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5 Reasons to Travel with a Suitcase Instead of a Backpack

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It was very, very pretty, my 65-Litre turquoise Osprey travel backpack. And functional. The cost was right too. I spent a good two hours trying on it and its competitors, shifting multi-colored sandbags of various weights around theirs insides, walking up and down stairs, doing all I needed to do before I chose my new appendage. My turquoise backpack was perfect. Until it shrank.

65-liter turqouise Osprey backpack
My poor backpack

Or did my possessions grow? Since I neither left it in a downpour nor threw it in the washing machine, my pretty turquoise backpack probably didn’t wither. Instead, I think my belongings must have increased. As a travel maximalist, it’s really not possible for me to squeeze four seasons of clothes and all else needed to sustain me into one backpack. I don’t want to. So I switched back to the travel method in which I can max out the airline’s checked baggage scales – the suitcase.

Suitcase or backpack? Five colorful backpacks on tops of five suitcases

5 Reasons to Travel with a Suitcase Instead of a Backpack

1. Luggage Cost  – A good backpack will cost a minimum of $150. Once in a discount store I bought a new suitcase which lasted for years for $30. Since a suitcase isn’t an appendage which needs to function perfectly in sync with the rest of your body, you’ve got more options as far as brand, cost and design. There aren’t that many travel backpacks which will suit you just right physically and financially, but there are hundreds of suitcases which will work just perfectly.

2. Ease of Travel – Suitcases are easier to handle, period. You can motor around far more quickly pulling 50 pounds with one hand extended behind you with a suitcase than 35 pounds pulling your body backwards with a backpack. Stairs are pretty much out of the question with a suitcase, you might say. But where there are stairs there are almost always elevators, and off you go.

3. Travel Comfort – Where there is travel there are airport lines, bus stops and usually a lot of walking. Whether traveling or not, when you’re in an upright position for extended periods you want to be as comfortable as possible. A backpack does not maximize the body’s comfort level. Rather, it makes a long journey seem longer. A suitcase allows you to stand in line for hours and forget it’s there rather than faltering under the burden of a 30-pound beast clinging to you.

4. Bring More Stuff With You – I am not a superficial person at all, but when I travel I am a maximalist. I like having a choice of clothes and I don’t want to have to wash them in the sink every couple of days. Airlines allow for so much more checked baggage weight than you can possibly stuff into a travel backpack.

5. Take More Stuff Home – A suitcase is a lot more forgiving when it comes to cramming in an extra item or two. No matter how you shift it around, there soon comes a point where the zippers and cords of an already-full backpack just can’t handle any more. Sit on top of a stubborn suitcase, and you’ll find it quickly becomes willing to let you bring back even more than you left home with.

What about you? Do you prefer a suitcase or backpack and why?

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Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.

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