backpack vs suitcase

Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 10:49 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 46
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
backpack vs suitcase

For a 20 year old is it better to pack a backpack or suitcase for several weeks in Europe, staying in hostels?
chereamycat is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,265
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is really a personal decision as some people prefer one and some the other. Ideally, a person would know themselves which they prefer from trying both or at least being around people who have tried one they have not.

However, if I had to vote for one in your situation, I'd say definitely backpack as a suitcase would not be perceived to be as "cool" as a backpack, that's all, and most kids that age will have a backpack in hostels, I'd bet. That's usually what I see them with. In reality, it depends somewhat one what the person plans to do and how to travel. If you are going only to one or a couple places and going right from a railstation or airport to the accommodations and not moving around a lot, it doesn't really matter. I personally think suitcases (which a handle and rollers, of course) are easier to handle and move around than a backpack which you cannot rool and must be on your back. And it can be hard to manouever with one on.

There are some that combine the two features, if you can find one of those that is suitable, that would give a choice. I've never used one, though, and it does add on some weight and take up space to have the handles in a backpack. It's sort of like strapping a suitcase to your back, only one without the advantage of structured sides. But maybe someone can recommend one of those they like.
Christina is online now  
Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 11:10 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,344
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Go with a hybrid. There are several out there. Daughter doing study abroad (and a well-traveled kid before this juncture who was raised with "pack light; only carry-on"), chose an ebags Mother Lode TLS Weekender as her "go to" bag, and honestly, I think final decision came down to her seeing the value of having a bright orange-colored lining versus the typical "black hole".

She knew she would be staying in hostels many weekend and would be flying the very limited carry-on restrictions with cheapie European airlines. Size of bag worked perfectly for overhead or underseat (with a bit of pushing); packing and unpacking function was like her usual carry-ons.

Again, although she was close, she never had to check; and she was able to hit the ground running. She felt the pack was very well centered on her back.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 12:21 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 747
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
How much is he or she planning to pack? It is easier to roll a heavy load than to carry it around on the back. But Christina is right that a suitcase is less "cool".

You mentioned staying in hostels. Does that mean this person will be living on a low budget? Going on trains and buses? Too little money to afford a taxi between the train station and the hostel?

Is this a tall or short person? Physically strong? I'm short and my shoulders/back can't handle carrying ten kilos in a backpack for an hour. I have trouble with only six kilos, actually (yes, I weighed the damned thing). But I've seen lots of tall young men with backpacks that are twice as big as mine and they seem to have no problem.

Let this person test pack both a rolling suitcase and a backpack. Let her/him/whatever try carrying the full backpack around for a few hours. Then try lifting either bag, still fully packed, up over the head, like one does when putting it in an overhead bin on an airplane. Also try carrying the rolling suitcase up at least one set of stairs.

Then let her/him make the decision based on what felt best. A 20 year old is not a child. It's time to let go a bit and see what happens. I don't think anyone's died from carrying around too much luggage in the wrong sort of bag, yet.

First time I tried backpacking, when much older than 20, I quickly realized I couldn't carry both the things I'd brought from home and the things I'd bought as souvenirs. I solved the problem partly by sending the heavier souvenirs home by post (expensive, yes, and possibly too expensive if you are going to send things from Europe to America) and partly by throwing a few things away.
anyegr is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Backpack! My 20 y.o. and 23 y.o. children did a 6-week tour of Europe last summer. Having previously lived and traveled with us in Europe for several years, they knew that backpacks would be much easier to deal with than a rolling suitcase. Most young people who travel through Europe are dependent on public transportation, so they are having to walk up stairs/escalators in the subway or train stations, walk on rough (cobblestone, brick or even broken asphalt) sidewalks, etc. None of these are conducive to rolling suitcases.

In addition to that, they would have felt distinctly out-of-place amongst their peers in the hostels if they had used a rolling suitcase.

One thing they each told me was the best decision they made was to also get a Swiss Gear day pack to hold their valuables (camera, Kindle, etc.), food and other daily essentials for when they left the backpack in the hostel. These day packs were similar to messenger bags and they could carry them on the front of their bodies when they were carrying their backpacks.
longhorn55 is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 01:01 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"How much is he or she planning to pack? It is easier to roll a heavy load than to carry it around on the back."

My son 21 and me traveled with backpacks in 2010 for 2 months. By week one, my son was dying of a backache that was an issue on the rest of the trip. It was also much more difficult to manouver coming in and out of trains, storaging them in train and buses, as they are odd shaped once full.

In my opinion ask your kid to fill a backpack with all wanted and go up and down stairs, go in small places, etc. do the same with a roll suitcase.

This year we aren't considering backpacks, roll suitcases are much easier to carry and even put stuff on top and roll. With suitcases you get a break because you don't carry the weight, just pull, backpacks are a pain.
pookymimi is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 02:08 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 187
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My cousins (5 of 'em) have all 'backpacked' through Europe in the past few years and they show up at my door with suitcases. They are easier on the back and I can not imagine a single situation in which a backpack would be more convenient.
Phread is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 03:42 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 206
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have a hybrid pack which also has a small day pack that clips on the outside, so it counts as one piece of luggage. I find it awkward and heavy to carry so inevitably roll it, but it is more convenient than a suitcase for times you need to stuff it somewhere. If your son decides on a backpack, I recommend he go to an outfitting/adventure travel store where the sales staff is knowledgeable
and ask for help fitting one that will be comfortable for his build.
eliztravels is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jan 25th, 2017 05:45 PM
Jan 13th, 2016 12:47 AM
Travel Tips & Trip Ideas
Apr 4th, 2013 09:10 PM
Oct 14th, 2012 05:26 AM
Oct 13th, 2004 08:23 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:34 AM.