I’ve been obsessively researching carry-on bags for the last month after deciding to only use carry-on luggage while I spend the next few months wandering around Europe. 

Anyone who knows me well will probably have a good laugh at the idea of my only traveling with one suitcase.

As a notorious over-packer (who typically travels long term with at least two checked bags), the idea of fitting everything I need into a carry-on is daunting. 

Lucky for you, all my research has paid off and I’ve made a list of some of the best carry-on luggage for women.

I’ve included options for carry-on suitcases, bags, and backpacks so that you’ll find an option you love no matter what your personal style is.

Plus, I’ve answered some of the top questions first time carry-on luggage buyers need to think about before investing in a bag.

Read on to find the perfect carry-on bag for your next adventure!

Before You Buy a Carry-On Bag Think About These Things

Before You Buy a Carry On Bag Think About These Things 3

Two-Wheel vs. Spinner Carry-On Luggage

Two Wheel vs. Spinner Carry On Luggage 4

Basically, this comes down to how many wheels do you want on your suitcase?

I always go for luggage with spinner wheels, since the four multidimensional wheels typically make the suitcase easier to navigate in a crowd.

Two-wheel suitcases lose their balance easily and will tip over more often, especially if your bag is top heavy. You also get stuck having to lug them behind you versus the four-wheel spinner bags that glide along next to you. 

Hardshell vs. Softside Luggage

Hardshell vs. Softside Luggage 2

Hardshell luggage is the best choice if you want a material that’s more protective of your belongings (especially in the elements). I also think it looks a bit more stylish overall, especially since they’re easier to clean.

Unfortunately, hardshell bags give much extra space for over-packers who are hoping to squeeze in a couple extra outfit options. 

They also have the potential to crack if handled too roughly, especially if they end up needing to be checked. The good news is that most shells are made out of a very durable material called polycarbonate, so cases of cracking are rare.

Softside luggage gives a little when over-packing, and doesn’t get as beat up if checked, meaning less stress for you. 

I think this debate really comes down to personal preference.

Domestic vs. International Carry-On Bag Sizes

Domestic vs. International Carry On Bag Sizes 2

In case you didn’t already know, domestic and international carry-on sizes vary. 

You don’t want to get stuck checking your bag at the last minute because it won’t fit in the overhead, so always check the airline’s page for their particular requirements.

Also make sure when you’re measuring that you include the bag’s wheels and handle.

If you’re planning on doing mostly domestic travel, aim for a carry-on bag that’s within 9”x 14”x 22”.

Since international flights are a bit more strict with size enforcement, aim for a bag with measurements of 9”x 14”x 21” to play it safe.

How to Make Sure It’s the Perfect Carry-On For You

How to Make Sure Its the Perfect Carry On For You

Obviously you’ll want to pick a functional suitcase that fits your personal style. 

As much as I love the color black, I enjoy picking carry-on luggage that’s a unique style or color. It makes it easier to spot anytime I have to gate check it. 

After you’ve found a suitcase you like, try lifting it over your head (preferably with a bit of weight in it), in order to make sure you can lift it high enough to place it in the overhead bin. 

I hate admitting this, but on my last trip, I didn’t think about that part and ended up severely spraining my wrist (it doesn’t help that I stuffed my bag to the max). 

The last thing you want is to injure yourself before you get to a destination. Trust me, this is a necessary step. 

Best Carry-On Suitcases For Women

Best Carry On Suitcases For Women 2

Away Bigger Carry-On

It’s no secret I’m seriously obsessed with my Away Bigger Carry-On bag. It’s my current go-to anytime I’m taking a trip. I’m even traveling to Europe for part of the summer with only this bag and the matching Away Everywhere Bag. 

I love how functional the design is. The compression compartments make it easy to squeeze in a few extra pieces of clothes, and the portable charger saves me the stress of having to find a working outlet at the airport. 

Besides those features, the Away Bigger Carry-On also comes in an array of colors with a built-in TSA approved lock, an international power adapter, and charging cable.

The bag’s poly-carbonate hard shell provides a lightweight and durable exterior. Just be careful, the exterior scuffs up a bit. Thankfully, you can easily clean up most marks with a magic eraser that arrives with the bag.

Measurements: The Away Bigger Carry-On pushes the dimensions typically allowed for a carry-on luggage. Its exterior measurements are 22.7” x 14.7” x 9.6”, which exceed most airline standards of 21.7” x 13.7” x 9” by a hair.

