The Best Luggage For International Travel, From Someone Who's Been to 80 Countries

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The memory of dragging two hand-me-down check-in suitcases — mutilated mesh pockets, tattered zippers, and collapsing corners — from New York to Morocco in 2012 still lives rent-free in my mind. It was my first solo journey, and I had far too much luggage, and unreliable pieces at that (dug from the depths of my mom's attic). It still serves as a reminder of why, when it comes to finding the best luggage for international travel, quality is key.

I've since traveled to about 80 countries, usually toting luggage with straps in lieu of wheels, and mostly personal item carry-on bags only. I was doing great until 2022 (a full decade later!) when this border-bouncing backpacker caved and bought a rolling backpack (a noncommittal hybrid of sorts). Fall in Berlin called for bulky boots and denim, which called for more space — and also, back pain in your 30s is real.

Except I did it again. I bought cheap luggage on a no-name site, and not long later, it ripped to shreds on a cobblestoned corner of Prague, where I bought more cheap luggage — this time a real rolling carry-on suitcase. Not long later, I kicked the crap out of that purchase on a corner in Copenhagen because the plastic wheels wouldn't work.

In other words: I learned the hard way to seriously stop skimping on luggage for international travel, whether it's a travel backpack, a duffle on wheels, or a traditional carry-on. Now, I have the level of luggage I wipe down after yanking off the baggage claim belt because it's too special to scuff. But finding the right suitcase took some serious time and research.

What Makes the Best Luggage For International Travel?

Size and Dimensions of Luggage For International Travel

For starters, you need to make sure that luggage you're investing in fits the size and dimension requirements of the airline, which varies depending on the airline. In general, international carry-on bag limitations are generally about 21.5 x 15.5 x 9 inches, compared to domestic carry-on suitcases, which can be up to 24 x 16 x 10 inches. The dimension requirements for check-in luggage for international travel typically are around 27 x 21 x 14 inches.

Weight Requirements of Luggage For International Travel

Most international airlines cap you at 50 pounds (or 23kg) per piece of check-in luggage for economy class tickets. However, some airlines allow up to 70 pounds or (32kg) per check-in luggage if you're flying business class or first class. And while domestic carry-on limits are generally about 35 pounds, most international flights only allow for about 10 to 20 pounds per carry-on bag (though, oftentimes, no one actually checks this!). Depending on the airline, you are allowed one to two checked bags, one carry-on, and a personal item bag that is stored underneath the seat in front of you. If you're concerned, you can easily weigh your luggage before you get to the airport with a portable scale, which is convenient to keep on hand.

Materials and Durability of Luggage For International Travel

Durability is also particularly important for luggage for international travel — both carry-on and check-in — because it has to survive greater lengths and various terrains. Heading to older cities, such as those in Europe, means you'll need wheels that can handle cobblestones or bumpy streets. And if you're heading anywhere sans elevators or remotely off the grid, you'll need some heavy-duty handles that allow you to carry your bags to your destination without pulling a muscle.

Given the size and weight requirements, choosing between a hard- or soft-shell suitcase also matters. While soft-shell suitcases tend to be more flexible for fitting more for longer trips, hard-shell options tend to be more resilient for rambling around the world. It's also important to note that hard-shell suitcases tend to weigh a bit more than soft-shell suitcases, and if you overpack like every pound matters, this is something to consider. You also need to make sure that, if your luggage has a lock, it's TSA-approved, so it's recognized worldwide.

That's a lot to keep in mind. But, after my fair share of failed attempts, I've done the heavy lifting for you, so you don't have to let lousy luggage become the bane of your next adventure. Shop my picks for the best luggage for international travel, ahead.

Additional reporting by Anvita Reddy

Best Affordable Suitcase For International Travel

Best Affordable Suitcase For International Travel

Amazon Basics Geometric Travel Luggage ($74)

If you're looking for a super basic suitcase to survive some upcoming trips (but it probably won't survive a lifetime), Amazon has you covered. Amazon has a collection of affordable bare-bones rollers that are everything you need and nothing you don't.

