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Carry On Bags That Fit in Overhead Bins – Our Top Picks For 2020

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The right carry on bag can make your travel less stressful and as a result, more enjoyable. On the surface, buying carry on bags might seem like a simple task that won’t require much thought or research. But, once you start shopping, you’ll realize that that are so many things to consider that the simple task, isn’t really so simple. 

We’ve done deep dives into dozens of carry on bags and listed our top picks here. Check them out and then, if you’d like even more information about carry on bags that fit in overhead bins, as well as some tips on how to make your choice, read on!

Samsonite Omni Carry-On Spinner

Samsonite Omni Hardside Carry on

AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner

Amazon Basics Hardside Carry on bags

Samsonite Softside Carry-On Spinner​

Samsonite Carry On Spinner

Travelpro Maxlite 5

Carry On Bags That Fit in Overhead Bins 

Weight

6.80 lbs

7.34 lbs

5.51 lbs

5.39 lbs

Size

19.00 x 14.50 x 9.80

14.96 x 10.04 x 21.65

9.00 x 13.50 x 16.50

7.75 x 15.75 x 21.75

Overview

Amazon Buyers Love This Bag

With 5000 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 stars, this is one of the most popular carry on bags on Amazon. It’s priced reasonably and has features normally found on more expensive carry-on bags

Great Value

An Amazon Basics product, this affordable 21.6-inch carry on spinner is expandable offering up to 15% more packing space when you need it.

Small Bag With USB Port

The Samsonite Spinner Underseater with USB Port is the ultimate travel companion. This smart spinner carry-on fits under the seat or in the overhead, and it’s small enough to count as your personal item!

Amazon Buyers Love This Bad

With 5000 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 stars, this is one of the most popular carry on bags on Amazon. It’s priced reasonably and has features normally found on more expensive carry-on bags

Features

  • TSA Compatible Combination Lock

  • Push-Button Handle

  • 360 Spinner Wheels

  • 10-year limited warranty

  • Extremely scratch-resistant

  • Expandable, to allow you to pack more items
  •  
  • Protective ABS hard shell for strength
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Interior with divider and 3 zippered pockets
  • Expandable up to 15%
  • Solid, strong zippers
  • Securely mounted short handle
  • 4 double spinner wheels
  • Fits Under Most Airline Seats
  • Front and side exterior pockets
  • 360 Spinner Wheels
  • USB Port for charging on the go
  • The main compartment features a padded laptop section
  • Lightweight

  • Expands 2 inches for additional packing space

  • Water and Stain Resistant

  • Comfortable Rubberized Contour Grip

  • High-performance ball-bearing wheels

CONS

  • This carry on bag has no side or bottom handle which could make lifting difficult
  • Amazon Basics are good products at good prices but as the name implies, it’s a basic product that doesn’t attempt to be more than that.
  • Some users report issues with the handle
  • Some users report issues with the wheels
  • This is a small carry on. 
  • You can spend a lot more for a good carry on bag than this but it is priced higher than the other bags in this review

Baby Boomers love to travel, and the average American Boomer travels two or more times per year, according to Expedia. We put this guide together to help active, traveling seniors pick out and purchase the perfect carry on bag. Let’s jump in…

One of the biggest challenges with carry on bags is that they must fit either under the seat in front of you, or in the overhead bin. The overhead bin is usually the preferred location for a carry on bag because storing it under the seat eliminates what little leg room you might have (assuming you’re not traveling business or first class!)

On top of that, every airline has it own rules about carry on luggage size limits. It’s a good idea, before you buy a carry on bag, to check the rules for the airlines you travel on most often so you don’t make the same mistake many travelers (including myself) have made.

But, before we get into that, let’s take a look at why we recommend only taking a carry-on bag instead of bulkier luggage when traveling (both domestically and internationally.)

Why Are Carry On Bags Great For Boomers?