Most airlines will let you get away with it, but some might ask you to check your bag at the gate. If you want to play it safe, opt for Away’s The Carry-On Bag. It’s basically a slightly smaller version which fits safely within the allowed dimensions.

Away Bigger Carry-On Bag

The Away Bigger Carry-On is a stylish well-built suitcase that’s ideal for frequent travelers who want a bit of extra space.

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Delsey Paris Chatelet Hard Spinner 

The Delsey Paris Chatelet Hard Spinner is a seriously chic carry-on bag. It’s faux leather detailing and design reminds me more of the more expensive luxury luggage from SteamLine. 

Truthfully, I’ve been eyeing this gorgeous luggage for quite a while now.

Besides being one of the most stylish carry-ons on this list, the bag is also light thanks to its 100% polycarbonate shell. It’s also got a TSA-approved built in lock to keep your bag secure. 

The interior boasts a removable hanger, laundry bag, and shoe bags. 

You can purchase the Delsey Paris Chatelet either with or without a built-in brake that locks the front to wheels so your luggage never drifts away from you. 

The model with the brake also comes with a tracking device so you can monitor your luggage in the event it ends up as a checked bag.

Measurements: The Delsey Paris Chatelet is 20.25” x 9.5” x 14.25” inches.

DELSEY Paris Chatelet Hardside Luggage
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AmazonBasics Hard Spinner 

AmazonBasics is one of the most affordable and lightweight options for a hardshell carry-on bag.

The bag’s ABS hardshell provides a lightweight and fairly durable exterior. 

I bet you’re wondering what ABS is?

ABS is great for companies that want to produce a bag that weighs less, though the material isn’t as durable as polycarbonate.

Besides being lightweight, it’s also got tons of compartments to keep you as organized as possible. Plus, if you’re an over-packer like me, you’ll love that the bag is expandable up to 15%.

The suitcase also has 360-degree spinner wheels that make navigating through airports a breeze!

The AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner is ideal for anyone who wants affordable luggage to use a few times a year and isn’t set on modern features. 

Measurements: The AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner has exterior measurements of 4.9” x 10” x 21.6” inches.

AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner 20” Carry-On
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TravelPro Platinum Elite Softside

If you’re looking for an expandable soft carry-on, the TravelPro is a dreamy choice.

It’s got an external USB port, tons of compartments, and a drop in suiter bag for wrinkle free packing. 

Although, fair warning, you’ve got to buy your own portable charger to use with the bag.

The luggage also comes with a removable TSA compliant toiletries bag. It’s kind of random, but it’s a great unique addition by TravelPro to make the bag stand out as a great buy.

Measurements: The TravelPro Platinum Elite Softside is 23.5” x 14.5”x9”. 

Travelpro Platinum Elite Softside
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Samsonite Winfield 3 DLX Hardside Luggage

With a rainbow of beautiful color options, this Samsonite is one of the prettiest cases around (I’m partial to the rose).

You can splurge on a three-piece matching set (including two checked bags), or simply opt for just the carry-on. 

The suitcases are 100% polycarbonate and have a ten-year warranty in case the unthinkable happens. Add in the multidimensional oversized spinner wheels to give you a smooth ride in the airport and the TSA approved locks and you’ve got the perfect carry-on bag. 

Measurements: The Samsonite Winfield 3 DLX Hardside Carry-On is 22.5″ x 14.5″ x 9.5″.

Samsonite Winfield Hardside Luggage
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Genius Pack Hardside Spinner

Meeting both international and domestic size requirements, the Genius Pack Hardside Spinner is a solid buy.

The interior pockets (including one for dirty laundry) will keep you extremely organized and the 360 degree spinner wheels will make running to the gate a breeze.

It’s also lightweight (about 6 lbs) and has a five-year warranty in case you have any issues with it. 

Like most hard shells, the bag scuffs up a bit (especially in the lighter colors) but is easy to clean with a magic sponge. 

Measurements: With dimensions of 21.5” x 9” x 14”, this is the perfect carry-on bag for both domestic and international travel.  

Genius Pack Hardside Luggage Spinner
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B|Y By Brics Ulisse Expandable Spinner Suitcase

If you’re looking for a quality hardshell carry-on with a USB port under $200, the B|Y By Brics Ulisse is a wonderful choice.

This is the perfect dupe for anyone lusting after Away’s carry-on bag. The Ulisse basically has all the features of an Away’s carry-on except for you have to buy your own battery to use the USB port.

