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I’m sure every traveler at some stage has found themselves in the situation where they’re stuck traveling with the wrong kind of bag.

Whether it’s trying to lug a suitcase through the jungle and beating the crap out of your wheels (been there), or throwing everything into a hiking pack for a stay at a luxury hotel, a travel experience is often about choosing the right kind of bag.

And there are many different types of bags, which will be suitable for different types of trips. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking any bag will do, because you just need something which will transport your things.

Bags are not sacks. They are not meant to be used as sacks. Bags are painstakingly blueprinted to strike a perfect balance between design and utility, for specific types of trips.

So to avoid committing ‘bags faux pas’, consider the following types of bags, and which will be most suitable for your upcoming trip. This post has been bought to you by Bagail.comUse the coupon code BAGAIL90 at checkout to get 10% off your purchase.

An Overview of Different Travel Bags: Choose the Right Bag for Your Trip

Luggage bags travel

Duffel Bags

Travel duffel bags are the kind of bags which come closest to the utility of all-purpose sacks. Duffels are generally easy to carry and have two handles so that two people can share the weight while carrying it.

This is one of the best features of a duffel bag. In fact, nowadays duffel bags with separate cell phone pockets and certificate holder compartments are available in market. You just have to make a wise selection.

Duffel bag

Backpacks

The major benefit of carrying backpacks is that you can go hands-free with it. You won’t get tired even if you’re carrying a month’s luggage. Backpacks are the popular choice of bags for campers, trekkers or any outdoorsy person.

Outdoor activities never come without a considerable exposure to mud and dirt. So intelligent travelers should choose a color which won’t stain easily. And, if you’re after a camping backpack, you should choose a style that can be hand washed easily.

When it comes to organizing and categorizing your belongings, a downfall of many backpacks is that they’re like an open sack, and can often be difficult to reach things at the bottom. So you should look for something with compartments and pockets – the more the better.

The quality of the shoulder straps of a backpack is an aspect which distinguishes a good backpack from a mediocre one.

Suitcase

Now, suitcases might not be the most convenient lightweight luggage option, but there are trips which require suitcase travel. And, it’s a lot easier to organize your clothing, and keep them crease free.

For instance, a luxury or business trip calls for a suitcase. Trips to attend weddings or high profile social gatherings need a suitcase. Why, you ask? Because only suitcases can provide the ultimate luxury that your best outfits demand.

Packing Cubes

Travel Packing cubes are small pouches which are used to segregate items in our bags, be it duffel bags, backpacks or suitcases. How many times have you put in the time to neatly pack your luggage, only to find that transit has reduced it to a hot mess!

Using packing cubes is the best way to prevent such situations. And using them is a great way to stay environment friendly. They come in different sizes and colors, and allow you to categorize and organize your clothes into different cubes.

If you’re packing for family travel you can assign one cube to each family member (or different colors to make organization easy). Organizing clothes like this makes unpacking less messy and saves a lot of time. They can also be used as carry on if you need to quickly unpack to to avoid excess baggage charges (been there!)

Travel is About Blending in

No matter which bag you decide to bring with yourself, be sure it suits the style of the trip. Don’t be a sore thumb and stand out in the crowd. After all travelling is all about blending in!

ONCE YOUR BAG IS SORTED, OTHER TRAVEL ESSENTIALS WE RECOMMEND ↓

Compact First Aid Medical Kit

There are headphones, and then there are these.

Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless

 

The Fuji X-T20 uses a 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor, which delivers gorgeous, vibrant, clean and crisp images that rival even the best dSLR cameras.

Fuji X-T20 

INSPIRED? PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    28 Comments

  1. Very helpful post, especially for frequent travelers. Thanks alot. Bookmarking it for reference. 🙂

    • Glad it was helpful for you! Happy travels!

  2. Loving this post! Also agree on the packing cubes front, I started using them and they were game changing.

    • Thanks Deb! While I’ve been traveling for 10 years now I only recently discovered packing cubes too – totally agree, I started using them last year and was like “where have you been all my life” :D!

