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Best Luggage for International Travel to Make Your Trip Abroad Easy and Enjoyable

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updated: April 9, 2024

More Americans are traveling abroad with over “one-in-five Americans planning on vacationing in a foreign country in the near future,” according to Reuters. I myself head to Sweden for a few weeks every summer to visit my in-laws, and packing our suitcases with clothes—both sweaters and bathing suits because Swedish weather can be unpredictable—along with gifts for relatives is a days-long undertaking.

When traveling internationally, most people focus on important stuff like updating passports, understanding customs requirements, making hotel reservations, and planning exciting itineraries, but choosing the right luggage for your long-haul trip ranks up there in ensuring you and yours have a fun and hassle-free trip.

“Choosing the right luggage helps to keep your trip smooth and uncomplicated,” says Ivette Manners, a travel and bridal writer who goes around the globe for her job several times a year. “I travel often for work and leisure and like to keep things simple. You don’t want to rush through airports, customs, taxis, and public transport being bogged down with a lot of baggage—and you don’t want to make the mistake of leaving anything crucial behind.” she says.

What to consider when choosing luggage for international travel

Situation equals size

Whether you’re jetting off for a weekend wedding or embarking on a multi-city trip will help you decide which type of suitcase you need: carry-on, mid size, oversized, weekender, and more. Also, how many are in your party? Traveling solo or with family, friends, or loved ones?

Visiting Europe with my family for two or three weeks means we need larger, checked luggage paired with smaller carry-on backpacks and totes for the flights. When traveling for work, Manners takes “one roomy, zip-top tote bag and a medium-size suitcase.” The length of stay, and purpose of travel will help determine the size and type of luggage you need.

Airline compliance

It is zero fun to have to check your carry-on last-minute or pay extra exorbitant fees because you overstuffed your luggage and exceeded weight and size limits. “As soon as you book your flight, check the airline’s baggage allowance and restrictions policy,” cautions Manners, so you can stay within the baggage dimensions. “It’s a good idea to invest in a bag within the baggage dimensions allowed by the airline(s) you frequently travel on, so you’re not surprised at the airport with extra baggage charges,” she adds.

According to TravelPro, while most domestic airlines allow you up to 35 pounds for carry-on baggage for domestic flights and 50 pounds max for checked luggage (though you can pay extra for up to 70 pounds), international travel often caps carry-ons at 18 pounds. The exception being British Airways which allows a whopping 51 pounds for carry-on bags! Kayak says that a carry-on bag should be no longer than 21.5 inches long, though this does vary airline by airline and I have friends who swear they fly everywhere with their 22-inch long carry-on. To be safe, and avoid trouble, always check ahead to know your baggage allowance before your trip!

To stay in compliance—and if you’re someone who tends to overpack (insert raised hand emoji)—Manners recommends getting a luggage scale to keep yourself in check. “Some people also swear by packing cubes,” adds Manners, which some say allows you to pack even more while keeping clothing sorted and wrinkle-free. If you’re new to, but interested in packing cubes, Manners recommends purchasing inexpensive options on Amazon to see if they would work for you before your next big trip.

Budget

Luggage should last years and is a worthy investment, but with many high-quality and low-cost options on the market you don’t have to break the bank. Legacy names like Samsonite keep innovation and quality high while still being fairly priced. “Look at a brand’s warranty,” advises Manners, which safeguards against wear, tear, and damages that happen frequently with luggage. For instance, the premium brand, Briggs and Riley, comes with a higher price tag but a lifetime guarantee. I chose bags for this list from around $100 to several hundred dollars to meet all your price points and needs.

Materials and mobility

“People love those fancy aluminum suitcases,” says Manners. “But while they look super chic, they’re not always practical, not to mention super expensive.” They get banged up and scratched and you have to take them to the brand to get repaired. “But polycarbonate hard shell suitcases can take more wear,” she says. Other things to consider in a suitcase are the materials: are you looking for soft or hardshell? Also, pay attention and test out zippers, locks, roomy interior compartments that can expand, and the durability and quality of wheels.

