Backpack vs Suitcase- 5 Easy Ways How To Choose

Backpack vs Suitcase - 5 ways to decide - thiswitchtravels.co.uk

You’ve booked your flights, chosen your hotels, researched your transport. Now, to pack! But what do you take with you? Your choices- backpack vs suitcase.

When I took my first none package holiday the thought of packing a backpack terrified me. Stone. Cold. Fear. All I could think, (and say) was phrases like… ‘You want me to actually think about what I’m taking with me’, and, ‘I have to be able to carry it?’ And… ‘But I have a 20KG limit, why should I take less if I don’t have to?’ But now, and even back then, after that first trip, I would think long and hard about taking a suitcase again.

Now with my chronic illness, and struggles I still take a backpack but a little more thought has to go into it. Now I’m preparing to go solo I’m going to be considering converting to team suitcase with 4 wheels. (They look dreamy to walk with, but hey, I haven’t tried one.) Either that, or packing so light that the backpack is a dream!

It can be a high task in deciding which is right for you, and can either make your trip easier, or a lot harder. Need some help deciding which is right for you? Read on for points to consider which to choose when it comes to backpack vs suitcase.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on my blog are affiliate links. And at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experienced all of the companies that I link to, and recommend them because they are the websites that I myself choose to use, and trust. Please do not spend any money on these sites unless they meet your needs and specifications.  

air planes in airport- backpack vs suitcase and how to choose - thiswitchtravels.co.uk

#1 How are you getting to your destination and how much are you moving?

One of the few occasions that a suitcase would win the backpack vs suitcase battle these days, is if I was to be going on a package holiday. Staying in the same hotel for a week or two and not having to go anywhere or take my bag further than from the coach to my room. That said, if you’re reading a travel blog, the likelihood of you going on said type of trip is reduced substantially. But not impossible.

If you’re going to be taking buses, boats, trains, and the like, then you need luggage you can move with easily and freely. I know that some backpacks can be quite cumbersome. But when you need to make your way on to a ferry, for example, they’re far easier than a suitcase. Though again, not impossible.

Once you get to your destination are you staying there, or are you bouncing around? The more you move the easier you need it to be to pack and go. A front-loading backpack is a great option here. They allow you to enter your bag without having to pull everything out and is the closest thing to a suitcase you can get in a pack back. I have this Osprey bag that I swear by, for that very reason!


#2 How remote are you travelling?

I have heard stories of people taking suitcases that were too heavy and getting stuck in the sand when their speedboat dropped them off. I’ve also had first-hand experience of having to carry all our gear (and three 5 gallon water bottles, yay) from one taxi to another, across a mud pit.

Short story long, a car had got stuck in the middle of a dirt road that they were making into a tarmac road, on Phu Quoc, Vietnam. So we had to load up. Stagger over the abandoned building site and de-load into a car on the other side! If we were on the other (suitcase) side of the backpack vs suitcase decision I’m not sure we would have managed quite so well.

If you’re planning to stay off the ‘strip’, you may come across issues such as these. Not saying you will, but there is a possibility.

#3 What do you plan on doing in the future?

Are all your future travels after this going to be resort-based package holidays? Or will you be going over to the wild side?

Making your own way to places, even if it is only a bus or taxi to the hotel from the airport, can be far easier when you have a bag on your back. Rather than a suitcase behind you. Remember – they won’t always drop you at the door. Even more so if you are going to less developed parts of the world. Like in point 2, where tarmac for the lesser inhabited half of the island was a new addition. If you’re generally fit and healthy, and you sway to walk on the wild side (even if you’re doing hotels and not hostels) my advice would be to invest in the future and get a good backpack.

That said, if you have a illness or disability, will it progress in the future? Will you still be capable next year of lifting the huge suitcase off the turnstile at the airport? Or should you challenge yourself to start packing lighter now, in preparation for then? What fits with your current and your projected health the best?

I know you can always buy new luggage in the future, but for a start, good equipment is a pretty penny and can add to the cost of a trip. And you want to invest in good equipment.

#4 What are you even allowed to take?

Check your luggage allowance. Do you have check-in baggage? What are the sizes of your carry on? Then consider how long you’re going for, what fits what you need in the smallest space, and how easy it is to carry.

It may just be in my head, but I always feel like I can get way more in a standard backpack, like one I used to have for school, than a carry on suitcase. I also find it easier to chuck around and walk about with a small backpack, and they can double up as a day bag! When we went to Pisa, we took borrowed carry on suitcases. I found myself getting more annoyed with them when walking than I would have to have the weight on my back.

Woman packing carry on suitcase - backpack vs suitcase and how to choose - thiswitchtravels.co.uk

#5 Where are you staying?

Let’s face it, when weighing up your choices between backpack vs suitcase, there are some places it is more socially acceptable to have a backpack than others. Be aware that if you walk into a luxury resort, with backpacks, you will get some funny looks. I’ve been there, but I’m used to funny looks. So while it didn’t bother me, others may not feel the same. Can you hack it? It shouldn’t be an issue, but if it is, then you really should consider a suitcase. If you’re fine with a sideways glance as your check-in and out (let’s face it, that’s the only time people will know!) then refer back to points 1-4.

Considering the other end of the spectrum though, if you’re planning on staying in hostels in Thailand, for example, it could go the other way! The norm there is backpacks due to the ease. And if you are one of the unlucky ones stuck in the sand in point 2, the glances may be aimed your way.

Still unsure on the backpack vs suitcase battle?

Hopefully, the above points have helped you determine your needs for luggage and you’ve made your choice between backpack vs suitcase. If it hasn’t, why not pack what you need in one of each (even if you borrow them for a day) and see how you feel. See how each correspond with your needs and abilities. Pro and con it, if you need to!

I’ve found too that backpacks, due to their soft exterior tend to be off the planes first. This is due to the fact they are loaded on top. This may tempt some of you – but don’t hold me to it, it is only my experience and airlines may differ, and i have had it go the other way once or twice.

Whatever you choose, I’m sure that luggage won’t hold you back too much from enjoying yourself, and if you’re away long term and change your mind, most places have luggage shops! It isn’t set in stone. We have been known on several occasion to buy new luggage on the road (mainly to bring extras home) and it really isn’t a hard feat.

Let me know what you’ve gone ahead with choosing for your travels. Which won in the battle of backpack vs suitcase, and why? And if you’ve used any other methods or reasoning for your choice too!

And if you’ve decided on backpacks, why not check out my post on how to choose the right one here!


See you next time!
Katey


Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on my blog are affiliate links. And at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experienced all of the companies that I link to, and recommend them because they are the websites that I myself choose to use, and trust. Please do not spend any money on these sites unless they meet your needs and specifications.  

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