I also love all the beautiful color options. The pink and blue are two of my favorite hues. 

Measurements: Coming in at 15” x 10.5” x 22.5” you should be able to use this bag as a carry-on anywhere you travel.

B|Y By Brics | Ulisse Expandable Spinner
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Monos Carry-On Pro

This newer brand seems to be popping up all over social media lately. Because of that, I’ve been eyeing the Monos Carry-On Pro for months now. 

While I don’t know anyone who has taken the plunge and invested in one of these babies, I will say the roughly 70 glowing reviews I’ve seen speak for themselves.

Everyone who left a review mentions how convenient the front zip pocket is and how organized the pockets inside are.

I also really love that this brand isn’t afraid of putting their luggage on sale. It really makes the brand stand out against competitors like Away that rarely give out discounts.

The built in compression pad, TSA approved locks, and vegan leather detailing make this bag an easy investment piece.

Since a travel blogger can never have too many suitcases, there’s a good chance I’ll be buying this model the next time it goes on sale. 

Measurements: The Monos Carry-On Pro measures 22″x 14″x  9″.

Monos Carry On Pro
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American Tourister XLT Hardside Luggage

Another gorgeous carry-on hardshell to consider is the American Tourister XLT. It comes in five beautiful colors and is under $100!

As a notorious over-packer, I love that this bag is expandable and has a compression strap inside to maximize packing space.

A few reviewers have commented that the bag dents easily, especially when checked,but if you’re only using it as a carry-on bag, you’ll likely be fine.

Either way, the bag comes with a ten-year warranty, so if it does dent, just give them a call!

Measurements: The American Tourister XLT’s dimensions are 22”x 14”x 9”.

American Tourister XLT Expandable Hardside
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Best Carry-On Bags For Women

Best Carry On Bags for Women

Away Everywhere Bag

The Away Everywhere Bag was the very first Away bag I invested in. I had been eying it for at least a year before I finally splurged on it during one of Away’s rare sales.

My favorite thing about this bag is that it’s size (16.3″x 7.3″x 10.2″) qualifies it as a personal item on planes. This bag fits way more than my purse ever could!

You can choose between heavy-duty waterproof nylon or soft, subtle leather material. I chose the nylon for the sake of my bank account (the leather was about $100 more). 

I have the Original Everywhere Bag, which comes with a trolley sleeve so you can attach it to your rolling bag, and plenty of compartments, including ones for a laptop, passport, and even an umbrella (or in my case, extra flats).

They’ve also just released a New Everywhere Bag that’s similar, but has different interior pockets and a full wrap around zipper. And if you really want to upgrade for a bit more size, you can spend about $60 more for the Large Everywhere Bag (although it doesn’t qualify as a personal item). 

Either way, you can’t go wrong with an Everywhere Bag.

Measurements: The Original Away Everywhere Bag is 16.3″x 7.3″x 10.2″. The New Everywhere Bag is 16.3″x 10.2″x 7.3″. The Large Everywhere Bag is 20.9″x 11.8″x 9.4″.

Away Everywhere Bag

The Nylon Away Everywhere Bag is the ideal minimalist personal carry-on item. While it’s definitely an investment piece, it’s built to last and so you should get a lot of use out of it.

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Away Weekender

If you love Away’s Everywhere Bag but want a bit more space, you’ll go crazy over their weekender bag.

It’s super stylish and comes in either a black or cream canvas.

Just like the Everywhere Bag, the Away Weekender has a trolley sleeve, built-in laptop compartment with plenty of padding, a shoe compartment, and plenty of other compartments to keep your carry-on as organized as possible. 

The only downside is that it’s too big to be considered a personal item, and must go into the overhead bin. 

Measurements: With measurements of 21.7″x 8.7″x 12.6″, the Away Weekender should fit in the overhead of most major airlines.

Away The Weekender
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Bluboon Canvas Weekender Bag

If you’re looking for a super affordable weekend bag or small carry-on for your next trip, the Bluboon Weekender is a wonderful option.

This bag is sturdy, has a removable PU leather strap, plus a built-in trolley sleeve to make toting it around with your larger luggage a breeze.

The removable shoulder strap is quite long, so fair warning if you’re on the shorter side and hoping to carry it that way.

This bag fits a ton of stuff and has an outer pocket for you to easily stash your phone and IDs. 

