Best Carry-On Luggage for Empty Nesters + Where to Go Right Now

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
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It’s no secret that empty nesters love to travel! In fact, when new empty nesters (and I know we have a few of you here! 😘) are asked what they’re most looking forward to in the empty nest, the most common answer is travel! I’m right there, and if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I love to travel and do it often! Today, I’m running down the best carry-on luggage for empty nesters.

The Best Carry-On Luggage for Empty Nesters

Recently, Consumer Reports came out with their rating for the best carry-on luggage. Since weekend getaways to see your kids at college, play with the grandkids, or spend time at the beach are pretty much mandatory if you’re an empty nester😊, I thought it would be helpful to share their results with you.

According to the experts, the best luggage for empty nesters is hard-side luggage! It’s a better investment because of its durability. It stands up to wear and tear better than soft-side luggage. The best hard-side bags will store all your stuff (with the capability to expand), have 4 wheels to roll through the airport with style, and stand up to years of use.

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Most airlines require that carry-ons be no larger than 22″ high, 14″ wide, and 9″ deep. All of the ones I’m sharing today fit that criterion. Here are a few things the experts say to keep in mind as you shop:

  1. Make sure the wheels roll and spin smoothly.
  2. Consider the weight. Generally the lighter the better, but make sure that lightweight doesn’t equal poor construction.
  3. Be certain the telescopic handle fits comfortably in your hand and doesn’t rattle when you pull the bag. (That’s a sign of poor construction.)

Note: Since doing so well in Consumer Reports, this luggage has been in great demand! None of them are available on Amazon (You know your girl checked!), so I’ve linked them from the manufacturers. Click the pink text links or images for more information.

1. Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-On Spinner

Scoring 80 out of 100 on Consumer Reports ratings, the Samsonite Outline Pro Carry-On Spinner came out on top! Weighing in at just 6.06 lbs., it features cool integrated extras like a built-in TSA lock and USB port. It’s easy to lift into the overhead compartment, with both top and side grips. Not only that, but the trolley handle and the top and side grips are treated with Samsonite Antimicrobial Handle (Sam-AMH™) technology to keep your hands clean while you travel. (Genius!🙌) It’s $189.99. Click HERE to learn more.

2. Made by Design Hardside 20″ Carry-On Spinner

Made by Design is Target’s in-house luggage brand. (Bet ya didn’t know Target had one of those! I didn’t!) Scoring 78 out of 100 in Consumer Reports ratings, the 7.2 lb. expandable Made by Design Hardside 20″ Carry-On Spinner features lots of compartments, plus top and side grips. (Plus it comes in a variety of cute colors!) It’s $90 at Target. Click HERE to learn more.

3. TravelPro Maxlite Air Expandable Carry-On Spinner

Scoring 76 out of 100 in Consumer Reports ratings, the expandable TravelPro Maxlite Air Expandable Carry-On Spinner has a 100% polycarbonate exterior that will flex if impacted to prevent splitting, cracking, and punctures, as well as reduce visible scratches and scuffs. With a built-in TSA lock and a cool handle that locks in two positions (38” and 42.5”) for travelers of different heights. It’s $169.99 (several colors are reduced to $144.49) at TravelPro. Click HERE to learn more.

Travel Essentials for Empty Nesters

Did you catch the recent post on my Amazon Travel Essentials? If not, you can check it out HERE! I’ve also got a list of all of my travel essentials in the Empty Nest Blessed Shop on Amazon. Click the graphic below to head straight there!

shop the emtpy nest blessed amazon page

By the way, the hottest must-have in the travel arena right now is the Apple AirTag. With the help of a tiny Bluetooth tracker, it lets you track your luggage (or anything else you attach it to) right from your phone. How cool is that? I just placed an order.

Best Destinations for Your Next Empty Nester Getaway

Now that we’ve got you all set to travel in style, where should you go? I asked my friend, travel advisor, and fellow empty nester, Shannon Leyerle (of her suggestions for ideal empty nester vacation destinations right now. Here’s what she said:

“Empty nesters should take advantage of what the travel industry calls “shoulder season” — between peak and off-season. It’s a win/win because destinations are still fully open, but pricing is good!

It’s been a crazy summer for air travel, but I see improvement on the horizon!

Shannon’s Top “Shoulder Season” Travel Ideas for Empty Nesters

  • Overseas: Italy, France, and Iceland.
  • River Cruises: Shannon and her husband recently returned from a river cruise with Uniworld. Check out her Why Go on a River Cruise blog post for all the details.
  • Caribbean: Caribbean resorts tend to get a little quieter with kids in school, so it’s a great time to go!
  • Punta Cana: Shannon planned a girls’ trip for a group of sisters taking their mom for complete relaxation at an amazing spa in Punta Cana post-Labor Day trip! It sounds amazing.
  • Cruises: It’s a great time for cruising — with unbelievable deals and the door opening to guests who are not vaccinated.

If you need help planning an empty nester getaway (or some other kind of getaway), I highly recommend Shannon! You can contact her via her website or via DM on Instagram. To read about the trip she helped us plan to Walt Disney World last spring with our son and daughter-in-law, see THIS blog post.

Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments, okay? I love hearing from you, and it means the world to me when you take a second to share some feedback! xoxo

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  1. Hi Suzy, I enjoyed your post since I’ve recently been shopping for luggage to take on a trip to Israel this fall. I chose a carry on piece from Monos, and a larger checked piece from TravelPro in the same MaxLite collection you suggested. I’ve opted for a duffel tote from Calpak to give that brand a try, too. The older I get, the more I appreciate light luggage and good spinner wheels. I pray you’ll be blessed with safe travels, and no canceled flights!

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words! It sounds like you were a good shopper! I’ve heard good things about Monos, but they weren’t mentioned in the Consumer Reports top 3, so I didn’t mention them!

    I’ve always wanted to go to Israel. I know it will be an amazing time!


  3. Suzy,
    Thank you for such great information on carry on luggage! I’ve had my eye on river cruising for many of the reasons stated in Shannon’s article. So, more great information!

    I’d love to see a post on quality luggage when you check baggages. When I visit the grandkids, I’m there longer and need more than the 20 or 22 inch.

    Thanks as always!

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