The Best Luggage for Easy International Travel

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Travel + Leisure / Danie Drankwalter

Finding the best luggage for international travel is, at heart, basically the same as the best luggage for domestic travel. You want a well-constructed bag that fits all of your things, looks nice, and functions smoothly. The real question to ask yourself is what kind of trip you're taking. Spending three months trekking through jungles will require a very different bag than a week-long jaunt to an urban capital.

Some companies will label some suitcases as "international carry-on," which usually translates to smaller dimensions but isn't a guarantee of applicability across every situation. In terms of measurements, there is no one standard international carry-on size. "The truth is that each airline makes their own rules," said Don Chernoff, president of SkyRoll Luggage. "The most common carry-on rule in the U.S. is 22" x 14" x 9", but some airlines have smaller limits, and some allow larger bags. Some international airlines have more strict rules, but there is only one simple rule everyone needs to follow: Check the rules of your airline before your trip."

The more budget-focused an airline is, the stricter their carry-on requirements are likely to be. You can check out our cheat sheet if you have a specific airline you're concerned about.

Even if you're checking a bag, you still want to make sure you can easily maneuver it through any situation and leave some space for souvenirs. You may not always be able to find an elevator.

Best for Flying a Budget Airline

Cuyana Classic Overnight Bag

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Hopping on a budget airline and don't want to pay for a spot in the overhead bin? Cuyana's overnight bag should slide easily under the seat in front of you while still holding all of your essentials for a short jaunt.

Price at time of publish: $298 for Triple Zipper Overnight

Tumi Luggage Collections

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If you want to really invest in your luggage, you can't go wrong with Tumi. Multiple travelers we spoke to sung its praises, and the sleek designs are still understated enough that you won't look too flashy in a crowd.

Best International Luggage for a Short Trip

Arlo Skye The Frame Carry-On: Polycarbonate Edition

Arlo Skye The Frame Carry-On: Polycarbonate Edition
Arlo Skye The Frame Carry-On: Polycarbonate.

If you're off on a short jaunt on which you want to look stylish and won't be rolling over too many cobblestones, Arlo Skye's smaller carry-on should stand up to some wear and tear while the double-lock closure keeps your belongings secure. The built-in battery pack can even charge your computer, just in case you forgot your outlet converter.

Price at time of publish: $475

Best Luggage for a Multi Destination Trip

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack 35L

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack
Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack.

If you're feeling square rather than cylindrical and in search of a more granular organized pocket system, the 45-liter Tortuga Outbreaker should hold everything you need for your trip and still stay carry-on-friendly. It also comes in a smaller 35-liter size if you're on a shorter trip or aiming for extreme minimalism.

Price at time of publish: $299 for 35L International Carry On

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag

Patagonia Duffle Bag


Is your bag going to potentially be strapped to the top of a jeep or the base of a raft at some point in your journey? Go for the Patagonia Black Hole. This duffel range goes from 30 liters up to 120, with minimal organizational features to get in the way of your gear but solid exterior construction to keep it intact even when being dragged through the roughest conditions. Outside magazine called it "the only travel bag you'll ever need." If you aren't feeling up to hauling it on your shoulders, some sizes even come in a wheeled duffel version.

Price at time of publish: $169

Best for Bring Home Your Souvenirs

Paravel Fold-Up Bag

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This packable duffel has enough style that you'd never guess it's a fold-up. Plus Oprah likes it, and who doesn't trust Oprah?

Price at time of publish: $70

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