How to choose the best type of luggage for your travels?

How to choose the best type of luggage for your travel adventures
So you bought your flight and maybe got some hotels booked? Great! Only thing left is figuring out what to pack for your trip. But let’s be honest… it’s a struggle right? You’re not alone. Knowing what and how to pack for your travels is something that stumps even the most seasoned travellers.

Determining what to pack and what to leave behind can be quite overwhelming. Depending on your chosen travel destination or type of adventure, you may even struggle to decide on the most basic thing: what’s the best type of luggage to travel with?

To help you get some insight, we created three packing profiles to help you on your way! Even better, we asked for some packing advice from experienced travel influencers, each with their different way of traveling. We asked Lloyd & Yaya from Hand Luggage Only and Nick & Hannah from Salt in Our Hair for their expert’s opinion on what’s the best type of luggage to use!

If you fancy some packing-ninja magic to make sure that your piece of luggage is filled with all the items you need for your trip, be sure to download our wonderful hands-on packing checklist here.
How to choose the best type of luggage for your travel adventures

Itinerary: If it’s a short trip, a business trip or a trip to a warm destination and we have the opportunity to wash our clothes regularly, we prefer to travel with carry on only.

Organization: Trying to fit a lot of stuff into carry-on can be quite a challenge. That’s why we always roll our clothes to save space and always use packing cubes (must be our favorite travel gear). It helps us keep everything organized.

Efficiency: Because we don’t need to check in our carry-on luggage, it saves us time at check-in and at baggage claim. Perfect if we’re already limited in time! Moreover, it saves you some cash too. During shorter trips, we don’t feel the need to pay extra for check-in luggage (we’re looking at you Ryanair!) so that’s a double win. Ha!

Protection: In a way, we always feel our belongings are much safer when they stay with us during the flight. Hence, another reason why traveling with hand luggage only is our preferred luggage type for shorter trips and destinations close by. Even when we do have a bag checked-in, we keep our more valuable belongings – our camera, laptop, medication – in our carry-on.

Mobility: The type of carry-on depends on the destination really. Most of the time we opt for a wheelie suitcase but in some cases wheels just aren’t that practical. Anyone who has tried to haul along a suitcase on wheels over European cobbled streets or Paris subways with stairs only, will know what we’re talking about. In that case, a daypack or a small duffle bag will suit our needs!

Itinerary: When we know we’re going to be situated in one place for a while, we’d rather use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Especially if we’ll be driving a (rental) car. The fact that a suitcase fits perfectly (well, most of the time) into the trunk of a car is a plus.

Organization: Stuff seems to be moving around in large suitcases. That’s why we always use packing cubes! It’s such a life saver to keep everything organized. If we’re not using any, the content of our suitcase will be fine for 2-3 days but anything longer than this and we have a chaotic pile of crumpled clothes!

Protection: If we’re carrying valuables around that don’t fit our hand luggage (second laptop, souvenirs, drone,…), a hardcover suitcase will definitely have our preference! The hardcase just offers that extra bit of protection when airport crew starts throwing around your luggage on and off the plane.

Access: Oh, the lie-flat access of a suitcase is so much easier than a backpack! It’s just so time-saving to get your hands on everything at once.

Mobility: Yes, wheelie suitcases (small or large) can be a pain on certain terrain. But, it can be a good solution when carrying heavy luggage. Instead of having it relegated at your back, as with a backpack, the weight is now relegated at your feet and often to your side. Though this can slow your mobility down a bit, the biggest difference is that it relieves pressure off your back.

Itinerary: if we’ll be bouncing from place to place or hotel to hotel, we’d much prefer the simplicity of a backpack. You can just simply throw it on and go. If we’re planning on doing some treks during our travels, we also opt for a backpack. It’s the most practical way to carry all our belongings.

Organization: Confession time! We have never mastered the art of packing a backpack and not getting totally crumpled clothes. Not even our precious packing cubes bring solace to this monstrous task. However, we do love the side pockets and all the different placements on a backpack, though. Everything, from our toiletries to our power adapter, has a particular spot where it resides.

Efficiency: Backpacks usually have to go to a special ‘Odd Sized Baggage’ conveyor belt at the airport to avoid the straps getting caught in any machinery. This can often take longer and the special conveyor belt can be located in a weird place. This was the case on our trip through Brazil and we lost precious time because of it.

Protection: The soft fabric of a backpack won’t protect your belongings against the bag being thrown around. When traveling with a backpack, we opt to not carry any valuables like laptops in the backpack.

Access: Okay, we know there are new models out there that have bottom access as well, but let’s be honest, it will never be as practical as a suitcase. Most of the time you only have top-first access to your belongings while everything at the bottom is much more difficult to reach. This requires you to unload the top before they can get to the bottom.

Mobility: No doubt, it’s so much easier to do stairs with a backpack then with a suitcase! You can run with it to catch your flight, climb over fences during treks,… A backpack is also especially easy to travel with when moving around by public transport. When it comes to mobility, this is the best option.

Fashion: We need to confess that we feel somewhat foolish when arriving at a super nice hotel looking like we’re about to leave for a multiday trek through the wilderness. Luckily, after check-in we can just throw on a nice dress and a nice pair of pants and blend right in.

We do not have one particular best type of luggage we swear by, we travel with all three depending on the destination. While deciding on what type of luggage to carry along for our next trips, we always ask ourselves the following questions:
  • How long are we traveling for?
  • What will we be doing on our trip: stay in one location, hop around, participate in a trek,… ?
  • What stuff are we bringing along on our trip?

Just remember, the best luggage option is the one that you can carry around comfortably!
Tired of overpacking? Here’s our ultimate packing checklist for guys and girls!

Happy packing!

Illustrations by Ilka Verhelst

What type of luggage do you travel with?

We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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  1. I am so bad when it comes to packing and this was such a great article and some great packing tips. Just what I needed before my next travel

  2. we are heading for a big trip soon and we usually do more airbnbs this time hotels so trying to figure out how to pack smart, and also figure to do laundry at the midpoint of the trip. I really wish I had thought of packign cubes sooner. anyway, we have one large suitcase that we fill for our family of 4 (usually for me and the kids, hubby packs himself) i can get that suitcase to 48 or 49 pounds!

  3. I'm a suitcase traveller slowly transitioning to a backpacker.
    Never used packing cubes but gotta start now.
    Thanks for the article.

    Carolina | My Global Attitude

  4. Perfect definition for each type of bag! My husband and I are both backpacker for mini trips! (y) Thank you for sharing this informative post!

    God Bless!
    JM Kayne | #InMyHeart♥

  5. A just in time article because we will be having our vacation next month and we are already preparing on the things we will be bringing along with us.


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