Suitcase or Backpack
For any traveler, there comes a time when we must answer an important question. When packing for that trip, do we utilize the Suitcase or Backpack as our primary method of packing? For me, it comes down to what type of trip I am going on. Each has its benefits and its drawbacks, and it is only after considering where I am going and what kind of activities I will be doing, can I make the decision.
Easy to store- The compact design, along with the standard square shape, helps the suitcase fit neatly into corners and under seats- allowing greater easy for storing with just about every means of travel- car, plane, or bus. I often use the suitcase because it is so convenient to pack and I can fit more suitcase sin the back of my car when I take trips with my family. This is what I meant by determining what type of trip I am going on. When many people are involved and space will be at a premium, I usually opt for the suitcase because it is easy to store and pack.
Variety of sizes- Suitcases come in a wide range of sizes and styles. There are suitcases for the small savvy packer and ones for that individual who wants to take every comfort of home with them that they can. This versatility is another perk of using suitcases. If I am going on a small weekend business trip I can use the smallest suitcase in my set and be good to go. But if I am going on a weeklong trip with my family, I can make use to the largest suitcase I have so I can bring everything I may need on the journey.
Often have wheels- When I am trying to juggle suitcases, kids, and find our boarding passes as we rush down the walkway towards our gate at the airport, I am reminded once again how glad I am that most suitcases come with wheels. Those handy little wheels have saved my arms and shoulders and back on many occasions. They are especially great to have on the kids’ suitcases so it is easier for them to control their own things; and it is one less bag that I will have to carry.
Standard sizes for easy travel- Anyone who has flown extensively, and I have, knows the headache of trying to make oversized bags fit into the overhead compartments or under the seat. This is where my love for the suitcase is realized once again when taking these types of trips. Many suitcases are made to fit the size standards for carryon luggage on planes. Larger suitcases are meant to be checked but the smaller ones often fit the guidelines perfectly, meaning they fit nice and neatly in the storage areas.
Cumbersome – there is a drawback to the suitcase, one that I have run into several times. When I am unable to make use of the convenient wheels- or find myself with a suitcase without wheels- I realize just how bulk and cumber some they can be. Carrying them with a handle throws off my balance and I seem to constantly be shifting hands or bumping my knees and hips against the suitcase as I rush along. Their square design for storage and packing is not very conducive to easy carrying.
Limited to flat terrain- Have you ever tried to carry a suitcase on wheels down stairs, over cracked sidewalks, or heaven forbid through grass? I have and it is not fun. Suitcases are designed to be pulled over smooth ground- inside floors or smooth sidewalks and roads. Take them off their intended paths and they become devilish hard to pull and maneuver. This is another of the drawbacks to the suitcase- they work great and are easy to maneuver, if they are used on the intended surfaces.
Easy to carry- backpacks are a traveler’s friend due to how easy they are to carry on long trips. When it comes to walking and carrying around a backpack it is easier than lugging around a suitcase. Yes your shoulders and back and get sore but the beauty of a backpack is they weigh only what you put in them and what you are comfortable carrying. Walking along trails or for any long distance, I usually find it easier to have backpacks; it is easier to carry things long distance on my back, and I also like having my hands free.
Versatile- the backpack by its very design is versatile. The size of your backpack depends on what you need to pack. I find it helpful at times to bring a backpack that is slightly larger than what I think I will need. This leaves room for those few souvenirs I am bound to pick up while I’m away, and it saves me the hassle of trying to find room in my already stuffed suitcase. Backpacks are also great in their versatility because they can be used for normal packing, camping, for kids or adults; anything you would need to pack for any trip can be backed in a backpack.
More portable –Backpacks were designed to be used by campers and hikers, people who do not need and cannot be weighed down with big bulky suitcases. The portable nature of the backpack is what has made it the primary means of packing for campers, hikers, and explorers. There is something special about carrying everything you need with you. That feeling of self-sufficiency is one of the main draws of camping. I know the thrill of hiking and camping would be diminished if I had a huge suitcase that could hold more than the necessities. I enjoy the challenge of being prepared and carrying everything I will need on my person; for that reason, backpacks will always be my choice when I go hiking.
Easier maneuverability- It is easier to get around with a backpack as opposed to a suitcase. Ever tried rushing through a crowded airport, lugging around a suitcase? You are constantly trying to avoid people and getting stopped as your suitcase tips, swerves or bumps into other travelers. I enjoy the easy maneuvering I can do with a backpack. I can weave in and out of crowds much easier as the backpack is close to my person and s not as bulky and in the way. I find the backpack to be easier in terms of maneuverability than the suitcase.
Can be heavy- one drawback to the backpack, however, is that when you try to fit everything you will need into one backpack that you will carry, that pack can get very heavy very quickly. For a weekend camping trip you will need the tent, sleeping back, food, water, extra emergency rations, clothes, fire starting kit, a means to cook and other vital necessities. All of these can weigh down a backpack. It is for this reason that I generally do not do camping trips of more than a few days. If I am planning a longer camping trip I try to set up a home base at a hotel and then hike from there a few days, go back then go out hiking again. This allows me to lighten my load and reduces the amount I must carry in my backpack.
Limited on capacity- Even the best pack backpack will eventually run out of room and at times they just do not have the capacity that some of the bigger suitcases have. When packing for lengthy trips or a long trip that has more than a few people, it may be best to use suitcases. I love myh backpacks for personal trips, but when traveling with my family on vacation, unless we are camping, I will generally use my suitcase just so I can be sure to have everything I may need while we are out having fun.
As you can see, there are many pros and cons to both the suitcase and the backpack. Ultimately, the decision depends on personal preference, the type of trip, and what you have to take with you. Whatever you choose for your next trip, make sure you pack accordingly and above all have a safe and wonderful adventure!
Would like to take this time to thank my assistant Sarah Jo Coryell for her help on making this article extra amazing.
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