What size luggage should I take on my cruise?

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Expandable Luggage with 4 Spinner Wheels, Lightweight Suitcase, Men and Women, Black, Checked-Medium 25-InchPictured: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside 25-Inch

Disclaimer: Bag size is largely a personal preference type of thing and if you have something that works for you… go ahead and check out our complete list for some more recommendations and tips.

Bag Sizes

The general bag sizes are 29″, 25″ and 21″. That measurement refers to the bag height and can range a little bit. For the medium size bag you’ll see bags from around 24″ to 26″.  Bags in the 29″ and 25″ ranges definitely need to be checked when flying. Bags in the 21″ range can usually be carried on depending on the airline, aircraft and the bag.

Luggage Features and Construction

Beyond size, bags are made from different materials and have different features.

  • Soft side bags – are made from fabric like woven nylon.
  • Hard side bags – are made from hard plastic.

Hard side have the general advantage of being more robust and they can be wiped down for cleaning. Soft wide bags are more expandable and can have zipped outside pockets.

Bag features can include rolling wheels (yes!), telescoping handles, extra pockets and compartments and more.

What size luggage should I take on my cruise?

My recommendation is… as small as possible. Figure out what you need – our complete packing list – along the items that will make things a lot easier and get a right-sized bag. Too big equals extra cost and weight and stuff sloshing around as you make your way to your cruise. Too small equal… too small.

Downsides of Bigger Bags

Sure the larger 29″ size checked bags are appealing because you can get so much stuff in them. But, when you get so much stuff in them… you have that much stuff to lug around.

Weight = work. If you use and need all of the stuff, that’s one thing, but what if you can have just as good of a time without the extra stuff?  Why spend part of your vacation lugging around extra stuff you don’t need?

The other thing about huge bags is that it’s tough to actually fill these up without surpassing airline weight limits. If they’re half empty your stuff gets to bounce it’s way around to the next cruise.

When 4″ = 2,481 sq inches

25″ to 29″ sounds like, uh.. 4″. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. Using Travelpro’s Maxlite 5 as an example the 25″ bag has about 4,950 cubic inches of interior space while the 29″ bag has about… 7,431 cubic inches of interior space. That’s just over 50% usable space. That’s a lot.

For Us, Medium Works Best

Personally we prefer medium sized checked bags in the 25″ range. We both each have one of these or direct from Travelpro.

The fact is people are going on cruises everyday using carry on size bags in the 21″ range. We’re not willing to go that far, but for us, the medium size 25″ bag is a reasonable size for most cruise vacations.

For lots more about what you should pack for your next cruise check out our complete packing list.

Related: Amazon Best Sellers in Luggage

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