For the big trip, what to choose? Backpack or suitcase?

Which luggage to choose for the big trip? It's not easy to decide between a backpack or a suitcase!

Deciding to go on a trip is not easy, knowing how to equip yourself to explore the world is even more difficult. A lot of questions are being asked and these questions often reveal the anxiety that grips the future traveller who is afraid to leave his comfort zone. This is normal. One of the most common questions concerns the choice of luggage. This is indeed an important point. If there are many different types of luggage it will be either a suitcase with wheels or a backpack. This backpack or suitcase will be your everyday home, your most faithful travel companion. So what to choose? 

For some travellers, the decision is self-evident; for those who are still hesitating, I recommend not to worry too much as it is difficult to know what to expect. Backpack or suitcase, these choices are made as you go along… but nothing prevents you from changing them in the middle of your adventure. This great trip is undoubtedly a unique experience, don’t hesitate to change your luggage while travelling if you feel it is necessary.
If it is the size of the luggage, and therefore its capacity, that is the problem, there always comes a time when you realise what you really need and what you never use. You pick up the pace and start to get into your own little habits so it’s not uncommon to leave this unnecessary weight on the way.
Here is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of these two pieces of luggage, they will surely allow an undecided traveller to make the choice that suits him best.

In order to choose your luggage properly, you should start by asking yourself: what do you want to do on your trip? 

You leave with the idea of doing a lot of hiking, treks of several days or going to countries like Mongolia, Cambodia, Nicaragua… Countries where the roads are not very smooth and where transport is sometimes uncertain. This will require you to walk from the bus station to your hostel on difficult streets or paths that are not always passable and not realy clean enough to carry a suitcase.
The choice of backpack will probably be more reasonable.
However, Indians, Mongols or Sudanese rarely travel with backpacks. And when they do, they are very loaded. So anything is possible!

Why not a suitcase? 

A suitcase is great, but only when the road is good

A suitcase, it’s realy practical, you carry nothing, or almost nothing… but not everywhere. Landing on a beach, for example, is much more difficult with a suitcase. Sometimes you have to jump into the water (not diving, but you’ll be knee-deep in water). With a suitcase in your arms, keeping your balance, progressing on uneven ground is more difficult than with a backpack.
But don’t let that stop you from choosing a nice suitcase with wheels, there is almost always help to carry it in difficult situations. On the other hand, on a smooth road, at an airport, in a city, at a train station, it is ideal.
 

In a suitcase you take more things and it’s more tidy

A T-shirt pile, a trouser pile, everything is neat and tidy. The suitcase makes it easier to store your belongings. It’s much less time wasted emptying the entire contents of the bag looking for a pair of socks or the blue skirt.
The suitcase can gain weight during the journey. Getting it to accept extra clothes is much easier than for a backpack.
 

A suitcase protects your belongings better

Well protected in the suitcase, no disembowelled first aid kit, exploded shampoo bottle, crushed cream tube. Fragile objects such as a zoom, lens or a computer are safer there. A book, travel diary or sketchbook will also stay in good shape.
 

A suitcase in a youth hostel or hotel, is practical

In a dormitory or bedroom, a suitcase opens wide, no need to empty everything. One touch of the zip and you have all the contents in front of you. It can also be slipped under the bed whenever possible. 
 

A suitcase can be locked

For those worried about security, a suitcase that locks is very reassuring. It is not recommended to take valuables on long journeys, but some travellers carry expensive cameras, a computer or a tablet. If the hostel is not equipped with padlocked lockers, a locked (or rather coded) a suitcase will keep your belongings safe.
 

If you choose a suitcase for the trip, you need to bring a small backpack for occasional hikes

Climbing a Panamanian volcano, exploring a park for two days requires a respectable sized backpack, not a suitcase. So you’ll have to get organised. That said, nothing is impossible, you may find a traveller who will lend you a backpack or you will find one on the spot.
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Why not a backpack for the big trip? 

The advantages of a backpack are many, but like a suitcase, it also has disadvantages. It’s up to you to see if it’s your ideal luggage by reviewing the pros and cons!

The backpack is truly the absolute symbol of the adventurous traveller. It represents freedom, but also achievement, effort, sport and extreme travel. Like many clichés, backpackers are not all, far from it, disciples of Mike Horn. Sporty or not, this may be the ideal luggage made for you! 
 

