This post was updated on 10/24/23
No matter the season, one of my absolute favorite things to do is travel. Since I travel mostly for work, I normally have to check a bag — traveling light isn’t always possible for me. However, all of my essential camera equipment and tech items? They’ve gotta go in a carry-on. Since those items are essential for me to get a job done, I need to make sure I’m carrying my precious work gear in the best carry-on pieces possible!
Choosing the perfect carry-on bag can help you bring everything you need without ruining your OOTD or breaking your back. Bringing a carry-on also reduces the risk of losing your bags and having to track your luggage. Not what you want to be doing, especially if you’ve just arrived at a long-awaited destination.
Luckily, carry-on bags come in different shapes, sizes, and styles, making it super easy to find the one that works best for you. So, I’m sharing a roundup of the best carry-on bags for women. Regardless of your budget and preferences, this roundup is sure to include something right up your alley.
18 Best Carry-On Bags For Women
Vera Bradley Women’s Performance Twill Grand Weekender
I never like to sacrifice style for function. Instead, I like to find a good mix of the two. This Grand Weekender bag by Vera Bradley does just that. Don’t let the photos fool you; this bag is plenty large enough for a weekend trip and/or a quick getaway. And I just love the classic quilted look and feel. It has both handles and an adjustable shoulder strap, four pockets on the outside, and even more on the inside. But, its most unique feature is the trolley sleeve, which allows you to attach the bag to your luggage handle for easier transport.
St. Tropez Carry-On Spinner
Here’s another carry-on that gives all the chic and luxurious vibes. The high-quality case is ultra-durable, and this carry-on features dual-density spinner wheels. The interior offers tie-down straps and a zippered divider with lined pockets and shoe pockets. And as far as safety goes, it has an integrated TSA-approved lock and a 10-year worldwide warranty. Just keep in mind that this suitcase weighs 7.7 pounds empty, and thus might be harder to lift into the overhead compartment. Also, click here for the perfect airport outfit that features a slightly larger version of this bag.
LuluLemon Everywhere Belt Bag
Never underestimate a belt bag, also known as a good ol’ fashioned fanny pack. Even though this would technically be categorized as a personal item, it’s a super convenient bag to carry on the plane with you. The belt bag is compact, with just enough room to carry your keys, phone, wallet, headphones, and passport. It also has organization pockets inside for flatter items, like your ID and credit cards.
OFFLINE By Aerie Makin’ Moves Sling Bag
Sling bags are trending right now, and I am totally here for it. Aerie is one of my favorite brands, and I’m so excited about this NEW Sling Crossbody Bag that they just dropped. It comes in two color options, cream and black, and it has a few pockets to store all of your essentials. It’s small enough that it could pass as a personal item, but it’s really the perfect size for anyone who likes to travel light. It will fit all your essentials!
BÉIS The Backpack
The Beis Backpack is my go-to travel backpack. It’s large enough to store all my essentials, including extras like my laptop, book, snacks, and water bottle. And as far as style, quality, and organization go, this bag is top-notch. I love everything about this bag, but the one feature that really stands out to me is the padded shoulder straps. That extra padding has definitely increased my comfort during travel. You can read my full review of the BÉIS Backpack here.
UGG Adrina High Pile Fleece Tote
Here’s another bag for those of you that like to travel light. This bag is perfect for those that maybe checked your heavy bag, and you’re just carrying your essentials through the airport. Or maybe you’re just taking a quick day trip. The tote bag is plenty large enough for all your essentials, plus snacks and even your makeup bag. I’m mainly in love with the fleece version of this bag because of just how stylish and effortlessly chic it looks!
Madewell The Zip-Top Transport Carryall
This bag from Madewell is really similar to the UGG tote above, except that it’s leather. I find that leather bags tend to hold their shape better and thus provide a bit more organization. The structure of the leather just tends to hold things in place better when traveling. What I like most about this bag is its versatility. For example, the shoulder strap is adjustable and removable, and there are handles. So, there are plenty of ways to customize this bag to better suit your travel needs. Other features include a zip enclosure for safety and two small interior pockets.
Herschel Supply Co. Settlement Mid-Volume Backpack
Herschel Supply Co. is known for having high-quality backpacks that stand the test of time, and I completely agree. I previously featured another one of their backpacks, but this one is also one of my top favorites. The pocket on the outside is perfect for those essentials you want to grab quickly at the airport, like credit cards, passports, and headphones. Inside, you’ll find plenty of room for your other larger essentials.
Madewell The Essential Overnight Bag in Leather
Also from Madewell is the Overnight Bag, which perfectly matches the Transport Carryall mentioned above. Both bags come in black and English saddle, making it easy to put together the perfect carry-on set. This bag has everything the Transport Carryall has and more. Extra features include added dimensions for clothing (1-2 outfits), an additional zip pocket on the inside, and a slip exterior pocket. It also comes with a cute little airport tag, which is always nice to have during travel.
Herschel Supply Co. Novel Bag
This unisex bag is just big enough for a weekend trip. In addition to your essentials, you can comfortably pack 3-5 lightweight summer outfits or 2-3 heavier fall or winter outfits. Not including a heavy jacket. The shoulder strap is adjustable and removable, and the handles are made of durable leather. What I like most about this bag is how simple it is.
BÉIS Weekend Travel Bag
Just like the name implies, this bag is perfect for your next weekend getaway. With adjustable straps, weather-resistant material, and a scratch-resistant bottom, this bag both looks and feels high-quality. Unlike some other bags on this list, the BÉIS Weekend Travel Bag has no interior pockets. Instead, it’s wide open to fit the maximum amount of clothing and other essentials.
