Tips for selecting the right bag for your trip
Having the right backpack is sometimes overlooked when taking a trip. It’s overwhelming because there are so many options and so many other things to think about besides a bag. There’s the clothes, the gear, the toiletries, the fifth pair of shoes you will not need (trust me). However, you need to consider and seriously evaluate how you’ll be trudging all that stuff along!
I’m never going back to suitcases again
Using a suitcase when going on vacation seems like a no-brainer. I thought traveling with a backpack was only for hikers and the outdoors-y types who slept on the sides of mountains. After weighing the pros and cons, it only made sense to get a backpack for my second extended “backpacking” trip to Europe. The first time I hopped from country to country, I dragged a suitcase up and down subway stairs and through the snow and was miserable the entire time that damn thing was in my hand. It was overpacked and stuffed to the brim. The wheels were battered and the handle kept getting stuck from the pulling up and down. Frankly, I have no frickin’ idea how it didn’t bust open in the middle of the streets. Once my second trip rolled around, I knew I didn’t want to be rolling anything along the uneven sidewalks again.
Hence, my switch to a backpack. Although it mentally hurts to think about the 20+ pounds that you’ll have on your back, you are MUCH stronger than you think. Most bags have support straps that wrap around the waist and chest, pushing the weight to your hips and not your back. It’s significantly easier to grab a bag and go than to pull the epitome of tripping devices behind you in a crowded area. Additionally, backpacks are handsfree – huge plus.
What to consider
Between school, work and planning other aspects of my Eurotrip, picking a bag took me about a month. There were a few specifications I was looking for in a bag – size, durability, security, versatility and ample pockets.
- Since I would be traveling between 7 countries using all low-cost airlines, it was vital for me to have a bag that was carry-on approved. I did NOT want to incur extra costs because of going over baggage allowances. Avoiding those fees is 100% preventable by packing efficiently and effectively.
- From being shoved into overhead compartments to stuffed into hostel lockers, I knew this bag would have to hold up. I wasn’t looking for a pack that would be used once and fall to shreds right after.
- I’m a bit paranoid when it comes to my belongings, mostly because I’m the one who loses them on my own accord without the help of thieves. However, to veer on the side of caution, I wanted to make sure my bag would have pockets with zippers that I could secure with a lock.
- When trudging through Europe, a bag that can fit through subway turnstiles while also being lightweight and comfortable is essential. A bag with wheels may not be the right choice if it’s going to be dragged through cobblestone streets.
- Organization is KEY when it comes to trips (regardless of the destination or duration). The easiest way for me to keep my sanity and all belongings in check is through compartmentalizing everything in different pockets.
(Thank God my best friend is a lifesaver who helps me pack. #realmvp @stephemthomas)
Because all trips are unique and the experiences to be had are one-of-a-kind, so should the bag you choose. Do your research and find out what is most important to you. Consider my list a starting point when beginning your initial search. Comment below with any other aspect you consider when picking a bag to take on your adventures elsewhere.