5 Of The Best Carry-On Luggage Pieces That Probably Cost Less Than Your Jeans

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three suitcases luggage in overhead compartment on airplane

Keep calm and carry-on!

Travel can be expensive, so save money where you can! We vetted these highly-rated carry-on luggage pieces based on their affordable price, convenience when traveling, and overall reliability. From luggage on spinning wheels to backpacks, these carry-on bags fit everyone’s needs!

1. The best simple and sturdy carry-on

woman walking through city pulling silver luggage behind her

This expandable suitcase boasts a simple and clean design with heavy-duty ABS hardshell material that can easily be wiped clean. There are silver and black options (perfect for business and professional travel), but you can also choose everything from blue to purple (or even pink).

The convenience of durable, multidirectional wheels makes gliding through airports such a breeze!

What some five-star reviewers had to say about their Goplus carry-on:

“I absolutely LOVE this suitcase! It’s compact, yet fit everything I needed for 2.5 weeks in Europe! I was able to pack 4 dresses, 4 tops, one pair of jeans, 2 pairs of capri pants, socks and undergarments, pajamas, swimsuit and cover-up, water shoes, 3 pairs of sandals, beach towel, all of my toiletries, including my curling iron and makeup, jewelry, laundry bag, extra battery packs and charging cables, and a bottle of wine on the way home! I also purchased packing cubes which fit perfectly in this suitcase. The expander was a life-saver because it added a good 3 inches of much-needed space on the way home. I also wanted to mention how much I love the mint color because it’s beautiful and very unique. I never saw anyone else with anything similar and my bag was easy to spot from far away. I’m so happy with this find!” – Lisa ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I was initially worried about purchasing this carry-on when I was going to be on smaller European airlines like Ryanair, but it worked out perfectly! Even on the airlines with the strictest carry-on requirements, this suitcase never failed me. Knowing that this is a cheap suitcase and the wheels were probably not that great, I just handled it carefully when we were on difficult surfaces like cobblestone and we were fine. I was in Europe for two weeks and brought it to five different countries, wheeling it around to our Airbnbs, various airports, train stations, etc. and it got home in one piece! The hard shell is also great, as I carried glass bottles with me the whole trip without one break.

*********** 2019 Update *************
This suitcase has now been to 9 countries in all kinds of weather and is still intact. Such an amazing value!” – Brandon ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

2. The best ultralight roomy carry-on

luggage lined up with an it logo on front various color with white background

If you’re looking for a carry-on with all the basics, this bag’s for you! It’s highly rated, weighs almost nothing, and can still fit as much as standard carry-ons. This bag was IT! Now I know where they got their name from. 😉

At just under 4 pounds, this bag has a unique two-wheel construction and an extra-wide soft grip handle. You’ll feel like you’re floating around before you even take off!

What some 5-star reviewers had to say about their IT luggage:

I bought this carry-on bag specifically because of the weight and the location of the handle. Since the wide handle slides into the corners of the bag, my clothes had a flat surface to pack onto. I brought a pair of tennis shoes and 2 pairs of leather heeled sandals, plus 3 pairs of pants, 6 shirts, a skirt, socks, undies, a nightgown, and a rain jacket. I also had room for a curling iron and my makeup bag. The large exterior zippered pocket is expandable, so I was able to put one pair of my sandals in it. I’m truly amazed at how much it held! Plus the black and white checked design stood out from all the boring black luggage, so I was able to easily find it at the luggage claim when I had to check it at the gate due to a full flight on my way home.” – Mindy ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Determined to try carry-on only, I bought this bag for its size and weight. I successfully traveled to Italy and Spain during 2 winter months on public transit, as well as onboard for a total of 5 flights. I can lift it overhead, and I’m just 5’2″. I was concerned about the small wheels, but they held up well over a couple of miles of cobblestones I ended up having to trek. This is life-changing for me, this bag has made me feel free again and I even got compliments on its looks! Win, win!” – Sheila ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

3. The best easily accessible under-seat carry-on

Samsonite underseater luggage

Sometimes you want to hop off and on your flight quickly, or you don’t need to pack as much. Made by the popular and trusted Samsonite company, I couldn’t believe how affordable this carry-on is. The best part? You can easily store it right under your seat (and it even has a USB port)!

