Backpacking is a style of travelling where you travel on a budget, usually for a couple of months or longer, with a very loose itinerary but often without any fixed plans or schedules.
Backpacking is awesome. I’m more of a flashpacker these days but my heart still lies in this carefree travel style.
But I have a little secret I’d like to share today.
I HATE backpacks.
I always have. I always will. Even when I spent two years backpacking, I hated my backpack. Each morning I packed it up to move on to my next destination I hated it. I hated everything about it and I was so jealous when I saw my fellow travellers breezing around with wheeled suitcases.
In theory, backpacks are awesome. You just stuff all your stuff inside, swing it on your back and you’re good to go. You have freedom and mobility and they’re just so easy.
But they’re only that easy when you don’t actually have much/anything in them.
If you’re only away for a couple of days or you’ve 100% mastered the tricky art of packing light then backpacks are perfect. But if, like most people, you’re going to be travelling with a fair bit of stuff, backpacks are actually a bit of a nightmare.
If you’re not convinced, here are 10 reasons why backpacks suck.
1. You have to carry them
Come on guys, it’s the 21st century and wheels were invented for a very good reason. Let’s use the incredible invention of the wheel and stop carrying heavy things!
2. They’re awkward to carry and they hurt
I’m sure Action Man doesn’t have any problem swinging his backpack onto his back but I do. I really do.
3. You barely ever need to carry your luggage
Admittedly, there are times when you need to carry your luggage but these times are few and far between. Everyone likes to think they’re going on an adventure and getting off the beaten track but 9 times out of 10 you’ll be able to wheel a suitcase everywhere.
4. Creased clothes
I have never mastered the art of packing a backpack and not getting totally crumpled clothes. I always roll my clothes and I often use packing cubes. Everything is fine for 2-3 days but anything longer than this and I have a chaotic pile of crumpled clothes.
5. Day packs
While I hate backpacks, I am a fan of the day pack. Basically, just a mini backpack you use for days out. If you’re going trekking for a couple of days, you’d take a small day pack rather than the large backpack.
6. It’s difficult to find stuff in them
If you have a top opening backpack then you can say goodbye to anything that slips to the bottom. You won’t be seeing that for a long time.
7. They’re difficult to organise
Lots of backpacks have one large, main compartment which makes it difficult to organise anything and your belongings get muddled and lost.
8. Things get broken
The soft fabric of a backpack won’t protect your belongings against the bag being thrown around. I’m not suggesting anyone travels with a china tea set but you won’t want anything breakable in there.
If it’s good enough for Paddington…
9. Odd Sized Baggage
Backpacks usually have to go to a special ‘Odd Sized Baggage’ conveyor belt at the airport to avoid the straps getting caught in any machinery. This can often take longer and be located in a weird place. It’s not the end of the world but it’s an extra stress and hassle if you’re running late.
10. They’re not waterproof or easy to clean
Hard-shelled suitcases are both waterproof and easy to clean. Some people like having a dirty backpack because it makes them look like ‘a real traveller’. I don’t.
My tips for backpacking with a suitcase
If you’re convinced that backpacks suck and you’d like to go travelling with a suitcase, there are a few things you need to remember.
You still need to pack light
I never travel with a bag I can’t lift. This is mainly because I don’t want to be that girl who has to pitifully ask a man to carry my bag for me. I’m not going to get all feminist on you but, ladies, if you can’t carry your own bag, it’s too heavy.
You still need a small, lightweight case that you can easily carry up a flight of stairs.
I’m a massive fan of the Caribee Fast Track Wheeled Backpack. I can’t recommend this bag enough if you’re not quite ready to hang up your backpack but you realise backpacks suck.
What’s your opinion on the backpack vs suitcase debate?