Limiting yourself to only carry-on luggage makes traveling a lot easier and less stressful. But, it is an especially good idea for Boomers, especially if you are 65 or over and struggle to lug heavy suitcases around.

The other great advantage of just taking carry-on luggage when traveling is you don’t have to spend time checking in a bag, worrying about it being lost or damaged while in transit, and having to pick it up from the baggage claim carousel upon arrival.

Furthermore, carry-on luggage is usually less expensive than large suitcases. The only downside is you have less space to use and therefore can’t take as much with you, but it can still be a sufficient amount if you pack your clothes and other personal belongings in an organized and compact fashion.

Size & Weight Restrictions

While suitcases that have to be checked in must follow strictly enforced weight limits, weight restrictions aren’t usually an issue when it comes to carry-on luggage, although some airlines have stricter policies than others.

When it comes to size restrictions, the opposite is true. Luggage that is checked can be very large (within reason), while carry-on bags must be equal to or smaller than specified dimensions.

The exact dimensions may vary from airline to airline, but generally speaking, carry-on bags for domestic flights can’t be larger than 22″ x 14″ x 9″. When it comes to international flights, carry on bags shouldn’t be larger than 21″ x 14″ x 9″, and such restrictions are typically enforced more strictly on international flights, especially when flying with a no-frills, budget airline.

Remember – even the wheels count towards the height, so make sure you include them when measuring, or you can check the dimensions provided by the manufacturer.

There’s some variation when it comes to the size of overhead bins depending on the model of aircraft. Still, you should generally find most carry on bags, which falls within the above dimensions to fit without any trouble. Here’s a great resource for determining carry on size limits by airline.

Now that we’ve gone through why carry on bags is great for seniors and have got a few technical points out of the way, we can dive into how you can find the best carry on bags for you.

First, let’s outline the research and buying process so you can see it at a glance. Then, we’ll look at each point in more detail.

  • Figure out what type of carry-on luggage is best for you
  • Conduct some initial research and set a rough budget
  • Shortlist a handful of products
  • Order and test out your luggage

What Type of Carry On Bag is Best For Me?

There are a few different types of carry-on suitcases. First, let’s discuss Softside and Hardside bags, which are available in two-wheel or spinner models.

Hardside Vs. Softside Carry-On Luggage

hardside carry on bag vs softside carry on bag

As you can probably tell from their names, hardside luggage has a hard, rigid frame/outer shell, whereas softside luggage is made of softer and more flexible materials. This means hardside luggage offers better protection for your personal belongings and is more robust and durable, while softside luggage offers less protection but can store more items.

In the past, one of the main concerns when buying a piece of hardside luggage was whether or not the outer shell was prone to cracking. However, this isn’t an issue for most new models, as they are now designed and manufactured to prevent this from happening.

This leads us on to security – softside bags, especially those made of canvas or nylon, can be sliced open by thieves. On the other hand, it is very hard to access the contents of a piece of hardside luggage without the key or combination.

Still, softside luggage does have a distinct advantage over its hardside rival – it’s easier to store and manipulate, both in your home and in the overhead bins of an airplane – and this can be an especially important benefit for seniors.

When it comes to cleaning, hardside luggage comes out on top, as it can simply be wiped with a cloth or wet wipes, whereas softside baggage tends to absorb stains and dirt, which can be challenging to remove.

Finally, hardside bags offer better protection against the elements, as they are more often than not water-resistant, while many pieces of softside luggage don’t provide such protection.

Ultimately, although hardside luggage comes out on top in most departments, it’s a matter of personal preference, so we’ve reviewed both types and have included a few of each in our top picks beginning of this guide.

There are other types of carry-on luggage out there, such as duffel bags and backpacks, but these options have restricted storage capacities. So while they can be taken on planes and are easy to carry, they are unsuitable for the vast majority of holidays.

