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Most travelers nowadays zip through the airport trailing their carry-on like a much-loved pet (though thanks to the four-wheelers, the “pet” now heels at their side). What used to be reserved for makeup bags, jewelry and breakables has now become a staple of travel, given the checked-bag fees the airlines decided to tack onto travel back in 2008 and the tightening grip of airline luggage restrictions.

The carry-on market has exploded to keep pace, offering everything from the über expensive designer models to inexpensive canvas models that may or may not make it the through the first trip. We decided to navigate the cluttered waters by taking the advice of top travel pros, so here, in no particular order, are the top five carry-ons per the people with the most frequent flyer miles around.

1. Seth Kugel, the New York Times’ Frugal Traveler, wrote a column recently about his hunt for the perfect carry-on bag. After his 10-year plus bag finally gave up the ghost, he embarked on a quest with some very specific criteria in mind, including compliance with both domestic and international carriers. Though he insisted he “wasn’t going to for the duffel,” his clear winner was the REI 21” Wheely Beast Wheeled Duffel. Described on the REI website as “friendly and fun, yet rugged and practical,” it ticked off most of his requirements, including on price ($149).

2. Over at Peter Greenberg’s “Insider’s Guide to Travel” site, TravelPro’s Atlantic Lumina Hardside Spinner headed the list of “affordable and durable” bags that “you can invest in for 2014 and the years to come.” At $119, the Lumina “brings satin texture to hard-side luggage. In addition to being stylish, it has the necessary functional perks. The carry-on offers a dual-wheel spinner system and an expandable packing compartment and the strength and security of hard-sided luggage.”

3. Writer Katrina Bown Hunt gathered intelligence for Travel + Leisure on a group of multi-tasking bags that do offer everything from “compression systems, built-in laundry chutes and even audio speakers.” The aforementioned four-wheeled variety took top billing, thanks to the ease with which you can steer it down the narrow plane aisles. The $219 Biaggi Contempo Four-Wheel Spinner Collapsible not only checked-off several airport-friendly features, but it offered an extra value: “its biggest appeal may be for those who resent storing their bulky luggage during nontravel time or constantly tripping over their bag inside a hotel room. The Contempo collapses to half its thickness so it’s easy to roll under a bed or tuck against the side of the hotel room closet.”

4. Fodor’s editors road-tested each and every bag for their carry-on bag article, wheeling or carrying them “on the NYC subway, on planes and trains, to Mexico, Italy, Canada, and more.” Editor-in-Chief Arabella Bowen’s pick was the Lands’ End Lighthouse 20” Hybrid Upright Bag. She was wowed by its “amazing value for $248 and a lightweight style that won’t slow you down.” This bag offered the four spinner wheels; a roomy, expandable interior; and the compact size perfect for the overhead. Arabella and her bag went to Venice, which made the lightweight roller-bag “perfect” for navigating the uneven sidewalks and cobblestone streets.

5. When the Travel Channel’s Kayleigh Kulp picked out the best luggage for business travelers she opted for the Briggs and Riley 20-inch Carryon Expandable Wide-Body Upright. At $399, it’s the most expensive bag on this list, as well as the heaviest one, coming in at 9.6 pounds. The “built-in garment sleeve for suits, overall durability and lifetime guarantee” were impressive, as is the fact that it’s a favorite of “airline captain and GlobalHenry.com blogger Henry Biernacki, because he’s able to send the bag to the company for free repair or replacement if something happens en route.” He notes the turnaround time is just a few weeks, putting the traveler back on the road in no time.


 All of these bags have one or multiple zippered compartments, any of which would be perfect for slipping in your SkyMed TAKES YOU HOME or GLOBAL Emergency Travel Services membership papers. Have a favorite carry-on of your own? Why would you recommend it?



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