Carry On luggage options for domestic travel April 13, 2021 – Posted in: Tips, Travel – Tags: , , ,

Australia is green and ready to go! With all borders open and the Government encouraging Aussies to explore their own backyard, travel is back on the agenda! In our latest blog, we take a look at carry on luggage options for domestic travel.

For most domestic airlines, carry on means a small suitcase or bag that goes in the overhead compartment.  A ‘personal item’ is also allowed (purse, briefcase, or something else of that size) provided it completely fits under the seat in front of you.

Passengers are spoilt for choice when it comes to carry on items.  Suitcases, small tote bags, duffle bags, bags with wheels or backpacks. Many travelers prefer a quick escape from the aircraft and terminal, dispensing with the need to store a larger sized case in the baggage compartment. It’s therefore so important to choose the right carry on option. But which option is best?

Carry on luggage

Wheeled hard or soft case luggage is the most popular choice when it comes to carry on luggage. The generally accepted carry-on luggage suitcase size is 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches (that’s roughly 55cm x 35.5cm x 23cm). This can however vary by airline or airplane type. The weight of the luggage when packed must also adhere to airline requirements.

Small carry on suitcases come in soft and hard shell, two wheels or four, colourful or plain black. The options are endless when it comes suitcases. Hard sided suitcases provide superior protection whilst  softside suitcases are generally lighter and have convenient external pockets, for quick access to tickets, passports and other items.

Tip 1: Make sure you know the carry-on luggage restrictions and carry-on allowances for the airline you’re flying. It’s best to take note of the baggage restriction of the airlines you fly most often and pick a size that’s also inline with other popular carriers.

Tip 2: If your trip is for work, ensure your case has padded section to store your laptops, iPads and other electronic devices. Soft sided suitcases feature external pockets so you can quickly retrieve laptops or paperwork.


Backpacks come in a variety of shapes and sizes which work great for travel. Backpacks allow for hands free travel, with many finding it easier to navigate through airports with everything on their back.

Backpacks are also a great choice for business travelers carrying laptops, files and books. Backpacks are easily organised, accessible and easy to store in the overhead compartments or seat in front if space is limited.

Don’t forget that backpacks can come with wheels and internal trolley systems! Also bare in mind that this also adds additional weight…

Carry on Tote & Duffle Bags

Duffle bags are an extremely versatile option. Ideal for for short trips, work and play, duffle bags are big enough to fit all your must have items without taking up too much space. Duffle bags are lightweight and depending on the material, provide excellent protection from the elements.  They are also much cheaper than suitcases and can be used for almost anything!

Wheel Bags

Duffle bags with wheels are small, compact, lightweight and don’t take up to much room.  Wheeled bags provide travelers with two different carrying options, wheel it along behind you like a two-wheel suitcase or carry it on your back like a backpack.

Laptop & Messenger Bags

Travel for work? Laptop or messenger bags make it easy for you to travel with. Computers can easily be taken out when dealing with security checks and safely stored whilst in transit. Laptop bags are perfect for the fly-in and fly-out trip where you don’t need to pack the pj’s and toothbrush.

How do you choose?

Choosing the best carry on luggage piece will depend a lot on your reason for travel, the destination(s) you’ll be traveling too and ultimately what you feel most comfortable with. Do you need to quickly access items, if so a soft shell suitcase will be better than a hard case.  If your trip requires a little more walking, a backpack may be the best option. A short business trip, a laptop bag or attache case will be more practical.

Final Tip: Packing cubes. Have we told you how much we love packing cubes!!  My advice is when traveling with carry-on luggage, use packing cubes to stay organized. Packing cubes compress your clothing and other items which means you can fit more in your carry-on bag.

See our blog article on the best carry on luggage options for further information.

« Luggage or backpacks for kids when travelling?
Why canvas bags are the best choice »