What does a carry-on bag look like?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

When it comes to traveling by air, one of the most important things to consider is the type of luggage to bring. For short trips, a carry-on bag is often the best choice. A carry-on bag is a piece of luggage that you can bring with you onto the plane and store in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you.

However, not all carry-on bags are created equal. There are many different types and styles of carry-on luggage available, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. In this article, we will take a closer look at what a carry-on bag looks like, the different types available, and how to choose the right one for your travel needs.

Airline Carry-On Restrictions

Before we dive into the different types of carry-on bags available, it’s important to be aware of the airline carry-on restrictions. Each airline has its own set of rules and regulations regarding the size, weight, and number of carry-on bags allowed per passenger.

Some airlines may allow one carry-on bag and one personal item, while others may only allow one carry-on bag. It’s important to check with your airline before you fly to ensure that you comply with their carry-on restrictions.

Size and Weight Guidelines

Generally, carry-on bags must be small enough to fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. The typical size limit for a carry-on bag is around 22 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep.

Weight restrictions vary by airline, but a typical limit is around 40 pounds. It’s important to keep in mind that if your bag exceeds the size or weight limit, you may be required to check it at the gate, which can result in additional fees.

Types of Carry-On Bags

There are several different types of carry-on bags available, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Some of the most common types include:

Hard Shell Carry-Ons

Hard shell carry-on bags are made of tough, durable materials such as polycarbonate or ABS plastic. They offer excellent protection for your belongings and are typically lightweight. However, they can be bulky and may not be as flexible as soft shell bags.

Soft Shell Carry-Ons

Soft shell carry-on bags are made of fabric materials such as nylon or polyester. They are more flexible than hard shell bags, which makes them easier to pack. However, they may not offer as much protection for your belongings.

Wheeled Carry-Ons

Wheeled carry-on bags are equipped with wheels and a handle, which makes them easy to maneuver through the airport. They are available in both hard and soft shell options.

Backpacks and Duffel Bags

Backpacks and duffel bags are great for travelers who prefer to carry their luggage on their back or shoulder. They are typically made of soft materials and are available in a wide range of sizes and styles.

Organizing Your Carry-On

Regardless of the type of carry-on bag you choose, it’s important to pack it in an organized manner. This can help you maximize space and ensure that your belongings are easily accessible.

Some tips for organizing your carry-on bag include:

  • Use packing cubes or compression bags to keep clothing and accessories neatly organized
  • Pack heavier items at the bottom of the bag to help distribute weight evenly
  • Use the pockets and compartments in your bag to keep smaller items easily accessible

TSA Regulations for Carry-Ons

When traveling by air, it’s important to be aware of the TSA regulations for carry-on bags. Some items, such as liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces, are prohibited in carry-on bags.

Other items, such as sharp objects or firearms, are also prohibited in carry-on bags. It’s important to check the TSA website before you fly to ensure that you comply with their regulations.

Packing Tips for Carry-Ons

When packing for a trip, it’s important to be strategic about what you bring with you. Here are some tips for packing a carry-on bag:

  • Choose versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits
  • Roll your clothing instead of folding it to save space
  • Use travel-sized toiletries to save space and comply with TSA regulations


In conclusion, a carry-on bag is a great option for short trips and can help you avoid the hassle and expense of checking a bag. When choosing a carry-on bag, consider the airline restrictions, size and weight guidelines, and the type of bag that will best suit your needs. With careful planning and organization, you can pack everything you need into a compact, convenient carry-on bag.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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