We recently published a post saying why backpacks are better than suitcases for travel.
There are many sides to this argument, so it’s time to consider the rebuttal, or the reasons that suitcases are better than backpacks. Those with back problems or who travel for work will certainly agree with us. Consider your options for suitcases the next trip you take!
1) It causes less strain on your back and shoulders.
While it shouldn’t be a problem if you pack light, the weight is distributed better for those with back problems as you’re pulling with your arm muscles rather than balancing everything on your body.
2) You’ll look more adult.
I travel regularly for work and can tell you that there’s nothing that warrants more stares than showing up to a nice hotel, or first class cabin, with your backpack. You may not actually be professional, but you will probably be taken seriously more.
3) You don’t have to worry about the straps getting ripped if you have to check luggage.
Suitcases are designed to deal with the bumps from the baggage belt. They’re also easier for baggage handlers to grab onto.
4) They’re easier to deal with in public bathrooms.
Have you ever tried to fling off your backpack in a bathroom stall and then put it back on? It’s easier said than done in a teeny-tiny enclosure. With a suitcase, it can easily roll in behind you and sit off to the side.
5) They’re easier for finding what you’re looking for without having to unpack everything.
If you have a clamshell or standard design, you can open it up and almost immediately see everything inside. You don’t have to take every item out for that one little thing you’re looking for.
6) It’s easier to Tetris the contents together.
In your backpack, you’ll try your best to squeeze as much as possible into that big compartment, but there’s always going to be dead or unused space. With suitcases, you can fill as much space as possible using packing cubes to fill the rectangular space.
7) It will fit into the size check better than backpacks.
As someone who flies budget airlines regularly, I’m always annoyed when I’m told I have to check my backpack just because it doesn’t fit the dimensions of the size check precisely. Because suitcases are a rigid size, you won’t have problems with fitting it in and out.
8) Suitcases can double as a seat.
Are you waiting on a delayed flight or just need somewhere to sit in line? Your suitcase can double as a seat to lean against, as I did while waiting to be re-booked after a canceled flight home from San Francisco.
9) You can sit on it to close it, rather than kicking your foot into your backpack to make sure it closes.
It’s much easier to deal with closing your suitcase than your backpack, as it means shifting a few things around and applying weight, rather than trying to squeeze the drawstrings into closing your backpack.
10) They have plenty of handles for picking up and setting down.
It’s easier to pick up your suitcase on its top and side handles in order to put it up in the overhead bin than it is to do the same with a backpack.
11) You won’t get it confused with others bags (unless you have a standard black suitcase).
Do yourself a favor and get a suitcase that looks different so you won’t accidentally pick up the wrong bag or someone else won’t do the same. Some backpacks tend to look the same, especially when coming off the baggage belt or being thrown onto a bus.
12) You can pile things on top.
Secure another carry-on bag to it with a bungy cord, or place your purse on top of your bag and pull it all at once, rather than having excessive amounts of straps on your shoulders.
13) They come in all shapes and sizes.
You can find suitcases that can fit underneath your seat, small carry on suitcases and even large suitcases. They can be in every color. Backpacks are usually purchased at outdoors stores, but suitcases are available online, in department stores and even discount stores like Wal-Mart and Target.
14) You can lock the zippers to prevent theft.
The zippers of your suitcase are great for preventing theft, as you can get a TSA friendly lock that won’t have to be broken off.
15) A suitcase can stand on its own.
Suitcases are self standing and you won’t have to lean them against a wall or lay them down entirely. There’s nothing harder than trying to get your backpack back on after you’ve set it down!
16) You don’t get dirty when pulling a suitcase.
With a backpack, you sometimes have to lay it on the nasty floor and then put it back on! A suitcase can usually stand just above the dirt (except for the wheels) and you don’t have to wear it next to your clothes afterwards.
17) They don’t make your back sweaty.
When you arrive at your hotel, you don’t want to be drenched in sweat from carrying your backpack. Instead, stroll in almost effortlessly with your suitcase.
18) Suitcases offer better protection for checked items.
While we typically advocate for carry-on travel, it’s not always possible. If you want to bring back souvenirs or come home with more than you left with, there’s a chance you’ll have to check your bag. The fragile items are more likely to make it home in one piece if they’re in a structured suitcase than in a soft backpack.
19) They’re better for people with injuries.
We know suitcases are better for your back and shoulders to prevent future damage, but if you’re already injured, a suitcase is less likely to aggravate it.
20) They’re better for packing nicer clothing and items that wrinkle.
Many suitcases come with a garment section that can hold your nice clothing to keep them from wrinkling. Good luck preventing wrinkles with your backpack!
Would you agree with these points? Do you prefer suitcases over backpacks?
Join the Her Packing List email community!
Subscribe to get our latest packing lists, gear deals, and travel news by email.