Crafted with durable polyester fabric, a telescoping pull handle, and four multi-directional spinner wheels, this suitcase will stand the test of time – and it’s backed by a 10-year warranty! 😉

What some 5-star reviewers had to say about their Samsonite under-seat carry-on:

“I have larger Samsonite spinner luggage, but I was searching for an overnighter that would fit UNDER the seat in the plane. I was skeptical about this one at first because I read several conflicting reviews from previous purchasers (“yes, it fits”; “no it does not fit”). Well, I was on Southwest and YES, it DOES fit under the seat. Perfect. I used to carry my cameras and laptop in a backpack, and it was getting too heavy. This luggage did the trick and fit my clothes as well, along with the Samsonite brand of quality and craftsmanship – it was perfect!” – Christine ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Perfect for my short business trips both by road and airline. I can pack quite a bit into this little guy along with my 11″ travel laptop. It rolls very easily and slides right under the seat or overhead bin in a small regional jet.” – April ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

4. The best tech traveler backpack carry-on

hands taking stuff out of black backpack sitting on bench

Protect your laptop and get through TSA easier than ever. With over 7,500 amazing reviews, this SwissGear backpack is durable, water-resistant, and can stand up to heavy use and harsh conditions. It can also protect a laptop up to 17″ and has a separate fold-out laptop compartment for easy access.

The SwissGear backpack also has unparalleled storage – both on the outside and the inside – to keep everything (from water bottles to pens) in its own place.

What some 5-star reviewers had to say about their SwissGear backpack: 

“This backpack fits everything I need for a quick weekend trip. Clothes, laptop, etc. It’s such an amazing carry-on bag! The straps are comfortable, even while dashing to make a connecting flight. I’m actually preparing for a trip right now, and in the non-laptop part, I have outfits for a few days, a couple of pieces of jewelry, a notepad, a pair of sandals, my charger cords, pencils, and hair ties. I’ll stick the mouse and its dongle in one of the side pockets, slip the laptop into its pouch, and be good to go on the day of my trip! I have had this backpack for 2.5 years now, and haven’t had any problems with it, even though I tend to cram it to its full capacity all the time!” – Megan ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I needed a backpack to protect my Alienware 13 laptop while flying, and I did not want to have to take my laptop out of my bag during TSA check out of fear it would be damaged. TSA allowed me to keep my laptop inside the “smart check” compartment at both O’Hare international airport in Chicago and Orland Airport in Florida. I had no issues with TSA telling me to take my laptop out. The laptop compartment is well padded and can hold a laptop larger than my Alienware 13. The tablet sleeve held my iPad Air with a leather case on it, no problem. The storage areas were large enough for me to pack my AC adapter, mouse, and a set of spare clothes in the event that my main luggage got lost by baggage claim. There were enough smaller compartments to store things like headphones and documents for travel.” – Justin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

5. The best overall, totally affordable carry-on

black luggage sitting on wood floor

How popular is this bag? Even travelers who splurged on spendy suitcases ended up loving this #1 Best Seller on Amazon so much more! Extra-thick ABS hardshell exterior, strong zippers, telescoping handle, scratch resistance, and spinner wheels make this carry-on the perfect getaway companion.

Along with its unparalleled strength and durability, it expands up to 15% for more packing space and even comes in four different colors! Not bad for only $49.99!

What some 5-star reviewers had to say about their AmazonBasics carry-on:

“I’m a flight attendant, so obviously, I travel a lot. I’ve been searching for a chic, easy to roll hard suitcase that can handle an enormous amount of use. I absolutely love this suitcase! It rolls with complete ease! Plus, it’s sturdy too! My arms and back feel absolutely zero stress. It feels like it’s just floating when I’m walking around! My smaller bag is attached to the top and it feels weightless. Thank you AmazonBasics for making my travel life easy!” – Allison ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“This suitcase is small enough to fit in the overhead but also durable if you wanted to check it. I like the compartmentalized interior so that you can pack away dirty clothes from clean clothes or shoes, etc. It was rugged enough to get through a trans-Atlantic trip without any problems. I really like the 4-wheel rolling feature, rather than having to always pull it behind you. This carry-on it so great and holds a ton of stuff!” – Elanor ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Try these 11 packing tips to save you from overpacking!

About the writer:

Sara is a self-taught blogger & photographer and brings 9+ years of experience to her craft. Her work has been featured in numerous esteemed publications, spanning building, travel, and fashion. Beyond her creative pursuits, Sara’s primary mission is to empower others to embrace a toxic-free & sustainable lifestyle.

