Wheels or Straps: The Great Debate

Anyone who has ever travelled, whether for a weekend away or three months, will understand that when it comes to choosing between a rolling suitcase and a backpack, there simply is no “right” choice. Take it from someone who is a seasoned traveler getting ready to leave for ten weeks of summer travel and has both their backpacking backpack and their rolling suitcase sitting out…the struggle is real.

Planes and Trains

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Backpacks tend to weigh less than your traditional rolling luggage, but nowadays there are all sorts of options for ultra-light suitcases. Remember to leave extra space in your bag so that you have room to bring home souvenirs and stay under your 50lb international flight weight limit. If you are a light packer, you might want to go the carry-on route throughout your travels. There are plenty of great options for both backpacks and rolling luggage when it comes to this, but make sure that you check to make sure that whatever you bring with you meets the carry-on criteria.

Count Those Steps

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Unlike in the United States, elevators are not always an option. And even if they are, they can be tiny, meaning that you might have to wait a while until you can use it to get to your floor. Backpacks are perfect for walking up stairs when there is no elevator available, but if you’re not moving around too often, there is still nothing wrong with a good ol’ fashioned suitcase as long as you are able to carry it yourself. It never hurts to ask a friend to help – we are all in this together!

Staying Organized (or at least trying)

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You’re going to find yourself in a variety of different accommodations throughout your travels and staying organized is super helpful, especially when you’re on the move. Backpacks are a great option for people who like to organize their stuff by using lots of different dividers and pockets. Try to pick a backpack that has the ability to open like a suitcase so that you are not always having to take out all of your stuff in order to get to the bottom! Suitcases are equally great in that you will have a bigger space where you can choose how to separate your stuff and they also work a bit better for packing cubes. Either way, remember to roll those clothes to make the best use of your packing space!

Follow the Cobblestone Road

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If you’re heading to Europe, be prepared to hit the cobblestone streets with your stuff! There are also plenty of other regions that might not have the best roads or side walks either, like Central America, Southeast Asia and Africa. In this case, a backpacking backpack is probably best, but keep in mind that there is always the awesome option of a backpack with wheels. That way, you can carry it on your back when the roads aren’t so great, but still use it on wheels when you’re in a city or moving through the airport or train station.

Take a Hike…in the Mountains AND the City!

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Any trip, whether it is about cultural exploration in a city, taking language lessons, or doing outdoor adventure activities, is going to require a good daypack. There will be some days where you might not have the chance to go back to your hotel at all and no matter where in the world you are, it is always a good idea to be over prepared instead of underprepared. This means taking a daypack with you so that you can chuck an umbrella in there even if it is sunny out, throw in a light jacket even though it is going to be hot out during the day, but the temperature might drop once the sun sets, or bringing a swimsuit in case you wind up with some extra time to take a dip. Even more important is making sure that you keep a water bottle on you at all times and if you are the type of person who likes to have snacks available (I know I am!), then this way you have a place to keep them and not worry about going on a mission to find snacks if you get hungry. A daypack is also a great option to keep with you on the plane if you opt to check your stuff so that you can keep things like headphones, snacks, a sweatshirt, etc. with you.

Be Confident and Comfortable

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No matter what you choose, make sure that you are happy with what you are travelling with and make what you have work for you. It’s easy to second guess yourself when deciding, but looking at all of the pros to both will help you feel confident in your decision. And if whatever you choose to travel with gives you any issues or is uncomfortable, remember that it’s just a backpack or a suitcase at the end of the day. Make sure that for next time you choose what is right for you or like me, keep both as options for you to decide on depending on what your upcoming travels look like.

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