There are lots of things you need to take into consideration when thinking about either travelling with a backpack or suitcase, these include length of time away and destination and this can have a big bearing on your decision. 

Read on for more information and our recommendations in the backpack vs suitcase debate.


Reasons to Choose a Backpack

  • Comfort, if you are walking long distances you can get some really good backpacks
  • Backpacks are easier to transport especially if you are walking off the beaten track over non-level terrain or up stairs in a hostel or hotel for example
  • Some backpacks come with zip on detachable smaller backpacks which are an added bonus
  • Perfect if you are going hiking or on an adventure tour 
  • Can carry over any surface perfect if you are booking an adventure tour or going travelling independently
  • Don't have to worry about the wheels breaking
  • For more information about quality and amazing backpacks for traveling check Tucker & Bloom


Problems with Backpacks

A backpack is the most popular choice for most travelers, but this doesn't always necessarily mean it is the best option. There are some problems with backpacks, something the effort of lifting the bag on your back constantly takes it toll and can hurt your back, this can become a little tiresome if you are travelling for long period.

Some backpacks on have a top and bottom zip meaning its more difficult to organise and find your things, sometimes this requires you to empty the whole contents. A lot of newer backpacks though have an all round zip so you can open them like a suitcase though.

If you spend a little more on a backpack there are some great options including backpacks with wheels. These are great if you are applying to volunteer in Asia for example but might be a little heavier than normal backpacks, might not be as comfortable and sometimes its best to go for a backpack which is just a backpack and not a mix of both - this is because backpacks are generally built for carrying on your back.


Benefits of Taking a Suitcase

  • When you open a suitcase you have easy access to all your things
  • You can usually buy suitcases cheaper than backpackers depending on the one you buy
  • When you travel on transport like busses and planes suitcases are generally constructed better and have a hard case to make your items safer
  • Most suitcases have more storage space for all your things
  • Your back won't hurt


Problems with Suitcases

There are some issues you will need to take into consideration though which might hinder you when travelling with a suitcase and these need to be thought about before you make a decision.

One thing is you always have to walk with one hand pulling your suitcase behind you, something this can be annoying if you need your hands free (another reason to go with a backpack).

Also a lot of countries do not have smooth surfaces and lifts, so trying to pull a suitcase over rough terrain can be difficult or lifting up stairs.



If you are going to take a suitcase when taking a gap year, going to volunteer abroad or just travel we recommend buying one with an extendable handle and if you buy a backpack try to get one with wheels so you can give your back a break everynow and then.

Research the place you are visiting and what types of activities you will be doing, if you know you are going to be on off the road camping trips a backpack might better suit your needs. But if you are thinking about a more modern country e.g. going backpacking in Australia think a suitcase might be the best option.


Hopefully this has given you some thought to whether to take a backpack or suitcase with you. If you have any advice let us know in the comments section below.