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Best hand luggage 2024: These carry-on suitcases & bags make holiday travel so much easier

Hand luggage must-haves! We've found the best suitcases, duffle bags and more for your travels…

best carry on luggage suitcases© Carlos Barquero
Karen Silas
Senior Lifestyle Editor
Updated: June 28, 2024
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Okay, so summer is here and I know you're as ready as I am to head off on holiday!

So you've booked your tickets and marked your calendars and now the next step is to get packing. Whether you're jetting to the coast for a sun-soaked vacation or embarking on a city break with loved ones, it's always good to pack light.

I've travelled everywhere from Glasgow to Thailand this year, and there's one thing every trip has had in common: a great carry on suitcase to bring on the plane as hand luggage. Even for longer trips, I don't like to risk losing what I'll need for the first few days in case of lost luggage – we're already seeing those much-repeated scenes of summer airport chaos and missing cases in the news! 

So, I can advise that, if you're wanting a stress-free holiday, a carry-on suitcase could be the best option. So we've rounded up the best hand luggage for your travels, so you can make the process as easy and as stress-free as possible. 

What to consider when choosing a carry-on suitcase

As a former military kid and current transatlantic frequent flier, I’ve taken a lot of flights in my lifetime! Here’s what you should look for in a carry on suitcase:

  • Size: This is the most important factor, because the most important detail about a carry on is that you’re allowed to carry it on the plane! Check your go-to airline’s size restrictions, but generally they should measure around 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm).
  • Hard-shell or soft? Soft-shell suitcases are much lighter and easier to fit in small spaces and in the overhead bins. They don’t, however, protect your belongings as well as a durable hard shell. Hard shell cases also are handy in case you ever have to check your carry on. Whichever you choose, make sure the zipper is sturdy and secure.
  • Compartments: Internal compartments will help keep you organised, and a carry-on bag with external pockets for your tablet or laptop will give you easy access, making going through security much smoother.

Step out with the most stylish carry-on luggage from Amazon, John Lewis, ASOS and more.

How I picked the best carry on suitcases

  • Tried and tested: If a member of the HELLO! team owns and loves a certain carry on suitcase, you'll find it on this list with our honest opinion.
  • Verified ratings and reviews: Where we haven't personally tested out the bag, I've scoured verified opinions from real shoppers to find the most popular and most-loved pieces to shop now.
  • Trusted brands and retailers: I've only selected carry on suitcases from HELLO! Shopping Team go-tos and brands and retailers that have a proven track record of success with our readers.
  • Style: There's no sense in ruining your well-planned airport outfit with a dowdy bag, so I've picked the most aesthetically pleasing carry-ons by respected brands, from classics Samsonite and Antler to celebrity faves like Beis and Away.
  • Price point: I'll leave it up to you whether you want to splurge on a luxury bag or save with an Amazon pick! But I've included an option for every budget. 

Best carry on suitcases


Samsonite Upscape 4-Wheel 55cm Expandable Cabin Case

Samsonite Upscape Cabin Case© Samsonite

The Details

  • Hard case
  • Size: H55 x W40 x D20/23cm
  • Weight: 2.3kg
  • Capacity: 39/45L
  • Warranty: 5 year guarantee 
  • Four spinner wheels
  • TSA approved
  • Combination lock

Editor's note:

“It’s hard to think of a more popular and reputed brand than Samsonite, and that’s probably why this cabin suitcase is a best seller. It has a sleek design - a Samsonite signature - and shoppers say it’s light and spacious and manoeuvres easily. And there’s a solid warranty if it doesn’t hold up to your standards.”


LEVEL8 Carry on Suitcase

amazon clamshell carry on suitcase with front pocket.© Amazon

The Details

  • Hard case
  • Size:55 x 37 x 25CM 
  • Weight: 5kg
  • Capacity: 36 L (42L when expanded)

Editor's note:

“If you’re someone who loves a hardshell carry-on, but also wants to easily access your tablet, laptop or other must-haves easily without opening your luggage entirely, I strongly recommend a suitcase with a front pocket, like this top rated Amazon case. It has all the necessary features of a regular carry-on – it’s expandable, has a telescoping handle and spinner wheels – but with the added convenience of a roomy and easily accessible front pocket. A real game changer!”


AWAY The Carry-On Flex

away carry on suitcase luggage© Away

The Details

  • Hard case
  • Size: 21.7"(H) x 13.7"(W) x 9"(D)
  • Weight: 8.15 lbs
  • Capacity: 39.8 L (When expanded: 46.7 L)
  • Warranty: Free returns on unused items for the first 100 days
  • Durable polycarbonate hard shell
  • Leather details, including a black leather luggage tag
  • TSA-approved combination lock 
  • 360° spinner wheels 
  • Underside grab handle
  • Interior compression system 
  • Hidden laundry bag

Editor's note:

"AWAY is one of the most popular luggage brands with the celebrity set, from Kylie Jenner to Margot Robbie. Barbie star Margot’s AWAY Carry-On Flex is my pick because it is built to last, with a durable polycarbonate hard shell that can withstand any journey. Perfect for longer trips, it is sized to fit in the overhead bin of most major airlines, and still lightweight to pop easily onto a train or into a car. It comes in 11 colours, too!"


