us in El Cuco, El Salvador

Backpack or suitcase?

When it comes to traveling, there are many different options to choose from. One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is whether to bring a backpack or a suitcase. Both have their own pros and cons, which we will discuss in this blog post. So, which one is right for you?

Advantages of traveling with a suitcase

Suitcases are easier to roll

Rolling suitcases are much easier and more comfortable than carrying a backpack. This can be very useful if you are traveling with heavy gear or need to carry a lot of clothes.

Suitcases offer better protection 

Because suitcases have solid sides, they offer more protection for fragile items like electronics and jewelry. If you are planning a trip across multiple continents, this could be an important factor to consider.

Suitcases are more formal

If you are traveling for business or need to look presentable at your destination, a suitcase might be the better option. Suitcases can give off a more professional image than backpacks, depending on where you’re headed.

Disadvantages of a suitcase

Suitcases are bulky and difficult to store them in tight spaces

If you are traveling to a crowded city or to more rustic environments, I find that suitcases can be too big and unwieldy. This makes them difficult to lug around on buses, boats, or in busy streets.

Suitcases are harder to maneuver on uneven terrain

I love beach huts, tree houses and don’t mind more rustic places. A suitcase is super hard to bring to this kind of unique accommodation. As an independent traveler, I hate being unable to carry my luggage alone. 

The difficultity of handling a suitcase by myself or when on public transport is an absolut no-go for me and the reason why I’ll always opt for a backpack.

rolled clothes packed into packing cubes

Disadvantages of a backpack

Backpacks are harder to pack

Keeping your stuff organized and wrinkle-free can be somewhat of a hassle and took me years of optimization. But once you figured it all out, it shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Check out my guide on how to pack like a pro to make sure you travel as comfortably as possible.

Backpacks are less formal

Traveling with a backpack may look out of place if you are checking into a more sophisticated place

Your stuff is less protected

Naturally, the hard shell of a suitcase protects your clothes better from outside influences.

The process of putting it on your back

Putting your backpack on is uncomfortable. I’m not too fond of the process of putting it on my back.

Backpacking can damage your clothes

Carrying a 10-kilo backpack is no joke on the clothes you are wearing at that moment. I ruined some tops with my backpack

Advantages of traveling with a backpack

Keep your hands free

When you are carrying a backpack, both of your hands are free. This can be very useful when you need to carry other things like your camera, or if you need to use your hands for balance when walking.

Easy to handle

Backpacks can be squashed into small spaces more easily than suitcases. This can be useful if you are traveling on public transport or trying to fit your luggage into a small car or boat.


Backpacks are so much easier to carry when the path is uneven or sandy. This is perfect for traveling in remote areas where there are no roads or sidewalks. Just picturing myself fighting with a suitcase when accessing a lonely beach hut makes me burst with laughter.


I am not fond of carrying my luggage for hours, but with my backpack at least I would be able to do it!

Outside storage

One of the best things about backpacking is that you can strap large items outside of your backpack. This allows you to carry more gear with you or keep smelly and wet things out.

me at Jouvert in Jamaica
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By using a backpack with wheels I enjoy the flexibility and independence of a backpacker while the wheels litteraly take the weight of my shoulders.

Ultimately, the decision to travel with a suitcase or a backpack depends on your own preferences and the type of trip you are taking. If you are traveling for business, a suitcase is often preferable, but if you’re looking for more adventure, then a backpack will likely be your best bet. I think there are more pros than cons to traveling with a backpack. Especially when you pack them right. It’s been my experience that they are more versatile, can fit into tighter spaces, and make it easier to move around on foot. Of course, there are some drawbacks- like the fact that they can be cumbersome when full or heavy- but overall I prefer a backpack (especially with wheels) to suitcases.

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