Frequent flying comes with luggage. Choosing the best lightweight suitcase will ensure that you comply with strict airline rules about weight and size. Before you start going through all the colors and styles, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the provisions of luggage regarding the airlines you plan to use.
US carriers including Delta, United Airlines, and American Airlines all stipulate suitcase sizes for international travel for carry-on as 18-22 inches high, 9 inches deep, and 14 inches wide. For checked luggage, different airlines have their recommendations, but they range from 24 to 30 inches high. This comes with a weight limit too.
Buying a Lightweight Suitcase for International Travel
• Suitcase Size
It’s an obvious consideration because you will want luggage that can squeeze in all your essential items while still complying with size restrictions. Consider how long your travel will be so that you don’t leave anything out. It’s always important to be realistic and not stuff the things you hope to use but in reality are just by the way items that take up valuable space.
• Soft vs. Hard Lightweight Suitcases
Soft bags are flexible and can easily fit in an overhead compartment. Their flexibility also means you can fit an extra outfit. But they can rip easily if you don’t pick a high-quality suitcase made of dense materials. Hard suitcases, on the other hand, are ideal for storing fragile items. They are lightweight, durable, and less likely to be damaged in transit. Since they have hard sides, you will mostly carry the necessary items because it’s hard to go over the limit. With hard carry-on suitcases, you have to get the right size because you will not be able to squeeze it into an overhead compartment if it is not the right fit.
• Wheels on Your Lightweight Case
You can choose to go with a suitcase with two or four wheels and some have double wheel sets so are called 8-wheel. Four-wheeled luggage is easy to move since the spinner wheels move in all directions. For navigating through airports, 360-degree wheels are more comfortable to pull through since you can turn a corner without having to stop. But they can be hard to pull on cobblestone roads mostly found in Europe. That is why you may need to consider two-wheeled suitcases if your destination is Europe. Two wheels move in two directions only which makes them stable on rough surfaces.
• Specialised Sports Luggage Bags
If you are planning a trip where sports luggage is required, it’s a good idea to look at the specific bags and travel requirements involved for your sport. Snowboarding travel bags for example come under specific travel luggage and are often checked into airlines as snow sports equipment. Whereas scuba dive bags for dive gear look just like normal suitcases or duffle bags, you just might need to declare what it is you are carrying. We recommend you always check airline luggage guidelines before checking in, just in case you get caught out and need to pay something extra at the airport.
The cost of being overweight (not literally!)
If your luggage is overweight or over sized you can expect to be hit with a hefty fine of up to $550 on some flights, basically the cost of the flight again! Here’s some charges from the American airlines page.
Best Lightweight Carry-On Suitcases for International Travel (Cabin Luggage Approved)
We class ultra lightweight carry-on cases as weighing under 5lbs, but these may not be the best choice for you. The ultra-light suitcases tend to only have 2 wheels, which can get a bit annoying when queuing to board the plane. In our tests, we preferred the carry-on cases weighing under 7lb with hard shells and at least 4 wheels.
- Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner Suitcase (Best Carry-On)
- Travelpro Maxlite 4 International Expandable Rollaboard Carry-On Suitcase
- Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4-Wheel Carry-On Luggage
- Eagle Creek No Matter What Flatbed Carry-On Duffel (Best for Europe)
- Samsonite Mightlight 2 Softside Spinner Checked Suitcase
- TravelPro Elite Platinum 25” Expandable Spinner Checked Suitcase
- AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage 3-Piece Set
Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner Suitcase (Best Carry-On)
- 20" SPINNER LUGGAGE maximizes your packing power and meets most carry-on size restrictions for those traveling domestically and looking to stay light
- PACKING Dimensions: 19" x 14.5" x 9.5", Overall Dimensions: 22" x 15" x 9.5", Weight: 6.81 lbs
- 10 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY: Samsonite products are rigorously tested to ensure our products meet stringent standards. This bag comes with a 10-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship
- MICRO-DIAMOND POLYCARBONATE texture is extremely scratch-resistant, keeping cases beautiful trip after trip
- SIDE-MOUNTED TSA LOCKs act to deter theft, ensuring that only you or a TSA agent have easy access to your belongings when traveling
At 19 inches, Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner is an excellent option in carry-ons. It comes in a lightweight and robust design for improved durability, weighing in at 6.8lbs. Being hard-sided, it is not a suitcase prone to damage so even if it is in a squeezed compartment; chances are everything in it will remain intact for the journey.
