Can Your Duffel Bag Be a Carry-On: Pack Right for Your Next Flight?

If you plan to travel by plane, one of the biggest concerns is what you can and cannot bring as carry-on luggage. "Can your duffel bag be a carry-on?" The answer is more complex than you might think, as each airline has carry-on guidelines and restrictions.

Our team at CabinZero will look into several factors to consider whether a duffel bag can be used as a carry-on based on size, shape, and weight requirements. We'll also delve into the policies of major airlines on duffel bags, coupled with valuable tips on packing and using a duffel bag as a carry-on.

By reading this article, you'll better understand whether a duffel bag is a suitable option for your carrying needs and how to use it effectively.

Can You Use a Duffel Bag as a Carry On?

The answer is yes. You can use a duffel bag as a carry-on item. However, you should ensure that the duffel bag's size and weight meet the airline's specific restrictions on carry-on luggage. 

You should also consider the bag's shape, as some airlines have limitations that may affect your duffel bag's usability.

Can a duffel bag be a carry-on? - Photo by Cultura Creative - stock.adobe.com

Choosing a duffel bag specifically designed for travel can make a big difference in convenience and functionality. Look for a bag that is spacious enough to hold all of your essentials.

Consider a duffel with a separate compartment for shoes or dirty laundry to keep your other items clean and fresh.

Another essential factor to consider when carrying a travel duffel is security. Look for a bag with lockable zippers or a TSA-approved lock to keep your belongings secure during transit.

Size and Weight Requirements for Carry-On Bags

Size and weight restrictions on carry-on bags vary by airline, so you should research them in advance. The last thing you want is to arrive at the airport and be charged for oversized/overweight bags.

Size Limits For Carry-On Bags

It's crucial to check the size limits of the airline you're flying with before packing. Most airlines have a standard size limit of 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm) for carry-on bags, but some may have different size restrictions.

Choosing the right carry-on bag size can also impact your travel experience. If it's too large, it may not fit in the overhead bin. It may only hold some of your items if it's too small.

Here's how to check the airline's website for specific carry-on size regulations:

  1. Navigate to the airline's website and locate the "baggage information" section, typically found under a "travel information" or "customer service" tab.
  2. Look for specific information regarding carry-on luggage, including the maximum size of carry-on bags allowed.
  3. Carefully read the airline's carry-on regulations and compare them to the size of your bag before you travel. If you need to know whether your suitcase will meet the airline's requirements, measure it to confirm.
  4. Remember that airlines may have different size restrictions for different travel classes. So check the regulations for your specific ticket type.

By checking the airline's website for specific carry-on size regulations before you travel, you can avoid any unpleasant surprises at the airport and ensure that your journey is as smooth as possible. Make it a habit to check the airline's website every time you plan to travel, and always be prepared with the right size carry-on bag.

Weight Limits For Carry-On Bags

Most airlines have a maximum weight allowed for a carry-on bag of 22 pounds (10 kg). Some airlines also offer the option to purchase additional weight allowances for checked baggage. While this may cost extra, it can be a worthwhile investment if you plan to travel with a roller duffle bag regularly.

Here are the weight restrictions for carry-ons on some of the most popular airlines:

  • British Airways: up to 23kg (51lb)
  • Virgin Atlantic: up to 12kg (26lb)
  • EasyJet: up to 15kg (33lb)
  • Wizz Air: up to 10kg (22lb)
  • Emirates: up to 10kg (22lb)
  • Jet2: up to 10kg (22lb)

TSA Guidelines For Carry-On Bags

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has specific guidelines for carry-on bags (including items not allowed). Therefore, all travellers should be aware of this to ensure a pleasant travel experience. Here are some tips to help you navigate TSA guidelines for your carry-on bag:

  • Liquids: All liquids must be placed in a clear, quart-sized bag, and each container should not exceed 3.4 ounces (100 millilitres). These bags must be removed from your carry-on bag and placed in a bin for screening.
  • Electronics: Laptops, tablets, and other electronics bigger than a cell phone must be removed from your carry-on bag and placed in a separate bin for screening. This includes items such as portable chargers and headphones.
  • Food: Solid food items are allowed in carry-on bags. But any liquid or gel-like foods must follow the same rules as liquids and be placed in a quart-sized bag for screening.
  • Medications: All medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, are allowed in carry-on bags. However, they must be screened separately and declared to the TSA officer.

Complying with TSA guidelines for carry-on bags is crucial - Photo by Svitlana - stock.adobe.com

By complying with these instructions, the security screening will proceed more smoother. Plus, you can avoid any delays or related issues with your carry-on bag.

How Many Litres Should a Carry-on Duffel Be?

Most airlines have a maximum size limit of around 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 56 x 36 x 23 cm, translating to approximately 40 litres of volume. This size is typically large enough to fit all your belongings while adhering to airline size restrictions.

It is noteworthy that while a larger duffel bag may fit within the size limits, it may cause great obstacles to carry if it is filled to the brim. On the other hand, a smaller duffel bag may be more manageable but may need more space for all your travel essentials.

Ultimately, the ideal size for your carry-on duffel bag will depend on your individual needs and preferences, as well as the restrictions of your airline.

