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12 highly-rated affordable luggage options for your next trip

No, a quality suitcase doesn’t have to break the bank. These picks are expert-recommended and friendly on the budget.
Look for budget-friendly luggage made with materials built to last.
Look for budget-friendly luggage made with materials built to last. Kara Birnbaum/ NBC

Buying airline tickets. Shelling out for a hotel. Booking experiences like a guided tour or museum tickets. Vacation can get pricey. If you also need new luggage? Well, that can add yet another expense. The good news is there are plenty of affordable luggage on the market that are convenient to use and durable enough to keep your essentials safe while traveling.

As the daughter of a pilot, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the world. I’ve been to over 30 countries and have used every type of luggage imaginable. For example, a compact weekender bag is my go-to for a quick trip with pals. A good wheeled carry-on works in almost any situation—and a larger, checked wheelie is perfect for longer vacations. When I traveled through Asia, I found that slinging a duffle bag over my shoulder made the most sense because much of the terrain wasn’t appropriate for wheels. Regardless of the type of traveling I’m doing, I’ve always preferred spending my money on experiences rather than pouring it into my luggage. And some of my favorite pieces that have stood the test of time have cost well under $150.

SKIP AHEAD The best affordable of 2023 | How to shop for the best affordable luggage

To help you find your own high-quality but affordable options, we consulted experts about what to look for when shopping and compiled recommendations in various luggage categories based on their advice.

How we picked the best affordable luggage

We spoke to travel experts to get their guidance on what to look for in affordable luggage. Based on their guidance, we kept the following in mind when sourcing top-rated options:

Materials: We recommend both hardside and soft luggage, for each making sure they’re crafted from materials like plastic or nylon that are made to hold up to being thrown in trunks or on airplanes.

Zippers: According to our experts, metal zippers are more sturdy than plastic. So, we prioritized picks with those.

Wheels: If a piece of luggage has wheels, we prioritized 360-degree spinner wheels for easy maneuverability.

Weight: All bags on our list weigh under 15 pounds for ease of carrying.

Airline requirements: The TSA does not have requirements when it comes to luggage size—they defer to airlines for those guidelines. The FAA notes that most airlines have a maximum carry-on requirement of 45 linear inches (that’s the total sum if you add up height, width and depth). It is always best to check with the airline you are flying before arriving at the airport. For checked luggage, the requirement across airlines is usually 62 linear inches. Whether a carry-on or checked bag, we made sure our picks fell within these requirements.

The best affordable luggage

Below, we rounded up affordable hardside and softside suitcases, as well as duffel bags and weekender totes we think you should know about. We used expert guidance to make our picks and also added highly rated options from Select reader favorite brands.

Best Affordable Hardside Suitcases

Amazon Basics 30-Inch Hardside Spinner

Looking for a larger bag you can check? This 30-inch option from Amazon Basics has a 4.6-average star rating out of 40,191 reviews on Amazon. It has a scratch-resistant protective hard shell, according to the brand. A zipper expansion allows you to increase the size of the bag by 15 percent if you need more room. This suitcase has 4 multi-directional spinner wheels, meaning it can be rolled easily in any direction. On the inside, you’ll find a divider along with three zippered pockets for smaller items. This suitcase comes in orange, black, navy and blue.

Amazon Basics 30-Inch Hardside Spinner

$130.78

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Expandable 24-Inch Suitcase

Annie Daly, a travel writer and author of Destination Wellness, says that Samsonite is one of her favorite affordable luggage brands. In fact, she used a similar style from the brand on a long trip she took to report her book that took her from New York to Hawaii to Japan to India to Norway to Brazil and finally to Jamaica and says it held up exceptionally well. This 24-inch rolling suitcase is considered to be a medium sized checked bag. It has 4 multi-directional wheels, a telescopic handle and a 1.5” expansion that allows you to pack more items. Samsonite says that the hard shell is made to absorb any impact by flexing under stress and then popping back to its original shape to eliminate dents and protect your belongings. It has a 4.5-average star rating out of 19,578 reviews on Amazon.

