posted by
1194 posts

I don't belong to the "he who takes the least stuff wins" club

This is about making a stated airline limit. Wizz air has a fairly strict one. The dimensions are 40cm x 30 cm x 20cm. That’s 24 liters.

I see several fallacies. The first is creating a straw man like “no bag challenge” and beating it down. No one is asking “how light can you go”.

The second fallacy is substiting your female friends unhappiness over carry on bags. That’s a red herring. It’s also possible that your friend packed inefficiently. There’s a lot of “girl tricks” for packing that most men wouldn’t know off the bat (even experienced ones).

I do agree that the OP could budget to check a bag on Wizz Air. That’s certainly a reasonable alternative. But only if multiple transfers aren’t involved. Otherwise the probability of losing the bag goes up.

I personally think OP could do 24 liters. There’s articles and videos on the web on how to do it. The freedom of never worrying about the bag is awesome.

I can’t link to my own site but here are others from people I respect:

The Myriad benefits of minimalist travel

Ultralight travel packing list

Backpacking through Central America with just a carry on

Packing list for north and west Africa in a 25 Liter pack

How to pack minimalist - my 16 Liter packing list

Ultralight Packing List: I Traveled for 3 Weeks with a 12L Handbag

Posted by
15665 posts

The second fallacy is substiting your female friends unhappiness over carry on bags. That’s a red herring. It’s also possible that your friend packed inefficiently. There’s a lot of “girl tricks” for packing that most men wouldn’t know off the bat (even experienced ones).

No, she no longer wanted to pack that light. She is not a Rick Steves traveler, has never been to Europe, only takes long weekend trips, likes to go out at night, and have choices of outfits and shoes. I gave her links to lots of packing tips for women but she prefered to pack heavier.

She just budgets in the checked bag fee.

Posted by
1194 posts

This Outlander pack fits within requirements and is cheap. It has pretty good reviews. The water resistant versions come in 20 & 30 liters. You could even use the 30 liter pack if you under pack it. The waterproof version is 25 liters so just about perfect. Just don’t overstuff it.

Outlander pack

Disclosure: I haven’t used it but am tempted to order it.

Posted by
703 posts

everyone seems to concentrate on size, which is very important, but the weight is also your enemy. we have always be confronted ( even flying premium economy etc) with a 7kg (15lbs) limit. thats it! and they can and do weigh them .
so even adding wheels and a handle to a bag will take up lots of your precious limit. hence why I use a osprey farpoint 40. ( without wheels)
hope this helps.

Posted by
37 posts

Love my 22 inch Travel Pro with 2 wheels. It is lightweight, and very easy to maneuver over cobblestones and carry up flights of steps. I bought it at the beginning of the year when luggage tends to go on sale. It was very affordable considering the brand. I used this piece of luggage for the RS 21 day Best of Europe last year and the RS 14 day Best of Spain this year. It has held up well. For both trips, I carried it on the plane going to ensure it got there when I did. I did check it in when coming back home. I only flew on United and Lufthansa so there was no problem with the size or weight. Since airlines do have different restrictions, I would definitely check the website before you go, as you don't want any surprises when you get to the airport. I did limit myself to twenty pounds, which I highly recommend. I hope to go with even less weight in the future, as it is a good feeling to travel lightly.

Posted by
1194 posts

everyone seems to concentrate on size, which is very important, but the weight is also your enemy. we have always be confronted ( even flying premium economy etc) with a 7kg (15lbs) limit. thats it! and they can and do weigh them.

I’ve found that if you stay under 20 liters or so you also automatically stay under the 7kg limit. Also - many airlines don’t weigh the personal item (though some do).

Posted by
3259 posts

I just reviewed a few of the airlines listed. The size of the bags seem pretty reasonable and typical for international flights (I didn't look at every single one, but did look at Vueling, Ryan Air, Easy Jet, BA). The weight on the economy flights seems to be 10kg at the lowest. This is 22 lbs. Some airlines are one bag rules. I use a RS wheelie, which fits these guidelines, and which I love. I can pack this to 18-20 lbs. and have a weeks worth of clothes, my information, and my toys. Anything I might put in after this weight is gravy. However, I always know my basics and the weight I don't mind lifting when I have to do so, which is 20-22lbs. max. I hate to schlep when it is not necessary so I'm a wheelie person. It's personal preference. I don't find pleasure in packing too light.

So, I suggest you bring a tape measure to Macy's or TJMax or Kohls or whatever is near you and measure the bags, keep within international measurements or less, and pick out an inexpensive suitcase. Or wait for a sale on RS's website. My husband just borrowed mine for a trip and I'm not sure I will be getting it back...

Of course, there's also no shame in checking your bag. I do that often as well, but keep it the above size.

Posted by
1194 posts

@Wray - the limit for Wizz air is 40x30x20 cm. This is much smaller than the airlines you listed. They have a size of 55 x 40 x 23 cm. That’s 50 liters not the required 24 liters.

The weight limit is 10 kg which is very generous.

Unless the OP wants to pay extra he needs to stick to the smaller size.

Packing for the most restrictive size/weight means you’ll be fine for all of them.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for everyone’s input. A little update:

Wizz Air informed me of there new carryon policy. 40cm or whatever it is. They gifted me free checked bag per passenger. Also, Ryan Air did a similar thing and gifted me priority boarding and 2 carry ons per passenger.

So, I think I’m still looking for the best bag at 22in x 16in x 8in

Posted by
15665 posts

You will find plenty of that size in Europe but difficult in the USA. In the U.S. the most common size is 22 x 14 x 9 or 56 x 36 x 23 cm). Most people fly domestically so that is what the market calls for. In Europe it's 21.7 x 15.7 x 8/9. (55 x 40 x 20/23 cm.)

I was looking at bags in London recently and was hard pressed to find one with a width of 14. (35 cm)

Posted by
1314 posts

Be careful with Ryanair - their policy is to charge heavily if your carry on bag exceeds their size/ weights regulations. I note that their carry on size is smaller than other airlines.

Make sure you've throughly read and complied with ALL their regs - otherwise that cheap flight is going to get a lot more expensive!


Posted by
54 posts

The High Sierra Volusia 22" Carry-On Upright Wheeled Duffel has been my latest workhorse, carry-on bag (listed by the manufacturer as 9 x 22 x 14 inches and 8 pounds.) It is expandable with a zippered four-size gusset and has concealed backpack straps as well.

High Sierra said it does not show this model on its website as they manufacture it for sale through ebags and Amazon. The warranty is 5 years but customer service is very helpful: they sent me replacement wheels on a similar High Sierra that was two years out of warranty - no charge for item or shipping. We now have five High Sierra bags.