Duffle Bag Packing List

Whether heading out for a weekend getaway or a long-awaited vacation, packing your duffel bag can be a daunting experience. With limited space and weight restrictions on flights, bringing only the essentials is crucial. 

To help make packing a breeze, we've put together the ultimate duffel bag packing list. This list includes all the must-have items for a comfortable and problem-free trip.

  • Clothing: Pack clothes that can be easily mixed and matched for ease of loads. Choose versatile pieces that can be dressed up or down, and pack items that can be layered for warmth.
  • Toiletries: Bring travel-sized toiletries, including toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion. Pack them in a clear plastic bag to comply with TSA guidelines.
  • Electronics: Bring essential electronics, such as your phone, charger, and headphones. Pack a camera or tablet for entertainment.
  • Travel documents: Keep your passport, boarding pass, and other essential documents easily accessible in a small pouch or wallet.
  • Snacks: Bring snacks to keep you fueled during your flight, such as granola bars, fruit, or nuts.
  • Other items: Don't forget any other items you may need, such as a travel pillow, eye mask, or earplugs.

By packing strategically and efficiently, you can make the most of the limited space in your duffle bag and ensure a delightful travel experience.

>> Check out: What to pack in carry-on bag for flight?

Tips For Packing A Duffel Bag For Travel

Packing a duffel bag for travel can be challenging, but with a few tips and tricks, you can maximise space and minimise problems. Here are some suggestions for packing a duffel bag for travel:

  • Roll your clothes: Rolling your clothes can help save space and reduce wrinkles. Plus, rolled clothes are easier to pack in a duffel bag than folded ones.
  • Use packing cubes: Packing cubes can help you stay organised and make it easier to find what you need in your duffel bag easier. They also help compress your clothing to save space.
  • Pack heavy items first: Pack heavier items at the bottom of your duffel bag to distribute weight evenly and prevent your bag from tipping over.
  • Utilise small spaces: Use small spaces in your duffel bag, such as the corners or inside pockets, to pack smaller items like socks or accessories.
  • Wear bulky items: Wear bulky items like coats or boots on the plane to save space in your duffel bag.
  • Keep essentials easily accessible: Pack items like your passport, phone charger, and headphones in an easily accessible pocket or pouch.

There are a few valuable tips for using duffel bags to pack your essentials - Photo by Svitlana - stock.adobe.com

Following these suggestions, you can pack your duffel bag efficiently and mitigate problems throughout your flight.

Duffle Bags Vs. Backpack As A Carry-On

The Advantages Of Using A Duffle Bag As A Carry-On

The thought of using duffel bags to pack for a flight is uncommon. However, several advantages of using these bags over traditional luggage should not be ignored.

  • Lightweight and Flexible: Duffel bags are generally lighter and more flexible than other carry-on bags. They are easier to store in overhead compartments or under seats. Duffel bags are also better to carry around, especially if you opt for those with wheels or a comfortable shoulder strap.
  • Durable Materials: Duffel bags come in a variety of materials, including durable nylon and weather-resistant polyester, which can offer better protection for your belongings.
  • Efficient Packing: Using a duffel bag as a carry-on can help you pack more efficiently. With one large compartment and possibly a few pockets, you won't be tempted to overpack and can easily organise your belongings. Plus, you can easily access your items during your flight without having to unpack your entire bag.

The Advantages Of Using A Backpack As A Carry-On

Compared to duffel bags as carry-ons, backpacks offer a range of unique advantages that should not be overlooked. If you want a suitable pack for your upcoming trip, do not hesitate to opt for one of our brands

A backpack allows as much freedom and flexibility as a duffle bag.

  • Even Weight Distribution: Backpacks are designed to distribute weight evenly across your back, which helps reduce discomfort and injury, especially when carrying heavy items. Duffel bags, on the other hand, tend to put more strain on one shoulder or arm, leading to discomfort and pain.
  • Hands-Free Convenience: Backpacks offer hands-free convenience, which allows you to navigate airports and travel hubs without being weighed down by luggage. Duffel bags may come with a shoulder strap, but they still require one hand to carry them. You can use your hands for other tasks, such as holding onto railings or handrails or having snacks and drinks.
  • Organisation: Many backpacks come with multiple compartments and pockets, which make it easy to organise your items on the go. You can keep your laptop, passport, and other essentials in one pocket while storing your snacks, water bottle, and other items in others. Duffel bags typically have one large compartment, making it harder to organise your belongings.
  • Versatility: Backpacks are more versatile than duffel bags, as you can use them for hiking, day trips, and other activities. Duffel bags are less versatile, as they are primarily designed for storage and transportation. You can easily switch your backpack as a carry-on to use it as a daypack for exploring your destination.

Generally,  if you travel short distances and want to pack more, a duffle bag will never be a miss. For longer-distance walking or exploring, a backpack is your best friend.

Final Words

In short, if you're wondering can your duffel bag can be a carry-on, the answer is a definite yes. However, it is always best to check with the airline you will be travelling with to ensure that your duffel bag meets their size and weight requirements for carry-on luggage.

Overall, with proper planning and consideration, a duffel bag can be a practical and stylish carry-on option for any traveller. Happy travels!

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