IT Luggage World’s Lightest 2 Wheel Cabin Suitcase

it luggage carry on.© It Luggage

The Details

  • Soft case
  • Size:55cm(H) x 39.5cm(W) x 19cm (D)
  • Weight: 1.58kg
  • Capacity: 35L
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Two in-line wheels
  • Retractable handle
  • Two internal pockets + One external pocket

Editor's note:

“This affordable It Luggage suitcase has earned rave reviews at Argos, where it has a 4.7-star rating and is recommended by 95% of customers. I can definitely see the appeal - it’s lightweight, inexpensive, made from durable fabric and has a fun, sporty design. It also comes in medium and large sizes if you’d like a matching set! The downside is that it doesn’t have spinner wheels, so you may want to consider another option if that’s a dealbreaker.”


Beis The Carry-On Roller

Beis The Carry-On Roller.© Beis

The Details

  • Hard case
  • Size: W 40cm H 58cm D 25cm
  • Weight: 8.36lbs/3.79KG
  • Capacity: 49 - 61 L
  • Warranty: BÉIS Limited Lifetime Luggage Warranty 

Editor's note:

“Like Away, celebrity approved option is by an influencer’s favourite, Shay Mitchell’s Beis. This stylish hand luggage is Hailey Bieber approved! If you’re wanting to travel in style, this suitcase comes in 10 matte colours and three glossy hues, and it has some great details like a cushioned silicone trolley handle. It’s expandable, too, and there’s a lifetime Beis guarantee making it a solid investment. It has definitely earned its thousands of five-star reviews.”


NERE Caype Cabin Suitcase

Best carry on luggage NERE Caype Cabin Suitcase © NERE

The Details

  • Hard case
  • Size: 55(H) x 37.5(W) x 20(D) cm
  • Weight: 3.2 kg
  • Capacity: 36/44 Litres
  • Warranty: 10-year
  • 8 Spinner Wheels
  • Built-in TSA combination lock

Editor's note:

"I'm a sucker for pretty luggage and I've become quite smitten with NERE - it's a new Australian brand and it's really affordable. But the best thing about the products? The cute colours! The Nere Caype is available in 'blush gloss' and it's the prettiest colour I've ever seen. In the carry-on luggage size of 55cm, the Caype is the perfect travel piece to have by your side for that next flight or car ride. The hard case is made from quality ABS material and it's finished with rose gold accents - chic with a capital C."

- Leanne Bayley, Director of Lifestyle & Commerce


Antler Icon Stripe Cabin with Expander

Antler carry on bag© Antler

The Details

  • Hard case
  • Size:36 x 55 x 23 cm
  • Weight: 2.8 kg
  • Capacity: Up to 46L when expanded
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Editor's note:

"I love using Antler - their best-selling suitcases are known for their style and durability. It's definitely one for a travel enthusiast. I was eager to try out this brand's hard-case suitcase on my latest holiday. Having used a cabin suitcase without a top handle before, this one was a lifesaver! It not only looks sleek and stylish but also sustained minimal damage during my journey. The wheels are impressively robust, handling continuous lugging up and down stairs and fitting into luggage racks with ease. I also loved the comfort grip handle. Additionally, the expandable case comes with a dust bag for safe storage at home."

- Sharnaz Shahid, HELLO! Deputy Online Editor


American Tourister Stratum XLT Expandable Hardside Luggage

American Tourister Stratum XLT Expandable Hardside Luggage© American Tourister

The Details

  • Size: 35.56 x 22.86 x 55.88 cm
  • Weight: 6lb
  • Spinner wheels
  • Interior mesh pocket and cross straps
  • Adjustable handle

Editor's note:

"I confess I bought this carry on basically for the style - but as it turns out it has been my super-durable go-to for years! It’s very lightweight, although it doesn’t have a lot of swishy extras. But it is so reliable, does the job and is cute and affordable, too."

Best carry-on totes, bags & backpacks


Kipling ART M Multi-use tote with trolley sleeve

kipling carry on tote© Kipling

The Details

  • Soft - Outer material 100% Recycled Polyester
  • Size: 58cm(W) x 32m(H) x 20cm(D)
  • Weight: 0.50 kgs
  • Capacity: 26 Litre
  • Warranty: Repairs under warranty available; Returns within 30 days.
  • One zipped main compartment
  • One inside pocket (zipped)
  • Two front pockets (1 open + 1 zipped)
  • Robot monkey
  • Shoulder strap
  • Trolley sleeve

Editor's note:

"This roomy Kipling tote bag has proved to be my best friend for weekend trips away. It's comfy to carry even when at full capacity and has plenty of room for everything. There are also plenty of pockets to keep everything organised. I love that it has a luggage strap so you can slot it over your suitcase handle and that it has expander zips which you can open to make it even more roomy. I have the Freida Kahlo version but it comes in a rainbow of different colours and styles to suit all tastes."