Join The Discussion

Comments 19

  1. Kayjayc

    If my jeans cost more than $20, I am not happy about it. 😉

    • Ksantos128

      I was thinking the same thing 😂

    • Sara

      My jeans cost $5.99 or $6.99. I get them from Goodwill or Purple Cow(local thrift store). Every pair lasts for at least a year. They would last longer if my thighs were smaller.

      • Susan

        My last pair came from Goowill too:) I also just bought two pairs of slacks there yesterday for an upcoming trip where I need some nicer clothes and one pair was new with tags! I love the treasures you can find at Goodwill:)

      • PL

        I agree! I never pay more than 10 bucks for jeans or most clothes in general.

    • Ok

      I like Old Navy jeans so I get them when they are on sale 😆

      • Sara

        I have always liked the Sweetheart style. I don’t know how much longer they will continue to show up at Goodwill since the Sweetheart style was discontinued 4+ years ago.

  2. katie

    Yeah… I get the $17 jeans from Walmart. 😂

    • Lori

      Me too.

  3. Samantha

    The IT ones are great… def super light, and you can usually find them at Marshall’s or T.J. Maxx

  4. tishabell

    Costco.has two.great under the seat in front of you priced at 29.99… the same Sierra bag was 89.99 at the airport

  5. Sara

    I hate spinners. Spinner wheels make bags larger than the stated dimensions. They add about two inches to the length. Two-wheeled rolling suitcases are much closer to their stated dimensions.

    I have spinners because I don’t have a choice. I want purple suitcases. The only way to get purple now is with spinner wheels. I hardly ever use the third and fourth wheels. I still roll it on two wheels. I only roll it on four wheels when walking down the aisle of a plane.

    My current carry-ons
    •American Tourister Ilite Max Softside Spinner 21″ in purple/It was $70.66 after tax. I paid $30.66 on 6/18/17 after Amazon gift cards purchased with 8 $5 Virtual Visas from the Albertsons Monopoly game. It is 23.5″ with the wheels. I have used it on a 11-day/10-night WDW trip, a 12-day/11-night WDW trip, 2 5-day cruises, a 7-day cruise, and a 12-day LA/Disneyland/Power Morphicon trip. One of those 5-day cruises took three days before and after to get there and back since we had to take Amtrak.
    •Ricardo Beverly Hills Rexford 2.0 16″ spinner in purple/I paid $33.59 after tax in late 2015. Sears had it on clearance. It is 18.75″ with the wheels. It has been on a 4-day cruise and a 3-night WDW trip.
    •Jansport Boost Daypack in Swedish Blue/I got it from Amazon for $75 on 4/28/14. That model was discontinued a few years ago.
    Amazon has one in stock in High Risk Red for $74. It’s about 22″x14″x10″ when packed. Even when it is stuffed, I can still get it under an American Airlines seat. It goes with me on every trip no matter where I’m going or how I’m getting there. It has been on 46 flights, 14 Greyhound buses, 8 Amtrak trains, and 8 cruises so far.

  6. heidi

    Good job giving lots of choices.

  7. LS

    Target carries a PURPLE 😎 wheeled luggage that fits perfectly under the seat in front of you (with room to spare)! It’s made by Skyline, costs $44.99, and it’s dimensions are 13.8” x 15” x 8”. We’ve taken it on several flights on Frontier Airlines as a “personal item” (no fee! Free!). The dimensions are within Frontier’s rules for a “personal item”. Their website says ‘think purse or child’s backpack’. We stuff everything we need in there, full to the top. Use your Target Red card and get it for 5% off! We love this luggage!

  8. Patricia Goff

    Lol when I go to Europe I always have to take a huge empty suitcase (I put the carry on inside of it) just to bring back all the stuff my mother sends me home with then I have to put my purse inside a back pack too or it wouldn’t all fit. Happens every year. LOL I always say I am not going this year but my Aunt keeps paying for the ticket so I have to go. This year my two brothers are going so I don’t have to go. LOL

  9. Sarah Carroll

    Hi Hip2Save! Love your site! If you get the opportunity, I’d love to read an updated version of this list? Sadly, the IT 2-wheel carry-on is no longer available, the Amazon hard-shell carry-on has increased in price by $15, & the GoPlus hard-shell carry-on has increased by $30. Don’t get me wrong, I am still doing my due-diligence by reading & researching on my own, but unfortunately, most reviews are extremely slanted (in both directions). It’s hard to know what to believe. I would definitely love your take!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for the sweet comment, feedback and request, Sarah! I have passed this along to the team! 🥰🙌

      • Sarah C.

        Awesome! You guys rock!

        • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

          Aww,Thanks again! 🤗💞

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