The term “backpacking” gets thrown around a lot when talking about long term or budget travelers. I am a firm believer that an actual backpack is not required for these things. Unless you are hiking and camping in the wilderness or think you’ll be running after buses and jumping on the backs of trucks often I say dump the backpack and get a good rolling suitcase instead. You will thank me later.
Now I don’t say this without having any experience with backpacks. For my first long term trip I thought I needed a backpack and while I was able to pack into a pretty small one (I used this Kelty Redwing 40L one) about three weeks into my trip around Southeast Asia I started to harbor very negative feelings towards that backpack. And I can remember the exact moment that I actually started to HATE that backpack. It was in Singapore, riding the metro just before spending the evening without dinner, and wandering around the city looking for somewhere to stay.
Having a second smaller backpack with me as well didn’t help. Whenever I see a backpacker on my travels with a giant backpack on their back and a smaller backpack on their front, I cringe and have flashbacks to the weighted backpack feelings I carried with me.
I also am a much smaller person (I’m only 5’1”) so the weight and size of backpacks make them less comfortable. However, I found that the bigger the person, the bigger the backpack they are carrying. I had borrowed that backpack from a friend and when I got back I was never so excited to see something go.
When I decided to travel long term again there was no question I wasn’t going to be carrying a backpack. I looked into some of the convertible backpacks/duffles but I found that once you ask a bag to be more than one thing the quality tends to suffer.
One thing I knew was that it had to be carry on size (something backpacks are often too big for). I ended up going with an Eagle Creek 22” Tarmac and it was perfect for my trip. It was a little rugged looking (so it didn’t stand out as a shiny suitcase with actual backpacks) and was just about the same size as the backpack I had traipsed around Southeast Asia with.
I know that traveling with a “backpack” gives you some sort of street cred in the travel world but I have learned to get over that. In twenty years my back will be thanking me and I travel much easier knowing I won’t have anymore mental and physical breakdowns about my backpack in the middle of a metro again.
Do you agree or disagree? Leave me a comment below!
SHOP THE STORY
photo: via Unsplash