Whether you’re headed on a month-long adventure through the hotspots of South East Asia or a short weekend getaway on the sunny beaches of the Med or Florida, everyone must face the monotonous task that we all wish we could avoid, packing! But before you pick out your skimpiest bikinis or tasteless Hawaiian shirts, there’s an important decision you have to make, how are you going to carry all your luggage?
This all-important choice usually boils down to two options; backpacks or suitcases, but which is best? A very important question, and a decision which can make or break a vacation! So in that case, let’s take a look at which kind of luggage is right for you!
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Which Is Easier To Use? – Suitcases
Suitcases are the popular choice amongst summer holidaymakers because they’re just so easy to use. There’s no fumbling around with 4 sets of zips or endless flapping straps! You just throw everything into a huge rectangular cavity, zip it up and you’re on your way! It couldn’t be simpler!
Backpacks tend to be a bit more fiddly compared to suitcases. You have to unhook and unzip your way in before carefully placing each item to ensure the bags won’t bring you crashing down to Earth! Even once you’re all set and ready to go, there’s still another 10 minutes of picking up and strapping yourself in like a racecar driver. By the time you’re ready, your suitcase counterpart is already halfway to the finish line!
Which Has More Space? – Equal
When it comes to the luggage space available, suitcases and backpacks are about equal.
These days it’s easy to find 120L backpacks, which is really more than you’d ever need! The only issue is that you’ll have to be aware of exactly how much you pack, as the more baggage you have, the more it drags you down, literally!
Suitcases have an equally diverse range of sizes on offer. From little kiddy sized cases that can fit in overhead lockers to monstrously large roadie-trunks! As with backpacks, you rarely need suitcases of such huge proportions, and if anything they’ll cause you more problems down the line! Either way, both options have adequate sizes to fit your needs.
Which Can Add More Space For Luggage? – Backpacks
Though the spaces available inside the backpacks may not be enormous, there’s plenty more space on offer! Whether it’s strapping a sleeping bag to the bottom or dangling a pair of boots from the front, there’s plenty of extra spaces that can be utilised! Take a look at any backpacker you come across and notice how their packs have more add-ons and modifications than a boy racer’s hatchback!
Suitcases on the other hand aren’t so customisable. Other than resting something on its top as you pull it along, you’re pretty much limited to the space available inside.
Which are you, a tourist or a traveller?
What’s the difference between the two?
And why does one have animosity towards the other?
Which is More Comfortable For Your Body? – Suitcases
A clear winner here with very little argument. If there’s any drawback to the nomad lifestyle, it’s having to carry all your worldly possessions on your back for hours at a time! Speaking from agonizing experience, it doesn’t take much weight nor that much time before your back aches like a cane-wielding grandma’s!
Suitcases on the other hand are immune to this problem! Regardless of how much weight you put in the suitcases themselves, they’re not that hard to pull around. Of course, that all changed as the terrain gets uneven or you come across a set of neverending stairs, but they’ll glide effortlessly over any paved surface!
On top of that, once you stop walking, then you can let go of suitcases and be completely free of its weight, whereas you’re forced to constantly bear the weight of backpacks until you’re forced to put them down!
Which is Better When Carrying on Transport? – Backpacks
Suitcases are enormous, clunky boxes that, in many cases, would even struggle to fit in the back of a car! So how do you think they’ll fare on a Nepalese bus or a Chinese train?
True, backpacks aren’t the most practically loads to carry around, however, you can find plenty that are small enough to fit on your lap. Even the bigger ones can usually slot nicely between your legs during a journey, or can easily be store in the racks above!
Of course, many forms of long-distance transportation have baggage holds which nullify this problem, but yet again, many don’t, and almost non-existent over short distances. Overall, no matter what kind of transport you’re taking, you’re better off bringing a backpack.
Which Protects Your Luggage the Best? – Suitcases
Along with a new pair of flip-flops and a box full of condoms, our luggage carries all our most valued items. Whether it be expensive cameras, laptops or iPad, there are plenty of items that need to be well protected from the elements. And in that case, suitcases are your best option.
