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Backpack or rolling suitcase

  • msuerowan

    Joined Travelfish
    24th October, 2009
    Posts: 2

    We're planning a 3 week trip to Cambodia and Mekong Delta with our 11 and 14 yr old. Better to all carry backpacks or are small rolling suitcases ok? Plan to move around a fair bit in that time. Any advice greatly appreciated.

    #1 Posted: 24/11/2009 - 08:56

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  • scottyheath-

    Joined Travelfish
    30th March, 2008
    Posts: 89

    Well, in my opinion, definitely backpacks - suitcases (rolling or not) are a complete pain especially if you are going to be travelling a bit. For me, I only use a suitcase when I know that I'm just going from A to B (like if I travel back to the UK) and staying put while I'm there. Hope this helps - of course, others may have different ideas...

    If you are going to invest in a backpack(s), then get ones with detachable day packs - really handy for keeping your valuables with you while you are out of your guesthouse/hotel.

    #2 Posted: 24/11/2009 - 10:20

  • msuerowan

    Joined Travelfish
    24th October, 2009
    Posts: 2

    Thanks ... assumed as much. When in our 20's and 30's we always travelled with backpacks but haven't done so in years nor with kids. As it likely means four new backpacks, I just wanted to make sure it was necessary.

    #3 Posted: 24/11/2009 - 10:57

  • scottyheath-

    Joined Travelfish
    30th March, 2008
    Posts: 89

    Yeah, I know what you mean - backpacks aren't cheap (well some are but then they may fall to bits as soon as you put something in them). But you'll be glad you took a backpack when you are trying to roll your suitcase across a dirt path road!! .....

    Just a thought. How much are you planning on taking for three weeks? If you are planning on taking not much but bringing back a lot, then perhaps you could put all your things into one large pack and then buy extra packs when you get to SE Asia if you don't want to invest in expensive packs for three weeks? Most of the stuff you'll probably be wearing will be t-shirts and shorts which you'll pick up cheap while there anyhoo. I did actually buy a replica North Face pack in Bkk a few years ago to replace my pack which was stolen and though I wouldn't use it for a year long hike, it served its purpose well.

    Hope you have a great time ;)

    #4 Posted: 24/11/2009 - 11:34

  • Precious24

    Joined Travelfish
    21st November, 2009
    Posts: 22

    ya I agree with scottyheather, don't bring a lot unless you need big sizes, in that way you need only one pack and buy the rest during your trip.

    #5 Posted: 24/11/2009 - 12:01

  • fondo

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd June, 2006
    Posts: 167
    Total reviews: 19
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    I'm not sure it matters that much.

    Lady Fondo has recently been on her first 'wheeled suitcase' expedition and the major problem is how much the wheelie bits weigh, hence cutting down on shopping.

    For me, if I worked out how far I'd actually carried my bag in a 3 week trip I think the answer might be about 40 metres. This is what taxis, tuk-tuks, buses and porters are for!

    #6 Posted: 24/11/2009 - 15:00

  • foxylady

    Joined Travelfish
    8th December, 2009
    Posts: 2

    I've been travelling 2 months through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and just arrived in Cambodia. I have a rolling backpack (it has backpack straps that zip away into a compartment in the back). I haven't used the straps yet, footpaths are bumpy alright but I find the wheels fab, too heavy for my back. I have an Irish-made bag called 'Sporthouse' and I also met someone on my travels with an Australian made one (can't remember the make). In my honest opinion, get a wheelie one with zip away straps, best of both worlds. Mine is 80 litre including detachable daypack (definately get one with detachable daypack) but the aussie girl I met had i'd say a 40 litre bag.

    Hope this helps.

    #7 Posted: 8/12/2009 - 19:13

  • christay2009

    Joined Travelfish
    8th February, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 414
    Total reviews: 4

    definately go for a backpack

    i give you good price ;-)

    #8 Posted: 9/12/2009 - 01:57

  • KazAussie

    Joined Travelfish
    18th July, 2009
    Posts: 221

    After carrying a way to heavy back pack around the middle east and europe this time I am going with a "sausage" type bag, can be carried by the straps, across the shoulder or in backpack style.... and promise to myself, no more than 10 kilos for a month....