Under Armour Undeniable Signature Duffle Bag
If you’re looking for a durable bag that won’t break the bank (only $45!) – this is the one. This duffle bag is made to last with thick water-resistant fabric and an abrasion-resistant bottom. It comes in tons of colors, sixteen to be exact. Unique features include a large vented pocket for laundry or shoes on one side and large front zippered pocket with a zipper pull that doubles as a hair-tie. Yes, a hair-tie! So versatile, so high-quality, and such a good deal.
Steve Madden Carry On
This Steve Madden carry on luggage is perfect for those of you that like bags with plenty of pockets. And, this is the first carry-on my list with wheels (and I love luggage with wheels, especially for longer trips). It comes in ten different styles, but I particularly like Harlow Black, Peek A Boo Black, Peek A Boo Gray, and Shadow Purple. Features include that it’s expandable, it has durable wheels, and it comes with a five-year warranty.
Renegade Expandable Carry-On
First of all, I love the color of this Renegade carry-on. Champagne is such a classic color, and it gives such elegant and classy vibes. It’s expandable, has top and bottom carry handles and an 8-wheel spinner with 360-degree rotation. Aside from the large main compartment, it has a side zip pocket, a mesh pocket, and garment restraint straps with buckle closures. So many helpful features, which is why it was featured among my top picks.
BÉIS Rolling Spinner Suitcase
When it comes to travel bags and luggage, I really like BÉIS. Which by the way, was created especially for travelers like us by actress and entrepreneur Shay Mitchell. How cool? This Carry-on Spinner Suitcase is equipped with several organizational pockets and weighted compression straps and has a polycarbonate shell with an integrated TSA-approved lock. What I love most is how sleek, and effortlessly chic this suitcase looks. It gives all the luxury vibes without all the flash.
CALPAK Ambeur Rolling Spinner Carry-On
This Ambeur Carry-On is really similar in style to the BÉIS Rolling Spinner Suitcase mentioned above. The rose gold color gives all the simple yet chic vibes. The roomy interior features a zip divider, a mesh pocket, an accessory pouch, elastic pockets, and an adjustable tie-down strap. All of which makes packing for a week-long trip so much easier. Keep in mind that this suitcase weighs 7.7 pounds empty.
Samsonite Solyte DLX Softside Luggage
Samsonite is an excellent luggage brand. When it comes to quality, functionality, and durability, it doesn’t get much better than Samsonite. However, you can expect a very simple and efficient design aesthetically. This softside version offers a WetPak pocket and a zippered mesh pocket, as well as plenty of outside organizational zipper pockets. It’s durable double-spinner wheels allow 360-degree upright rolling, and you can tell they are made to last.
Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Luggage
Samsonite also offers hardside luggage. If you’re a bit of a rough traveler or you’re visiting a more rustic location, this is the bag for you. It features an ultra-scratch and dent-resistant case and very durable wheels. All this without compromising weight. Compared to other hardside options on this list, this bag is lighter on the scale and will easily fit in the overhead bin. Inside, you’ll find plenty of organization. And the best part? Samsonite offers a 10-year warranty. Wow!
What To Look For In A Carry On Bag
Carry-on bag dimensions should not exceed 22″ x 14″ x 9″. Sometimes, you can get away with an inch or two difference on one of the dimensions (length, width, height). But to avoid paying for a last-minute bag upgrade, it’s best to stick to bags at or below these dimensions.
You’ll want to consider the weight of the actual bag or suitcase before purchasing. While this might not make a big difference, it can increase the amount of weight you have to lug around the airport and/or lift into the overhead bin.
Good straps are vital to a comfortable travel experience. When choosing a bag, opt for one with both a shoulder strap and handles. Even more, opt for a bag with an adjustable and removable shoulder strap. This way, you can carry your bag at any length you want or get rid of the strap altogether.
Carry-on bags with wheels make life so much easier. However, wheels are usually the first thing to break on a piece of luggage. So, while I do highly recommend grabbing some luggage with wheels, just be sure to choose a bag that’s high-quality and with a warranty. Make sure you’re covered in the event of a blowout!
Pockets can really come in handy for organizational purposes during travel. Having a nice, easy-access pocket is high-priority because it makes reaching for important items like your phone, passport, and money so much easier. Also, bags with plenty of interior organization pockets make packing so much easier. If you purchase a bag with lots of outside pockets, always make sure they’re secure.
Hardside cases are great for protecting your belongings, and tend to hold up better over time. Just keep in mind that suitcases with heavy, exterior cases will weigh more than regular softside suitcases.
Like a case, a padded suitcase goes a long way in protecting your belongings. So, consider this if you plan on bringing fragile items. Padding also comes into play when it comes to shoulder straps. Always opt for a bag with padded shoulder straps. Believe me when I say padded shoulder straps can make all the difference in your travel comfort.
If you plan on investing in an expensive set of luggage, opt for a set that comes with some sort of warranty. Luggage warranties vary, but you can expect most quality luggage to come with a 5-year warranty. Some come with only 3-years, and some come with as many as 10 years.
Personally, I like to opt for a bag that’s anything but black. Don’t get me wrong — black luggage is super practical. Your bag won’t draw too much attention, and it will hold up over time and show less scuffs and wear and tear.
However, if you’re carrying a black bag to the airport, there’s a good chance that someone else will have the same bag as you — which can make things confusing, and cause an unwanted mixup. Even if you’re carrying on a bag, there’s always a chance that your flight might run out of overhead space, or if you’re taking a smaller bag, they’ll require you to gate check your bag. While black is super practical, don’t be afraid to stand out a little bit with your luggage and opt for a fun color or print.
Drop your go-to carry-on bag below!
I hope this roundup helped you find your new favorite carry-on or at least helped you figure out what type of bag you might be looking for. For more style and travel inspiration, check out my LTK page!