Our picks for the best luggage for international travel

Best carry-on luggage for international travel: Away The Carry-On

Best carry-on luggage for international travel
The Carry-On in Sorbet Orange

The Carry-On in Sorbet Orange

With its signature design, bright colors, and compact design that fits most overhead bins, this popular carry-on luggage from Away checks all the boxes. The hardside carry-on is made from a 100% polycarbonate shell that is durable and lightweight, weighing in at 7.5 pounds. Fans love the interior organization that features zipped mesh compartments, a hanging pocket, and a waterproof laundry bag great for keeping wet—or dirty—clothes separate. The 360 gliding wheels can traverse most terrains, and the sturdy handle has two adjustable heights for ideal comfort. At under $300, it’s a great deal.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.4 x 9 inches
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Material: 100% polycarbonate shell
  • Capacity: 39.8 liters
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Price on publish: $275

The bottom line:

An accessible-priced and well-designed carry-on that fits on most airlines.

Get it here: Away The Carry-On


Best lightweight luggage for international travel: Samsonite Proxis Spinner

Best lightweight luggage for international travel
Samsonite Proxis Spinner

Samsonite Proxis Spinner

I own this large Proxis Spinner from Samsonite, and it’s a piece my whole family loves. We can pack so much stuff in and it’s still incredibly lightweight luggage. My husband loves the technical aspects like the resilient outer shell made from a Samsonite-patented material called Roxkin™ (a multi-layered propylene combined to make one single sheet) that is incredibly durable and will bounce back into shape when dented. The easy-to-handle ergonomic aluminum telescoping handle and the dual 360 spinner wheels help us breeze through planes, trains, and automobiles. I like the interior fabric dividers, compression cross straps, and zipper pockets that help to keep all our clothes organized and in place. And my kids like the mod and metallic colors (like honey gold). The light Proxis line includes a carry-on, medium, large, and extra-large.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 30.7 x 21.5 x 11.4 inches
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Material: Roxkin™ outer shell
  • Capacity: 98 liters
  • Warranty: Limited 10-year Global Warranty
  • Price on publish: $600

The bottom line:

A surprisingly lightweight and durable suitcase with dual wheels that can zip through the airport and beyond.

Get it here: Samsonite Proxis Spinner


Best large luggage for international travel: Briggs & Riley Baseline Extra Large Expandable Spinner

Best large luggage for international travel
Briggs & Riley Baseline Extra Large Expandable Spinner

Briggs & Riley Baseline Extra Large Expandable Spinner

My Australian friend turned me on to the premium brand, Briggs & Riley, and this expandable suitcase might have one of the largest capacities of any suitcase on the market. The softside suitcase features a patented CX® expansion release hinge that allows you to expand the bag for up to 34% more packing capability and then compress it back down to its original size when needed.

Everything about this suitcase is quality from its self-repairing zippers, 360 spinning wheels, and genius interior design that features a built-in garment folder to keep clothes wrinkle-free. Plus, all Briggs & Riley bags are backed by their unconditional lifetime guarantee, which doesn’t ask for a proof of purchase or a lengthy explanation.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 31 x 22 x 13.8-16.8 inches
  • Weight: 15.6 pounds
  • Material: Ballistic nylon
  • Capacity: 141-167 liters
  • Warranty: Unconditional lifetime guarantee
  • Price on publish: $949

The bottom line:

A high-quality suitcase that can hold tons with a lifetime guarantee.

Get it here: Briggs & Riley Baseline Extra Large Expandable Spinner


Best medium size luggage for international travel: Away Medium Flex

Best medium size luggage for international travel
The Medium Flex in Clay Pink

The Medium Flex in Clay Pink

For those that need more room than a carry-on, but still need something maneuverable, the Away Medium Flex is for you. The newer flex model can expand for an extra 1.75” of space, which can make all the difference when traveling for weeks and allows for the fun souvenirs and duty-free goodies you’ll bring home. The Flex comes with all the details. Away is known for great interior organization that includes zippered compartments, snap-in-place straps, a laundry bag, and quiet 360 wheels that smoothly glide over tough terrains like cobblestones.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 26 x 18.5 x 11 inches
  • Weight: 10.8 pounds
  • Material: Polycarbonate shell
  • Capacity: 68.8-75.7 liters
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty
  • Price on publish: $395

The bottom line:

A pretty and expandable suitcase ideal for longer travel.

