Backpack or Suitcase? The Longevity of a Backpack

Are you a backpack or suitcase kind of person? Do you mix it up, or do you solely go for one over the other? In our house we roll both ways. Flying within Europe on cheap flights means we often split luggage to reduce the cost, so the backpack is great when flying Ryanair as it is really light before anything goes in there.

A Backpacker at Heart

My backpack has been with me for 11 years! I cannot say that about any suitcase I’ve owned. Its first trip was the one where I first met Alex, in a hostel in Brugge, Belgium. Since that first trip to Europe it has been across Asia to Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. It has been around the US and continues to journey around Europe. A few days ago we packed it up for Malaysia and it’s currently hanging out in our Kuala Lumpur hotel room!

THE Backpack

Suitcases Can be Harder to Walk Up Long Flights of Stairs

Alex has asked me a few times if I really want to take it with me. This is usually related to a work trip where we are actually staying somewhere fairly nice. I always get defensive of my backpack when this is broached. I mean who cares what I choose for luggage, my backpack loves an adventure!

The primary reason I prefer to travel with the backpack is because lifting a suitcase is really hard when you are little like me. Alex and I once swapped baggage as we were flying a few days apart, and it took me 15 minutes to get the suitcase up our one flight of stairs by myself. Granted they were Dutch stairs, which are incredibly steep, but never again!

If you are doing a road trip around say America or Australia, I could see the suitcase having more advantages over the backpack. Rolling one from your car to the hotel room is convenient. But being that most of our travels are not via car and instead are around places with uneven footpaths, I think the backpack is the way to go!

Caribee Backpacks Last a Long Time

My Caribee pack has done very well – I bought it in 2001. I did have to stitch a small section back together after a number of years of use. But that was a pretty minor repair.The zips are still looking great. The little day pack still attaches to the front and has been handy on a number of occasions.

Here is a current selection of backpacks that Caribee sells. I like that there is a separate section in the bottom. I use it to put dirty washing, a spare pair of shoes and my toiletries. This is great because one time my shampoo leaked, and the spill was contained in the bottom. So I didn’t have a soapy mess all over my clothes. It also has a rain coat that tucks into a little hole nicely and keeps the backpack dry!

Bananas & Wally
My backpack doesn’t have a name… maybe it should! But it is loved and is happy to be in Malaysia for a three week adventure! While there are pros and cons to both methods of packing, I think I’m always going to have a backpack in my life.

What’s your preference? And do you have a name for your luggage?


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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8 thoughts on “Backpack or Suitcase? The Longevity of a Backpack

  1. Love my backpack and I don’t even want to consider ever having to leave it or the need to replace it.

    Whilst on our travels our backpacks have become our mobiles homes and something we heavily come to rely upon. I can’t remember ever feeling that way about a suitcase.

    1. I know! I can’t either, suitcases really do come and go. They totally serve a purpose, but a backpack is special, with a lot of memories attached.

      While I remember lugging my backpack around a place, I look back fondly at the memory, while the memory of lugging a suitcase up a flight of stairs annoys me, haha, no real idea why on this one 😀

    1. Yeah it hadn’t really occurred to me to name it until recently! Maybe I’ll think of something this trip 😉

  2. I love my backpack too but tend to favour my suitcase these days if staying somewhere smart and dresses / suits / clothes that crease easily are needed. Adventure trips, backpack rules!

    1. This is true Lindsey, backpacks are awful for wrinkles! Though I’m a terrible ironer, so I tend to iron on site because the iron we have at home is awful!

  3. I’ve had my backpack for almost 10 years and I love it. It also has wheels so I can use it either way.

    I also have one of those rolling suitcases that have four wheels. We got it just before moving here and I love it, too. I will happily switch between both.

    I don’t care for duffel bags or suitcases with two wheels.

    Neither of my suitcases have names.

    1. Hi Ann, wow that is a fancy backpack with wheels 😉 There are a few times I would have loved wheels on mine! We also recent got a suitcase with the 4 wheels, they are great too, ours happens to be purple and one day I was collecting it and this 5 or so year old came up to me and was like my favourite colour is purple, all the while she was staring at my suitcase and then she just said wow I love your suitcase! She was too cute!

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