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One month in Spain with carry-on, rolling luggage

I am 73 and cannot do the backpack gig anymore. I need a bag that I can roll and also put in the overhead compartment easily. I have spent many hours looking at hard sided and soft sided luggage as well as rolling, backpacks, and I’m trying to determine what gives me the most space inside for all my stuff. The dimensions on the Delta international state 22 x 14 x 9 which means that many of the hard sided bags are too big because the wheels are huge. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as my head is about to explode! Thanks.

Posted by
11348 posts

We have carried on for many years with Rick Steve’s 22” bags. Easy. One of our trips was six weeks in Asia, another was six weeks in Europe.

Posted by
4535 posts

When I was doing research a while back, I found googling "carryon with most internal space" was helpful. I would want a four wheel spinner, which takes some space but you gain in mobility.

Posted by
302 posts

I can try! Are you intending to use this new bag only for this trip to Spain, or will you be using it for future adventures, too?
Iceland Air is 7.8" for carryon width and both of mine are the size you shared, both my soft- sided duffel and hard shell, which created problems for me with my upcoming Greenland trip.
The other issue is weight restrictions. My Away "smaller carryon" hardshell (21" including the wheels) can hold a LOT and is easy to roll but weighs 6 lbs empty and the limit is 22 lbs, with only a very small personal item, so no way to stuff "overflow" into that. I did meet their weight, fully packed, but not that narrower width.
This would be the same problem with some smaller regional airlines, too.
I also have the smaller rolling RS 17" . I find it difficult to pull ( 2 wheels that don't glide).
I hope this didn't add to the overwhelming options! But your future needs should factor into the decision, too.

Posted by
3235 posts

I, too, have the Rick Steves, 2 wheeled, bag. I can lift this into the overhead bin. I practice to make sure those muscles are strong enough. I think you need to think about the weight versus the size. There's no use getting a bag you can pack the most into because that will be a bag that is too heavy. If you have a problem with packing a lot of stuff, I'd suggest that you shoot for an 18" bag and also get the largest personal item bag that is allowed on the flight, to split your items, dividing the weight so less weight needs to be lifted into the overhead. Another alternative is to get the smallest wheeled underseat bag possible (my husband's wheeled underseat Eagle Creek Tote bag is 13" by 13". I don't think they sell these any longer, but not sure.) Put the heavy items in the little wheeled bag, and have a backpack/duffel that has a sleeve for the handle (or use an attachment) and put your clothes and light items in that bag (I have an Ebags Motherlode Jr, 18") for the overhead space. There are so many alternatives...sigh.

Posted by
1852 posts

I took my first flight yesterday with my new Rick bag (21" one with the hard back & soft front.) This bag was a replacement for my 22" I had for 15 years. I was so happy to be able to put it up in the overhead and I am older than you. I also use the Euro bag for under the seat. Between the 2 I have plenty of room for 4 weeks of travel (I always pack for a week.)

Posted by
23411 posts

Personally I avoid the spinner type of bag. The little wheels can get caught in sidewalk cracks and cobblestones. Much prefer the two wheel bag because the wheels are larger, roll more easily and are slightly built into the bag so the overall bag will be a little larger. I have the Steves's rolling two wheel,, 20", bag which is very easy to travel with. IMO the four wheel actually reduce mobility since they work best on smooth, flat surfaces. Not common in Europe outside of the train station and airport.

Posted by
6603 posts

I have an earlier version of the Travelpro bag Joe described, which I like a lot. Weighs 5.4 lbs according to the description.

I agree with Frank about four-wheel spinners, fine for airports and smooth sidewalks, bad on rougher surfaces, as well as fragile. And don't leave one on a sloping surface unless you're ready to chase it downhill. And I'd avoid a hard-sided bag unless your stuff is fragile (which it shouldn't be).

Posted by
4171 posts

At 77 and a solo traveler, I agree with Wray about weight and size. The issue for me is what the bag weighs EMPTY because I limit the total weight to 20 pounds full.

Pay attention to that in addition to dimensions. A 2-wheeled bag has more room inside for packing and usually weigh less empty. My personal limit is 5 pounds for an empty bag. Both those linked so far are heavier than that. I've found that a 14" 2-wheeled bag can be easily pushed in front of you down the airplane aisle to your seat.

Using packing cubes, especially compression ones can maximize your capacity. They take the air out, but not the weight, so you must be vigilant about that. A luggage scale will keep you honest.

I'm another person who coordinates my travel clothes, packs for a week and does laundry myself or has it done for me along the way. I typically travel for 4-6 weeks.

As for specific suggestions, I have Eagle Creek and Osprey bags. They are expensive, but I got all 4 of them on sale over the past few years.

Good luck with your packing decisions and with finding the right bag to put your stuff in so that you can manage it on your own.

Posted by
771 posts

@Lo, would you mind sharing the model of either Osprey or Eagle Creek that is 14"? I've struggled to find anything of quality that small....

Posted by
332 posts

Another perspective on spinners v 2-wheel:

I have the Travelpro Maxlite (linked above by Joe32F) in both the 2-wheel and spinner. Both have been on 3-plus-week European trips. I’m 65 and 5’2” and I can lift either bag into the overhead compartment.

Although, I agree that the 2-wheel is much better on cobblestones and city terrain, this past year I (reluctantly) switched to the spinner. I started having shoulder and elbow pain pulling the 2-wheel bag behind me. Pushing the 2-wheel didn’t work. I’m a carry-on only, pack light, do laundry there type traveler, so my bag wasn’t even that heavy. It was just the body mechanics of pulling. I’m willing to take the risk of a broken spinner wheel over a dislocated shoulder or aggravating my tennis elbow.

Switching to the spinner has involved a bit of a learning curve adjusting to how it performs - steering, balance and especially getting on and off escalators. I sure love how it effortlessly rolls down the airplane aisle though. And, my shoulder doesn’t hurt.

Posted by
105 posts

I prefer ebags 21" MotherLoad Carry-On Rolling Duffel. While I don't know if it has the largest amount of room, I have traveled for up to three months with it and have not had a problem with it carrying everything I need. It also expands so if I purchase things while traveling, I can check it on the way home.

Posted by
302 posts

Iceland Air is 21.6" by 15.7" by 7.8" and 22 lbs. Have you flown with it on that carrier ? My Eddie Bauer duffel has been a workhorse and because it's only 2 lbs helps with the weight limits. As with the original post the shoulder strap at 66 years feels heavier now!
That's why I cautioned to consider future plans if the bag is meant to be an investment piece. That 7.8" is NOT 9"! Usually I could (and have) swapped items in and out of my large "personal" item but Iceland Air's limits don't make that possible.
I will join the hunt for something smaller, too. The 17" RS rolling backpack is clunky to me and heavy to pull, the handle is either up or it's down. . But holds more than you would think!