  3. I’ve been debating for a while whether or not to get cubes. I have those thick plastic bags that you can roll/squeeze all the air out, which is great for that first initial pre-trip pack and dirty laundry along the way…but not much in between. I’m thinking it’s time to invest in some!

    • Cubes all the way! I’m a BIG fan of cubes – I actually only found out about them last year, but as soon as they arrived I questioned where they had been all my life!!! And I use them to organize my drawers at home when I’m not traveling too – they’re fabulous 😀

      Can highly recommend them, yes, I can imagine compression sacks would be highly annoying for constant access throughout a trip.

  4. Best thing I ever came across was the packing cube. Been using them since our first trip to Europe in 2013 and never looked back. One thing I always ponder is hard shell or soft shell suitcase?

    • OMG me too!! I’m in love with packing cubes. I’ve purchased far too many of them lol!

      We have a couple of different suitcases, both hard shell and softshell, and I like the concept of hardshell because I’ve seen how baggage handlers throw luggage around at airports, but also because they’re usually more water resistant if you get caught in the rain, and it’s easier to keep them clean (or clean muck off).

      That said if you are going for a hardshell suitcase, make sure you check the quality and consumer reviews because the material used is usually more susceptible to crack than that of a softshell. And something to also consider is that softshell suitcases are easier to cram more luggage into as there’s often room for the material to expand a little bit – not the case with a hardshell.

      Also consider if you care about the number of wheels – hardshell cases will often come with 4 wheels which you might find easier to move with softshell suitcases usually only come with 2 wheels.

      Hope that helps!

  5. I definitely more of a backpack girl myself, I use them for everything and especially for camping! However, my other weapon of choice is the cabin sized suitcase as I city break a lot and hate checking in baggage. That said, I have just come across the wonder that is the packing cube and they have genuinely changed my life! Cannot wait for my next big trip to use them again!

    • Awesome Sam, sounds like you have your bags worked our perfectly to suit your travel style! Yes, gotta love the cabin sized suitcase for short breaks – it’s so good being able to skip that conveyor belt and grab the first cab while everyone else is waiting for their bag!

      And how good are packing cubes! Has changed my life too!!

  6. We have been long time hikers and have pretty sturdy camping backpacks that we have been travelling with but we could still upgrade to a more suitable traveler backpack. The primary difference would be:
    1) Straps: A hiking pack has a lot of straps that are required to perfectly distribute the weight for a day of wear. These straps are unneeded to cart a bag from the train to your room and unwanted for air travel because they can get caught in the conveyors at the airport.
    2) Dimensions: an optimal piece of luggage should follow the maximum dimensions for air travel to maximize volume in your pack. Hiking packs tend to be taller and narrower to allow you to maneuver on trail and distribute the weight lower on you back.
    3) Pockets and packing: A hiking pack has a bunch of little pockets so you can easily access your stuff on the trail. This is exactly a design that you can not secure from wandering fingers in a crowd or train. You would also want the pack to open fully so you can reach the bottom of your pack at any time. If you have to take your stuff out it adds complexity and exposes your clothes to bed bugs. Also, you would want a compartment big enough to slide a lap top which wasn’t an option with our current packs. Also, a common feature on hiking packs is an area for external strapping of tents, which just will not be used for urban travel and throws off the entire weight paradigm. You end up having your weight too high because you don’t utilize the heavy strap space at the bottom of your pack.
    4) Support: A hiking pack devotes significant resources (weight / volume / cost) to distribute the load while you hike. Imagine the old school external frame pack… All of that frame will be wasted on the short haul trips of urban travel. A nearly equivalent overhead it devoted to an internal frame pack but you just don’t see it.

    • Thanks for the great overview of hiking vs traveler packs Jen, yes, you’re right, we’ve covered the types of bags quite broadly, though you can then break it down even further to be more suitable for your travel style and needs.

      Your overview of the pros and cons of a hiking backpack vs one for urban travel is fantastic; it would be lovely if a company came out and developed a bag which achieved a balance of both right!

