Tuesday, April 16, 2024
LuggageTravel Essentials

The New York Times’ Top Rated Carry-Ons

An important factor every queer traveler will consider when going on vacation is which baggage they should use? Of course, it will depend on where you are headed. A Vacationer headed to an international Pride celebration is going to need a much different wardrobe than someone headed towards adventure with Women Out West. Money is also a factor with the ever-increasing cost of checking your luggage aboard most airlines; so, what are we to do? The answer lies in the perfect carry-on bag. Advances in design and technology have enabled carry-ons to do the same as some checked bags with regard to storage and durability, plus you avoid that additional fee for daring to fly with luggage.  

The New York Times has been tracking the market for carry-ons for over five years now and regularly updates its list of recommendations. Besides their impeccable reputation, you can be assured their findings are sound. According to Times contributor Kit Dillon “More than 130 hours of research—including interviews with numerous luggage experts, frequent-flying friends, family vacationers, and occasional business travelers—along with dozens of hours of testing and tens of thousands of miles of flights went into making these picks. We even went through independent trials with professional flight attendants and high-mileage flyers at what was then Virgin America’s training center in a model cabin of an Airbus A320 as part of our test procedures.”

The following is a review of three of their top picks.


Travelpro Platinum Elite 21” Expandable Spinner

The Platinum Elite 21″ Expandable Carry-On Spinner delivers big on form and function with a tip-resistant expansion that offers up to 2″ more packing capacity (easily accommodating five days’ worth of clothes), a deluxe tie-down system, integrated accessory pockets, and a removable quart-size wet pocket that is TSA compliant and perfect for toiletries. Plus, the drop-in, Fold-out suiter is specifically designed to accommodate hanging clothes and prevent wrinkling. 

The bag features top-of-the-line mobility with its precision glide system that includes eight magnatrac, self-aligning, 360-degree spinner wheels guided by an adjustable PowerScope extension handle with patented contour grip and rubberized touch points for comfortable, easy maneuvering wherever you go. High-density nylon fabric with DuraGuard coating resists stains and abrasions, Supra zipper heads are engineered to resist damage from frequent use and abuse. There is also a built-in USB port so you can charge your devices on the go.

Your bag will also be backed by Travelpro’s lifetime ‘worry-free warranty’ that covers the cost of repair for damage from an airline or other common carrier for the life of the bag after you register the product. At $370, this bag is pricey but well worth it for its value.

Needless to say, this was the Times’ number one recommended carry-on.


Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner

This bag was found to have the highest proportion of usable packing space out of all the spinner bags they tested, a feature further enhanced by the bag’s CX compression system which allows for another full outfit to fit into the case on top of that!

Made with the finest fabrics and hardware, this luxury carry-on also features a garment folder that has been verified to help your pants and shirts stay wrinkle-free as you travel.

Briggs & Riley also offers a lifetime warranty which will cover airline damage to the bag. However, with a hefty price tag of around $650, this item is most beneficial to frequent travelers who will make up their investment on this by avoiding the cost of checking their bags.


Away “The Carry-On”


Away’s lightweight carry-on is built to last, with a durable polycarbonate hard shell that can withstand any journey. It’s sized to fit in the overhead bin of most major airlines and is compact enough for train and car trips alike. Thoughtful details like 360° spinner wheels ensure a smooth ride, and its interior compression system and water-resistant laundry bag make it easy to pack all of your essentials.

This carry-on also features a variety of colors, as opposed to the Times’ other selections. You can stand out from the crowd with a carry-on in petal pink, coastal blue, forest green, or even white. The bag is guaranteed by a limited lifetime warranty that covers any functional damage to the shell, wheels, handles, zippers, or anything else that impairs your use of the luggage.

At $275, this is the most budget-friendly option available that still provides you with impeccable quality and durability.

Click here to see the New York Times full coverage of its carry-on luggage favorites.

Vacationer Staff

Vacationer Magazine's writing staff works hard to bring you all the latest LGBTQ travel articles to help inspire and inform.

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