Carry-on luggage is the way to go these days. "We always take a carry-on if we can get away with it." Of course I don't want to pay the extra fees." (Laughs) Whatever kind you get, it's got to fit in the overhead bin. Airlines have different maximums they allow. "This bag measures 22 by 14 by 9 inches deep, and will get you onto most carriers, though some carriers will give you a few inches more."
Size matters, inside and out. The inside should hold lots while the outside stays as small as possible. Avoid protrusions like exterior pouches. They can put you over the size limit and throw your bag off-balance. And be aware some handles take up a lot of room inside the case - so check before you buy. Next, consider the wheels. "Spinner" bags have four wheels and maneuver easily in crowded airports and plane aisles. They can be pushed along, taking the stress off your shoulder and elbow. Nikhil Hutheesing, "Spinner wheels are vulnerable to breaking off, so make sure they're attached with screws instead of rivets."
If you prefer dual wheels, they should be set far apart. Too close together and you can lose control. And before you buy, open the handle all the way and give it a shake. It should be firmly attached with no wiggling or rattling as you pull it along. And then there's the zipper. It's all that stands between your stuff and the outside world. A cheap zipper can render your bag useless.
Many bags come with a lifetime warranty.
That sounds great, but check the fine print. There are often exclusions for airline damage and wear and tear.
All Consumer Reports Material Copyright ©2014 Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.