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5 Carry-On Luggage for Women Over 60

By Sandra Roussy May 20, 2023 Travel

Are you looking for a carry-on bag? Are you taking a short trip and can fit everything you need into a small suitcase? Carry-ons have risen in popularity and some people travel solely with them.

Last year, for the first time, I traveled with a borrowed carry-on for a two-week international trip. I had always traveled with a checked bag, mostly filled with way more than I needed. Switching to the carry-on forced me to rethink how I pack. It was life-changing! Although, I have to mention that I was traveling in the summer when no winter clothing was needed.

I was really glad I made that decision because when I walked through the Montreal airport baggage claim I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hundreds of lost luggage sitting there lined up, piled up, with their owners in other airports and even other countries.

Thankfully, the situation has somewhat resolved, and air travel is slowly getting back to normal. But one thing is for sure, if possible, I will be traveling with a carry-on only from now on. No more waiting in line at the check-in counter (I check-in online the night before) and no more waiting at the baggage claim.

When I got back from my trip, with my friend’s borrowed carry-on, I set out to find the best carry-on I could afford for my future travels.

Here is the list from my research, my selection, and runners-up.

What to Look for in a Carry-On

Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a carry-on bag.


Every airline carrier has its set size restrictions for carry-ons. Check on the airline’s website for the exact size that is allowed. But the usual standard (and maximum) size you will see is 22” long, 14” wide, and 9” high including the handle and the wheels.


The weight of the empty luggage should be light. Remember, you will be lifting it full of your belongings over your head and into the overhead bin.


Compartments help keep your belongings organized and items, like your shoes, away from the rest of your clothing. Also, look for expandable luggage to adapt to your needs and packing cubes to keep everything organized.

Hard Shell or Soft Shell

This is a personal choice, of course. Hard shells can protect your belongings better but tend to be heavier and break (crack) over time. Soft shells put your items at risk of being damaged, but are generally lighter.


Quality, which of course impacts price, is important because luggage takes a beating when traveling. They get thrown in the back of taxis, crammed into overhead bins, and rolled on sidewalks and airport floors.

The wheels are one of the most important things to look at, because when the wheels break, you’re stuck carrying your bag. That’s not something you want to do. Four-wheel spinners are easier to roll around the airport and are mostly what is on the market today.


Look for a sturdy handle that has different height levels and is made with good-quality lightweight materials.


The look of the carry-on is also to be considered. I personally like black or gray luggage, but if you have a flashy style, by all means, get a bag that reflects your personality.


Luggage is adapting to our times. We can now find charging stations and padded laptop compartments in luggage. Also, I have seen carry-ons with cup holders and electric wheels.

Carry-On Luggage for Women

Best Overall: Samsonite Freeform

Samsonite Freeform

This was my final choice because of all the top-rated reviews it consistently gets. Also, can’t go wrong with Samsonite quality! It’s super lightweight, the handle is sturdy, and the wheels roll on a variety of surfaces with ease. It comes in various fun colors, like mint, powder blue, and dark teal for example. It has inside pockets and a divider. I always travel with packing cubes, so inside compartments aren’t really that important for me.

Best Runner-up: Away The Carry-on

Away The Carry-on

Another carry-on bag that makes the top lists is this 21” spinner from Away. It comes with an optional USB charger, a laundry bag, and an interior compression system. It’s a little pricier than others on this list, but the quality and detailing of the bag support the price point.

Best Budget: AmazonBasics


This 21” AmazonBasics hard shell spinner has over 37,000 reviews and a 78% 5-star rating. It has a protective extra-thick ABS hard shell and a scratch-resistant black finish. The interior is made of polyester and has an organizer with a divider and three zippered pockets for packing smaller items. It’s also expandable that gives up to 15% more packing space. Priced under $100 it’s the most affordable carry-on on our list.

Best Style: CALPAK Hue Carry-On

CALPAK Hue Carry-On

This carry-on, from renowned luggage brand CALPAK, caught my eye for its stylish look and front pocket that includes a laptop sleeve. It comes in some cool colors like moss and pink sand.

Best Soft Shell: SwissGear Sion

SwissGear Sion

This 21” carry-on is the one I borrowed for my two-week trip and packed everything I needed. I especially liked the two front exterior pockets where I could put my passport, boarding pass, and phone. The side handle is super useful for lifting and carrying. The top handle felt a little flimsy, but it was super easy to get around the airports.

Need a smaller bag? Read 10 WEEKEND BAGS FOR WOMEN OVER 60.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Will you be traveling with a carry-on? Which brand do you prefer? Which carry-on on our list is your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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You really didn’t factor in weight. Delsey soft side is lightweight and checks all the boxes, especially durability with a 10 year warranty


Briggs and Riley


I’ve done carryon for years after the pain of lugging a large suitcase around in Italy for a month. All those stairs, trying to use the overhead storage on trains, even trying to quickly get ON the train – so heavy and challenging with that big suitcase! I bought a big compression ziplock bag to pack my clothes. Takes up very little room and acts as a tidy top barrier to what’s underneath. Happy travels everyone! Do what works for you. 😊


I have even used a smaller carryon made by Travelon. I find I can’t lift the regular size carry on up to the overhead bin. It’s only good for a 4 day trip tho. I haven’t checked a bag in years.


I have 2 Travelon leather cross body bags where I hold things like my wallet, passport etc. The strap is reinforced with steel so can’t be cut. I wouldn’t be without them for security reasons.


As I’m based in Switzerland I travel in Europe a fair bit. It’s often by rail but we sometimes have to fly depending on the destination. Over the past few years we’ve learned how to travel light with hand luggage.

For clothing we take co-ordinates we can mix and match easily. For me in summer that’s a couple of pairs of palazzo pants with t-shirts for during the day and tops which are a bit more chic for evenings, perhaps one dress or skirt; I also take a few pieces of costume jewellery. Good sneakers for sightseeing in daytime and sandals for evening, plus a small bag and sheer shawl that rolls up (this doubles up as a head covering should I visit anywhere religious that requires this). It’s amazing how many different outfits you can create from a few pieces of clothing chosen carefully!

Toiletries are decanted into small travel bottles and I choose ones that serve more than one purpose so I’m not overladen.

I used to be one of those women who took far too many things I didn’t wear, but not any more. In my 50s I became older and wiser 😊

The Author

Sandra is the middle-aged woman you hear about who sheds everything she owns and sets out into the world to rediscover and redefine herself. After more than twenty years spent in the fashion industry designing collections for brands such as La Senza, Victoria’s Secret, and JACOB Lingerie, she shifted her path and pursued her longtime passion for writing, traveling, and photography. Sandra was published in the NY Times best selling book Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. A deeply personal essay hand-picked by Elizabeth Gilbert about loss, facing fears, and going after dreams. Visit her website:

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