Why we love it: This 21.7 x 15 x 10-inch expandable spinner suitcase is under $100 but replete with everything you need for an international carry-on: plenty of space (40 liters) with multiple compartments, an adjustable telescoping handle, 360-degree wheels, and a TSA-approved lock. It's available in pink, black, green, cream, and sunset orange, though not all colors are always in stock

What to keep in mind: This suitcase is a carry-on option. It's a bit cheaper than the other options because it's an Amazon basic, but also because it's not meant to be a check-in piece. It does come in larger sizes, too, if you're in the market for a budget check-in option, but you need to check availability on Amazon, depending on your location and size and color preferences.

Best Adventure Backpack For International Travel

Best Adventure Backpack For International Travel

Helly Hansen Riptide Waterproof Backpack ($170)

Helly Hansen has all sorts of stuff for your next adventure — especially if your vacation is an outdoorsy one. The brand boasts a number of backpacks (and gear, in general) for all types of expeditions, whether you're going trekking through the mountains or wandering through new city streets. I love Helly Hansen for the array of rain jackets I have with its name on 'em. I trust it when Helly Hansen says something is waterproof. That's why I turn to this brand for a backpack that's waterproof, too.

Why we love it: The Riptide Waterproof Backpack is a smart carry-on for international travel because, with 23 liters of organized space, it can fit some extra outfits or safeguard electronics. It's made with TPU coating and has reinforced sealed seams to make sure that your stuff stays dry, whatever the weather (or whatever you're doing!). And it's comfortable with padded, adjustable shoulder straps, a removable and adjustable waist strap, and adjustable sternum straps.

What to keep in mind: While this backpack is considered waterproof, just be careful if it gets fully submerged in water. It's not considered completely waterproof if you're going diving into the depths of the sea, but trekking in the rain is a sure bet. While a waterproof backpack might not be necessary for a vacation to some sunnier spots, it's never a bad idea to have one handy.

Best Suitcase Set For International Travel

Best Suitcase Set For International Travel

Coolife Suitcase Set ($180)

Coolife luggage dates back to 1986 when a couple with decades of experience in luggage manufacturing decided to start their own factory. By 2008, they created Coolife to combine innovative technology and thoughtful designs. And their suitcase sets, like this one, are a testament to their storied experience.

Why we love it: Coolife's suitcase set is a perfect pair. The set is an affordable one, coming in with a price tag for two suitcases that's far below the price of just one elsewhere. It comes in Night Navy, Titanium Gray, Sakura Pink, and Snowy White. The check-in bag is 28 inches tall and weighs 10.5 pounds. The carry-on is 20 inches tall and weighs 6.7 pounds. The carry-on also features an easy-access front compartment with plenty of pockets for storing a laptop (up to 15 inches), your travel journal, and other small items. But the bigger one has a TSA-approved lock to safeguard any valuables, too.

What to keep in mind: While these two suitcases are sold as a set, you can also purchase the pieces separately. So in case you only need a check-in or a carry-on, Coolife is still an option you should keep in mind.

Best Expandable Suitcase For International Travel

Best Expandable Suitcase For International Travel

Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner ($180, originally $240)

Samsonite is a classic when it comes to luggage. The name is well-recognized around the world. While the suitcases aren't the most thoughtfully designed in terms of aesthetics (there are more modern-looking ones on this list), the beauty is all in the details. You can trust Samsonite for reliable luggage that should last.

Why we love it: This 27.95 x 19.6 x 13.4-inch suitcase — for check-in only — is expandable by 1.5 inches, so you can squeeze in that extra stuff when you shop on vacation. And it won't matter as much, since the suitcase saves you some weight at only 8.5 pounds. Cross ribbons, a divider, and plentiful pockets make packing easier, too. For security measures, there's also a built-in ID tag and a TSA three-dial combination recessed lock.

What to keep in mind: This suitcase is made from a highly impact-resistant plastic, but it's not the best of the best in terms of durable materials. However, it also comes with a 10-year global warranty if anything happens to it.

Best Smart Carry-On For International Travel

Best Smart Carry-On For International Travel

July Carry-On ($251, originally $295)

When traveling internationally, you really should be sure to have everything you need within easy reach and that all of your technology is charged. July's suitcases have pockets and places for everything, and they're integrated with smart technology to keep your phone and other electronics alive so you can navigate new places with ease.

