Even though I am calling myself a minimalist – or minimalist wannabe – I don’t travel with only carry-on luggage, I have a proper suitcase that is filled to the brim with my stuff – like a regular person does when they travel.
Why don’t I have only carry-on baggage or at least a “proper backpack”? Well, for one thing I need more clothes than would fit in only a carry-on and for the second thing: backpacks are for losers!
My experience with a backpack:
I travel with a suitcase and suitcase only!
The main reason for that is that I like to be organized and in a suitcase I can achieve a level of organization that just isn’t possible with a backpack.
I tried a backpack at first but when I packed it I soon realized that this is not the ideal way to store …well anything if you ask me!
The backpack is round-ish. If you take a proper look at how things,are stored, you rarely see items that are stored in a round way – except cans that contain food such as baked beans – most of the things are stored in quadratic containers. Also it is less convenient to use packbags with a backpack due to this, so you just pour in all of your things without being able to organize it. And even if you do:
If you need something from the bottom of the backpack you have to go through the rest of it. I even had a backpack that used a zipper so I could reach the bottom more easily, nevertheless, I had to move some of my things and so other things squeezed in and it became a mess after I opened it 3 times. Organization doesn’t stick with a backpack.
Because things mix up so fast, your clean clothes get mixed up with your dirty laundry easily which I personally dislike very much.
Sometimes you have to declare a backpack as special luggage at the airport because of the straps that can get caught in the machinery of the luggage bands. This means that you get your luggage later than everybody else when you arrive because special luggage is handled later. – I once had to wait almost 2 hours which wasn’t fun.
People identify you as a tourist immediately, which in my opinion is a serious disadvantage.
Backpacks are not that stylish.
If you wear something with a hood, the hood is caught awkwardly in between the backpack and your head.
It can get exhausting for your neck and shoulders to carry a thing on your back all the time. Headaches in the evening may occur due to too much weight, especially when you are not used to carrying around 15-20 kilos all the time.
- You can not turn around easily because your radius is bigger with a large backpack on. So if you do turn around you will knock people over who stand next to you. Which hurts and will get you angry stares.
So after I realized that backpacks are not for me, I decided to give it away during my great minimalistic haul when I gave away all of my superfluous stuff (go to my archives to find out about them if you don’t know them yet).
Nevertheless, some people prefer to travel with a backpack, and I often get comments how I am not a “real traveller” because I use a suitcase and not a backpack.
Well, you guys are wrong and I hate you!
Here is why a suitcase is much better:
In a suitcase, I have two sides completely separate from each other, each side can be sealed off with a zipper. This has the advantage that the left side – full of business things – just stays closed all the time. I don’t open it, I don’t bother with it, things don’t spill to the other side and mix up, they stay neat and tidy and clean on their side until I need them again.
The right side, I am using regularly and it contains my “fun” stuff and I use packbags for this side, two of them so they work as sub-compartments this side is organized as well. I use one for tops and one for pants and underwear, socks and other necessities.
Left side for work, right side for fun: my suitcase has a proper work-life balance!
Of course I can not run for a bus that fast with my suitcase (which is the “ultimate” argument that backpackers have against suitcases) and stairs are a little bit more inconvenient, but I like to argue that I never run for a bus, because I always arrive early enough to take my time, and stairs are not a problem at all if you follow the “Jessica rule”.
The Jessica rule:
A good thing I did was to select a suitcase which is the right size for me. How do I know it is the right size?
Pick up the suitcase you really like and consider to buy, fill it up with some heavy items (go ahead, a minimum of 20-25 kilo would be realistic) and then try to carry it up some stairs. If you can not handle your suitcase, you can either do some weight training until you can lift more or you can grab a smaller suitcase. Or you can go put some makeup on, dress up and get a gentleman carry the thing for you.
In most cases not only the weight of a suitcase but also the dimensions (height, width) are important because the larger it is, the more difficult it’ll become to handle. I had suitcases in the past that bruised my ankles and my shins because the angle from which I lifted them was awkward and they came bouncing in my direction. And bruises don’t look good when you want to wear shorts or a skirt in summer!
In my case, my suitcase can take up to 78 litres and it has only two wheels instead of four. Also, it is a soft-case instead of a hard-case suitcase so I can grab it more easily (hard-case ones seem to slip through my fingers) and it has 4 straps and 2 handles so I have an optimum of control over it.
All in all, if you travel through a region that has proper streets with sidewalks that are in good condition, aka, through the civilized world namely North America, Europe, larger parts of Asia and of course Australia and NZ you won’t need a backpack to “survive”.
Of course, if you want to do a nature track or something like this while carrying all of your things, you will need a backpack. There is no way you can drag a suitcase up a mountain or through a muddy trail, but just consider how often you will be doing that and then go get a suitcase anyways! 🙂