Why I Ditched the Rolling Suitcase for a Travel Backpack

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Packing for a trip abroad can be a stressful ordeal, I know! Especially when you are trying to cram everything you could possibly need for the next month into a 20-pound bag. Why put more stress on yourself than necessary when you are traveling?

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There are already so many factors you need to take to mind; are the right outfit combinations packed, do I have all my necessary toiletries, did I remember my charger? Your luggage itself shouldn’t be something which causes you stress along the way. How do I recommend avoiding added travel stresses? I pack a backpack!

Why I choose a backpack

During my adventures, I have seen many MANY people traveling with an added headache- literally- a rolling suitcase! How is this a headache? Have you ever tried rolling a suitcase (or duffel) along an uneven cobbled street? It is both jarring and extremely noisy! I’ve actually been on tours which the guide has had to pause his presentation while a tourist walked by with her rolling suitcase because it was SO loud, he couldn’t be heard over the noise.

In addition to the clattering noise your rolling suitcase can cause, consider where you are going. How likely is it that you will encounter staircases with your luggage?

Newsflash- it is EXTREMELY likely!

Many old buildings throughout Europe have never been fitted with an elevator (lift), and I’ve been in some which have an elevator, but the stairs are actually a much safer option! Not to mention, if you plan to take the subway systems anywhere around Europe, you are highly likely to once again encounter stairs. If you are lucky, you’ll find an escalator!

In Rome, a roommate of mine ended up having to go shopping for a new bag because after she had climbed the staircase at the subway station, she sat her suitcase down to catch her breath. She then witnessed it take a traumatic tumble all the way back down the stairs and bust apart. She then had a suitcase which was only three-wheeled, and very difficult to maneuver around the streets of Rome.

Learning from my own personal luggage problems

If you remember from my first trip to Europe, I had seriously overpacked in two suitcases which weighed in together at 75 pounds, and I found myself lost with my group in the metro of Paris. After what seemed like hours of hauling my luggage up and down the staircases, we emerged and found our way to our hostel, suitcases banging away on the ground behind us the ENTIRE way. I haven’t packed with a suitcase since!

My lovely backpack is so convenient! I can simply throw it over my shoulders and go! I don’t have to worry about stopping to check my map, letting go of the handle and having someone steal it. I can walk around with a cup of coffee in one hand and an umbrella in the other! It allows me to do everything I need to do without having to ‘shuffle’ my bag around to complete my tasks.

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Flying with luggage

As more and more flyers begin flying with only their carry-on bags, it is becoming more commonplace for airlines to start asking people to check their luggage. In my experience, I have found that those with rolling bags are more likely to be asked to check theirs than someone with a backpack is. Not to say that you won’t still be asked to check yours, however, I have found it to be much less likely.

I highly recommend traveling with a backpack style suitcase. These are so easy to maneuver, and they open in the traditional suitcase style so it is still SUPER easy to navigate your clothing and toiletries. I currently use this one or this one from CabinMax and have loved them! They have accompanied me overseas several times and around the US and are still holding up excellently! My favorite thing about these bags is that there is zero second-guessing when it comes to allowed baggage size.

Picking the perfect backpack

On the CabinMax website, you can specify what bag size you need by airline allowance. I picked the smaller allowed size (at the time it was RyanAir’s baggage size, now it would be WOW’s) and then simply picked the backpack I wanted! I have never had any airline question my luggage size and have had zero issues with it!

There are, of course, other companies offering great backpack luggage options. If you are a backpack traveler, what is your go-to bag? Share in the comments below!


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My life has been a collage of airlines and exhaustion, and I wouldn't change a thing! I'm a budget traveler, and I adore exploring the world one plane or train ticket at a time!

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