Choosing the Best Bag

From Jessie Beck

Obviously, we’re huge fans of travel backpacks at Tortuga. But, we also understand that not everyone wants to travel with a backpack all the time (thinking of you, Mom). Even I really love traveling with my duffel bag — it’s more fashionable — but I don’t use it for every trip. Some destinations are simply easier to navigate with a backpack.

Other destinations are great for any type of luggage. And, for some, it really depends on what kind of trip you’re taking in the first place. To help you out, I’ve weighed the travel backpack vs. suitcase vs. duffel bag for each of the top 25 destinations that Americans travel to each year.

And, just in case your next travel spot isn’t on the list, I’ve also included some general tips to help you figure out if you should travel with a backpack, duffel bag, or suitcase.

Making the Choice: Travel Backpack vs. Suitcase

Whether you’re going to one of the places on this list or not, you can easily figure out if you should travel with a suitcase, duffel, or backpack by answering the following:

  • What’s your transportation going to be like? If you’re renting a car, it’s much easier to bring any type of luggage, whereas a suitcase is cumbersome on public transportation (especially non-carry on sized).
  • How good is the infrastructure? Roads? Hotels? If you’re headed somewhere with good roads, sidewalks, and hotels with elevators, your luggage type won’t matter much. If not, a backpack or duffel will be easier.
  • Will you be spending most of your time in one place, or moving around a lot? Again, if you’re staying put, go with what suits you best. If not, make sure you won’t get exhausted walking around with your luggage.
  • Are there any personal considerations that might affect your choice? A bad back, for example? As much as some of us might love to take a backpack, it’s just easier to bring a suitcase.
  • Are you worried about theft? Make sure your bag can lock and, hate to say it, but hard-shelled suitcases are pretty darned theft proof.

If you’re on the fence, think about ways you can make your preferred luggage type work in a less than ideal situation. For example, if you’re a suitcase kinda gal in a suitcase-unfriendly locale, make sure you’re bringing a smaller, lighter weight one that you can carry up a flight of stairs if necessary.