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    Here's When It Makes Sense To Use A Backpack Over A Suitcase (And Vice Versa)

    Some sage advice.

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    Ah, the ol' backpack vs. suitcase question! It's an age-old debate among travelers — and I, a very frequent traveler, am here to settle the score.

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    I hear people talking about it all the time when I’m on the road, I read about it in different Facebook groups, and I see bloggers posting pros and cons lists. As someone who has done a lot of traveling over the last four years, I can honestly say that I have traveled extensively with both options. And sometimes I pat myself on the back for choosing correctly, and other times I’m lugging my suitcase up several flights of stairs, because I wrongly assumed there would be an elevator in the building.

    First off, let me start with my absolute top recommendation for a backpack: the Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack, available in red, dark gray, and blue.

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    The Osprey backpack comes with a detachable day pack (which comes on every trip with me without fail) and fits everything I need for a backpacking trip. I have used it to travel for nearly three months in Southeast Asia, six weeks in Central America, and two weeks in California. I can fit tons of clothing in there with the help of packing cubes, plus a few pairs of shoes. I bring a laundry bag, toiletries, a poncho, towels, and more — and it all fits.

    It’s sturdy, comfortable to carry (it has cushioned, adjustable hip and shoulder straps), and it’s easy to pick up, which means no throwing out your back. It’s the perfect choice for a long-term backpacking trip where you know you’ll be doing laundry and want a simple, easy way to carry your belongings from place to place.

    The truth is, there are just certain circumstances when a backpack makes more sense than a suitcase, and vice versa.

    You’re island-hopping, taking tons of ferries and boats, and your little beachside hut is a mile down the beach from the ferry port. What do you choose?

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    You’re on a city break and staying at really nice hotels that have elevators.

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    You’ve decided to check out a ton of old, historical places with cobblestone streets, and you’re staying in guesthouses and hostels.

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    You’re traveling to a very hot and humid place where dressing cute is definitely not going to be an option.

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    You’re traveling during the colder months and you need some extra room for sweaters.

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    The list could go on and on. And while of course it's typically a matter of personal preference, there are a few rules of thumb that I find it wise to stick to.

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    If I’m going to be traveling for several months in a hot climate, I generally use a backpack because I’ll be packing thin, light clothing, and a ton of bathing suits. If I’m going to be traveling for two weeks and I know I'll need a lot of clothing options (i.e., I want to look cute in my Instagram photos or I’m going to more than one climate), I always use a suitcase.

    So after I figure out which makes more sense, if the answer is backpack, the most important thing I've learned is to get fitted for it. You can do this either by going to a sporting goods store and having someone actually fit you, or you can measure yourself at home. I always buy my traveling supplies online, but seeing a backpack in person definitely helps.

    The first travel backpack I ever bought literally caused me to throw my back out and I was forced to come home early from my first trip to Southeast Asia, because it was just way too big for my height and weight — and I was carrying nearly 100 pounds on my back between all of my clothes and electronics. It was no good. TL;DR: Get fitted!

    If I still haven’t convinced you to use a backpack for some of your trips, there are of course a ton of quality suitcases out there to choose from. I’m personally a huge fan of all luggage by American Tourister.

    And I can literally fit inside of my American Tourister 29-inch iLite Max. It’s so big that I almost always have room inside of it for extras.

    I know this was a lot of information — but I hope it provides you with some guidance before your next big trip, when you’re staring desperately at your belongings and thinking, How on *earth* am I going to carry all this crap?


    Get the Osprey backpack from Amazon for $165.05+, the American Tourister Z-Lite DLX from Amazon for $119.99 or Jet for $99.99, and the American Tourister iLite Max for $84.99+ on Amazon or Jet.

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