If you’re heading to the beach, this bag could totally double as a beach bag. I also love that it comes in a variety of colors and designs, so that you can pick one that goes with your own personal style. 

Since it’s made of canvas, it’s easy to wash it after a long journey.

Measurements: The Bluboon Weekender Bag measures 16.2″ x 8″ x 14.5″, so you don’t have to worry about it fitting under the seat. 

Bluboon Canvas Weekender Bag
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DELSEY Paris Chatelet Weekender Duffel

Everyone will be asking you where you got this chic little carry-on bag.

I’m seriously in love with the classic vintage style of this weekender bag. 

It’s got a beautiful red interior, faux leather detailing, and tons of pockets to keep you organized on the go. 

Plus, a trolley sleeve, removable accessories pouch, and an extra large zipper so that you can easily find your belongings.

It’s also got a ten-year warranty!

The only downside is that it’s a bit too big to fit under most airplane seats, so expect to store it in the overhead bin.

Measurements: The DELSEY Paris Chatelet Weekender measures  21”x 13.75” x 9.5”, so it doesn’t qualify as a personal item. 

DELSEY Paris Chatelet Weekender
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Away Latitude Tote

Before I broke down and invested in Away’s Everywhere Bag, my go-to personal item was always a tote bag. 

After checking out this beauty in the Away store last week, there’s a strong chance that this bag may be my next investment piece. I really love that unlike their Everywhere Bag, their Latitude Tote can easily double as a purse while traveling. 

The best part is that it’s made of premium leather and comes in five different colors (the black is my favorite).

It’s also got a removable trolley sleeve, a detachable zip pouch, and is big enough to fit a laptop. 

Measurements: The Away Latitude Tote is 14″x 5.7″x 11.4″.

Away Latitude Tote
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Paravel Foldable Travel Duffle

How cute is this red and navy travel duffle?

This bag works for travel and can easily double as a gym bag or beach bag while on the go. It’s a seriously well-made and versatile bag. I’ve even used mine to carry home groceries while living abroad.

The coolest part is that Paravel is a sustainable brand that focuses on reducing and off-setting carbon emissions and creating products out of eco-certified materials.

It’s got interior zip pockets, is 100% nylon, has a trolley sleeve, and super easy to fold up to the size of a Kindle when you’re ready to store it. 

This is one bag you’ll feel great about investing in!

Measurements: This eco-friendly bag is roughly 8″x 12″x 12″ depending on how much you squeeze into it. 

Paravel Foldable Travel Duffle Bag
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Best Carry-On Backpacks For Women

Best Travel Backpacks for Women 3

Osprey Farpoint 40

If you want to invest in a heavy duty backpack that works for both hiking and backpacking through Europe, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is a great option. 

It’s got a laptop sleeve in a secure lockable compartment, dual front compression compartments, a padded shoulder strap (besides its normal straps), and a hip belt to keep you steady as you carry this 40L backpack through any terrain. 

I carried a similar (no out of production) model through Europe a few years ago, and the 40L size was perfect in terms of weight for me to comfortably carry and lift into the overhead bins.

If you want a backpack with a bit more space, Osprey also sells a 55L and 75L version of this bag. 

Measurements: The Osprey 40 is 21”x 14”x 9”, so it should fit in the overhead of most major airlines. 

Amazon.com : Osprey Fairview 40 Women's Backpack
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Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack

The Kelty Redwing 50L backpack is a solid purchase for anyone looking for a super organized and durable travel bag.

It’s front stretch panel section is a dream for anyone who’s trying to squeeze in that extra pair of shoes or pants. 

I also love that the zippers open up all the way, which makes organizing and packing this bag a breeze compared to other backpacks on the market. 

Measurements: With dimensions of 26”x 16”x 12,this bag is a simple choice on international flights or hiking in the woods.

Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
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Eddie Bauer Stowaway 20L Packable Pack

If you’re looking for an affordable (under $40) backpack to use as a carry-on, you can’t beat the Eddie Bauer Stowaway 20L. 

It’ll fit easily under the seat in front of you, it’s stylish, ultra-lightweight, and folds up easily when you need to store it into a roughly 8” x 8” cube. 

This is a bag I’ll sometimes pack and use in place of a purse on day trips or even to bring home souvenirs at the end of a trip.

I really like that it has side mesh pockets that work well to carry around my S’well bottle on hikes.

They make the bag of nylon, so it isn’t machine washable, but holds up really well, especially if you buy it in black. 

