The 10 Best Luggage Pieces for International Travel of 2023

Our top pick is the Travelpro Platinum Elite Softside Expandable Luggage.

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Best Luggage Pieces for International Travel

Travel + Leisure / David Hattan

After patiently waiting out years of international travel bans, many of us are itching to grab our suitcases and hit the road — or sea, sky, or just about anywhere that isn’t home. Whether planning to go it solo or with a travel partner, there’s one companion that you’ll need to consider regardless: Your luggage. Luckily, we’ve researched the best suitcases for international travel, from surprisingly spacious carry-ons to budget-friendly luggage sets. 

Whether you’re planning to lug your suitcase along cobblestoned alleys and up stairs in some European city or on your back as you trek through the jungle, there’s a luggage option for you on our list. Our favorite is Travelpro’s Platinum Elite Softside Expandable Luggage for its durability, spaciousness, and ample organizational features. Keep reading for our top international luggage picks for every type of traveler, from a duffel you’ll want to live out of to a vintage-inspired trunk that channels the heyday of Pan Am.

Best Overall

Travelpro Luggage Platinum Elite 21-inch Expandable Carry-on Spinner Suiter

4.7
Luggage Platinum Elite 21” Expandable Carry-on

Amazon

Why We Love It: This extremely durable model is smoothly rolling and expandable, and has ample organizational features. 

What to Consider: It’s harder to pull on two wheels than on all four, so skip it if you prefer to wheel your bag behind you. 

Travelpro softside luggage is a reliable go-to for frequent travelers who need plenty of space and organizational features like compression straps, external pockets, zipper panels, and even a built-in garment bag to reduce wrinkles. Its four spinner wheels make it a breeze to navigate over bumpy terrain, but note that when full, it can be slightly more difficult to pull on two wheels. 

T+L ediors tested Travelpro’s Platinum Elite Softside Expandable Luggage and gave it top ratings for durability after it remained virtually unscathed despite being shoved off a table and whacked with a baseball bat. We love that there’s a cushy 100-day return policy and that all Travelpro luggage is backed by a 10-year-to-lifetime warranty. It’s not the most affordable model, but given the extremely high quality, it’s a solid price point, and we love the handy external USB port for charging capabilities, too. 

Price at time of publish: $370

Dimensions:  23.5 x 14.5 x 9 inches | Weight: 7.8 pounds | Expandable: Yes

Best Standard Carry-on

Monos Carry-On Suitcase

Monos Carry-on Suitcase

Monos

Why We Love It: It's surprisingly spacious, thanks to a high-quality compression board and straps that keep all your belongings in place.  

What to Consider: The lighter colors are more likely to show scratches or dings if they’re roughly handled over time.

A standard carry-on, also known as a "domestic carry-on," should generally be no more than 22 x 14 x 9 inches to fit in the overhead bin. Monos’ Carry-on fits the bill and elevates all of the essential features you’d need, from an expertly designed, non-sticking telescopic handle to organizational amenities like laundry and shoe bags, plus a chic vegan leather luggage tag. While the ultra-durable, aerospace-grade polycarbonate shell (which is available in a chic color range and a trendy limited-edition Terrazzo pattern) can stand up to a good rough-and-tumble at baggage claim, lighter-colored models are more likely to show slight scratches or nicks over time. There’s also an integrated TSA-approved lock, to double down on the security this hardshell hero offers. 

On the inside, intuitive design allows you to store shoes, toiletries, and other belongings in a zippered panel (which does offer some compression). There’s a compression pad with adjustable straps on the other side for your clothes, plus several interior pockets that store more than you’d think. All of these space-saving features more than make up for the fact that the suitcase isn’t expandable. Monos also lets you try out any model for 100 days risk-free, in addition to offering free shipping and a limited lifetime warranty. 

Price at time of publish: from $272

Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches | Weight: 7.01 pounds | Expandable: No

Best International Carry-on

Away Travel The Carry-On

The Carry-On in Petal

Away Travel

Why We Love It: It offers a great amount of space for its size, is super-lightweight, and has portable charging capabilities. 