      I’ll let you know if I come across a specific design which balances all of the pros and cons you’ve mentioned 🙂

  7. I definitely need some new cases. I have had mine nearly twenty years and although they tell a lovely story, showcasing the many places I have been, I think I have to accept that they have outstayed their welcome. There are such better cases to use these days so maybe it is about time I took the plunge and got one which was easier to drag

    • Wow, your bags have definitely seen a lot of the world from the sounds of it!! I can totally understand the attachment to a bag which has accompanied you on so many trips, it becomes familiar and often acts as a reminder of previous trips.

      But twenty years probably is a little overdue for an upgrade – though I’m super impressed that a bag has lasted that long, good on you for taking good care of it!

  8. I’m more of a flashpacker, so I like the look of the suitcases in this list. I’d definitely invest in one of those! The duffel bag is also a nice alternative. I can see myself using it during city breaks.

    • Duffel bags are awesome for short weekend trips or city breaks – they’re so easy to travel with if you’re traveling light 🙂

  9. Its my first time hearing about a Duffel bag! Is it that what you call this kind of bag! I will use it with my husband tomorrow and see if he understands me!😂 I always use my dear backpack since 2002 and to everywhere. It has been with me since my first interrail in Europe in 2002 to our latest RTW in 2014-2015 and I will hand it over to my two years old daughter for our RTW as family this coming summer. My next travel bag will be a backpack BUT you can aswell pull it. You should add it to your list!😊

    • Glad we could introduce you! The duffel bag is great for short trips, or any type of travel where you’re traveling light and don’t need too many things. Maybe you have a different word for it 🙂

      It sounds like your backpack has been with you on some pretty memorable trips! How special that you will hand it down to your daughter next 🙂 Hope you have an amazing RTW trip!!

  10. You summed up very nicely the available choice of travel luggage. But nowadays there are so many variations in styles that it’s worthwhile to look out for detail.

    Like with suitcases: you have the choice of soft and hard-sided cases, some with external compartments, some without. I would never buy one with 4 wheels, like you promote in your photo and your comment as well. I find them really awkward to maneuver, and they seem to be only suitable for perfectly flat surfaces. If you put one down on the slightest slope they develop a life of their own and roll downhill. And have you ever tried to roll one along a cobbled street or footpath?

    My preferred choice of luggage is a front-loading backpack, as they are easier to pack. These usually come with an additional flap to zip away the shoulder straps, so they don’t get entangled on conveyor belts or tight luggage spaces on buses. Once this flap is closed they almost look like an ordinary bag – suitable to book into any hotel. But you have the added benefit of a backpack, which is much more comfortable to carry for longer distances. Of course, they aren’t designed for serious wilderness tracking.

    • Thanks Juergen – and I totally agree, we’ve covered the types of bags quite broadly, though you can then break it down even further to be more suitable for your travel style and needs.

      Re the four wheeled suitcases, it’s often quite easy to roll them as a two wheeled suitcase, with the other two in the air. But I do see your point about stopping on a hill! Definitely great that there are options for everyone nowadays 🙂

      I love front-loading backpacks for my carry-on, and do usually opt for these on short trips. I do love when a bag has the zip away shoulder straps. A bag wins me over with it’s versatility!

  11. On a recent trip I started thinking about the need for a different type of travel bag. Thinking about getting a backpack so I don’t have to use the roller suitcase for every trip.

    • You can also get hybrids now if you enjoy being able to switch between both; backpacks with wheels which is basically like a suitcase you can throw onto your back 🙂

  12. This is such a helpful post, often we get confused on what kind of bag when to take..keeping it bookmarked

    • Glad that the information was helpful Aditi – feel free to reach out if you have any questions in the lead up to a trip. Happy travels!

  13. A cool comprehensive guide, I personally opt for suitcases because I am awful at carrying light and it is easy and convenient! Thanks for sharing!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Katie – suitcases are definitely a great choice if you have a habit of overpacking 😀 Happy travels!

  14. I love the post, its really very helpful for travelers. I always confuse for selecting suitable Travel Bags. But after read this post i totally changed my mind, Now i can easily choose which traveler backpack is suits me. I like Travel Packing cubes its very spacious, I think this Travel Packing cubes make our traveling easier.

    • Thanks Madhu, I’m glad to hear that the above tips were helpful for you 🙂 Travel cube are incredible – I can highly recommend picking up a few.

      Happy travels!

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