The exterior of a suitcase is generally much sturdier and stronger than the fabrics which make up backpacks! It’s also why you often see passengers sitting on their suitcases as they wait to board! Though if you were to try the same with your backpack, the apple Mac your daddy bought you will be completely fucked.
You generally have to be more cautious with backpacks. You have to be wearier of any brisk pumps it may face in an airplane’s baggage hold or if it can withstand a battering of a rainy day. In short, your valuable items are at greater risk!
Which Offers More Security? – Suitcases
There are plenty of people out there who are more than willing to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. In many ways, we gullible foreigners are a treasure trove of goodies just begging to be busted open. Thus it’s important to be able to protect our treasured items as best as we can!
In all honestly, a determined thief is capable of getting into any luggage if he really wanted to, regardless of how secure you may think it is! That being said, in the case of a quick smash and grab, you’re slightly better off with a suitcase!
Suitcases often come with harder plastic or metal coverings and a myriad of discretely hidden zips, while backpacks are just pieces of fabrics that are susceptible to being ripped open. Backpacks also have several pockets on full display which any slick handed thief could get into. Not to mention your pack is literally behind you and out of view the entire time you have it, meaning you can’t keep an eye on it either!
When going from A to B, what’s the best way to travel?
Some say flights or trains, but nothing beats the old fashioned bus, here’s why!
Picture the scene: You checked out at 12 pm but you still have a couple of hours to kill before you catch your next flight. There’s a trail nearby that should take an hour or two, but how are you supposed to take your rolling suitcase with you? That isn’t a problem with a backpack, it can go everywhere you can!
Sure, this isn’t really a problem if you’re exploring the inner cities with beautifully paved sidewalks, but as soon as the terrain gets even the slightest bit rough, then suitcases become a 20kg ballache to drag around!
Which is Easier to Get to Your Luggage? – Suitcases
Every backpacker knows the absolute heartbreak of picking up their bag, tightening the straps and snapping it in place only to remember that they forgot to take something out of their pack. Getting something out of your backpack, especially in a time of need, is a serious hassle! You’re talking at least 5-10 minutes just to be ready to leave again!
With suitcases, it’s as simple as dropping them down, unzipping and taking out what you need! Quick and easy, no kerfuffle!
Many people dream of spending their vacation on the sands of tropical beaches, while I say it’s a bad waste of time. Here’s why…
Which are Best for Airport Weight Limits? – Backpacks
The scourge of every traveller is the dreaded weight limit. Everyone has been a victim of its dastardly ways in one way or another. Thankfully, backpacks are better equipped with facing this problem head-on.
Whatever weight limit you’ve been assigned (or purchased with boiling resentment) an empty suitcase takes up a few kilos by itself before you’ve added anything inside! Backpacks on the other hand are super lightweight and barely register, giving you more weight to work with!
Which Keeps Both Your Hands Free? – Backpacks
It’s something not many people consider, but an incredibly important factor when once you’re on the road! Throughout the course of the day, you’ll need to use your phone, take some snapshots with your camera, bring out your wallet or your passport, so it’s important to have your hands free! Luckily, you get just that with backpacks!
Sure, you can easily set a suitcase aside, but then it will be easy pickings for any wishful thief trying to make an easy grab! Neither would you have to stop in your tracks in order to use those ever so helpful hands of yours either!
Which Can Be Used on Any Occasion? – Backpacks
Whether you’re going for a short weekend away, a year-long adventure through South East Asia or camping out in the wilderness, a backpack could be used for any type of trip. They’re big, durable and can be adapted for almost any travellers needs. Suitcases on the other hand just aren’t that versatile.
Suitcases are for holidaymakers who stick to paved roads and 3-star hotels. Anything outside of that and it starts to become a real hassle to drag around this enormous clumsy load! Who has ever gone camping with a rolling suitcase straight out of Legally Blonde? Stick to your lane people!
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A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.