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Expandable 24-Inch Suitcase

$149.27
$269.99

Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 20-Inch Carry-On

This 20-inch carry-on suitcase meets the requirements for most airlines overhead storage compartments, according to the brand and has a 4.4-average star rating out of 16,658 reviews on Amazon. It has multi-directional spinning wheels and reinforced corners to protect against extra wear and tear, according to the brand. Inside, it contains a zippered organization pocket and garment restraint straps to hold clothes in place. It weighs 5.65 pounds, making it relatively lightweight and comes in colors like midnight black, rose gold and scarlet red.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Out of Bounds 20-Inch Carry-On

$89.99

Best Affordable Softside Suitcases

SwissGear Sion Softside Expandable Carry-On

While our experts agreed that hardside bags tend to be more durable, they noted that softside options can be easier to squeeze into tight spaces. This polyester option has multiple front panel pockets that can be used to store things like reading materials, laptops and more. At 20-inches, this bag fits most airline carry-on requirements and comes with multi-directional spinner wheels and reinforced side handles that make it easy to lift into an overhead compartment. Inside, you’ll find a removable zippered wet bag and a large mesh pocket. It weighs 7.96 pounds and has a 4.5-average star rating out of 12,827 reviews on Amazon.

SwissGear Sion Softside Expandable Carry-On

$119.99

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside 22-Inch Carry-On

This brand is known for being the favorite suitcase brand of pilots and flight attendants—something I can attest to; my father, a commercial airline pilot, has used this brand for nearly 40 years. At 22-inches, this is a larger carry-on option and is a rollerboard model, meaning it has only two wheels. While our experts said they mostly prefer luggage with 4 multi-directional wheels, Daly noted that rollerboard models can be good if you are traveling to a place that has lots of cobblestone streets or other tricky terrain. This bag weighs in at 9 pounds and has a 4.5-average star rating from 3,951 reviews on Amazon.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside 22-Inch Carry-On

$144.49
$169.99

American Tourister Belle Voyage Softside 25-Inch Luggage

American Tourister is another favorite brand of Daly’s for high-quality, affordable luggage. This 25-inch checked bag has multi-directional spinner wheels and a zippered front pocket. It can expand by 1.5-inches for extra room and the inside has a zippered mesh pocket, as well as garment restraint straps. It weighs just under 9 pounds and has a 4.6-average star rating out of 2,285 reviews on Amazon.

American Tourister Belle Voyage Softside 25-Inch Luggage

$101.98
$169.99
$78.90
$129.99

Best Affordable Duffel Bags

Adidas Defender 4 Medium Duffel Bag

If you prefer to throw a bag over one shoulder when traveling, this lightweight duffel bag from Adidas is a good option. Its dimensions are 12 inches by 24.75 inches by 13 inches, making it small enough to be used as a carry-on, but big enough to fit three to four outfits. The bag is made from durable polyester, which is easy to wipe down and clean, according to our experts. The shoulder strap is adjustable and the bag has a roomy middle compartment, along with two zippered side pockets on either end (great for storing shoes or other accessories). It has a 4.8-average star rating out of 4,957 reviews.

Adidas Defender 4 Medium Duffel Bag

$36.35
$45.00

G4Free 40L 3-Way Duffel Bag

Made from a nylon fabric, this bag is water and tear-resistant, according to the brand. It measures 12 inches by 23 inches by 10 inches, so it can be used as a carry-on on most airlines. This bag has one large compartment, as well as a side compartment intended to store shoes and a small zippered pocket at the front. This duffel has smaller top straps to carry it by hand, an adjustable shoulder strap to sling over one shoulder, and detachable, padded shoulder straps so that you can wear it as a backpack. It has a 4.6-average star rating from 2,197 reviews on Amazon.

G4Free 40L 3-Way Duffel Bag

$34.99
$45.99

Olympia U.S.A. 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel

Prefer a duffel shape but still want the option of rolling your bag? This Olympia U.S.A. bag has top handles or a telescopic handle that can be pulled out to roll it. It comes in a 22-, 26-, 29- and 33-inch version. It weighs 5 pounds and has 8 different pockets—including side compartments and top zippered pockets. This bag has a 4.5-average star rating from 15,179 reviews on Amazon.

