Best carry-on suitcase.

I’m picky about suitcases, especially carry-ons. It took me two years to find the right one. I’ve bought and returned so many suitcases that it’s now a running joke in our house: any time there’s a large box on our porch, Scott jokes that it’s my next failed suitcase.

For ages, I eyed my husband’s Int’l Tumi carry-on. The $600 – $800 price tag is more than I am willing to pay for any suitcase. Thus, my search began and two years later, I’ve got a carry-on I can fit into for a seven to ten day trip.

Here is the run down of a handful of the carry-on suitcases I tried. I looked at many other brands in stores, but all had the same point of failure. Read on.

Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 10.44.07 AM Northface Duffel (No Wheels)

If you’re willing to go wheel-less, this is the bag for you. It’s more spacious than any other carry-on. I was able to squeeze nearly twice the amount of clothes, shoes, and toiletries into this bag than any carry-on including my husband’s Int’l Tumi.

Downside here is the weight. I’m 5′ 3″ and athletic, but the constant pressure on my shoulder(s) makes travel uncomfortable if not miserable. The bag has backpack straps which helps, yet the weight is still too much for me.

Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 10.45.03 AM.pngNorthface Wheeled Duffel

This pales in comparison to it’s wheel-less cousin above. The hardware added to include wheels makes this bag anything but spacious. It’s bulky and out of balance — too much hardware for too little space.


Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 10.46.37 AM.png Eagle Creek Tarmac Carry On

I love Eagle Creek. My full size suitcase is Eagle Creek’s Tarmac AWD 30. Their carry-on version of the Tarmac just doesn’t cut it. Like so many others, the interior compartment houses too much of the suitcase’s hardware.


Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 10.47.21 AMTumi Int’l Two-Wheeled Suitcase

This is the suitcase my husband has. The two wheeled version has more space than any four wheeled Tumi carry-on. This suitcase is a winner, but at a high price point around $600. What makes this a winner is that unlike all of other wheeled carry-ons I looked at, this one has a simple interior design. The interior doesn’t have hardware taking up a good fourth of the cavity. This suitcase is almost a winner, but the price is too high.

Tumi Four Wheeled Suitcase

I can no longer find this one online. It’s like this one, but a lower price point. It’s bulky, the interior houses far too much of the hardware which takes up valuable space in the main compartment. Features like the plastic caps on every exterior corner are unnecessary and add weight and bulk. It’s narrower than many of the other rolling carry-ons I tested or looked at in stores. This is a Tumi fail.

Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 10.48.20 AM.png Travelpro Crew 10 22 Inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter

And we have a winner. This suitcase has it all. Limited hardware sucking up valuable packing space in the main cavity in the suitcase. It’s lightweight (lighter than the four-wheeled Tumi carry-on). It’s $150. It’s expandable.


Key Failure Point

The failure point of most of the carry-ons is the amount of the hardware present in the main compartment of the carry-on. That coupled with excess builk in fabrics and compartments within the suitcase make for a carry-on with less space. Never trust the volume measurements of a suitcase; you must see the suitcase to know how much it can hold.

Happy travels!


No-leak Nalgene travel containers.

Outside of finding a suitable (read: spacious) carry-on, TSA’s liquid requirements are the most challenging part of carrying-on. Travel size versions of beauty products only sometimes cut it. Either they have excessive packaging and are bulky or the product simply doesn’t come in travel size. Worse, you buy a travel size and it doesn’t last through your trip. Sad day.

Enter Nalgene’s low cost, leakproof bottles. These bottles are life-changing. I’ve traveled three weeks without running out of any product. At an average of $1 or $2 per bottle, these are an absolute steal. No more Ziplocs and odd size bottles. No more wondering if it’s TSA approved. Stick with the 2 oz. wide- and narrow-mouthed jars; they will carry you through your trip, trust me.

There are narrow- and wide-mouth bottles. I recommend the wide-mouth. They’re easier to clean. Presumably the narrow-mouth bottles are better for liquids like oils, however I’ve not found a significant benefit the narrow mouth.

Couple these with masking tape and a Sharpie and you’ll have customizable travel sized, leakproof containers that will last years.

Wide-Mouth jars Narrow-Mouth jars Travel Jars
Wide-Mouth.jpg Narrow Mouth.jpg Jars.jpg