- Katherine Robinson, HELLO! Online Senior Lifestyle Editor


Everlane The ReNew Transit Messenger

Everlane transit bag© Everlane

The Details

  • Soft side
  • Dimensions: 16.5" L X 12" H X 6" D
  • Capacity: 21L
  • Main compartment with a zipper closure
  • Adjustable padded shoulders straps, a top handle and luggage pass thru webbing
  • Pockets: 1 internal zippered; 1 padded laptop slip pocket; 2 mesh side pockets; 2 slip pockets
  • Materials: 100% recycled polyester from recycled plastic bottles

Editor's note:

"When I'm checking my suitcase and don't feel like toting my hard-side carry-on through the airport, I use my Everlane messenger bag. It's roomy and is easy to carry - there's a padded shoulder strap and luggage strap in case you want to attach it to your suitcase - and has so many compartments, including room for a laptop and my iPad. Not to mention it's super stylish! It's also the perfect unisex design - my husband uses it, too."


WONHOX Large Travel Backpack

wonhox amazon Large Travel Backpack© Amazon

The Details

  • Soft case
  • Size: 43cm x 30cm x 20cm / 16.93 "x 11.8 " x 7.9 "
  • Weight: 1kg / 2.2Lb  
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Anti-theft zipper pocket
  • Laptop and tablet compartments
  • Water resistant
  • USB charging port
  • Luggage attachment strap

Editor's note:

“You'll be glad you invested in Amazon's carry-on backpack - it has over 10,000 five-star ratings! Between the laptop compartment, separate shoe compartment and built-in charging port, it might just be the ultimate travelling sidekick.”


The North Face Base Camp Duffel

north face carry on duffel bag© The North Face

The Details

  • Size: 33 cm x 53cm x 33cm
  • Volume: 50L
  • Weight: 1195g
  •  Removable, adjustable, alpine-cut shoulder straps and two padded side handles
  • D-zip opening with a weather-resistant, zipped flap
  • Main compartment with secure-zip mesh pocket; end-cap mesh sleeve pocket
  • Water resistant; Water-resistant ID window

Editor's note:

"North Face is famous for its durable gear, and has a wide selection of duffel bags ready to shop. When it comes to the ones that are cabin-approved though, our favourite is the Base Camp Duffel, which can be carried as a bag or worn as a backpack. It's eco-friendly (made from recycled materials), water repellent and comes in more than a dozen colours!"

How to get the most out of your carry-on luggage this summer

Experts on the team at Dr. Martens have rounded up some fabulous advice about how to get the most of your carry-on luggage this summer. We're taking notes...

  • Plan your outfits day by day to save yourself space and get-ready time. I am old school so just lay my clothes out on the bed and try them on with shoes and accessories - although I have friends who take photos to know what they'll look like! According to Dr Martens, that's a great idea. “This way you’ll only take what you need. It might also be useful to think of items that you can wear more than once and in multiple ways."
  • Use packing cubes. I am a huge fan of packing cubes  - I swear by the leak-proof toiletry bag set by Mumi, and Amazon's space-saving compression packing cubes, so I absolutely concur with this advice! "Pack your underwear and socks in one, and tops and trousers in another, to keep things neat and compact...They’re particularly helpful for staying organised on multi-stop trips too, and for keeping your hotel room tidy.”
  • Bring two pairs of shoes, wearing your heaviest during travel. I do try to adhere to this advice, wearing trainers or boots on the flight and then bringing an alternate daytime pair. The exception is if I'm expecting to dress up, in which case I'll bring a third pair, an evening shoe.
  • Purchase toiletries at your destination. This is one my mother always told me as a key travel tip! For me the exception is hair products, which I can't always find at my destination so I put them into smaller containers. “Toiletries can take up a lot of space, so we’d recommend purchasing the basics once you arrive at your destination. Higher priced toiletries, or personal skin care products, could be decanted into smaller travel sized pots. These will allow you to only take what you need.”
  • Utilise your ‘personal item’ allowance as an extension of your carry on: When travelling with just a carry-on, I make sure to bring an additional tote designed to carry my laptop and my tablet, too, plus extra room for other must-haves that I want to keep handy, like medication, snacks and makeup for a pre-landing touch-up. "Before you travel, check your airline's policies on this to see how large a bag you can take. If you have additional clothes that don't fit in your case, try rolling instead of folding them and placing them at the bottom of your personal item bag to save space here too.”

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