Since some airlines now restrict on-board baggage to one item, there's the important choice between taking a garment bag or a carry-on luggage piece. Both bags have pluses and minuses, depending on use. Notwithstanding the garment bag/carry-on rolling hybrids that exist, it's time to analyze and compare garment holders and carry-on baggage for your personal items. You can find garment bags on Amazon or in any major department store – TravelPro is a popular brand.
What's Best for Clothing Type
Think about the sort of clothing you'll be wearing on your trip. For business travelers, a carry-on garment bag is necessary to avoid ruining the fruits of the dry cleaner's labor, while a college student headed out on spring break doesn't have the same concerns. Suits, especially jackets, require the neat, flat form of a garment bag. Save those types of bags for those trips that require folded clothing only to save storage space. Carry-on size bags are the best garment bag for business trips, and duffel bags won’t be able to hold hangers.
While a garment bag or suit bag may keep dresses and skirts wrinkle-free and prevent creases during air travel, it probably won't hold as much clothing as a carry-on bag would. Consider whether two suitcases will carry as much as one garment bag and one suitcase. There are size restrictions for carry-on items that you want to make sure you aren’t breaking as well, For longer trips, minimize the high-maintenance, pressed garments for easier-wear fabrics that can be rolled and placed in a carry-on. A carry-on suitcase is simply a better use of space and is easier to tote around, especially if the flight attendants need to help you.
On-Flight Space (and Strength) Restrictions
As mentioned before, a garment bag can be cumbersome to carry around. Though there are super-compact specialty models on the market like the SkyRoll, most garment bags aren't that small and user-friendly. Keep in mind that many carry-on-eligible garment bags are too short to hold long dresses, skirts and coats. Most carry-on suitcases do fit under seats and in the overhead bins or overhead compartments comfortably. However, the bigger the bag, the heavier it is, making the overhead heft particularly daunting, especially if it’s a rolling garment bag or larger piece of luggage. A soft-sided garment bag might be best for those who don't want a potential wrestling match with their bags on the plane. Also consider how you’ll be carrying it through the airport, so whether it has a shoulder strap or it’s a wheeled garment bag.
Depending on your garment needs, a garment bag may have to be checked. If this is the case, the garment bag will have to be sturdy and able to take a beating, just like a suitcase or other checked luggage. Also remember that there are weight restrictions for most US airlines like Delta, JetBlue, and United Airlines, and the TSA will enforce those for travel garment bags as well. However, there's usually not the possibility of surprise with a carry-on luggage piece. Airlines accept carry-ons that are under 55 inches - just about the size of a medium suitcase. However, a small- to mid-size garment bag can easily be taller with only a few inches' thickness worth of clothing. To avoid last-minute checking, stick with a carry-on bag.