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Post-Grad Travel: Choosing the Best Bag for Your Trip
Whether you’re embarking on a round-the-world adventure, interviewing for a job in another city or planning your first business trip, master the moment of decision by choosing the right luggage for the journey.
Your luggage may carry your belongings, but the sort of bag you choose says a lot about how you carry yourself.
Most veteran travelers started began their journeys with a trusty backpack, but somewhere along the way—over the course of thousands of miles and many types of trips later—they learned that there’s a place for other kinds of luggage.
When you graduate from college—and decide to go on a big adventure—it’s important to determine which bag is right for your needs. Are you kicking off a year’s jaunt around the globe? Preparing for interviews, and business trips ahead? Keep these questions (and the ones below) in mind when choosing the bag that’s best for you.
When to Use a Rolling Suitcase
Just because you’re packing hiking boots does not necessarily mean that a travel backpack is right for you. Remember this: A small backpack fits inside a rolling suitcase, but a rolling suitcase does not fit inside a backpack. Before packing, ask yourself:
- Is this a work trip? When traveling for business your attire should reflect the company that you represent. Same goes when you’re interviewing for a job (except you’re representing yourself). Your travel bag or suitcase is part of your work attire. A rolling suitcase suggests professionalism, while a travel pack cries casual.
- Does the trip involve a formal event? If you’re traveling for a wedding or other formal event, a rolling suitcase is designed to keep your garments looking like they did when you packed them. The Tarmac AWD 22 rolling suitcase has a Detachable Cargo Net to keep cloths compressed and compartmentalized. It also features Coat Keeper™ to hold outerwear. Always be sure to pack formal items in a Packing Folder to prevent them from getting wrinkled in transit.
- Do you want to fully unpack your bag at Your Destination? If you plan to keep your garments inside your rolling suitcase (rather than putting them into drawers upon arrival), opt for a rolling suitcase. While some backpacks feature top loading and center access points, others only provide a single entry point from the top or side. Even when using packing cubes to help you stay organized, it can be a lot less hassle to bring a bag designed for maximum access.
- How far do you need to haul your luggage? Unless you have hired a travel guide to tote your bags, you will be expected to get your own gear where it needs to go. The wheel is one of mankind’s greatest inventions—and the rolling suitcase one of the greatest travel innovations—so use them both when hauling your luggage from point A to point B. Of course if it’s a journey on an unpaved path you may want to opt for a travel pack.
When To Use A Travel Backpack
Just because the rolling suitcase is versatile doesn’t mean your backpack should sit in the back of a closet, sadly collecting dust. There are plenty of adventures where your trusty backpack still reins king. Before packing, ask yourself:
- Are you going to be trekking? The words “rolling suitcase” and “trekking” do not belong in the same sentence. If the trip involves hiking along trails, something like the lightweight and water-resistant Systems Go Duffel Pack makes an ideal companion.
- Are you traveling for an extended period of time? Long-term trips around the world often lead into the unknown. Plans are changed from urban environments to mountainous terrain. Carrying your life turtle-style requires space and versatility, both covered with the Rincon 65L.
- Do you plan to use a lot of public transportation? When we see them, we pity them—those travelers awkwardly dragging rolling suitcases up and down flights of subway stairs and onto city buses. If your trip involves using a lot of public transportation, a backpack is far more practical then a rolling suitcase.
When to Use a Hybrid Rolling Suitcase/Backpack
We are living in a brave new word of travel where bags are evolving. If your trip involves a diverse range of activities from either list, a Wheeled Backpack offers the advantages of both. The Switchback 22 is such a pack and offers the versatile traveler the best of both worlds. Just keep in mind that they’re usually a little heavier when fully emptied than a tradition backpack.
Luggage should be the solution, not the problem.
Above all, remember your luggage is here to serve you. If you have ever found yourself swearing at a suitcase, maybe you should have packed a backpack. While the wrong luggage will work against you, the right bag will be an ally on the journey, there to assist you every step of your intrepid adventure.
Luke Maguire Armstrong is an author, musician, editor and travel writer who has spent the last six years working in human rights and development from Guatemala to Kenya to The Bronx, NY. Follow him @LukeSpartacus and he will sing you songs.