What Is The Best Size For A Suitcase? Handy Hints For Finding The Best Option For You

What Is The Best Size For A Suitcase? Handy Hints For Finding The Best Option For You

To answer the question ‘what is the best size for a suitcase?’ we need to ask a few more questions to find the perfect match for your needs. Let’s start with the basics, such as, do you need a carry on or does your luggage need to be checked? Spinner or roller? And what are the limits for carry on and checked luggage?


Carry-On Or Checked?

two sizes to choose from
Carry On or Checked

When talking about suitcase size we can distinguish between carry on and checked suitcases. Carry on luggage is also sometimes called hand luggage or cabin luggage.

Carry on suitcases usually go up to 22 inches and anything over usually needs to be checked. As every airline has different rules about luggage, make sure you visit their website and find out about their baggage policy.

Suitcases come in different shapes and sizes and it is very tempting to get the biggest bag you can find so you’ll definitely fit everything in there and there will still be room for souvenirs and extra items you might feel like buying while away.

This is no biggie when it comes to size, as even the biggest suitcases are available in (relative) lightweight. But beware! Anything over 62 inches (linear size: height x width x depth) might come with extra cost when checking your luggage.

Spinner suitcases (the ones with four wheels or maybe even 4 double wheels) usually offer a little less room inside, as the wheels are counted into the overall size. This means that a 22-inch roller (two wheeled suitcase) or other suitcases that have the wheels more integrated in the casing, will offer more for their size than the spinner. Keep that in mind when deciding on a size.

Make sure to double check with your airline to see how many items you are allowed to either carry on or check and the exact size and weight limits. If you intend on taking a large bag, find out the extra cost beforehand so there won’t be any nasty surprises; excess luggage can get quite expensive.

Carry-On – Perfect For ‘A Couple Of Days Away’

Cabin sized luggage
Carry On Suitcase

As mentioned above, the limit for carry on luggage is usually 22 inches; linear size: 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm); when measuring, make sure you include handles and wheels. This is also the most common size for carry on luggage.

Some airlines do go above that size though and I’ve even been able to take a large backpack and a smaller backpack plus a handbag without having to check extra luggage and without having to pay for it. But that might’ve been a fluke, so always check beforehand what’s allowed.

Many times airlines allow one carry on piece and a small personal item, which has to fit under the seat in front of you, such as a purse, briefcase or laptop bag.

A 22-inch carry on bag will be big enough if you are just going away for a couple of days and don’t need a big change of clothes with you. Remember that certain items are not allowed in your hand luggage though.

Liquids, such as shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and other toiletries, have to be in containers of no more than 3.4 ounces or 100ml and those containers all have to fit into a clear quart size/ 1 liter zip top plastic bag.

As far as weight limits go for carry on luggage, the same rule applies, that it differs depending on the airline. Many times the upper limit is 15lb or 7kgs. But again, to be on the safe side, check your airlines baggage policy; there you will find the exact size and weight limits for carry on and sometimes even for the personal item, as well as restrictions on items for carry on luggage.

Checked Luggage – When You Go On A Longer Trip

Checked luggage
Checked luggage for a longer trip

Checked luggage usually isn’t bigger than 62 linear inches (27 inches high x 21 inches wide x 14 inches deep) and no more than 50 lbs (23 kg). Many airlines allow more than one bag to be taken as checked luggage. These measurements are common for economy class, but they might differ.

And if you are lucky enough to be flying Business Class, your luggage weight limit might be up to 70 lbs (32 kg). Be sure to check with your airline for their baggage policy, as already mentioned above when talking about carry on luggage.

27 inches are usually a great size when you’re planning to go on a longer trip. Many times suitcases are expandable to fit the extra items you might be bringing back from your trip. Just remember to check the size and weight limits as you don’t want any hefty surprises when it comes to excess luggage.

