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Which budget carry-on luggage is best?

Regular travelers fully understand how valuable a good carry-on bag is. While there will always be a debate on whether a duffel bag, roller suitcase or backpack is best for the light packer, a quality carry-on makes all the difference when it comes to convenient travel.

Thankfully, there’s no need to spend a fortune to get a long-lasting, high-quality carry-on bag. Something like the Olympia Luggage 22″ 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag will make a great travel companion throughout countless flights across the globe.

What to know before you buy a budget carry-on luggage

Easy to spot

Choosing luggage that is easily recognizable, even when buried in a sea of other bags, makes travel more effortless. This is especially helpful when purchasing a luggage set likely to be checked on a plane, but it’s also beneficial for carry-on luggage. You never know when a plane’s overhead storage bins will fill up faster than you can find a place for your bag, or if an airline will decide your bag is too large for a small plane. In cases like these, your bag is often placed beneath the plane in the normal checked storage area, then returned to you at the end of your flight. Choosing carry-on luggage you can quickly identify helps eliminate the risk of grabbing the wrong bag. 

Size and weight

Considering the size and weight of a carry-on bag before purchasing can save you a big headache at the airport. The majority of airlines have rules about the size of carry-on luggage allowed per traveler. If you choose something too large and too heavy, your bag will likely be denied and you may need to pay extra to check it. While all airlines are different, usually each passenger is allowed one small purse or laptop bag in addition to a cabin bag no larger than 22-by-13-by-9 inches. The cabin bag must weigh less than 40 pounds. Check with your airline before traveling since many modern airlines have even stricter policies. 


Consider what style of luggage best suits you and your needs. Will a backpack fit all your necessities or do you need a roller suitcase? Do you prefer the soft, flexible duffle bag or do you want a hard case to protect packed items? Roller suitcases are easy to pull around the airport and often fit in plane’s overhead storage compartments but sometimes lack enough compartments and pockets. A backpack can get heavy and cumbersome to carry, but they often reduce the need to fumble through a big compartment for your boarding pass or passport.

What to look for in quality budget carry-on luggage


Your carry-on luggage will likely remain at your side for the duration of your travels. This means it won’t undergo the same abuse as a checked bag, so it technically doesn’t need to be as durable. That being said, you want to make sure you choose a bag durable enough to last for years. You don’t want pockets ripping, zippers breaking or handles snapping off. Choose a durable material and always examine the bag’s craftsmanship.

Wheels and handles

Whether you decide on a roller suitcase or a backpack, you want to consider the convenience features added to your bag. On a roller bag, you want wheels in good condition that won’t snap off. You can choose a standard two-wheel bag to pull behind you or a four-wheel bag for extra maneuverability. For a backpack, choose strong handles that will rest comfortably on your shoulders and make your bag easy to transport. Quality is always key in these features since badly made wheels and handles snap, rip or break easily, making the bag practically useless for travel. 


No matter what style of carry-on luggage you choose, you need certain compartments. If you plan on bringing a lot of clothes, then make sure there is a large compartment for all your desired items. If you do a lot of traveling for work, you want plenty of smaller compartments to organize your laptop, paperwork and other electronics. Having pockets of varying sizes that you can easily access helps make travel easier since you want somewhere safe to store your boarding pass, travel-sized toiletries and electronics, but you also need to be able to access these easily throughout an airport. 

How much you can expect to spend on budget carry-on luggage

You can find reliable budget carry-on luggage for $50-$150.

Budget carry-on luggage FAQ

Is carry-on luggage cheaper than checking a bag?

A. Most airlines allow you to travel with a carry-on bag for free. However, some lower-cost airlines charge passengers for both carry-on and checked luggage. Ask your specific airline if it’s more economical for you to check a bag or include a carry-on.

What is not allowed in a carry-on bag?

A. Any carry-on bag you bring will need to pass through airport security. Liquid or gel items larger than 3.4 ounces are not allowed and should either be avoided or placed in a checked bag. Certain foods and equipment are also prohibited for carry-on luggage. 

What’s the best budget carry-on luggage to buy?

Top budget carry-on luggage

Olympia Luggage 22" 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag

Olympia Luggage 22-Inch 8-Pocket Rolling Duffel Bag

What you need to know: If you’re looking for a reliable carry-on with plenty of pockets and recessed in-line skate wheels, this rolling duffel bag is your best choice.

What you’ll love: At 22-by-12-by-12 inches, this roller duffel will fit most if not all airline carry-on specifications. With “stand by itself” technology and a hideaway retractable handle, it’s easy to tug along, carry and tuck away into storage when necessary.

What you should consider: Some users said this bag was not as durable as they expected, and the plastic around the wheels was weak.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top budget carry-on luggage for the money

U.S. Traveler Rio Rugged Fabric Expandable Carry-On Luggage Set

U.S. Traveler Rio Rugged Fabric Expandable Carry-On Luggage Set

What you need to know: If you’re looking for an elegant carry-on luggage set with interior tie-down straps and expandable packing features, look no farther than this set. 

What you’ll love: With a larger bag measuring 21-by-13.5-by-7.5 inches and a smaller tote bag measuring 14-by-10-by-6 inches, this is the perfect carry-on set. Enjoy a padded shoulder strap on the tote and inline skate wheels with reinforced wheel housing on the roller bag. The multiple pockets and handles make traveling convenient and comfortable.

What you should consider: Disappointed users complained that the construction of this bag was poor, and it quickly showed signs of wear. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

American Tourister Burst Max Trio Spinner Luggage

American Tourister Burst Max Trio Spinner Luggage

What you need to know: Take the hassle of travel away and transform it into an effortless adventure with this four-wheel spinner luggage.

What you’ll love: Manufactured with wear-tested spinner wheels, this suitcase offers maximum stability. It has expandable storage for extra packing flexibility and a durable trolley handle that can adjust to a user’s height. 

What you should consider: While most users are impressed with the quality of this luggage, some said the wheels and handle materials were cheap.

Where to buy: Sold by Kohl’s


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Abbey Ryan writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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