You can count on it, not only because it meets international luggage size but because it is easy to store lots of stuff. It has a full-zip interior with a divider and cross-straps to help squeeze in every item for your trip. Remember not to overstuff it because airlines will charge you extra fees or even worse still be grounded for not abiding by airlines’ carry-on rules.
This luggage uses a micro-diamond texture such that no matter how many trips you take; your suitcase will look as good as new every time.
Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner also explores 360-degree wheels. They make it super easy to move with your luggage as they manage the weight of the luggage for you. And your luggage will always be protected since it also comes with a TSA-compatible combination lock.
Drawbacks but not Deal Breakers
This suitcase does not include a side handle. You will have to use the main retractable handle to lift and remove it from overhead compartments.
Travelpro Maxlite 4 International Expandable Rollaboard Carry-On Suitcase
- Telescoping handle that adds length and strength. Stops at 38 inch and extra-tall 42.5 inch
- High performance ball-bearing in-line wheels
- Low-profile top and side carry handles along with bottom handle cup and durable zipper pulls
- Limited lifetime warranty. Tapered expansion capability of up to 2 inch for maximized extra storage with low center of gravity
- Overall Dimensions: 20x14.5x7 .Weight:5.6 lbs
Travelpro is known for their outstanding quality in their luggage. They have a line of different travel bag styles, and the Maxlite 4 is one of their top sought models. With its professional styling, this carry-on rollaboard will make your journey simple and straightforward.
It is absolutely light weighing only 5.9 pounds. When you add your travel essentials, you will not be dealing with a heavy carry-on luggage to give you trouble fitting it into airplane compartments. It comes with two rollaboard wheels. Since they usually require more effort to pull, you will find that Maxlite 4 does not put any pressure on your wrists and joints because it is lightweight.
You will like that it comes with a telescoping handle that can stop at your ideal height whether at 38 inches or 42.5 inches. The handle is built using airline-grade aluminum that speaks durability. Not to mention, it boasts a honeycomb frame and polyester fabric construction that is water and stain resistant.
This suitcase can expand to 2 inches to allow packing of extra stuff. It also includes an interior lid pocket, adjustable hold-down straps, and a side accessory pocket.
For security, this luggage has durable zipper pulls that are deemed some of the best in the industry.
Drawbacks but not Deal Breakers
Maxlite 4 is prone to tipping. We find this is a common issue with two-wheeled models since they cannot stand on their own. For a stable model, you can opt for the Maxlite 3 spinner that is lighter but smaller than the Maxlite 4.
>> You might also like our best day packs for 2019, these can packed in your suitcase ready for explore when you arrive
Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 4-Wheel Carry-On Luggage
- EFFORTLESS HANDLING: (i) Multi-directional 4-wheel spinners allow smooth 360° degree movement on any terrain for complete mobility free-weight rolling (ii) Four molded side feet allow luggage to stand upright on its side.
- (iii) Retractable push-button telescoping handle with two lock positions for ultimate control and maneuverability (iv) Top and side easy grab handles.
- ORGANIZED COMPARTMENTS: (i) Two spacious fully lined compartments allow for double sided packing (ii) Large interior organizer zipper pocket to store smaller items (iii) Garment restraint straps help hold clothes and contents in place.
- PERFECT SIZE: (i) TSA and IATA approved exterior dimensions (21.75"H x 14.5"W x 8.5"D) that meet almost all domestic and international airline requirements and fits into overhead bins of both small and large planes. (ii) Packing Dimension's: 20.0" H x 13.25" W x 7.5" D.
- LIGHTWEIGHT & DURABLE: (i) Only 6.25 lbs. (ii) Durable, lightweight, and water-resistant hardshell (iii) Easily cleaned.
Available in many different colors, the Kevin Cole Reaction Out of Bounds will let you travel in style. Whether you want a chic or professional look, all you have to do is pick a color. At only 19 inches high, this is one of the hard-sided suitcases that you never have to worry about flexibility.