Why we love it: We love the lightweight (7.4-pound) July Carry-On because it comes in 12 cool colors and has all sorts of sophisticated and fun features. It's July's signature suitcase, after all. With 42 liters and an ejectable USB-C battery, you can stash your stuff and keep it charged. The 21.5 x 15 x 8.5-inch suitcase's Y-strap compression system maximizes space, and the exterior bumpers and water-resistant nylon lining help keep that space a safe one. Read more in our editor's review of the July carry-on suitcase.

What to keep in mind: If you end up needing to check this bag for whatever reason, remember that'll you need to remove the power bank first, as airlines don't allow power banks in checked luggage. Also note that there are two very similar carry-ons from July: the original and the essential. The original is the one that includes the power bank, making it a tiny bit heavier than the essential one. And while July suitcases are the stuff of dreams, they do come with lifetime warranty and 100-day returns in case your experience is less than dreamy.

Best Carry-On Suitcase For International Travel

Best Carry-On Suitcase For International Travel

Away Travel Bigger Carry-On ($335)

Away is a super cool company that creates more than super cool luggage; it also creates opportunities for people of all backgrounds to travel. For example, among several partnerships, Away works with the nonprofit Global Glimpse to help cover the costs of high school students' first passports. It's also a member of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association and supports the IGLTA Foundation to promote equality and safety for LGBTQ+ travelers. Its suitcases are awesome, too.

Why we love it: The "Bigger Carry-On" boasts 47.9 liters of space to fit six to nine outfits with three mesh pockets, a hanging pocket, and interior compression straps to squeeze in as much as you can. It fits in most domestic airline overhead compartments, which means that you can be confident carrying it onto international airlines, too. The 100 percent lightweight polycarbonate hardshell has been tested to withstand all kinds of conditions, wherever you take it. And a TSA combination lock, 360-degree spinner wheels, and side, top, and underside handles are added conveniences.

What to keep in mind: This version of this suitcase is the "big" carry-on, but it can still nestle inside the check-in suitcase options. You can also opt for a smaller carry-on option of the same suitcase, which has 39.8 liters, but this one works just fine for most airlines, so you might as well snag the extra space for only $20 more.

Best Check-In Luggage For International Travel

Best Check-In Luggage For International Travel

Monos Check-In Large ($355)

Monos is a beautiful brand that's inspired by the Japanese concept of "mono no aware" — a "profound appreciation of the beauty in fleeting moments." Made for travelers by travelers, Monos suitcases value simplicity and timelessness. This large check-in suitcase is just one of the many options.

Why we love it: Monos large check-in suitcase comes in so many creative colors, including this limited-edition Banana Pudding, designed in partnership with New York City's famous Magnolia Bakery. The suitcase is outfitted with a high-quality polycarbonate shell, so it's impact- and dent-resistant. It features a TSA-approved lock, vegan leather details, YKK zippers, a four-level telescopic handle, and four 360-degree spinner wheels.

What to keep in mind: This suitcase weighs 10.58 pounds so it's not the lightest one on the market. That said, it measures 30 x 21 x 11 inches, so it provides ample space for an extended vacation — 99.2 liters, to be exact. The inside has a zippered panel on one side, a pocketed panel, and compression straps to maximize room. Its antimicrobial lining, made from 100 percent recycled polyester, combined with the silver ion-coated laundry bag and two shoe bags, will keep your clothes clean throughout the trip.

Best Hybrid Hard-Soft Suitcase For International Travel

Best Hybrid Hard-Soft Suitcase For International Travel

Calpak Terra 45L Carry-On Luggage ($327, originally $385)

Calpak's carry-on luggage is always a safe choice. And, if you're someone who isn't a fan of hard-shell luggage, Calpak has a cute collection of soft-shell luggage, too. This carry-on suitcase has both hard and soft sections for an appealing middle ground.

Why we love it: Calpak's Terra 45L Carry-On suitcase is cool because it's different from a lot of other options out there. You've got the sturdy and solid base, but the flexible front is made of recycled ripstop polyester with TPU laminate, so it's soft and squishy for squeezing into smaller spaces but not prone to tears. The front also features a 17-inch padded laptop compartment, and the whole thing is expandable by two inches. The suitcase sits at under eight pounds, so you can store a whole bunch of stuff inside and secure it all with a TSA-approved lock.

What to keep in mind: This suitcase is 22 x 14 x 9 inches, so it's a perfect piece for international travel. You can also feel better about your carbon footprint when flying since it was made with 27 recycled plastic bottles.

