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Suitcase or backpack?

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Everyone loves to travel and we all have our different ways of packing. Some of us travel light wherever we go, the rest of us pack the kitchen sink for even the shortest of trips. We don’t want to be caught unprepared for any eventuality – and of course, we might not find any shops where we are going!

Backpack or suitcase?

Who carries what?
How we carry our luggage, though, is another matter. We all have our preconceptions of a backpacker as being young, cool, adventurous, traveling light and on a budget, whereas suitcase users might be considered more sophisticated, business like and more affluent. Whether you go for suitcases or backpacks they both have their pros and cons.

Pros and cons
Suitcases have one big advantage – they don’t weigh you down strapped to your back. These days they don’t even have to be carried far as they all come with wheels. These can, however, be a little tricky on medieval cobbled streets and carrying suitcases up several flights of stairs is not easy. Suitcases have an even bigger advantage in hot climates, they haven’t been attached to your back, leaving you hot and uncomfortable. Newer styles of backpack, though, are designed to eliminate this problem; although such designs might not come cheap.

It is easy to find something in a suitcase without having to totally unpack it. It opens out flat and everything can be seen and you will be surprised at the amount of luggage you can get into it. There’s no end to the pairs of shoes or holiday reading you can pack and once packed it stands upright and only its wheels have to touch the dirty ground; backpacks have a tendency to fall over and their straps can quickly become sticky and dirty. Straps tend to get tangled on airplanes and trip up the unwary. Awkward shaped and sharp objects or glass bottles that risk being broken don’t become hazards in a suitcase, they won’t spear your back as you walk.

Special needs
If you know you’re going to be traveling over rough terrain or having to walk with your luggage for any amount of time then, of course, backpacks come into their own. Your hands are left free to navigate potential hazards and you avoid falling into water or mud. Finally, image has to be considered. Turn up in that hostel in India or Thailand carrying a top of the range, hard-bodied, wheeled suitcase and you might not look that cool. Check in at a 5 star luxury hotel wearing a backpack and you might wish you’d worn your stilettos.

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