What to Consider: The compression pad can get caught in the lip of the suitcase when overpacked.

Away suitcases are ubiquitous for good reason. They’re the pinnacle of Millennial minimalist-aesthetic, plus they’re sturdy and spacious at every size, and they function smoothly. Their four-way spinner wheels make them a dream companion for just about any terrain, as does the built-in charger for when you run out of juice on the go. Opt in for the personalized luggage tag (for a $10 fee) to make sure you can tell your suitcase apart from all the other identical models at baggage claim.

This carry-on's compression pad straps are great for making more room for your clothes, but if you’re a frequent overpacker, you might be better off with an expandable model — the pad itself tends to jut out when the suitcase is overstuffed. 

Price at time of publish: $295

Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.7 x 9 inches | Weight: 7.1 pounds | Expandable: No

Best Set

Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner 3-piece Set

4.6
Amazon Basics Hardside Spinner 3-piece Set

Amazon

Why We Love It: This budget-friendly set is lightweight and fits more than you’d think.  

What to Consider: There aren’t any smart features like charging ports, and the combination lock is sold separately.

Amazon Basics is our go-to budget luggage brand, thanks to its surprisingly high quality at an affordable price point. The scratch-resistant hardshell models are so durable that we’d invest in a whole three-piece set, which includes a 21-inch international carry-on, plus 26-inch and 30-inch checked bags. With a smooth telescopic handle and four-way spinner wheels, these are easy to maneuver and look like they cost more than they do — not to mention, they offer 15 percent more space when fully expanded. They’re only available in four colors, but you can’t go wrong with classic black. Note that the combination lock is sold separately. 

Price at time of publish: $203 for the set of 3

Dimensions: 10 x 14.9 x 22 inches (21-inch), 11.4 x 18.3 x 26.7 inches (26-inch), and 12.7 x 21 x 30.7 inches (30-inch) | Weight: 7.34 pounds (21-inch), 9.63 pounds (26-inch), 12.21 pounds (30-inch) | Expandable: Yes

Best Checked

Delsey Paris Chatelet Hardside Luggage, Checked-Medium 24 Inch

Delsey Paris Chatelet Hardside Luggage Checked-Medium 24 Inch

Why We Love It: This expansive suitcase boasts a smart brake system that prevents the bag from rolling away. 

What to Consider: Lighter colors are more prone to scuffing. 

Delsey has earned a reputation as a top choice for larger luggage, and for good reason. The iconic French brand makes rugged hardshell and durable softshell luggage, both of which make for great checked baggage — but you might be better off with a hardshell option if you’re a frequent flier looking to keep your belongings protected from potential rough-handling. 

We’re fans of Delsey’s luxuriously soft and cheerfully colored inner liner and the handy packing features like tie-down straps, a zippered mesh divider, interior bags, and included hanger. What really sets this luggage apart is the unique braking system, which locks the front two wheels in place with the push of a button so that you can still pull the suitcase, but your luggage won’t roll away if you need to go hands-free for a moment. 

Price at time of publish: $368

Dimensions: 27 x 11.5 x 17.5 inches | Weight: 10 pounds | Expandable: No

Best Trunk

Globe-Trotter Safari 20-inch Carry-On Suitcase

Globe-Trotter Safari 20-inch Carry-On Suitcase

Globe Trotter

Why We Love It: It offers all of the aesthetic appeal of a proper antique trunk but with the added bonus of modern amenities. 

What to Consider: It’s a splurge with no pockets.

There’s perhaps no trunk more glamorous than Globe Trotter’s Safari Carry-on. If the more than century-old brand is good enough for the Queen (truly — the late Queen Elizabeth II was a longtime fan), then surely it’s good enough for us commoners. Refined and luxurious, you'll feel ready for a journey aboard the Orient Express — even if you’re only heading to upstate New York on Metro North.