Measurements: The Eddie Bauer Stowaway 20L is 8″ x 10″ x 9″. 

Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable 20L Daypack
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Ebags Mother Lode Backpack

Looking for a stylish backpack that will work as a day bag and fit tons of stuff?

Ebags’ Mother Lode backpack is the answer.

My sister uses this backpack to tote around all the things she needs to keep my nephew happy during long trips, and miraculously still has room for her laptop and headphones. 

She especially loves the two exterior quick grab pockets, which make it easy to access tickets, passports, and her phone without having to dig through all of my nephew’s toys and coloring books. 

The bag also has a side zip water bottle pocket and plenty of interior compartments to keep you organized while on the go. 

The Mother Lode comes in a variety of colors, so you can pick one that fits your style. My favorite is the “Brushed Indigo”.

Measurements: The Mother Lode bag measures 22″ X 14″ X 9″.

eBags Mother Lode Travel Backpack
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TUMI – Alpha Bravo Sheppard Deluxe Brief Pack Laptop Backpack 

The TUMI Alpha Bravo backpack might be one of the chicest bags I’ve ever seen anyone travel with.

It’s made of a ballast nylon fabric that honestly, along with the minimalist design makes this bag look like it could be designer. 

I really love that the design includes a waterproof pocket to stow a wet umbrella or water bottle

​The bag also features plenty of exteriors and interior pockets, a dedicated padded 15” laptop sleeve, and a top carry handle. 

TUMI also offers a complimentary TUMI tracer program that will attempt to help you locate your bag if it’s ever lost or stolen.

Measurements: The TUMI Alpha Bravo Sheppard will fit under the plane seat or easily in the overhead, since it’s 17″ x 14″ x 8″. 

TUMI - Alpha Bravo Sheppard Deluxe Brief Pack Laptop Backpack
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Away’s The Backpack

Away luggage is known for being thoughtfully designed, functional, and stylish. So it shouldn’t come as a total surprise that their line of backpacks are top-notch.

They have a few different backpack designs, but my favorite is The Backpack. It’s made of water resistant nylon with mesh back paneling and always seems to have a waiting list anytime I’m on the site.

It’s easy to see why everyone seems to be so obsessed with this little bag. Besides the features mentioned above, it’s also got three roomy compartments, a laptop pocket, and a trolley sleeve. 

If you catch it while it’s available on Away’s site, consider yourself lucky and hit that buy button as fast as you can!

Measurements: The Backpack measures 12.4″ x 7.2″ x 17.5″.

Away The Backpack
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Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack

Lululemon is a brand that I’m particularly fond of. 

Most people instantly associate this store with their stylish workout gear, but what many don’t know is that they also produce some great backpacks. 

Their City Adventurer Backpack is one of my go-to bags anytime I’m going to be out for the day. It fits my laptop, a jacket or change of clothes, my water bottle, and all my cords.

When I was living in New York, I’d carry this bag pretty much daily while running errands or heading to the gym. 

The fabric is water repellent, it’s got laptop storage, an interior water bottle holder, and has a bottom pocket you can stash either shoes or dirty gym clothes in.

Measurements: The Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack is 11″ x 7″ x 17″ and is a great personal item for any frequent flier. 

Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack
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DELSEY Paris Chatelet Backpack

If you’re investing in the DELSEY Paris Chatelet suitcase, then it’s basically a requirement to purchase the matching backpack.

I’m loving how chic the champagne color 380 Denier Polyester fabric is with its vegan brown leather. 

The backpack has a trolley sleeve so that it can easily sit on top of the suitcase while you’re on the go. 

It’s also got plenty of pockets, including a laptop sleeve and a removable pouch that’s perfect for small accessories.

Measurements: The DELSEY Paris Chatelet Backpack is 7” x 12.5” x 16.25”.

DELSEY Paris Chatelet Backpack
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Wrapping It Up

Ally Travels Away Luggage

I hope this list has helped you find your perfect carry-on bag for your next adventure.

It took me a while, but I finally settled on the Away Bigger Carry-On paired with their Everywhere Bag for my trip to Europe. 

Now I just need to narrow down my wardrobe to fit into the suitcase!

If you want to see how well I fare with squeezing everything into my carry-on, follow my adventures on IG. You’ll likely see all my packing struggles and tons of beautiful European scenery for the next few months.

Either way, let me know in the comments below which carry-on bag is your favorite!

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