If you think there’s not much difference between a travelling backpack and a suitcase, then think again. I’m sure seasoned travellers will agree that bringing the wrong bag can make or break an adventure. So, here’s a rundown of things to consider when choosing the ideal luggage for travelling.
You may think that a suitcase with built-in wheels is way better when moving from one place to the next. Sure, you can get around airports or enclosed buildings easier with trolley bags. But have you ever tried hauling wheeled luggage on a cobblestone street, dirt road or flight of stairs? I know. It’s an experience not worth reliving.
So, if you’re likely to encounter such rugged terrain on your trip, it’s more practical to bring a travelling backpack. It is also an obvious choice if you’ll be running a lot, taking public transportation or walking on narrow streets. Travel backpacks are safer to bring in crowded places, too, as there are no suitcase wheels to steer.
I also like travelling with free hands. It is easy to buy souvenirs, take pictures or enjoy a snack this way. Carrying a heavy pack is not comfortable, though. So, make sure you know how to pack light.
Durability and Safety
Hard-shell suitcases may be heavy, but they are also heavy-duty and water-proof. So, if your trip involves multiple airport transfers, these can take a beating. Make sure you’re using one with sturdy wheels, though. Backpacks for travelling, on the other hand, are not as durable. Shoulder straps ripped off or caught on airport conveyor belts can be a problem.
A travelling backpack also has a lot of external pockets or compartments, making it difficult to lock. In this case, you’ll have to carry it with you or place it somewhere safe all the time. A suitcase, however, is easier to secure and harder to tamper. If you’re travelling somewhere where bag safety is a concern, then go for a suitcase. But keep in mind that some hostels do offer lockers for backpacks that may not suit massive suitcases.
Size and Weight
Backpacks for travelling are hands down more practical when it comes to bulk and heft. When not in use, they’re pretty compact, too. And if going beyond the airline weight limit is not part of your travel plans, then it’s a backpack all the way. If you’re bringing a lighter pack, you can even hand carry it and do away with those costly baggage fees or tiresome airport queues.
Ease of Use
If you still need to learn how to roll clothes and pack them in sequential order, then a suitcase is best for your sanity! It’s quicker to find and access clothes from this bag than a top-loading backpack, too. If you are going to a formal occasion, a hard-shelled suitcase will keep you chic or dapper in wrinkle-free attire! Wheeled suitcases also have more room to keep your dirty clothes separate from clean ones.
But then again, if your style of travel involves beach trips, island hopping or casual dining, a travelling backpack is ideal. Its handy pockets will keep your things neat and orderly. I find backpacks’ versatility more appealing, too, as I don’t have to buy different bags for an overseas trip, adventure travel or camping.
It’s hard to compare the two in terms of price as there are several aspects (brand, features, capacity, etc.) to consider. You will not have trouble finding an affordable but high-quality backpack or suitcase, though. But if you travel often and durability is your priority, I believe it’s best to spend extra on a sturdy bag that will last for years.
Also, I’d prefer to enjoy a worry-free vacation than fix flimsy zippers, wheels or locks. If you’re still undecided between the two, the best way to go is to match your budget with your travelling needs.
Travelling Backpack vs Suitcase: The Verdict
Both have their pros and cons. A backpack, for example, is a winner for domestic travel or day trips, adventurous itineraries and public commuting. However, a suitcase is a more convenient option if you’re staying in one location, attending formal affairs or travelling for work.
It all depends on your type of travel and adventure activities. The best travel bag then would have to satisfy both. Do keep in mind that whether you’re taking a suitcase or backpack for travelling, make sure to put comfort, size and functionality on your priority list.
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