Over the past year, I’ve become accustomed to travelling back and forth on the Eurostar. My trips to France have taught me the importance of owning carry-on luggage you can depend on, as few travel woes are worse than luggage that falls apart at the seams. Much like a working wardrobe, a streamlined collection of luggage can make travel more pleasant—from the pleasure of a smooth glide to organised compartments and packing cubes, to categorise and compress your load.
I’ve become a real luggage fiend and searched for the most compact carry-on suitcases and holdalls (with ingenious space-saving tips), to make trips smooth sailing. Laptop sleeves, charging ports and hidden laundry bags are features that make my heart sing as much as the next frock.
I’ve also taken to ‘spot the luggage’ in waiting areas and marvelling at people's extreme efforts to keep their luggage scratch free (can you blame them?), tuned into award-winning pieces that may have gone over my head some years ago and sought out bags that are big enough to fit an outfit, or three.
There are a few renowned brands and classic travel companions that you’re likely to spot at any travel interchange, from Rimowa’s premium aluminium swathed cases to Longchamp’s Original Le Pilage—a firm favourite since its release in 1993, which goes to show its reliance. You may also be familiar with Antler for its ribbed hardshell cases and US-born brand Away, which produce a compressive interior feature, for optimal space saving.
I’m not the only one who sees the importance of a sturdy carry-on case, take it from the team, who just so happen to be frequent travellers.
Joy Ejaria, social media editor, says “In a dream world where money is no object, I would love Louis Vuitton's Horizon range. They're peak luxury and can stand the test of time”, which reminds me of the phase when it was rare to journey through an airport without spotting a Louis Vuitton Speedy.
Away is a firm favourite of Affiliates Editor Emily Dawes, who states “I've had my set of Away suitcases for several years now and they're so hardwearing, I think I'd have to call them my favourite luggage brand. Plus, I'm always shocked at how much they can fit in. I also have their softer Everywhere bag, which is the perfect weekender—it has so many clever pockets in places you never even knew you needed!”
Keep on reading to see and the best carry-on luggage as recommended by the Who What Wear team. If you’re in the market for luggage that’s both practical and chic this summer, we’ve got you covered.
Shop Our Editors' Favourite Carry-On Luggage Brands
"My go-to luggage brand has to be Samsonite. Sturdy, practical and fuss-free, the brand's cases have never, ever failed me. In fact, before I moved abroad a few years ago, my parents gifted me a full set, including a cabin bag, full-sized suitcase and mid-sized iteration that is great for shorter trips when hand luggage just won't do!" - Poppy Nash, Managing Editor
Trust me, finding an expandable cabin case is no mean feat but Samsonite hit the nail on that brief. The expander feature will spare you the hassle of having to condense your load. You may even be able to squeeze in an extra outfit, or two.
I'm newly acquainted with Antler but I've been nothing but impressed with my latest piece of luggage. It's fast become a personal favourite of mine and not to mention an upgrade on my previous (well-used) luggage set. Like my clothing choices, I like to invest in well-made pieces that will stay with me for the foreseeable. Thanks to the lifetime warranty, that'll be the case with these. Specifications are also important. I look for a cabin case with the maximum dimensions that are accepted by most airlines, but as I often travel by train I can get away with something a little larger. It's worth noting that all Antler cases come with a lifetime warranty, so it really is a lifetime investment.
My favourite is the Clifton range. Not only does it boast a sleek hard shell (a non-negotiable for me), but it also features 360-degree rotating wheels. The style elements carry through to the inner compartments. It features a supple fabric lining and a belt with a convertible adjustor. They really did think of everything. Antler also boasts a newly launched quartet of accessories marked with the tagline 'for those who travel often'. The line includes its newest collaboration with Ocean bottles, travel tags and more.
"My current favourite is Away, I recently got myself The Carry-on, and honestly I don't know how I ever travelled with anything else. They thought about everything – from the laptop compartment to the hidden laundry bag. I'm now desperate for The Medium and The Large ahead of my next trip." - Joy Ejaria, Social Media Editor
"If money was no object I would absolutely opt for a Rimowa. I've heard the engineering and craftsmanship behind their design make them well worth the investment. They're super high-tech, and the lifetime guarantee means you'll never have to buy another piece of luggage again." - Emily Dawes, Affiliates Editor
Rimowa is best known for its highly coveted aluminium cases but the newer Essential Lite collection is a notable mention. It's also more affordable in comparison. The suitcases weigh 30% less than the Rimowa Essential suitcases, which makes them easier to transport. The essential lite-check-in is available in three lacquered hues — black, green and ivory.
Shop Other Recommended Carry On Luggage:
I've experienced Muji's luggage range first-hand and the swivel on the cases is impressive. Although Muji isn't the first brand you'd think of when it comes to luggage, the cases are made to the highest quality and with optimal performance at the forefront, as is the case with Muji's considered edit of products. This carry-on case is as refined as it is durable. It's also available in two additional neutral hues.
Referenced as "durable, light, and resilient", The Monos Hybrid case comprises a hard lacquered shell crafted from aluminium and polycarbonate for optimal durability should you check it in. It's also designed to fit in the overhead compartment of the luggage compartment of all aircraft. I'm impressed!
This Peta-approved suitcase is engineered to perfection, so rest assured your possessions will be well protected. Crafted from a partially recycled polycarbonate shell, it's a piece that's considerably and responsibly made. It also features a laptop sleeve, which is handy for working on the go.
Newly launched in the UK, Nere is an Aussie brand that's piqued our interest. Its arsenal includes an array of candy-coloured cases and a handful of reflective styles. With its garnered kudos you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a premium brand, but the luggage is sensibly priced. The Wonda case is available in four muted colourways. It features a concave shell and subtle debossing, which is apt for people with a preference for ambiguous branding.
No travel capsule is complete without a Longchamp bag. Everyone I've spoken to about travel either owns one or plans on doing so. I've been eyeing up the Le Pilage for some time. It's a cult travel companion and for good reason. Plus, it's foldable, too. If you're lucky enough to have a generous baggage allowance, prop it on top of your suitcase and wheel away.
Compliment pale monochromatic outfits with Osprey's Adaline Weekender. It's crafted from grained leather which is forgiving with any defects. The style is finished with polished gold accents and the strap featured a padded leather strap, to ease tension in the shoulders. No stone is left unturned.
Never underestimate the power of a good holdall. I own this bag and it's the Mary Poppins of bags. It features hidden compartments and a trolley sleeve, which is essential for ease. I also appreciate the easy-to-reach front zip compartment, which is where I like to store the pieces I reach for often.
Shop Travel Tote Bags:
Not only is Nanushka's travel tote a luxury accessory, but it also has a genius feature inspired by the Japanese paper folding technique. Due to the collapsible model, you can flatten it when not in use and store it away. It's one of those rare finds where practicality doesn't deter from the sleekness of the design.
Shop Travel Accessories:
I take my Daisy jewellery case on all my travels and I often use it to house my jewellery at home in the interim. It's beautifully crafted as is the standard with Daisy. As I'm living between cities (and a major jewellery fiend), I own the larger version. The small version will no doubt suffice for short trips.
Scrambling around in an oversized holdall can be time-consuming, so I highly recommend a pouch to place within said bag. This generously sized bag is large enough to house everything from travel documents to lip balm. Once you've reached your destination, turn it into an evening clutch.
I rarely travel without my packing cubes. I've recently acquired Antler's travel cubes and I'm impressed with the depth of them (it's the little but significant details). You can fit so much more than you'd expect and they look so sleek.