While the classic steamer trunk looks true to the antique design of the early 1900s, it boasts must-have modern features — like, um, wheels — and a sneaky telescopic handle for easy transport. This isn’t the ideal piece for overpackers due to its smaller capacity, but minimalists and aesthetes would be hard-pressed to find a better lifelong investment piece of luggage. 

Price at time of publish: $2,195

Dimensions: 22 x 8.27 x 16 inches | Weight: 9.3 pounds | Expandable: No

Best Organization

Paravel Aviator Carry-On

Paravel Aviator Carry-On

Paravel

Why We Love It: It’s made from upcycled materials, and there’s an interior pocket for just about everything. 

What to Consider: It’s on the smaller side.

Like most hardshell suitcases, there aren’t any exterior pockets on Paravel’s beloved Aviator Carry-on. However, the internal organizational features inside more than make up for it. The brand has all sorts of duffels, weekenders, and totes with pockets aplenty that you can pop right on top of your suitcase if you need. This model is ranked as top-of-the-line for organizational capacities by T+L editors, who love the compression board and straps, dual compartments for easy packing, plus the several pockets and removable laundry bag. The brand also stands out for its commitment to sustainability: All Paravel suitcases are carbon neutral and crafted from upcycled materials, like water bottles and CD jewel cases.  

Price at time of publish: $350

Dimensions: 13.7 x 9 x 21.7 inches | Weight: 8.2 pounds | Expandable: No

Best Duffel

Beis Hanging Travel Duffle Bag

Beis Hanging Travel Duffle Bag

Beis

Why We Love It: The hanging compartments are ideal for travelers who hate to unpack but want to be able to see the contents of their bag at a glance.  

What to Consider: It can be tricky to pack and isn’t the most lightweight.

Buyer beware: This ultra-handy hanging duffel just might convince you to embrace the nomadic lifestyle. Spacious and sleek, this multi-purpose duffel is like traveling with your own portable closet. It looks like a traditional duffel from the outside, but it opens up and folds out to reveal several hanging compartments of various sizes in which everything actually stays put, from shoes to accessories to a few days’ worth of clothes. There’s also a clear zippered pouch for your toiletries, so there’s no need to pack ‘em separately.

In terms of external storage, it’s hard to beat Beis’ commitment to pockets galore — there are three slots to hold your phone, passport, and trinkets, plus a dedicated laptop pocket. While we love the dual system, it also makes it tricky to pack at times; if you plan to hang it up, you need to pack it with that in mind, and vice versa for using it as a classic duffle instead. 

Price at time of publish: $148

Dimensions: 18  x 14 x 8 inches | Weight: Not listed | Expandable: No

Best Backpack

Samsonite Silhouette 17 Backpack

4.6
Samsonite Silhouette 17 Backpack

Macy's

Why We Love It: Thanks to convenient carrying straps, you can carry the bag as a backpack, duffel, or briefcase.   

What to Consider: The straps aren’t super-intuitive.

Looking for a backpack to replace your carry-on but not sure if you’re really a “backpack” person? This versatile model from longtime reliable luggage brand Samsonite might be right up your alley. It opens clamshell-style like a classic suitcase, but you can lug it around any way you like, thanks to many (perhaps too many) straps. These straps, while helpful with compression, aren’t the most user-friendly and can be more confusing than useful at first. Still, we love the bag’s many interior pockets for easy organization.

Price at time of publish: $200

Dimensions: 20 x 12.5 x 7 inches | Weight: 3.31 pounds | Expandable: No

Best Weekender

Beis Weekender Bag

Beis Weekender Bag

Beis

Why We Love It: There’s a separate compartment for your shoes and any other travel essentials. 

What to Consider: It’s not the most lightweight model.

