The best luggage for European travel depends on multiple factors, including how long you plan on staying, whether you’re visiting one or more cities, and how you plan on traveling. A couple heading to Rome on their honeymoon needs very different bags than the student taking a gap year to hike from Paris to Berlin. We’ve put together this guide to help you select the best bag for Europe travel, no matter how you explore the many countries, towns, and villages that make up the EU.
Backpacking day trips
A backpack is an essential piece of luggage for European travel, because it’s so versatile. A small backpack makes an excellent personal item for international flights, giving you easy access to tablets, laptops, books, snacks, and travel documents. When you reach your destination, use your backpack for day trips, hikes, and shopping trips.
Choose a backpack with plenty of pockets and compartments. A backpack has less storage space than a suitcase, so choose a bag with multiple compartments to keep contents organized. Water-resistant bag exteriors are a must for when you’re hiking or exploring. Ideally, choose a backpack made from abrasion-resistant materials, as the bag will be exposed to bumps, bashes, and the elements while you travel.
- The Maxlite® Laptop Travel Backpack is designed for total convenience on the move. Stay organized with padded laptop and tablet sleeves. Plenty of interior and exterior pockets to store all of our travel necessities. Plus, the ECOFAB™ interior lining is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles to help reduce environmental waste.
- The Bold™ By Travelpro® Computer Backpack With Compartments includes padded sleeves for a laptop and tablet, each accessible through exterior zippers. Dual side pockets offer space for water bottles and compact umbrellas, and a rear strap fits over rolling luggage handles to make transportation a snap.
One city, a few days
Travelers who prefer to stay at a hotel and devote a few days to exploring a single city can use backpacks while they’re out and about but are better served by carry-on luggage. A carry-on bag lets you pack more and has enough room for two people’s clothing if they pack light for a short trip. Carry-ons are lighter and more maneuverable than full-sized suitcases and often expand to accommodate any souvenirs you might buy on your journey.
The best carry-on luggage for Europe travel are wheeled spinners that meet your airline's international carry-on dimensions. Check your airline before flying to confirm your carry-on meets their size restrictions.
Below is a selection of the best carry-on luggage for Europe:
- The Maxlite® 5 International Carry on Spinner may become your new favorite compact, all-in-one suitcase for short trips that fits all of your travel essentials. ECOFAB® lining made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles helps reduce environmental waste.
- The Crew™ VersaPack™ Global Carry-On Expandable Spinner comes with a removable Zip-In Garment Organizer and can be customized by adding additional Travelpro® Zip-In Organizers, such as a Laundry Organizer, Packing Cubes Organizer, and All-In-One Organizer. Plus, it expands in case you over-shop while away.
- The Platinum® Elite Carry-On Rolling Garment Bag is a great solution for wrinkle-free globe trotting. Interior pockets hold folded clothing, undergarments, and accessories, while a padded roll bar helps prevent creases in hanging suits, dresses, and shirts.
Multiple cities, few days
If you plan to visit multiple European cities for a few days, a combination of checked and carry-on luggage may serve you well. You'll have more room for clothing and extra space for purchases. Sticking to a single checked item and a carry-on bag or backpack also makes navigating train stations and airports easier. Possible luggage solutions for short, multi-city European trips include:
- The Maxlite® 5 Carry Me Away Carry-On Luggage Set lets you travel with ease with our lightest wheeled carry-on luggage and our smart and compact tote. The four wheels spinner provides you with an effortless roll, while the stylish luggage tote is the perfect grab-and-go bag for small personal items.
- The Platinum® Elite Compact Carry-On / Large Check-In Hardside Set takes you just about anywhere in sophisticated style and ultimate comfort with a large, expandable, ultra-durable hard-sided check-in spinner that can be used for multiple people and a compact carry-on spinner ideal for keeping all your onboard needs handy in route.
- The Platinum® Elite Backpack / 21" Carry-On Luggage Set combines a slim spinner tote with a durable backpack. At 21 inches, the spinner tote meets the international carry-on dimensions of most airlines and includes a built-in USB port and power bank pocket (battery not included). The backpack includes numerous interior organizing pockets, padded sleeves for laptops and tablets, and an exterior Travelpro QuickSlip pocket ideal for your cell phone.
Suitcase sets are the best luggage for European travel if you plan an extended stay. While it’s relatively easy to live out of a carry-on for a two or three-day trip, if you're staying for 1.5 weeks or more, you’ll need the extra space of one or more suitcases.
Look for suitcases made from sturdy material with durable telescoping handles and wheels to make navigating airports easier. A good handle and wheels are essential out of the airport too: remember you may have to wheel suitcases down narrow, sometimes cobbled streets or carry them up stairs. Once at your hotel, you can choose to unpack or live out of your bag (we recommend unpacking for longer trips to make the hotel room seem more like home).
Below are our choices for the best luggage for extended European travel:
- The Maxlite® 5 Breakaway Luggage Set is designed for convenience, comfort, and ease of motion with both carry-on and check-in size soft-sided spinners that are built lightweight yet ultra-durable, and each expand up to 2 inches when you need more packing space.
- The Travelpro® x Travel + Leisure® Carry-On / Large Check-In Trunk Set features two hard-shell suitcases with rugged 100% polycarbonate exteriors and integrated TSA locks. Split-case construction, zippered divider panels, multiple accessory pockets, and a water-resistant pocket help you maximize storage space and keep contents organized.
- The Platinum® Elite 21/25/29 Luggage Set includes three premium soft-sided spinners that are styled with sophistication and loaded with features. A USB port in the carry-on lets you power devices on the move, while the check-in bags each offer removable suiters for wrinkle prevention.
Visiting Europe is an unforgettable experience filled with history, culture, and fascinating sights. Make the most of your trip by selecting the best possible luggage with our How to Choose a Suitcase Quiz.