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I am planning to travel to Sydney, Australia sometime in June 2017 and I plan to travel carry on only with a personal item. I'm flying with United airlines and their maximum dimensions are 17 inches H, 10 inches L, and 9 inches W.

I have been looking and looking to find the right bag and I can never find the right one. Either one of the dimensions are too big or their too small. It also comes down to either going with a backpack or a tote bag and to also find one cheaply, possibly no more than $50. Are there any suggestions or advice about this situation and those who have been here, any thoughts?

closed as primarily opinion-based by mts, blackbird, JonathanReez, David Richerby, JoErNanO Jun 17 '16 at 10:33

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • On finding an inexpensive backpack--if you're in the US, have you looked at places like TJ Maxx or Ross? I think I found my current one at an office supplies store--they carry tons before the school year starts. – mkennedy Jun 16 '16 at 19:58
  • What do you plan to carry onboard? Which will be more comfortable to schlep around through airports? Which will be easier to deal with when you have checked bags in tow traveling around Australia? You need to think beyond simply the flight. – user13044 Jun 16 '16 at 20:02
  • I was looking at AA and the sizes are 22 x 14 x 9 inches aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/baggage/carry-on-baggage.jsp – Max Jun 16 '16 at 20:24
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I personally prefer a backpack because I can sort things into different compartments and everything zips up. There's also a handy exterior pocket or two for a water bottle. If you get a smaller size, college student- or commuter-sized backpack, and don't pack it full, United's not going to care if you're off an inch in the measurements.

If I were going to use a tote bag on a trip, I would get one that has a zipper on the main compartment. Otherwise, it's too easy for someone to dip their hand in and snatch something.

  • Whatever the kind of bag, make sure it does zip or tie closed, and do use that closure. I lost a hat in a plane, but it slipping out of my bag and me not noticing. – Willeke Jun 16 '16 at 19:40

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