Beis’ Weekender is the go-to of frequent flyers who want form and function. It’s got the brand’s signature functionality features, like a separate bottom compartment for shoes, toiletries, or your dirty laundry bag, plus a padded laptop sleeve, several small internal pockets, and more. There’s a removable shoulder strap along with a back zip-pocket that converts into a trolley sleeve for easy transport, too. While it’s got a bit of heft to it even while empty, its sturdiness is appreciated — unlike so many duffel-style bags, it won’t slip off of your suitcase, even if you’re sprinting through the airport.

Price at time of publish: $98

Dimensions: 19 x 9.8 x 15.7 | Weight: 3.86 pounds | Expandable: No

Tips for Buying a Suitcase for International Travel

Choose a size that’s right for your travels

It’s crucial to consider what kind of journey you’re most apt to take when searching for the ideal international luggage. After all, three months of continent-hopping call for a very different set up from a week-long trip to a cosmopolitan capital. If you’re prone to shorter jaunts or know yourself to be a light packer, consider a classic carry-on or something even more compact, like a weekender bag. If you’ll be traveling longer-term or have a hard time paring down your outfit options, opt for a larger carry-on or a checked bag. 

Look for lightweight construction

No one wants to waste their baggage weight limit on a hefty piece of luggage. For softside suitcases, polyester and nylon materials are often the most lightweight, while hardside shells made of polycarbonate, polypropylene, and ABS are great options as well. Standard carry-ons weigh in around 7 pounds, with the lightest-weight options ranging from 4.5 to 6.5 pounds when empty. Checked suitcases are slightly heavier, typically ranging from 8 to 10 pounds. If you’re looking for something seriously lightweight, consider alternative options to a classic suitcase — think duffels, weekenders, or backpacks, which can weigh just 3 pounds. 

Typically, the weight limit for carry-on luggage is around 35 pounds domestically, although carry-on weight limits are often only enforced on budget airlines. International flights may have tighter restrictions, so be sure to check your airline. When it comes to checked luggage, the rule of thumb is 50 pounds, but you can usually pack up to 70 pounds for an added cost.

Decide what organizational features you need

Suitcases are evolving to make packing easier than ever, boasting everything from designated laundry bags to zippered pockets for your tiniest trinkets. Some add-ons may be more relevant to your travel style — compression boards and packing cubes could be non-negotiables for overpackers, while tech lovers may have easy-access exterior pockets and charging ports at the top of the list. And remember, if you fall in love with a suitcase that doesn’t have everything you need — say, compression compartments or built-in security — you can always buy packing cubes or a combination lock separately.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What size carry-on is best for international travel?

    International airlines each have their own size and weight limits for baggage, so your best bet is to always look up your specific carrier’s requirements. Generally speaking, a 21-inch carry-on (considered an “international” carry-on, as compared to the standard, “domestic” 22-inch size) is a safe choice for most airlines, both domestic and international. 

  • Are there any items I can’t bring in my suitcase internationally?

    There’s a whole bunch of stuff you can’t bring in your suitcase — just take a peek at TSA’s Instagram account for a glimpse (and a good laugh). Other than the obvious ones, like weapons or explosives, there are some specific items that are prohibited in carry-ons and checked luggage alike when traveling internationally, from certain amounts of liquids to alcoholic beverages, e-cigarettes, meats, dairy products, drones, and more. If you’re not sure about a certain item, be sure to check your airline’s (and destination’s) guidelines before packing. 

  • Is there a different weight limit for international trips?

    Often, yes! While most domestic carry-ons can weigh up to 40 pounds, many international airlines only allow carry-on bags of up to 22 pounds (10 kilograms). You can often purchase more capacity ahead of time for a discounted price, but be sure to keep the restrictions in mind if you’ll be puddle jumping frequently, as the baggage costs can add up quickly. Checked luggage typically has the same weight limit internationally, offering up to 50 pounds before added fees kick in. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, T+L contributor Sophie Dodd researched every aspect of luggage suited to international travel, from TSA-approved dimensions to key organizational features and which materials are the most lightweight. She used her expertise as a travel writer to narrow down a list of the most reliable options for every need and budget.

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