Get it here: Away Medium Flex


Best affordable luggage for international travel: Amazon Basics 24-Inch Hardside Spinner

Best affordable luggage for international travel
Amazon Basics Expandable Hardside Luggage, 24-inch Suitcase with Four Spinner Wheels and Scratch-Resistant Surface, Orange

Amazon Basics Expandable Hardside Luggage, 24-inch Suitcase with Four Spinner Wheels and Scratch-Resistant Surface, Orange

With over 34,000 five-star Amazon ratings, this 24-inch spinner features many of the qualities of other suitcases on this list, but is priced at under $100. Available in carry-on, medium, large, and a luggage set, the budget spinner has an extra-tough thermoplastic exterior that can handle the bumps that come with travel. It has double wheels for easy gliding, a telescoping handle, and can expand up to 15% to hold more clothing—or souvenirs.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 24.7 x 11.4 x 18.3 inches
  • Weight: 9.63 pounds
  • Material: ABS Thermoplastic
  • Capacity: 69 liters
  • Warranty: One-year limited, but you can add a three to four-year protection plan at an extra cost
  • Price on publish: $78.35

The bottom line:

A durable and highly-rated suitcase that won’t break the bank.

Get it here: Amazon Basics 24-Inch Hardside Spinner


Best soft luggage for international travel: Travelpro Platinum Elite Medium Check-In Spinner

Best soft luggage for international travel
Travelpro Platinum Elite Medium Check-In Spinner

Travelpro Platinum Elite Medium Check-In Spinner

“In my opinion, TravelPro makes great softside suitcases and they last for years.” says Manners. “I like to use these best for international travel because I don’t have to worry about them getting banged up or scratched. They’re economical and lightweight.”

Travelpro is used by many flight crews around the globe, so they know the qualities that you want in a bag. This medium size spinner is the ideal size with 97 liters of capacity and a two-inch expansion capability to last you for days (and weeks) of travel. The Travelpro comes in nine pretty colors, is lightweight at under 10 pounds, and easily glides with magnetically-locking wheels that can rotate a full 360 degrees for smooth transport through airports and city streets.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 28 x 18.5 x 11.75 inches
  • Weight: 9.8 pounds
  • Material: High-density nylon fabric with DuraGuard coating
  • Capacity: 97 liters
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime coverage, but must register it first
  • Price on publish: $365.49

The bottom line:

Affordable, high-quality suitcase favored by frequent fliers that comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Get it here: Travelpro Platinum Elite Medium Check-In Spinner


Best hardside luggage for international travel: Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner

Best hardside luggage for international travel
Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner

Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner

Garnering thousands of reviews, this Samsonite Freeform spinner line is a perennial hardside luggage favorite because it can handle major wear and tear. The hard shell is made from polypropylene (a thermoplastic) known to handle high stress. The double wheels add extra durability, even when other luggage is placed on top and 360 mobility, so there’s less strain on your body when traversing through airports and destinations. It has an expanding capability of 1.5 inches for packing on longer trips and the interior features lots of dividers and zippers to store accessories and keep everything neat and organized. Coming in at under $200 with a 10-year warranty, this is a solid suitcase for your travels and it’s available in carry-on and large versions.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 27.9 x 19.6 x 13.4 inches
  • Weight: 8.5 pounds
  • Material: Polypropylene
  • Capacity: N/A
  • Warranty: Limited 10-year Global Warranty
  • Price on publish: $179.99

The bottom line:

Affordable and resilient luggage with high packing capacity from a name brand you can trust.

