I know a lot of people who travel with large suitcases, put them in the hold of the plane and stress. That’s one of the reasons I decided to travel with a backpack. I’m already a worrywart, so I didn’t think long about it.

Easy to carry, lighter than a suitcase and stress-free, it’s the ideal choice for me.

Of course, every traveler has his or her own way of traveling. I’m not criticizing people who prefer suitcases, I’m just saying that for long-term travel, this might be the right choice for you too.

I’ll show you why I chose the backpack over lugging a suitcase around. I’ll also compare the two, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages.

1. Packing

Backpacking and packing
Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Some people will say that it’s easier to pack a suitcase. Of course, you can pack a lot, especially if you’re traveling with a 50-liter or larger suitcase. But they only have compartments inside and can be quite expensive if you want a solid suitcase with sturdy wheels and handles.

As for packing, you can find backpacks with lots of pockets for a good price.
For example, I bought mine 9 years ago and it’s still in great condition despite all the wear and tear I’ve put it through.
It wasn’t even expensive as I had a limited budget, I just went to Decathlon at the time and chose a pink model (easy to spot, isn’t it?!?).
It has a large front pocket, so easy access to all your stuff, plus 3 other pockets on the sides and top.

I always look for functionality, efficiency, durability and price when looking for travel gear.
I don’t really care about design or brand, these are secondary criteria for me.

However, I give this point to suitcases because when you use a backpack, you have to fold your clothes in a certain way. And this can damage your clothes or you’ll at least need an iron to get your clothes back to their original shape. And believe me, you won’t always find one.

My advice is to only take clothes that don’t wrinkle easily, forget cotton or linen fabrics… .

2. Carrying

In my opinion, this is one of the most important factors in choosing your luggage.

Suitcases are generally heavier and can be difficult to carry if there’s no elevator or if the road is nothing but rocks.

I could tell you so many stories of people I’ve met who have broken part of their suitcase during a flight (we all know how luggage is treated in the hold of the plane…), or while traveling in a country where there are no paved roads.

Compared to this, backpacks, especially the new ones, are getting lighter and lighter. They don’t need an elevator, and you can travel anywhere with them without fear of breaking the wheels or handle.

One misconception is that you have to be some kind of athlete to carry a backpack. I’d say that the key lies in how you distribute your items and that you shouldn’t go overboard. This means that the weight of your backpack should not exceed 20% of your body weight.
This is very important, but it can be difficult for short people like me – I wish nature had given me a few extra centimetres.

Backpacking: Why did I choose this lifestyle?
My faithful companion

But you have to make do with what you’ve got. Personally, I’ve adopted a minimalist lifestyle.
I usually take 7kg of clothes, toiletries, medication, laptop, camera… for a year.

I buy what I need once I arrive at my destination. So far, this method has proved effective, and I only recently broke my habits when I returned from South Korea. But that’s a story for another time.

3. The price

Piggybank in backpacking post
Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Suitcases are generally less expensive than backpacks, with the exception of luxury models. It all depends on your budget.

Nevertheless, if you intend to travel for a long time – and for many years -– and you have the necessary budget, I’d say you shouldn’t limit yourself in your choice. You can simply think of it as an investment.

When I started traveling, I was on a tight budget, so I chose what I thought best suited my budget.

For example, the Quechua brand is a good choice if you don’t want to spend a fortune but still want a sturdy backpack that will last you a long time.
They get better and better over the years and are constantly improving their equipment.
It’s an affordable option and you still get the key features you need. I mean, you don’t need much when it comes to a backpack.

You want something sturdy, with compartments, durable, that fits your size and your back. Everything else is a bonus.

And if you’re looking for a brand with more features, many of my friends buy their travel luggage from Osprey.
They have different sizes depending on your gender so you can better adjust the different straps, as well as water tanks included…. .

Again, I’m only giving advice, as there are many different brands on the market and it can get really confusing.

So, even if suitcases are the best choice in terms of cost, you can still find cost-effective backpacks that meet your needs.

4. Practicality & Safety

Bag for backpacking
Photo by Oriol Pascual on Unsplash

Have you ever seen someone walking around with a suitcase and trying to find their way?

The fact is, when you travel with a suitcase, you’ve got your hands full – at least one of them.
For example, if you’re in a city and trying to find your hostel, you’ll need one hand to consult your phone and the other to hold your luggage.

In this case, safety and practicality are put to the test.
Don’t forget that the restless me will be afraid that someone will grab my luggage and steal everything.

With a backpack, there’s virtually no chance of that happening to you. You’ve got your stuff literally strapped to your back, so good luck stealing it.
Plus, it’s easier because nothing gets in the way of your movements. You can even run to catch the last bus if you need to (I speak from experience).

5. Functionality

Which is the most complete option?

You can only use your luggage when traveling by bus, plane or boat.
But you can use your backpack for camping, hiking, traveling, and it’s also easier when traveling by car. You can even use it to get a scooter ride to your hostel in Southeast Asia.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone carry luggage on a camping trip, but maybe on a glamping trip!

So the most complete option will be a backpack. When you think of adventure, you can’t really imagine anyone carrying a suitcase. It’s not really suited to outdoor exploration, as it can be a bit cumbersome.


Practicality & Safety

You don’t need anything expensive to travel comfortably, just choose the best option for your budget and look for what you really need.

And if you want to know what you absolutely must include in your carry-on luggage for stress-free travel, check out my article on the subject!

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