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Traveling with carry-on bags not only saves money, but also helps speed you to your destination without waiting at baggage claim. We’ve put together a great list of some of the best and lightest carry-on luggage that will fit in the overhead bin, but still hold plenty of clothes for your getaway. If you have a traveler on your holiday list, one of these bags would make for a great gift.
With baggage fees on the rise with nearly every airline, carry-on luggage can save you quite a lot. The weight limits for checked bags, may mean that you need to check more than one. For example, the average family of 4 could spend over $60 extra for 2 checked bags. If each family member travels with a carry-on bag, you can avoid these fees.
Why Travel Carry-on?
So why travel carryon? I asked our Traveling Moms and a few travel experts about the benefits of traveling carry-on instead of checking bags.
Encourages packing light
For me, I love using carry-on luggage so that each of my family members can pack their own bags. If it fits, they can bring it. Since I travel with teens (one being a fashionista girl), this method works really well. Texas Traveling Mom, Jill Robbins agrees. She says, “It [traveling carry-on] keeps me from packing stuff I don’t need.
Credit Card Traveling Mom, Yvonne Jasinski says, “Carry-on has all I need to survive for at least three days: change of clothes, computer, camera, all chargers, and toiletries. I also have my favorite items of clothing, that I would hate to lose.”
No lost luggage
Empty Next TravelingMom, Cindy Richards travels through Chicago’s O’Hare airport. She says, “The place where luggage goes to get lost. On three occasions when I felt like I needed to pack more than I could fit in a carry-on, my bag was lost.”
Road Warrior TravelingMom, Nasreen Stump agrees. “I used to travel 4 days a week for work. Many times I was only in a location for a day then flew to a different city that evening. I don’t trust airlines with my luggage.”
No need to wait
Checking bags and retrieving them at baggage claim can be time-consuming. Jill says, “It’s easier to maneuver my family from airport to hotel. If we’re all traveling light. I get to where I’m going without having to wait.” I agree, when we get to our destination, we want to get to our accommodations so we can hit the beach, hiking trails or theme park as soon as possible.
Checking bags for free
If you are traveling on a fully-booked flight, most airlines will ask for volunteers to check bags for free. We sometimes take advantage of this offer when we are flying non-stop. We always keep valuables and electronics in one carry-on.
Especially when traveling with kids, it’s nice to have easy access to items they might need like a toy, coloring book, sweatshirt or blanket. Airports are often freezing so I usually need access to a sweater.
7 Lightweight Carry-on Bags Experts and TravelingMoms recommend
1. Ricardo 21 inch spinners
Ricardo bags are favorites of our Traveling Moms. My husband also has one and loves it! He says it’s just right for his business trips. He’s even packed for 5 days in it. Durability is the hallmark of this brand’s expandable carry-ons, especially the hard sided polycarbonate models. Four rubberized wheels provide added stability and durability as well.
- Weight: 8.6 pounds
- 10.5 x 23.5 x 16.5 inches (including wheels)
2. Travelpro Maxlite 21″
Independent travel agent Tricia Kirkwood from travel-by-tricia.com recommends this lightweight carryon to her clients. She says, “My son is 4 and having easy luggage while I have him in tow has been ideal. It’s lightweight, compact, and comes in some great colors.” It’s sized for international travel with a PowerScope handle that locks at both 38 and 42.5 inches for different heights.
Tricia goes on to say, “The 4 wheels on the bottom make it easy to maneuver anywhere. It fits very easily into the overhead bin and since it’s lightweight, it’s easy to lift up there. I was recently in Aruba for 3 nights and was able to fit all of my clothes, toiletries, and shoes.”
- Weight: 5.4 pounds
- Measurements with wheels: 23×14.5×9
- weight- 5.4 lbs.
- Volume- 46.5 liters
3. Andiamo Pantera 20″ Hardside
Christina Conrado reached out from Adiamo bags to highlight the features of this great lightweight carry-on. “It’s very maneuverable with easy gliding 8 spinner wheels. It’s made of durable carbon fiber with strong zippers to keep your items safe during travel.” According to the company, this bag has also been tested extensively for fitting in most overhead bins both domestic and abroad.
- Dimensions with wheels and handles: 21.8 X 13.5 X 9 inches
- Storage capacity is approximately 29L.
- Weight 7.1 pounds
4. Samsonite Freeform Hardside Spinner 21 inch
Wanting to get a lightweight bag for each member in my family, I recently purchased this one for my son. He used to have a smaller bag with a handle that did not extend very far. Now that he’s 6’1″, he needs a “big boy” bag. He says, “This glides super easily and I love how lightweight it is.” Now he’s got room for not only his clothes, but his size 12 shoes too.
- Body Dimensions: 19.5″ x 14.5″ x 10.0″
- Overall Dimensions: 21.25″ x 15.25″ x 10.0″
- Weight 6.5 lbs
5. American Tourister Sunset Cruise Hardside 20 inch – Great for kids!
Kids will appreciate the fun colors of this bag like Apple Green and Pink Berry. Has an ABS scratch resistant texture and spinner wheels for a smooth ride. I have a royal blue one that I’ve brought on many weekends away. It may look small, but it actually holds quite a lot. Texas TravelingMom, Jill Robbins, our “packing light” expert uses this bag frequently in her travels.
- Dimensions: 20.0″ x 15.0″ x 8.0″
- Weight: 5.7 lbs
6. IT Luggage 21.8 inch
This is the bargain of the bunch and the lightest carry-on luggage on our list At only 4.8 pounds. It is not a spinner so it’s not quite as easy to move around with, but travel writer Jill Bowdery from ReadingTheBookTravel.com says she loves it! She especially likes the wide, soft-grip handle. Although there are only 2 wheels, they are very smooth and silent.
- Dimensions: 7.3 x 14.2 x 21.8
- Weight 4.8 pounds
Delsey Helium Aero Front Pocket Hard Case Spinner Suitcase
Road Warrior TravelMom, Nasreen Stump says her sister purchased this suitcase for a European vacation and loved it. This model has a unique front pocket with a built-in padded sleeve for up to a 15.6-inch laptop.
- Dimensions: 19 x 13 x 9 inches
- Weight: 8 pounds
TravelingMom tips for our lightest carry-on luggage list
- Keep in mind that many manufacturers do not include their wheels in suitcase measurements. It’s not a bad idea to add about 2 inches to be safe.
- Try to pack without using the expansion portion of your suitcase, this helps ensure it will fit in the overhead bin. If they fit easily, keep this in mind as an area to expand for souvenirs.
- Another way to bring souvenirs and gifts home is to pack a lightweight duffle that can fit under your seat.
- Some international airlines have smaller carry-on restrictions so double check before you fly. Check out this great list from Skyscanner for a size chart by airline.