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The Best Carry-on Bag for Your Text Trip

Find form and function in these carry-on bags.

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Whether it’s summer time and you’re headed on the annual family vacation or one of the cooler months and you’re looking to make a tropical escape, packing for a trip can feel overwhelming to even the most seasoned traveler. But with the right carry-on bag, your next trip can be a breeze! Discover the standard sizing for carry-on bags in the airline industry, plus some of our favorite carry-on bags depending on the type of trip you’re taking.

Carry-on bag size: what’s the standard?

Every airline has their own carry-on bag dimensions. For example, Frontier Airlines asks passengers to keep their carry-on bags to in 24 x 16 x 10 inches while American Airlines limits carry-on bags to 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Before packing your carry-on, check with your airline to ensure it meets their guidelines.

What’s the difference between a personal item and a carry-on?

Unlike a carry-on bag, a personal item is one that can fit under the seat in front of you while flying. Note some small carry-on bags fall into this category, but not every carry-on bag also qualifies as a personal item. These are generally purses, laptop bags, briefcases, and the like. According to American Airlines, a personal item should be no bigger than 18 x 14 x 8 inches. However, most airlines don’t have specific measurements when it comes to personal items. As long as it fits under the seat in front of you, you’re good to go!

What’s the best carry-on bag?

Choosing the carry-on bag that’s best for you depends entirely on your needs. If you’re traveling with little ones, you’ll want (or need) more extra room than someone who is flying solely for business. Below are a few of our favorite carry-on bags based on the kind of trip you’re taking.

Best carry-on bag for business travel: Apex Compact Backpack 3.0 from Troubadour, $225

This backpack is perfect for anyone traveling with a laptop, tablet, or other slim electronic devices. It has several sections perfect for all of your electronic accessories including AirPods, charging cords, and more, plus a separate zipped and padded section for work essentials, including 16-inch MacBook/15-inch PC. But wait, there’s more to love! This travel backpack also has a breathable back panel and ergonomic padded shoulder straps for extra comfort and a luggage sleeve so you can slide it over any wheeled luggage you’re traveling with.

Apex Compact Backpack 3.0 from Troubadour

Editor’s Note: “I took this on a press trip to the Playa Largo Resort and Spa in Key Largo and had everything I needed right under the seat in front of me for easy access including my laptop (but more realistically, my iPad and Kindle). I love the side pockets for water bottles (hot tip: you can bring an empty refillable water bottle to the airport!) and the small zipper section on the strap to house cash and important travel credentials.”

Best carry-on bag for a family beach vacation: Soap Bubble Beach Tote with Phone Pouch from Case-Mate, $80

If you’re heading to a beach, let this waterproof tote from Case-Mate double as your carry-on bag. It fits within the carry-on size guidelines measuring 17 x 12 x 8 inches and is spacious enough to carry all of your essentials. Plus, it comes with a water-resistant touch screen bag for your phone (once you reach your destination of course) and a small interior bag to house money, credit cards, and IDs. The luxurious jacquard strap with comfort handles make this bag a breeze to carry around the airport from check-in to baggage claim!

Soap Bubble Beach Tote with Phone Pouch from Case-Mate

Editor’s Note: “This is my new favorite carry-on when taking flights to beach-y destinations. I love that I don’t have to pack another bag for the beach, plus all of the accessories this bag comes with. It’s also super easy to clean — just hose off any sunscreen and sand, then it’s ready to fly again!”

Best carry-on bag for a Disney trip: Meta Backpack Diaper Bag in Disney Princess, $184

This Disney-themed backpack is the perfect combination of form and function for your next Disney vacation. Whether you’re traveling with little ones or not, you’ll appreciate the spacious, well-organized interior with two interior mesh pockets, felt-lined back pocket for protection and quick access to cell phone, and a hidden insulated side pocket for water bottles. It’ll fit perfectly under the seat in front of you or the overhead bin, not to mention all of the Disney rides you’re about to enjoy! Did we mention all of the prints it comes in? In addition to neutrals like Black Canvas, Sand Cable Stitch, and Dusted Desert Tie Dye, the Meta Backpack comes in Disney Pixar Playday, Snow White’s Enchanted Forest (pictured), Disney Princess, The Child, and Love Mickey Mouse.

Meta Backpack Diaper Bag in Disney Princess

Editor’s Note: “Petunia Pickle Bottom might be a diaper bag retailer, but hear me out. This can serve you well beyond the diaper years, especially when it comes to Disney travel! With insulated compartments, a padded tech sleeve, and cleverly designed internal pockets, you’ll always be organized on your Disney trip.”

Best carry-on bag for an active trip: DUX Backpack 30L, $250

Measuring 20 x 13 x 9.5 inches, this bag fits the needs of a carry-on. But when it comes to storage and compartments, this smarter rugged backpack was made for whatever adventure life has in store for you. It has a removable, positionable hook-and-loop internal shelves provide infinite storage and tons of organizational options. Plus, there’s side wing panel doors and cascading top pocket give unparalleled access to whatever you’re carrying. The water-resistant shell will keep your things dry and clean during travel, too!

DUX Backpack 30L

Happy customers report this is great for travel! “I am very impressed with the quality of the bag to hold everything I need with protection. It has great compartments and places to store the essentials for going to the office or the airport. I love the shelving and laptop suspension. It would make a great camera bag for photographers or those with electronics that need to be protected from hitting the ground. It should be very easy at TSA security checks to pull something out without digging through everything.”

Best carry-on bag for overnight travel: Charleston Green Cabana Stripe Weekender Bag, $118

This soft, quilted fabric duffle bag is a must-have for overnight trips. It’s big enough to hold all of your essentials and flexible enough to fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you if you pack light enough! It’s not overly bulky and has two grab handles and a long shoulder strap for plenty of carrying options. Interior and exterior pockets keeps your smaller items in place. Plus, this bag can be personalized with your monogram! 

Charleston Green Cabana Stripe Weekender Bag

Happy customers love the size of this duffel! “Absolutely love it! the size is bigger (and better imo) than brands with similar options. Quality is excellent. Please, please make a garment bag to match!”

Best carry-on bag for a long weekend: Quince Carry-On Hard Shell Suitcase, $130

Fit more in this roomy hard-shell carry-on suitcase. It fits perfectly in the overhead bins and is the ideal size for long weekends or quick getaways. The shell of the suitcase may be hard, but it’s ultra lightweight and super sturdy polycarbonate that packs a punch. The interior compression panels and removable laundry bag are an added bonus! With Japanese-crafted Hinomoto 360 degree wheels, TSA-approved lock, smooth gliding telescopic handle, and YKK zippers, you’ll breeze through the airport and reach your destination in no time. 

Quince Carry-On Hard Shell Suitcase

Editor’s Note: “I love the amount of space in Quince’s suitcases! Plus the added accessories like the laundry bag and separate compartments make packing simple. The hard-shell is perfect for keeping all of my souvenirs in tact, too!”

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