Four spinner wheels will glide effortlessly beside you to make your movements around the airport smooth. It is very stable on smooth surfaces of any airport so you won’t have to keep your hand or foot on the bag at all times.
This luggage weighs only 6.25 pounds. With a construction from tough ABS, it still manages to bring the weight considerably low so you will meet airline restrictions with no problem. You will like that the interior has a soft lining, and it even includes zippered flaps still on the inside where you can put dirty items separate from the rest of the stuff.
On the exterior of the suitcase, you will find a U-shaped zipper pocket. It also increases the storage capacity of the luggage. The zipper is credited to take pressure even when you squeeze in an extra pair of shoes.
Drawbacks but not Deal Breakers
This suitcase will not do well on rugged surfaces. The wheels will most likely break off if you roll it on a rough path.
Eagle Creek No Matter What Flatbed Carry-On Duffel (Best for Europe)
- Constructed with durable, water-resistant Bi-Tech material with bartack reinforcement on all stress points
- Sturdy handle system and heavy-duty oversized wheels with wheel housing and bumper protection
- #10 lockable, self-repairing zippers on main compartment with storm flap protection
- External compression straps with daisy chains for gear attachment.Multiple carry handles for easy grab and go
- 14 x 20 x 9 in
The Eagle Creek No Matter What 20-inch duffel is all about convenience. It will easily fit on most airline overhead compartments since it is soft sided. It is quite a durable suitcase as it showcases construction from a Bi-tech material with bartack reinforcements around all the points that are prone to tears.
The oversized wheels are all reinforced for smooth glides in all types of surfaces. If you are traveling in areas you know are going to need some more effort to pull, this luggage exempts you from such stress. You will like that it is weatherproofed meaning water will not get into the interior.
A robust handle graces the system to provide simple handling. The handle is stored in a recessed design to keep it safe from scraping or breaking when it’s not in use. It also comes with a side handle to help in lifting the suitcase up and down the stairs where the steps are too steep.
When it comes to organizing stuff, you have a stash bag on the top and a smaller compartment with No.10 lockable zippers. The inside of the duffel includes a mash panel organizer and the main compartment where most of your items will go.
Drawbacks but not Deal Breakers
The retractable bag is not padded. It may bring some sought of discomfort if you pull it for extended periods.
Best Lightweight Checked Suitcases for International Travel
Samsonite Mightlight 2 Softside Spinner Checked Suitcase
- Four multi-directional spherical spinner wheels for easy mobility
- Constructed of ultra lightweight nylon fabric with samguard water-resistant coating for strength and durability
- Integrated carry-handles provide comfort when lifting a fully packed case
- Ultra lightweight beveled alloy pull handle
- Body Dimensions: 25.5" x 18.0" x 9.5"
If you are looking for lightweight checked luggage with spinner wheels, you will want to consider the Samsonite Mightlite 2. It is a soft side spinner weighing in at only 8 pounds. It’s not that any compromises have been made with the construction since it is made of a heavy-duty nylon fabric. It includes a samguard water-resistant coating to make it weather resistant and improve its durability.
The multi-direction spinner wheels are important in making it easy to maneuver through crowded spaces. This is because they are easy to turn and will also be easy on your joints and wrists. The alloy pull handle is beveled for comfortable handling. It eliminates any extra stress when you are pulling a full suitcase over a long distance.
Apart from the main compartment, this luggage also comes with three zippered pockets on the outside. You will have enough room to bring every essential item that you want for your trip.
Drawbacks but not Deal Breakers
There are complaints about a broken zipper if you overstuff the suitcase. It is vital to understand your limits instead of risking a snapped zipper when you are at the airport.