Get it here: Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner


Best luggage set for international travel: Béis Create Your Perfect Luggage Set

Best luggage set for international travel
Béis Create Your Perfect Luggage Set

Béis Create Your Perfect Luggage Set

Béis, the luggage line founded by actor Shay Mitchell, allows you to mix and match two or three of your favorite rollers, creating your own personalized luggage set—and you get a discount. You can choose from any of their cases: from their best-selling 21-inch Front-Pocket Carry-On to their Medium, Large, and kid-friendly Mini Roller. I love that the Front-Pocket Carry-On and Mini Roller meet most international airline requirements, and all the hard cases are made from sturdy polycarbonate with vegan-leather details. Choose two suitcases and save 10% and pick three pieces for 15% off.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: Front-Pocket Carry-On: 21.5 x 3.5" x 9 inches, Carry-On: 22.8 x 15.7 x 9.8 inches, Medium Check-In Roller: 28.3 x 17.7 x 11 inches, Large Check-In Roller: 31.3 x 19.6 x 12.6 inches, and the Mini Roller: 17 x 9 x 16.5 inches
  • Weight: Front-Pocket Carry-On: 8.6 pounds, Carry-On: 8.36 pound, Medium Check-In Roller: 10.2 pounds, Large Check-In Roller: 11.84 pounds, Mini Roller: 7 pounds
  • Material: Polycarbonate, vegan leather trim
  • Capacity: Front-Pocket Carry-On: 47 liters, Carry-On: 49-61 liters, Medium Check-In Roller: 78-94 liters, Large Check-In Roller: 112 liters
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty when purchased from Béis or authorized Béis retailer
  • Price on publish: Two rollers 10% discount, three rollers 15% discount

The bottom line:

A fun and flexible mix-and-match luggage set that allows you to choose the cases that best suit your travel needs.

Get it here: Béis Create Your Perfect Luggage Set


Best trunk for international travel: July Checked Trunk

Best trunk for international travel
July Checked Trunk

July Checked Trunk

“I love using a trunk suitcase when I am traveling for an extended time or when I’m going to a cold-weather place and need to pack lots of bulky coats and sweaters,” says Manners. Traveling with a trunk suitcase has a fun, sophisticated feeling, and the old-world trunks of the past have now made way for lightweight and playful options like this one from July. Available in 11 pleasing colors and with personalization options, this chic trunk with 360 spin wheels, comfy rubber handles, and roomy 80/20 split compartments might be your new favorite travel go-to.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 28.35 x 16.34 x 14.5 inches
  • Weight: 13.2 pounds
  • Material: Glazed polycarbonate shell
  • Capacity: 95 liters
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty on manufacturing faults
  • Price on publish: $595

The bottom line:

This sturdy and sleek trunk is extra roomy for bulky items.

Get it here: July Checked Trunk


Best backpack for international travel: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

Best backpack for international travel
Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack in Indigo

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack in Indigo

I own this colorful and lightweight backpack from Cotopaxi that can fit the packing needs of an overhead-compliant carry-on with the ease of a backpack. It zips open to reveal a suitcase-like interior with mesh, zippered pockets and compartments to keep everything organized. It comes with a waist belt, in addition to adjustable straps for better weight distribution, and it comes with four grab handles so you can carry it from every angle. I especially like the laptop space and compartment at the top for quick access to essentials like money, your passport, and sunglasses. For additional backpack options, read our guide on travel backpacks.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 22 x 12 x 10 inches
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Material: TPU-coated 1000D polyester, 840D ballistic nylon paneling
  • Capacity: 35 liters
  • Warranty: Guaranteed for Good limited lifetime warranty
  • Price on publish: $200

The bottom line:

On the pricier side of backpacks, but it has a lot of wonderful features and organization.

Get it here: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack


Best duffel bag for international travel: CALPAK Luka Duffel

Best duffel bag for international travel
CALPAK Luka Duffel in Matte Black

CALPAK Luka Duffel in Matte Black

This best-selling Luka duffel from CALPAK can pack everything you need for a weekend—and still counts as a personal item, fitting comfortably under your seat. It has a trolley sleeve that slides through suitcase handles so it can rest comfortably on your luggage as you zip through the airport. It has nine pockets, including one for your shoes, and it’s made of water resistant polyester, so like most duffel bags it looks good and lasts for years to come.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 12 x 16 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Material: Polyester
  • Capacity: 25 liters
  • Warranty: One-year limited
  • Price on publish: $128

The bottom line:

Lightweight and roomy personal bag that can still fit under your seat.

