Best Carry-On Suitcases


Keep calm and carry-on. Your suitcase, that is.

It’s easier said than done, right? Do you want 4 wheels or 2? A hard, polycarbonate exterior or a soft nylon. And do you really NEED that pocket in front?

(Short answer – 4 wheels, hard case, and no).

Finding the right carry-on suitcase is hard. Like, finding the right man/bra/lipstick

Just call me Cupid. I’ve culled the best suitcase recommendations from previous En Route With features, and added a few options of my own.

Lindsay Ellingson
Co-Founder & Creative Director of Wander Beauty | Supermodel

Lindsay Ellingson Favorite Suitcase
I bought my carry on years ago in Paris. It’s a genius rolling duffel bag made by Kipling. I love that it folds nearly flat for easy storage and has large durable zippers which haven’t busted yet (knock on wood). I get very attached to my bags – maybe it’s because I usually travel alone and there’s so many memories I have with them.

Samira Panah
Co-Founder & CEO of Bridge2Act | Regional Manager, Media & Entertainment at Cisco

Samira Panah Favorite Suitcase
I use the Tumi Alpha 2 carry on, which has single-handedly revolutionized the way I pack.  It has an expandable pouch as well as garment bag within the suitcase, which allows me to pack for well over a week in one carry-on — A CARRY ON!

Bryn Miyahara
Co-Owner of Brook & Bryn Photography | Systems Engineer, Sandia

Bryn Miyahara Favorite Suitcase
After trying every different version known to man, I splurged on a high-quality hiking/travel backpack, the Osprey Talon 44. It weighs next to nothing empty and leaves me hands-free when I’m navigating airports, subways, new places etc.

Joy Bauer
Health & Nutrition Expert for TODAY on NBC | Best-selling Author
Founder of Nourish Snacks

Joy Bauer Favorite Suitcase
I have two Briggs & Riley bags—a large carry on suitcase with a garment compartment and a small carry-on for my work, computer and snacks. It’s a perfect combo because I can easily hook the smaller unit to the top of the larger suitcase and don’t have to coordinate rolling multiple bags (since I’m usually in at least 4-inch heels!)

Sarah LaFleur
Founder & CEO of MM.LaFleur

Sarah LaFleur Favorite Suitcase
My suitcase is a Rimowa Salsa, which I can roll with the gentle push of my index finger. Shortly after a regretful relationship with Tumi, I discovered my boyfriend’s carry-on by Burton.  It uses the same wheels as skateboard wheels and is incredibly light and durable.  By far the best carry-on I’ve used.

Alex Blodgett
Co-Founder of Cyc Fitness

Alex Blodgett Favorite Suitcase
No roller bag for this girl. I consider my heavy duffle bag part of my weight lifting regime, and my sprints to gates, part of my cardio. I love Under Armor bags because they are lightweight, chic and have special compartments that keep my sweaty Cyc spandex separate from my fancier outfits (although fancier for me means jeans…)

Annie Fitzsimmons
Editor at Virtuoso | Contributing Editor, National Geographic Travel

Annie Fitzsimmons Favorite Suitcase
On trips to Australia, China, and India, I managed with my favorite bag, the Lipault wheelie. This bag is just gorgeous and fun and envy-inducing when you’re rolling it through the airport.

Ruzwana Bashir
Co-Founder & CEO of Peek

Ruzwana Bashir Favorite Suitcase
I bought my first Tumi bag when I was living in London. I wanted something that was really durable, looked elegant, and still had an air of professionalism.

Hitha Palepu
Co-Founder & COO of Bridge2Act | Founder, Hitha On The Go

Tumi Tegra-Lite
I’m pretty sure I spent more time with my Tumi Tegra-Lite during my 5 years on the road than my husband. And I’m pleased to report that my love affair with Bubba, as I’ve named him, is still going strong. While it’s among the smallest of Tumi’s carry-ons, I’ve never had a problem fitting everything in it – and I love how light and easy to drag it is. While the price is steep, it’s definitely worth the investment

SALE ALERT – Nordstrom has a huge selection of Tumi carry-on suitcases marked down. Shop them below:


If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly (but still high-quality), I highly recommend AWAY. They’ve brought the same cut-the-middleman-create-exceptional-product approach to luggage, and have created one of the best suitcases available in the market.

A built-in compression system and battery. The best wheels and polycarbonate exterior. Beautiful colors (because black is just boring). At $225, it’s a steal. I’m personally inclining towards a green monogrammed one.



Talk to me – what’s your go-to suitcase style? And do you name your luggage, like I do? COMMENT below and let me know!

  • Jen

    I am shocked Tom Bihn has not been mentioned at all! Their Aeronaut in both 30 and 45 are amazing, along with their other travel bags as well

    • hithaonthego

      I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never looked at Tom Bihn before! Remedying it now.

      • Jen Kempkes

        I’d love to hear what you think! I just purchased the Aeronaut 45 and love it. No wheels, but I prefer it that way. I’ve made so many purchases based on your advice and you’ve never steered me wrong, Hitha!

    • Sean

      I was just about to make this comment! I’m an Aeronaut 45 man all the way – literally packed my life in this and a backpack and spent 4 months on the road treking through Asia. 100% worth the upfront investment.

  • Jessie Buckmaster

    That AWAY carryon has moved to the top of my wishlist. For short, quick trips I have an Everlane weekender that I love, it’s comfortable to carry and fits a decent amount of stuff without getting heavy. Only one small zip pocket inside, but that’s ok because I have lots of pouches!

    • hithaonthego

      The Everlane weekender is great! It has the best arm drop out of all the weekenders out there.

  • cunites

    I have an ongoing love affair with my Patagonia MLC. It doesn’t have wheels, but I can fit so much in it and squish it under the seat in front of me if there’s no space in the overhead.

    • hithaonthego

      That’s how I feel about my MZ Wallace tote. For any trip 4 days or less, I only use that bag. It’s the BEST.

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  • jpo

    I bought the Burton a while back on Sarah LaFleur’s recommendation and the wheels are seriously the best.

    • hithaonthego

      Love hearing that! FLIGHT001 also uses rollerblade wheels on their Avionette collection and they’re really amazing.

  • Catherine

    Hi! Thanks for this advice. I’d love even more input! Why do you love hard-sided? I’ve not yet owned one and curious of the benefits! What about needing an interior wardrobe bag? Is that a must? Or a compression system? I’m a business traveler but rarely wearing full suits but do like to over-pack. I find my carry on (often a backpack to save my shoulder) is dominated by work files and my work laptop leaving limited space for other essentials such as cosmetics, extra shoes etc.

  • I love my Tumi but it’s a bit older (so only has two wheels. agh!). Looking to upgrade. The options are actually the RIMOWA (in rose gold, of course) or the new AWAY suitcase. Any feedback on that one?

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