Luggage or Backpack?

Rolling luggage may be practical for getting around the tiled floors of airports and from the cab to the hotel room, but for anything beyond those nice, easy strolls, quite frankly – it sucks. Try rolling that luggage over the cobblestones of Europe, through a crowded street in Asia, or up the stairs of a subway station with no elevator and you might start wishing that fancy rolling luggage had straps to haul it on your back. Now you might be thinking, “What a great idea! Wheeled luggage with backpack straps!” Well, consider this: the other disadvantage of rolling luggage is that the wheels and handle mechanism take up space and increase the weight. That extra weight may just put you over the airline’s bag weight limit (whether carry-on or checked) and mean having to pay additional an additional fee.

Still don’t believe me? Try taking your wheeled luggage to the islands of southern Thailand, or any similar place where getting to your destination means a trip by local water ferry. On one such ferry trip, I remember watching a middle-aged couple struggling to get their bags from the boat up to the dock while everyone else quickly hopped up on the pier and went ahead of them. I wanted to tell that couple what I hope was obvious to them: “Get a backpack.”

Not only is a backpack lighter, but it because it’s strapped to your back, you’re far more mobile and you have both hands free to pay for tickets, answer your phone, grab handles, climb ladders, etc. – and you can easy walk (or even run) on uneven surfaces. That couple actually had it easy considering the boat actually pulled up to a pier. Some times your boat may leave from a pier, but when you arrive you have to jump into knee deep water with all of your belongings – a good reason to pack your passport, camera and other electronics in a ziplock bag, just in case you and your bag take an accidental dip in the drink.