One of the great debates before you go travelling, backpack or suitcase. I’ve tried both and there are strengths and weaknesses for both, depending what kind of travelling you’re doing.
First time I went travelling to Thailand, I had every intention of using a backpack. Did very little research, and went for a 60l cheap Karrimor from Sports Direct. The RRP was £135, but being Sports Direct, they were selling it for £45, so I thought great, bargain! Then it came to packing the thing. Nightmare. I ended up nearly having a mental breakdown the night before I was due to fly, so ended up chucking everything in a suitcase last minute, and left the backpack at home. Don’t get me wrong, it was great using a suitcase. It had wheels, so was easy enough to wheel around, but because I had loads of space, I packed loads. So it was super heavy. It took 3 men to put the case onto one of the boats when I was in Krabi, going to the islands. They must have hated me! I spent most of the holiday apologising to people who had to pick the thing up to put in taxi’s etc. I realised after the trip that I had packed way too much anyway, which is common when you first go backpacking. I thought because I was going for a month, I needed a months worth of clothes, which I certainly didn’t. Read my other post: 5 MISTAKES YOU MAKE WHEN YOU FIRST PACK YOUR BACKPACK
The great thing about taking a suitcase is that, unlike a backpack, you don’t have to take everything out to get to something at the bottom, everything is there for you. I know I was lucky in Thailand, as they have concrete roads and paths. I wouldn’t have been so lucky if I had travelled across to Cambodia, like I had planned to. It’s alright taking a suitcase, but if you go to a country where they don’t have proper roads and paths, it’s going to be a nightmare. So my advice is research where you’re going first. If you plan on moving around a lot, a suitcase is not ideal. Although it was easy wheeling it around, I couldn’t help but be jealous of those who could just chuck their bags on their backs and go. Wheeling a suitcase around the busy streets of Bangkok is no fun. I ended up paying a guy at the hotel to look after my suitcase, while I went exploring, before I had to catch an evening flight. I then had to faff about going back to collect my suitcase, before my flight. And yeah, it just ended up being more of a pain, than a blessing!
You might think after reading that, that I’d recommend a backpack, but you’d be wrong. Like I said, I did no research whatsoever, and went for a cheap backpack. I thought it looked well made, was supposed to be £135, so it’d be decent. Wrong. After my ordeal with the suitcase, I went back to using the backpack. Big mistake. I hated the experience. Every time I wanted something at the bottom, I’d have to get everything out. I was limited to buying gifts etc, as I had limited space. Even a 60l backpack is tiny in my opinion! And that’s the size most people recommend. I had cut my packing right back, and even then, everything was crammed in, and every day started with me having a good old winge about how annoying backpacks are. Yes they’re easy in the sense you can just chuck them on your back and go, but then if you’re travelling for long periods of time, you just end up being in a great deal of pain. So you’re probably thinking now what the hell are you supposed to use?! The answer, a backpack that is also a suitcase, also known as, a backpackers dream!
Backpack that is also a suitcase! Yes, they exist!
I was well impressed when I was first told about these. I had never heard about them or seen anyone with them! But now I do nothing but recommend them to people. They look like a backpack, but open right up to the bottom so you can open them up like a suitcase. Say goodbye to digging to the bottom to get what you want out of your backpack! I personally found the one I purchased had loads more room than my 60l backpack. It was 80l, but they do a 60l version, and even that looked loads bigger. The reason I went for 80l, is that next year I’m planning to move to Australia for a year, so need a mixture of winter and summer clothing, and can’t be bothered to faff about buying stuff over there, or getting my parents to post me things over. Most people take suitcases to do a year in Australia, as you can be based in one place for a few months, so it’s not proper backpacking. But I wanted the option that if I do decide to travel around a bit, I’ve not got to mess about purchasing a backpack while I’m over there.
Straight away I noticed the difference in quality. I paid £90 for my Vango Freedom, and it certainly is worth every penny. The back support is loads better than my old Karrimor backpack, so I wasn’t in pain after a long day travelling. Loads of people that I met during my travels were impressed by the design, and wanted one themselves. And I’ve noticed recently they have been getting more and more popular, now more people know about them. Yes, they’ve been around for years, and you’re probably thinking “they’ve been around for years, no big deal!” But someone is going to be reading this, thinking “omg, you’re a lifesaver!” The downside to these are that they are little more bulky than a normal backpack, but with mine, you can take it off and make it into a holdall, if you are in a busy city.
My advice is do some research before you go travelling for the first time. I went for a cheap backpack, and put myself in tonnes of pain and made the experience a nightmare. The more I researched about the backpack that is also a suitcase, the more I realised how many people recommend them. If only I had done some research first. It made my travelling loads easier and more enjoyable. No apologising to people because of how heavy my case was and I wasn’t limited on where I could go. They aren’t for everyone, but if you find yourself in the same boat as I was, it’s certainly worth looking into. I know people that go travelling with a 40l backpack, and it works great for them. Personally for me, it’s a nightmare!