Super flexible and can go everywhere, the backpack is freedom!

Stairs, a beach, a stony path, a jungle, with him, nothing is inaccessible.
 

A backpack leaves your hands free

Taste a sandwich, consult the map or the GPS, hold your lover by the hand, it is possible, but not with a suitcase.
 

With a backpack you’re always ready to go everywhere

A trek of a few days? Leave some of your belongings at the hotel or youth hostel and go. When you have a backpack in general you are much more mobile and the trip requires a little less organisation.
 

A backpack is more durable than a suitcase

Shocks, falls, loading and unloading in the holds and all the mistreatment it is subjected to during transport, the backpack resists. It’s more flexible, it holds up well. There is little risk of breaking a wheel or handle on the way.
 

With a backpack, you travel (a bit) lighter

The most important things and that’s it. Only the essentials can be put in the backpack. When you are going away for a long time, this essential takes on a completely different meaning: few clothes, only the most solid, only the most practical. Clothes that are transformable, adaptable for all situations and selected objects. With a backpack, forget the hairdryer, lots of books and countless pairs of shoes, there is only room for the essentials.
 

A backpack forces you to think “practical, useful, efficient” but offers more flexibility in case of overweight

A backpack requires more drastic choices and is easier to overflow than a suitcase. Once a backpack has reached its maximum capacity, it can continue to gain weight by attaching extra items to the many straps and rings on the outside. But beware, they will no longer be protected. 
 

A backpack can be heavy, you have to be able to carry it…

Well yes, it is sometimes 20kg that you have on your back! Even if you’re in top shape, it’s sometimes exhausting.
 

A backpack is much more mistreated than a suitcase

You have to have seen the loading of bags in a Thai boat or in a Guatemalan bus once in your life to understand it: a backpack is not put down but thrown on the floor! The poor backpack will be mishandled, rolled, pushed, grabbed and even trampled hundreds of times. You will have to think about it if you want to take fragile, precious or elegant things with you.
 

A backpack offers little security, it is easy to open

A backpack is easy to open and close. Only plastic clips, zips and nylon cords and fabric provide closure. There are metal nets to secure backpacks, but this is an extra weight. A cut with a knife through the fabric and the thief just has to take what he wants. Even though the suitcase can also be opened in this way, but it still offers more security with a thicker lining.
 

At least, carrying a backpack in crowded places (crowds, metro…) is much easier than carrying a suitcase!

For a suitcase you need arms, for a backpack, you need legs!

A backpack is “adventurous”, a suitcase is “tourist”

 
Well, no, no, no, not at all! Don’t judge de book by its cover! A trip with a suitcase can be adventurous and extraordinary, and a backpack trip can be as flat and boring as possible. It depends mainly on the traveller and not only on his luggage.
You won’t see less beautiful things or make less beautiful encounters by pulling a suitcase rather than falling under the weight of a backpack. It is your attitude, your personality that will make the difference. 

To those who prefer the suitcase but are worried about the “mass tourist” image it reflects, I reply that it is not the luggage that makes the traveller.

To those who think that you need a backpack to look like a tough guy, a real adventurer and a member of the big family of travellers, well, they are wrong. Just because you have a backpack doesn’t mean you’re cooler, more open, less fearful and less fortunate than a suitcase carrier.
I see a lot of backpackers who are nothing more and nothing less than low-budget tourists. This backpacker side is just for show. So choose what really suits you, without any complexes.
Take the luggage you are most comfortable with, because travel is freedom. Take care of it, it will be your home, your faithful friend.

Taking only what you can carry is good for your back but above all for your spirit

When you cast off, you have to think about what you are going to take with you beyond your luggage. It is the moment to become aware of what you are carrying in your luggage and within you. Of everything that is or has been heavy, crushing, and from which it is time to free oneself. It is not always easy. To make a light bag is to know how to lighten the futile, the toxic and to focus on the essential and the things that do good. When you do that, it is good for body and soul.
Don not be worry, these these awareness can be made on the way. If you leave too loaded, you will lighten up as you gain self-confidence. 

What will you need when you travel? Many travellers are tortured by this question! The fear of lacking the essentials, of finding themselves far, far out of their comfort zone, means that most of them leave far too busy. Don’t panic, in this article you will find everything you really need when travelling!

All the answers to questions about the trip are certainly here!

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