How to decide if it’s better to travel with a suitcase or backpack

by Ale Werner

We go to a store and the options of suitcase, bags, and backpack are endless … The most important element when organizing a trip is, without a doubt, the luggage we choose … but, how to choose my luggage? The truth is there are infinite factors that affect the decision of whether it is better to travel with a suitcase or backpack. It is not an easy or trivial choice, as a bad luggage option can bring you more of one problem during your trip. Especially during city changes whether you do it by train, bus, plane, boat, tuk-tuk, taxi, a cart pulled by donkeys, motorcycle, bicycle, skates and infinite transport possibilities …

They say that how you travel defines who you are. Some people do not want to touch a backpack to avoid looking like backpackers; others do not want to touch a suitcase with wheels because they say they are meant for tourists. I believe that the bag that you carry only defines what type of trip you are going to make … and how prepared you are for it.

Also, don’t forget to always bring a Travel Money Belt to any kind of trip you do, despite the luggage you choose to carry. You need to secure your money and valuables at all times.

bags and backpacks on airport

Traveling with a suitcase or with a backpack

Ok … There are two variables that will end up defining what suits you:

How many cities am I traveling to?

The suitcases with wheels have the advantage of better access to your things. They are also more comfortable for transportation in flat places such as airports. If you travel to only one place would be your best option, the time you will spend transporting it is very little.

On the contrary, if you organize a trip in which every 3 or 4 days you will change cities or hotels; then you will spend more time going down and up of trains, airplanes, tuk-tuks and other means of transportation. Here the answer to if it’s better to travel with a suitcase or backpack is easy, a backpack will give you the versatility and ease of transport you need.

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How are the cities where I go and where will I stay?

For example:

  • If you are on a budget and you are staying on a mountain that you intend to walk, a suitcase with wheels can be your most deadly enemy.
  • If you go to a desert island where you can only arrive in a small boat, a lot of luggage or a very large suitcase can bring you problems …

The suitcases are very useful in cities and trips where you move mainly in airplanes and taxis, where the stairs are scarce and you can transport them walking calmly. A backpack will allow you to easily get on buses, trains and walk more easily through cities that have level changes and are more disordered; especially if you’re going to find stairs … or sand!

Do I intend to travel with a suitcase or backpack as my carry-on luggage?

If the answer is yes, then think twice before making a decision. A backpack looks much bigger and more spacious than a suitcase, and the probability that they suspect of higher weight is greater. You must be careful when setting it up to not exceed the measurements. In this case, we would recommend you more a rigid suitcase, that keeps the dimensions independent of what you put inside. There are also many options for lightweight luggage, so you can carry as many things as necessary without exceeding the maximum allowed.

Also, if you are looking for a smaller backpack for walking around a city or park, here you can find the best sling bag for travel.

Other tips to choose my luggage:

1. What size do I wear? Less is more.

Among the best tips for traveling is this… The fewer things you carry in your backpack or suitcase, the transports between places will be more comfortable and without suffering associated. No matter how strong you are, everyone has hurt our backs once.

Think carefully before deciding to bring some element whose definition of usefulness is:

  • I take it “just in case”. Example: maybe I’m going to a party where only black dresses are allowed … something like this will hardly happen.
  • Maybe I’m going to trek to Everest (although I do not take the stairs even if there are only 3 floors up).
  • Many others “just in case”.

In general, they are elements that occupy more space than the utility they really have.

If you are going on a long trip, keep in mind that you will have to wash more than once during this one. You do not have to wear a different outfit for each day.

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travel with a backpack

2. Luggage on low budget trips.

If you travel to places where you intend to move on Low-Cost Airlines, you should know that you will be charged separately for checked baggage, so a large suitcase weighing 23 kilograms will cost much more than a 15 kilograms suitcase. Here the decision to travel with a suitcase or backpack is facilitated if you also save on topics such as transportation and accommodation; a backpack will always be more versatile.

3. The maximum allowed by the airlines.

According to the airline, the maximum weight and measurements of the checked and cabin luggage vary. In general, the maximum weight allowed is between 21 and 23 kilos in economy class and can go up to 32 kg if you travel in business (which is also the legal maximum allowed).

If you travel with sports equipment, keep in mind that most of the airlines will charge you separately for this one except for some equipment such as golf clubs (for some reason they do not charge them, my theory is that the owners play golf and do not want to pay for them …).

I recommend you find out with the airlines that you will use what are the maximum weights and measures for your trip, so you do not have problems when you check-in.


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