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What Are the Different Types of Luggage Carriers?

Luggage carriers come in various forms, from sleek suitcases and durable backpacks to versatile duffel bags and secure hard-shell trolleys. Each type caters to different travel needs, whether you're jet-setting internationally or embarking on a weekend getaway. Consider your journey's demands: will you navigate cobblestone streets, or require swift airport transitions? Discover which carrier aligns with your adventure ahead. What's your travel style?
K. K. Lowen
K. K. Lowen

There are several different types of luggage carriers. Some luggage carriers are designed to be pulled by a person, while others attach to the top of a car. Other luggage carriers are racks or holders that people can install in the back of vehicles or in the trunks of cars.

One type of luggage carrier sits on two wheels and often resembles an ordinary hand truck, sometimes called a dolly. The items vary in size. Smaller carriers may only handle a single piece of luggage, whereas larger models may be built to carry more than one bag or suitcase. Two-wheeled luggage carriers are designed to absorb the weight of luggage while a person pulls or pushes it.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Luggage carriers meant for people to pull or push have many different optional features. Many provide a strap or other device that helps to secure the luggage on the carrier. Some of the carriers have different types of grips on the handle, often made of rubber or vinyl, to help make them more comfortable to use. Another popular feature is a folding function, which decreases the amount of space taken up by the carrier when not in use.

A car-top luggage carrier is designed for placement on top of an automobile, allowing travelers to use the space inside the car for other items. Manufacturers make car-top carriers in a range of sizes and styles. Some car-top luggage carriers are small and hold only a few bags or suitcases, which may be especially helpful for vehicles with small roof areas. People who drive larger vehicles, such as vans or sport utility vehicles, may choose to attach a larger carrier to the roof of a vehicle. As a safety measure, carriers for the tops of vehicles usually have a weight limit.

Many car-top luggage carriers are designed to fit universally on vehicles that already have roof racks, bars that are often attached to the tops of cars. The carriers must usually be strapped to a car roof with a roof rack system, but sometimes they utilize other methods to secure the carrier to the rack. Manufacturers may make rack-ready carriers from a number of different materials, including heavy plastic. Regardless of the material used, the goal is usually to keep the luggage inside the carrier protected from weather conditions. Car-top carriers may have various special features, including size adjustment, easy detach methods, or a super light weight so that people can carry the luggage carrier to and from the car with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common types of luggage carriers for air travel?

For air travel, the most common luggage carriers include hard-shell suitcases, which offer protection against impacts, and soft-sided suitcases, known for their flexibility and lighter weight. Expandable suitcases are also popular, providing additional space when needed. Carry-on bags and wheeled backpacks are ideal for those looking to keep essentials close during a flight.

How do I choose the best luggage carrier for a road trip?

When selecting a luggage carrier for a road trip, consider a rooftop cargo box or bag if you need extra space without compromising seating. These carriers are aerodynamic and secure, though they require a roof rack for mounting. Soft-sided carriers are more flexible for tight spaces, while hard-shell carriers offer better protection against the elements.

What luggage carrier should I use for adventure travel?

For adventure travel, durability and versatility are key. Duffel bags with rugged construction and water-resistant materials are ideal. Many come with straps for carrying as a backpack. Adventure travelers often prefer wheeled duffels for ease of transport over uneven terrain. Internal frame backpacks are also a top choice for hikers and trekkers.

Are there eco-friendly luggage carrier options available?

Yes, eco-friendly luggage carriers are available and are made from sustainable materials like recycled plastics or organic fabrics. Brands like Patagonia and Samsonite offer environmentally conscious options. For instance, Samsonite's Eco-Nu line is crafted from recycled plastic bottles, reducing environmental impact without sacrificing quality or durability.

What size luggage carrier is allowed as a carry-on for most airlines?

Most airlines permit carry-on luggage that fits within the dimensions of 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, including handles and wheels. However, size restrictions can vary by airline, so it's essential to check with your specific carrier before traveling. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), these dimensions are guidelines to ensure compatibility with overhead bins.

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Discussion Comments


@dfoster85 - I agree that those cartop luggage carriers are handy, but they do have to be used carefully. The driver needs to be aware that they will change the center of gravity of the car!

It's also important to make sure that your don't wind up overloading your car. Cars will have a certain maximum weight limit for the car, passengers, and cargo; find out what yours is and be careful not to exceed it. (It can be surprisingly easy to do this. Even SUVs do not always carry as much, weight-wise, as you would expect them to.)


You don't see as many of those rooftop luggage carriers as you used to - I guess because more people have minivans and SUVs now and fewer people have station wagons (the traditional vehicle for a rooftop carrier).

Personally, I think they're great! You don't *always* need as much space as you get with an SUV, so why would you *always* pay for the gas to haul it around with you?

A rooftop carrier allows you to have extra room just when you need it, like when you're heading to the beach with the kids and have to pack beach towels and lawn chairs and five different flotation devices. Or you're taking your oldest to college and the little ones are riding along. Etc.!

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