For some members of the pack-light-go-far-spend-less travelers, being a backpacker requires to solemnly swear that you will be faithful to one and only form of luggage: the backpack.
For a while, I was sharing that view. But then I decided to explore the possibilities of packing small, but this time in a suitcase. Both form of luggage have their pros and cons (which I will explore in this post) and before deciding if I was siding with “team backpack” or “team whatever you like as a luggage”, I had to give a shot at both methods!
In case you aren’t sold to the “strictly carry-on” policy, know that is awesome for a million reasons:
- saving on checked luggage fees;
- eliminating the chances of lost luggage;
- lowering significantly the overall time spent in an airport (whether you are eager to go explore a new city or get back home!);
- having access to all your belongings during extended lay-overs (allowing you to change clothes, freshen up, etc.);
- increasing your “mobility” once at your destination because you don’t have too much luggage;
- removing all risks of having your luggage search without your consent (by security or dubious baggage handlers)
- reducing the chances of something breaking in your luggage
- … aren’t you convinced already???
One of my “travel priority”, as a plus-size person, is to pack as much as possible in a given luggage that will be authorized on board of airplanes as a carry-on luggage, based on its dimension. (There are way less restrictions when it comes to ground or maritime transportation.) I have mentioned it before, when you come to clothes, things can be especially tricky for a plus-size backpacker. Our toothbrush, shoes and toiletries are pretty much the same size as “standard” size people. But our clothes can be much bigger… yet the carry-on allowance remains the same, whether you are a 5 ft tall, 100 lbs person or a 300 lbs 6 footer.
In the following table, I tried to breakdown the most crucial pros and cons for each luggage option, which might help you decide what option is the best for you, based on your travel needs and habits.
Note: the opinions shared are in regards to carry-on friendly suitcase or backpack and don’t necessary cover the checked luggage sized backpack or suitcases
|CARRY-ON FRIENDLY SUITCASE||CARRY-ON FRIENDLY BACKPACK|
Final verdict? Honestly, I don’t think that one option is better or worse. Personally, it’s the nature of the upcoming trip that will help me decide. Due to the “lost” space in a suitcase (because of the wheels and handles), I will tend to use this kind of luggage for a shorter get-away (1 week or less) and keep my backpack for longer journeys.
The best option may also change, depending not only on the length, but also based on the actual nature of the trip you plan. You might be better off with a backpack in developing countries, or if you travel in the winter or during a rainy season. And trying to roll a suitcase in sand or grass is definitely not ideal! By revisiting the pros and cons list while keeping your next destination(s) in mind, you will make sure that your luggage adapts well to your next adventure. And please… don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and experiment!