Get it here: CALPAK Luka Duffel


Best weekender bag for international travel: shortyLOVE Friday Weekender Travel Bag

Best weekender bag for international travel
shortyLOVE Friday Weekender Travel Bag

shortyLOVE Friday Weekender Travel Bag

“I highly recommend the shortyLOVE Friday Weekender bag” says Manners.“ It’s super roomy and streamlined, not bulky at all, and the straps are super comfortable, you hardly feel it’s on your shoulder.” Though it has a sleek design, it can fit all of your important documents, jewelry, and clothes for any quick trip. The water-resistant nylon bag comes in five colorways and is easy to clean.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 15 x 27.5 x 9 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Material: Water-resistant nylon twill
  • Capacity: N/A
  • Warranty: None
  • Price on publish: $298

The bottom line:

Roomy and stylish weekender that is sturdy and comfy.

Get it here: shortyLOVE Friday Weekender Travel Bag


Best size luggage for international travel

“I like medium-size check-in suitcases,” says Manners.” It helps keep you from overpacking, but allows you to take what you need for a week of travel. And you’ll be able to move around easier in transit.” If traveling alone or sharing a suitcase, we find medium size suitcases (usually around 26-28 inches in length) to be ideal. Look for suitcases that can expand and compress for extra packing needs. Weighing around 10 pounds empty, you can pack a lot, but make sure you don’t go over the airline weight limits.

Tips for buying a suitcase for international travel

Online retailers and outlet stores are both great places to buy luggage, especially during major shopping days. But you should first check the baggage requirements of the airline you intend to fly, including restrictions, and extra charges, so you’re not met with any surprises.

Once you’ve determined your right size, Manners suggest “finding one with well-made spinning wheels and a comfortable, sturdy retractable handle.” Another thing to consider is the material, like soft side, hard side, waterproof, etc. And don’t forget important details, like durable zippers, solid locks, and lots of room and interior compartments to pack everything you need. Many brands offer 60-100-day free trials and money-back guarantees, so utilize these policies to try out the luggage before you invest.

How we selected the best luggage for international travel

As a former travel writer and editor myself, I have zig-zagged continents for work and leisure. I also tapped jet-setting friends, colleagues, and experts who weighed in on their favorite luggage. I tested different brands, read through customer reviews and looked at certain criteria.

Luggage size and type

Whether you’re jetting off for a swanky girls weekend or a longer trip abroad, the type of trip you’re taking will help determine which luggage to choose, so I rated them all (weekender, duffel, backpack, carry-on, larger checked suitcases, and trunks), examining their storage capacity, expandability, organizational features, weight, and construction.

Features and materials

Luggage these days offer so many high-tech features, like charging ports and nearly-indestructible thermoplastic exteriors, as well as fun extras including laundry bags, TSA-approved locks, multiple storage capabilities, along with lifetime guarantees that will help your luggage last a lifetime.

International airline compliance

I found international baggage allowance to differ slightly from American domestic, so be sure and check your airline baggage requirements first before travel. That said, for carry-ons, the general rule of thumb is for an international carry-on to be no bigger than 21.5-21.7 inches long and weigh 18 pounds. Again, while rules (and adherence) vary from airline to airline, to be safe, I chose carry-ons that meet these requirements.

Price

I chose luggage at every price point and chose the best in class across the board from budget to luxe in all types of luggage.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Which luggage brand is best for international travel?

Well-known luggage brands like Samsonite and Travelpro have earned reputations for both quality and affordability, so they made my list. “I really recommend Away and TravelPro suitcases,” adds Manners. I also included more expensive options like Briggs & Riley, because their no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee on all of their luggage is unmatched industry wide.

Is hard luggage better than soft for international travel?

“Some people love hard case bags, but I find that you can pack more things in a softside suitcase.” says Manners. Hardside versus softside is really a preference. Softside seems to scuff less because of the treated materials, while hardside suitcases can also handle wear and tear and seem to be more trendy these days.

What is the best material for checked luggage?

“That depends on preference, but a nylon with coating to prevent scuffs and scratches for softside luggage, and polycarbonate-shell or thermoplastic are incredibly durable If you like hard case suitcases,” says Manners.

How many suitcases can you take on an international flight?

This often depends on the type of airplane ticket you purchase. Some tickets include your first checked bag for free, then you have to pay a fee for additional bags. Other tickets don’t include baggage, so you’ll have to pay a certain fee for the first checked-in bag, plus fees for additional bags. Look into bag allowances before you buy your tickets, warns Manners, so you can factor the cost of your checked bags into your flight—and avoid surprises at the airport.

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