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Suitcase or Backpack? Which One to Choose for Your Travel Needs

Renuka Savant Jun 6, 2019
Hip or practical? Hands-free or hands-on? The suitcase vs. backpack debate begins and ends here. This story has weighed both options, just so you can pick the luggage that suits you the best.

Did You Know?

The first known appearance of wheeled luggage dates back to 1153 A.D. in Palestine, during the Crusades. It was mostly used to store weapons and equipment.
It's an age-old debate that always manages to fire up the frenzy among travelers. On one hand, we have the very definition of cool―the backpack, epitomized by all the Lonely Planet faithfuls.
Whereas the other is the sedate, sober, and (if we may dare to add) stodgy suitcase―the most efficient and practical travel mate.

So if you're on the fence about the kind of luggage you should be carrying to your next trip, this write-up on suitcases vs. backpacks sufficiently clears the air.


The good

● Easy to maneuver
● Easy to carry
● Easy accessibility
● Perfect for delicate stuff
▶ Suitcases aren't the bulky and gigantic boxes that they used to be. With the evolution of transport systems, our luggage has also undergone a mighty transformation. Suitcases are now lightweight, trendy to look at, and are easy to maneuver with those zippy wheels at their base.
▶ Technically speaking, you're not constantly lifting or lugging a suitcase everywhere you go; it is quite easy to slide one around. The only place you might have to do so would be when you're taking a flight of stairs, or on highly uneven or muddy roads.
▶ On opening a suitcase, you can find whatever it is you're looking for, as everything is laid out before your eyes. In fact, it is safe to say that packing (and unpacking) a suitcase requires zero skills, as you don't really have to maintain an order of sorts while you pack, for easy accessibility.
▶ Any delicate items that you'll be carrying, especially souvenirs, can simply be stuffed in a sock and stored in a suitcase. Owing to their sturdy exterior, you won't have to worry about them being smashed.

The not-so-good

● No running
● Too bulky
● Can be heavy
● Prescribed shape and size
▶ Every traveler has his moments of delirious running―mostly for a plane/train/bus that's about to depart. It is during these moments that one invariably wishes to have his hands free, instead of pulling a mammoth piece of luggage.
▶ Anyone who has taken some adventurous means of transport (think bicycles or tuk-tuks) has never carried a suitcase, simply because these just can't go together. If you're a sucker for the unconventional, a suitcase may just seem like an icky, dangling appendage.
▶ If baggage weight means a lot to you, then you might want to forgo the suitcase. Despite the innovation, they do add some pounds to your baggage; and this means that there is a chance that you may end up paying for it, if you cross the permissible limits.
▶ Suitcases come in limited and standard shapes and sizes. Even if we ignore the boring factor, the practicality aspect cannot be left out. There could be times when a particular piece that you own maybe to big or too small for your needs.


The good

● Extremely versatile
● Hands-free
● Flexible
● Handy storage options
▶ Backpacks have this amazing chameleon-like quality, as they can be taken to any kind of trip. You'll always find one that is funky enough for a trek, and sober enough for a work trip. Also, they are weathered to undergo quite a lot of tortures that you or the elements may inflict on them.
▶ With a backpack, you travel hands-free―so you're always ready to click pictures, eat ice cream, or waltz in the middle of nowhere, without keeping an eye out for your luggage.

▶ You can squeeze, crumple, or mutilate a backpack if you wish to cram it in somewhere. This is true when you're opting for any of the mentioned unconventional means of transport.
▶ Backpacks come with a million compartments that let you store your nick-knacks for easy access. So if you're looking for wet wipes, or a granola bar, you know it's within your reach, without having to open your Pandora's box.

The not-so-good

● Burdensome
● Disorderly
● Can prove expensive
▶ At the end of the day, it's your back and shoulders that have to bear the brunt of the backpack. Therefore, it may not be recommended for those who are frail or have health issues related to their upper body.
▶ Organizing stuff in the main compartment of a backpack is a near-impossible task. Things can get misplaced in a big backpack, forcing one to empty the entire contents to find one object.

▶ Backpacks are getting trendier and savvier, the good ones are quite expensive. They do, come with extensive warranties, but may still not fit in the budget of many.

The Verdict

It all boils down to the duration of your trip, your mode of transport, your comfort levels, and your personal choices. The type of luggage you carry needs to be decided by you, only after weighing in all your options.
And for those still in doubt, you also have these new-age backpacks that come with wheels, and can double up as a suitcase as and when you like it.

So there, should we say that it's settled, once and for all?