Olympia U.S.A. 8 Pocket Rolling Duffel

$55.99
$110.00

Best Affordable Weekend Bags

Béis The Weekender

I purchased this bag last year and it has quickly become my go-to for trips that are 2-3 days long. It is made of heavy-duty canvas and has two top handles with a 25-centimeter drop that can be carried in hand or fit snugly on one shoulder—it also comes with a detachable, longer shoulder strap if you prefer to carry it that way. This tote has a zippered bottom compartment that is great for keeping shoes or toiletries separate from the rest of your stuff. There’s also a zippered pocket on the back that becomes a trolley sleeve when unzipped, so you can slide it over the handle of a rolling bag if you want to take it on a longer trip. It comes in a variety of colors—like black, Atlas Pink and Creamsicle.

Béis The Weekender

$108.00

Everlane The ReNew Transit Weekender

This bag was a top pick in our guide to the best weekender bags. Everlane’s ReNew Transit Weekender is made with a water-resistant finish and made with 100 percent recycled polyester, according to the brand. It has a 9-inch top handle, an adjustable shoulder strap and a padded laptop sleeve on the interior, and it comes in Black, Warm Quartz, Warm Charcoal, Nutria and Ocean Cavern.

Everlane The ReNew Transit Weekender

$95.00

Vera Bradley Weekender Travel Bag

Another pick from our best weekender bag story, this option Vera Bradley has five mesh internal pockets and two additional zipper pockets to keep smaller items organized. It also has a trolley sleeve to slip on top of a rolling suitcase and is small enough to be considered carry-on. It comes in a variety of prints and patterns, like Hope Blooms, Paisley Jamboree and Island Garden.

Vera Bradley Weekender Travel Bag

$106.33
$155.00

How to shop for the best affordable luggage

If you're in the market for affordable luggage, here’s what our experts recommended keep in mind while shopping:

Bag Type: Knowing the type of luggage that suits your needs is important. Bags with wheels are helpful for people who are packing a lot or traversing large airports or multiple destinations, says Daly. Some people prefer to sling a bag over their shoulder, especially if their destination isn’t wheel-friendly (think cobblestone or dirt roads). Wheeled bags and duffel bags can be found in carry-on or checked bag size, depending on your needs. Finally, weekend bags are great for 1-3 days trips or as a carry-on when you are checking a larger bag.

Materials: Rolling suitcases come in hard-side or soft-side options. “I prefer hard-side bags because they’ve always been more durable for me,” says Daly. “They’re also water-resistant, which is helpful—when traveling, you have to be prepared for anything Mother Nature throws your way.” That said, some people feel they can stuff more into a softside bag because they have a bit more give. “They are also more flexible and easier to stuff into tight spaces,” says David Leiter, creator of the popular travel blog, The World Travel Guy. If you are opting for a soft-side suitcase or a duffel bag, Daly recommends something made from polyester or nylon, which tend to be the most durable and are also water-resistant. Weekender bags are often made from cotton or canvas, but are often used for shorter amounts of time and aren’t checked at the airport, reducing wear and tear.

Zippers: The last thing you want is for the zipper on your bag to break mid-trip. “Metal zippers tend to be more durable than plastic,” says Daly. She also recommends looking for bags that have two zippers. “This usually means you can unzip a bag from either side, which is handy if you are trying to access your stuff quickly on the go.”

Wheels: If you do a lot of traveling, both Daly and Leiter recommended choosing a bag with four multi-directional spinner wheels that can stay upright as you move it—rather than having to tip it for it to roll. However, Daly notes if you tend to travel places that have cobblestone or uneven streets, two-wheel options may come in handy.

Weight: For ease of portability, every bag we selected weighs under 15 pounds. Just know that weight limitations on both carry-on and checked bags vary depending on the airline you travel on. It is always wise to check what your airline’s requirements are before you head to the airport.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

Annie Daly is a NYC-based travel writer and author of Destination Wellness, about healthy living philosophies around the world.

David Leiter is a founder of The World Travel Guy, a popular travel blog. He has traveled to dozens of countries, almost always doing so on a budget.

Why trust Select?

Bethany Heitman is a contributor at NBC Select and a journalist who regularly covers topics like travel, home and lifestyle. She is also a frequent traveler herself and has been to more than 30 countries. For this story, she interviewed two experts to gather their guidance and sought out highly-rated luggage based on their shopping recommendations.

Catch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

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