Spinners Vs. Two-Wheel Bags

This is another important consideration to make early on in the research and buying process. Spinners and two-wheel suitcases (also known as rollers) have fundamentally different designs, each with its own pros and cons.

The Carry On Bag Spinner From Away

Spinners have four wheels and can be easily moved along the ground while being held alongside you, and they are becoming more and more popular because of this reason. They have excellent maneuverability because of their four wheels, which aren’t fixed in place and can move in all directions, so you can move spinners backwards and through tight spots with ease.

They are also more stable than rollers, so they are less at risk of tipping over and potentially hurting you or someone else.

Rollers, on the other hand, only have two wheels that are fixed in place, so they have to be rolled along the ground behind you, putting pressure on your joints (especially your wrists) and your back.

For this reason, we recommend spinners over rollers for seniors, even though they can be a bit more expensive.
However, you should bear in mind that even spinners have a few drawbacks of their own.

As mentioned, spinners tend to be more stable, but this isn’t the case when it comes to rough terrain or roads with potholes, as the wheels can get stuck there and cause the suitcase to dangerously and abruptly drag you back, or aggressively jerk forward when you pull it out.
On such terrain, rollers are easier to handle but are still prone to tipping over.

Setting a Budget

Carry-on bags can cost anywhere from about $40 to well over $350. As with other purchases of this nature, it is advisable to pick a high-quality, durable bag instead of a cheaper one, which may get damaged and need replacing pretty often.

It is advisable to do a bit of research before setting a rough budget – and it’s important to be a bit flexible. After all, if you find a fantastic carry-on suitcase which is great for you but a few dollars over your budget, it doesn’t make sense to rule it out on that basis.

Also, if you have a large family with whom you holiday with, you should keep an eye out for sellers offering multi-buy deals, as you can save yourself a chunk of change.

Shortlist a Handful of Carry On Bags

Now we’re approaching the business end of the process. It would be best if you began to browse and compare different pieces of carry on bags that roughly fall within your budget.

If you’ve decided that a hardside spinner bag is best suited to your travel needs, you should filter out other types of carry-on luggage when searching for products online. This will save you from having to waste your time going through loads of irrelevant listings.

As you find products that match your criteria and are appealing to you, you can shortlist them by keeping them open in a tab in your browser or by bookmarking them. Once you have a few shortlisted, you can compare them more closely and begin narrowing down your selection by process of elimination.

In addition to reading the product specification and looking at the pictures provided, it’s advisable to read customer reviews and see how buyers have rated the product.

Alternatively, if you prefer to save yourself time and piggyback off of our extensive research and product testing, you can check out our selection of top picks below and consider buying one of them.

Order & Test Out Your Bag

Finally, once you’ve made a decision, you can order your carry-on bag and wait for it to arrive. Then, before setting off on your trip and using it to store your belongings, you should test it out at home to see how it feels and make sure it’s right for you.

You can do this by filling it up with clothes and other items that you take on holiday, and try moving it around the house and in public to get a feel for it.

A Quick Summary

  • Buying carry on bag might seem like quite a mundane, straightforward endeavor, but it’s a good idea to take it seriously and consider all your options.
  • Seniors generally prefer carry-on bag to bags that need to be checked in, as there’s less hassle when traveling, and they are easier to carry about.
  • There are different types of carry on luggage, such as duffel bags, rucksacks, hardside bags, and softside bags.
  • Duffel bags and rucksacks have limited storage capacity, so they aren’t suitable for most holidaymakers.
  • Hardside bags are generally preferred to softside bags, as they are stronger, more durable, offer better protection against rain, and are easier to clean.
  • Spinners are best for many boomers, as they are easier to transport and don’t put a strain on your joints and back, unlike rollers, which are also prone to tipping over.
  • When it comes to setting a budget, you should conduct a bit of research beforehand to get a sense of the market. It’s important not to enforce your budget too strictly, but at the same time, there are no point browsing models that cost far more than you’re really willing to spend 

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