I know I’m repeating myself here, but I can’t mention it too many times as I’ve had 5kgs excess luggage and paid $50 per kilo to get everything home. At the end of a holiday that’s not really what you want to happen, right?

So my recommendation would be to look for a suitcase that has the option to fit extra items in, but make sure to weigh it before you leave. Maybe some items can go into your carry on? Or maybe some of it can even be left behind, such as some beach towels?

The Right Suitcase For Your Child

Kids luggage
Cute kids luggage they can pull

When it comes to choosing the right kind of luggage for your child, you’ll have many options. You can choose to just pack their extra items into your suitcase, or, if you’d like to teach your kid responsibility for their own luggage, find a small carry on sized piece or even one of the specially made luggage items for kids.

They range from backpacks to carry ons with cute designs to ride on or scooter luggage.

For more information on kids luggage, have a look HERE.

Many Choices – But Remember

Always check the baggage policy of the airline you’re flying with to be sure that you follow the guidelines and won’t have to pay excess baggage fees or have to start repacking your bags. Carry on suitcases most commonly are sized 22 inches and under and checked suitcases most commonly are sized around 27 inches.

There are many options to choose between, such as spinners or rollers, although most luggage these days are spinners, i.e. have four wheels or four double wheels. There are also hard side and soft side options, with many features to choose from.

I hope this helped to clear up the different size options. Let me know if you have any more questions; just comment below.

Safe and happy travels!





10 Replies to “What Is The Best Size For A Suitcase? Handy Hints For Finding The Best Option For You”

  1. Thanks so much for all your tips and ideas regarding choosing the right suitcases for airline travel. We have 2 clapped out lift only suitcases which are a nightmare to carry when fully loaded.
    To replace with 4 wheeler suitcases sounds a delight compared, delivering convenience when stood in the airport queue and walking to the commuter bus, these will just roll and sidestep previous hassles.
    Our local airline accepts 27” suitcases for checking in with a weight capacity of 22 kg which suits us fine meanwhile we carry a rucksack onboard for the journey.
    Thanks again for your help,

    1. Hi Simon, yes, a spinner (4 wheeler) should be perfect for your needs then. They are just so easy to guide through the airport.
      27″ is a good sized suitcase which will fit pretty much everything you need to take.

      Remember that most airlines allow you to take one piece of hand luggage and a personal item such as a briefcase as well.
      Glad I could help. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. Hey Petra, great information here. Wow it can be pretty costly to have extra weigh in your bag. Fortunately it never happened to me. One thing that was pretty good with American Airlines is that they allowed me to take 2 checked luggage for free (I am European).

    Also, I like the owl bag!

  3. Hi Petra! I have been traveling a bit more recently and I greatly value your post because I have to purchase new carry-on luggage and checked luggage. 

    I like to buy them together. Taking into consideration their size is important. And how often we’ll use them, in my book, determines how much we should spend on them. Thank you very much for this post!

  4. I just got back from a trip and luggage is always a concern.
    Whether to check luggage or not is always a decision that can be hard at times.

    I usually go with luggage that is small that I can check or carry on the plane.
    Suitcases that look different from all the others makes them easy to spot when you do check your luggage and are waiting for them at the baggage claim.

    You provide some good information as to what size luggage to use for different trips.
    Do you think it’s worth spending more money to have a bag that is more durable?

    1. Absolutely! If you pick great quality you’ll get a lot more out of it. This is especially something you should do if you’re a frequent traveler. 

      Have a look at the Tumi bags. They’re a bit more pricey than the usual luggage, but they will last you a long time and look amazing.

  5. I must really commend you for putting together something like this, its really interesting and its so informative. 

    I prefer spinners, the convenience it offers like the easy movement around with the wheels, but most times I have no choice than to carry luggage with a pull or a briefcase. 

    Well, since I always end up packing more than I always need, I use the carry on luggage which is still sizeable. I love the owl pulling bag, its so beautiful. Thanks for sharing this awesome article, its really useful.

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