Most Stylish Luggage For International Travel

Most Stylish Luggage For International Travel

Béis The Large Check-In Roller ($328)

Shay Mitchell's stylish Béis luggage and bags have taken over our social feeds, and these sleek head-turning pieces will make you look oh-so-chic in the airport. Béis's array of luggage combines function with design with a durable hard-sided polycarbonate in plenty of trendy colorways, whether you love neutrals or earth tones or prefer a pop of color. Plus, Béis offers a Limited Lifetime Luggage Warranty too.

Why we love it: The Large Check-In Roller from Béis is a durable and fabulous option that does all the heavy lifting, or smooth gliding, for you with its Hinomoto 360-degree wheels. This suitcase is expandable by two inches and has internal compression straps, so you can pack a few extras and keep everything secure. It also has two internal zipper pockets for all your organizational needs, including a separate shoe bag and a bag for dirty clothes.

With a 112-liter capacity, it's ideal for longer abroad trips. It has four 360-degree wheels that allow for stability and easy maneuverability. The extendable trolley handle is cushioned, making it easy to lug around. Plus, the side carry handle has a weight limit indicator, so you know when you hit the weight limit. And there is a TSA-approved combination lock as well.

What to keep in mind: At about 19.6 x 31.3x 12.6 inches, this suitcase weighs about 11.84 pounds. If you're someone who packs a lot into one suitcase, be careful of weight limits. Many international airlines only allow for about 50 pounds in a checked bag, and this suitcase already takes up a fifth of that coveted weight.

Best Large Backpack For International Travel

Best Large Backpack For International Travel

Fjällräven Kajka 65 ($236, originally $370)

I pledge my allegiance to Fjällräven. I love Fjällräven. I've lived out of my Fjällräven Kajka 65 backpack for years. To be honest, I've lived out of it for the bulk of my nomadic life, and it's still in near-perfect condition despite the (no-exaggeration) wild adventures we've had together. The Fjällräven Kajka 65 backpack is typically a check-in-size backpack, but I've certainly snuck it past check-in counters as a carry-on more times than I can count. Truthfully, it depends on the day. But that's not why I love it so much.

Why we love it: I love this backpack because it's the most durable piece of luggage I've ever had, and it's comfortable, even when I wear my entire life on my back. The support system is designed to evenly distribute the weight inside, and both the back length and the width of the shoulder straps are adjustable to fit you exactly how it should. Plus, you can open the main compartment all the way from the front or from a flexible drawstring top, which allows you to expand or compress the space. You can also keep smelly shoes, dirty gear, or damp clothes in the bottom compartment and squeeze even more in the expandable side pockets. The detachable top lid can also double as a fanny pack.

What to keep in mind: The only thing I don't love about this backpack is the wooden frame, which, to be fair, is a sustainable choice. I just wish the backpack was more squish-down-able when the backpack isn't full, but the frame prevents you from making the backpack appear any smaller. That said, there are external compression straps that help tighten it all up.

Best Wardrobe Luggage For International Travel

Best Wardrobe Luggage For International Travel

Solgaard Check-In Closet ($375)

Solgaard suitcases combine the comforts of home with the necessities of the road. Some of them, like this check-in closet, quite literally turn into portable wardrobes.

Why we love it: Solgaard's Check-In Closet has a built-in shelving system that stands up on its own. The polycarbonate shell opens like a standard suitcase, but the inside shelving system pops out and up. There are shelves and pockets for organizing all of your clothes and gear so you don't have to bother unpacking for just a few days. It's especially ideal if you're staying in places where you may not even be able to unpack, like hostel dorms or outdoor accommodations.

What to keep in mind: To erect the shelves, you can only really use 70 percent of each, otherwise, it may not stand so well or squeeze back into the suitcase. This may not be the best use of the 91 liters, but it does offer the aforementioned convenience. Even better? The shelving system is removable if you're not feeling it.

AnnaMarie Houlis is a PS contributor.

Anvita Reddy is an assistant editor for PS Shopping. She has a passion for products and is an avid reviewer of everything including furniture, mattresses, home gadgets, cookware, tech, and more. Having dealt with acne as a teenager and into adulthood, her expertise lies in beauty. She has tried and tested plenty of skin care, makeup, hair care, and countless other beauty products.