TravelPro Elite Platinum 25” Expandable Spinner Checked Suitcase
- Precision Glide System includes Contour Grip, adjustable 4-stop PowerScope handle and MagnaTrac spinner wheels for precise control and effortless roll. The capacity of the product is 97 liters
- Tip-resistant tapered expansion adds up to 2" packing capacity when needed. High-density nylon fabric with duraguard coating resists stains and abrasions. Supra zipper heads are engineered to resist damage from frequent use and abuse
- Built-in, fold-out suiter keeps clothes wrinkle-free during travel. Interior tie down system includes built-in accessory pockets. Premium leather top and side carry handles plus bottom cup provide comfortable carrying options. Integrated lock allows TSA authorities to safely unlock and lock suitcase for inspection when needed (default lock code is 0-0-0 to open, slide button towards the dial)
- Backed by our built for a lifetime limited worry free warranty that covers the cost of repair for damage from airline or other common carrier for the life of the bag after registration under the trusted companion promise
- Case Dimensions: 25x18x11.25, Overall Dimensions: 28x18.5x11.75 Weight: 9.8lbs
TravelPro is always ahead of the game when it comes to international travel. It is evident in their Platinum Elite that this brand brings perfection in your travel. This particular checked luggage has a height of 25 inches. It is a medium-sized model that is ideal for medium and long trips.
With its tapered design, you can expand it to get two more inches when you have more than a few travel necessities to bring along. We like that its weight is easy to manage thanks to the four Magnatrac spinner wheels. If you feel the weight is still too much, you can go for the Maxlite 5 that is 2 pounds lighter than this Platinum Elite model.
With the Platinum Elite, you get a 4-stop PowerScope handle with a contoured grip. It comes with a foldout suiter that keeps clothes wrinkle-free. The suiter will fit in two suits, and it is not removable. You also have accessory pockets that will give you more organized space.
What’s more, this luggage has durable Supra zipper heads and a TSA lock to keep everything protected. It has a lifetime warranty which is unlike other checked luggage.
Drawbacks but not Deal Breakers
Like many spinner suitcases, TravelPro Platinum Elite also faces the same struggles of cruising on rough surfaces. They inhibit movement and most likely will break off if mishandled.
AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage 3-Piece Set
- Hardside spinner set - ideal for trips of any duration; set includes the 20-inch, 24-inch, and 28-inch luggage
- Protective hard shell with scratch-resistant finish; made of extra-thick ABS (thicker than the competition) for enhanced strength and durability
- Fully lined interior with divider; 150D-polyester interior organizer with 3 zippered pockets for conveniently storing smaller items
- Expandable for up to 15% additional packing capacity; solid, strong zippers; telescoping handle for comfortable maneuvering; securely mounted short handle
- 4 double spinner wheels ensure smooth-rolling mobility in any direction
AmazonBasics offers an affordable option to get carry-on and checked luggage size suitcases. This 3-piece set allows you to make an easy choice for all your international travels. The protective hard shell ensures that your luggage arrives in good condition. It has a scratch-resistant finish that also helps to maintain its sparkly condition.
This luggage is as good on the outside as it is on the inside. It has a 150-Denier polyester interior with dividers. For smaller items, you have three zippered compartments that are as important as the main pocket.
The telescoping handle locks into place such that together with the four spinner wheels, it is quite easy to get it rolling even when you are carrying the maximum weight limit. The short handle is securely mounted on the side to facilitate safe and comfortable lifting of your luggage.
If you are traveling large, the three suitcases can be used as they all meet airline size restrictions. But you won’t be getting a strap that can hook the three suitcases together.
Drawbacks but not Deal Breakers
The 28-inch suitcase if expanded may exceed size limitations. We don’t see why AmazonBasics included this option if it is going to be a challenge to use it.
If you are looking for more 3-piece sets, IT luggage touts itself as producing ‘The World’s lightest luggage sets’. Their best seller is the 8 wheel 3-piece set .
- Large checked specs - exterior Dimensions: 31.5 x 18.3 x 10.2 inches, interior Dimensions: 28 x 17.9 x 10.2 inches, weight: 5.29lbs
- Medium checked specs: exterior Dimensions: 27.6 x 16.1 x 10.2 inches, interior Dimensions: 24 x 15.9 x 9 inches, weight: 4.51lbs
- Carry-on specs: exterior Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches, interior Dimensions: 18.7 x 13 x 9 inches, weight: 4.07lbs
- The exterior features 2 zip pockets, while the interior features 1 large zip mesh pocket and 2 tie-down straps
Wrapping Up – The Best Lightweight Suitcases: Our Verdict
It feels good when you have all your belongings in the right size luggage. Our Best Lightweight Suitcases for International Travel are from some of the top brands. These pieces of luggage are all of high-quality, durable, and meet international suitcase size recommendations by most airlines. We hope you will find the one that is right for you.