    #9 Posted: 9/12/2009 - 14:29

  • nzlup

    Joined Travelfish
    1st February, 2010
    Posts: 22

    just make sure that all lockable. Obviously depends on how much walking you are likely to do / want to do. Transport available everywhere. I doubt u will be using a m /cycle taxi with 2 kids in tow but if u were then backpack obviously better.

    #10 Posted: 5/2/2010 - 13:29

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  • dagardiners

    Joined Travelfish
    30th December, 2009
    Posts: 7

    I'd definitely say backpack. TRAVEL LIGHTLY! My husband and I just completed 3 weeks in Cambodia and Thailand and had carry-on sized backpacks. Worked out great, especially with our tight connections. You tend to pack less if using a backpack since you have to shoulder the load. We had a third bag, an Osprey courier style bag that we kept our little notebook computer and laptop in and took with us everywhere. Osprey has some great travel bag options similar to those mentioned above - backpack/wheel hybrids. Have a great trip!

    #11 Posted: 6/2/2010 - 01:20

  • borisborough

    Joined Travelfish
    30th November, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 2

    In my humble opinion - backpack. Make sure you have the harness properly adjusted for your height and your load and use the waiststrap too. There are very few pavements in SE Asia that are level enough to roll a suitcase and I saw so many break while we were there last month.

    I think now it is possible to find backpacks which have wheels too - not sure how much, how heavy or how useful though but could be the best of both worlds!

    #12 Posted: 6/2/2010 - 12:14

  • Este

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2010
    Posts: 5

    Given the heat and humidity in Asia who really wants to lug any bags about at all? Tuktuks cost next to nothing, so I don't think the ease of carrying a bag is an issue. In 2 months the furthest I've carried my backpack is about 100m. The back straps are still zipped up in the back of the bag and I've just used the shoulder strap.

    In fact, the strapping probably weighs a couple of kilos altogether so it's extra unnecessary weight. There are better options than backpacks these days.

    If you're going to be doing a lot if walking, then take a backpack. But otherwise a compact suitcase is fine, and probably better protected if you happen to buy anything fragile.

    #13 Posted: 12/2/2010 - 12:19

  • coopsnpeps

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd March, 2010
    Posts: 7

    I agree with the backpack.
    I also agree that at the start you would not need 4 big backpacks between you.

    We travel with one 80L backpack for 2 adults and 2 children ( 5 and 20m) and pack very lightly! I also have a day pack (50L) for the plane with the essentials.

    There are heaps of places to do laundry so you need not pack too much.

    I agree with buying a cheap knock off backpack for the way home with all your treasures.

    Our cheapie backpack from Vietnam around $10 AUS served us well for a year ( 3 trips) before it died.

    Enjoy your travels,

    #14 Posted: 25/3/2010 - 09:52

  • jensysmith

    Joined Travelfish
    17th May, 2010
    Posts: 7

    I wont suggest people to carry rolling suitcases as it may get dirt while rolling on the road.I would prefer having a backpack.Backpack is more comfortable for me to carry. Even though there is not much luggage, I would prefer carrying a backpack so that I purchase more and bring it back without any hassles

    #15 Posted: 31/5/2010 - 09:03

  • heleni

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2010
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 21

    Cabin sized rolling suitcase. I've been doing that since 2006. My case has been to Burma, Indonesia and India and through cow dung, mud, sand but with absolute ease!

    I travel very light. 75% of my lugguage seem to be toiletries so the bag gets lighter as I go.

    There is no way I would ever go back to a backpack!

    #16 Posted: 4/6/2010 - 18:56

  • Okidokie

    Joined Travelfish
    9th November, 2010
    Posts: 9

    The key is to travel lightly. Whether a backpack or rolling suitcase, you should only bring carry-on luggage. This way anything you have will fit easily on the tuk-tuk. There is really no reason your luggage should have to roll through the dirt anyway as long as taxis and tuk-tuks are available.

    #17 Posted: 17/11/2010 - 14:51


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6953
    Total reviews: 10

    I suppose if you had a bad back or had trouble lifting weight, then a rolling suitcase has it's pluses. But humping a pack, even one weighing fifty pounds or so, is nothing to me. I can (and have) humped them for miles. And I'm just an average guy of small build. Most people don't take 50 pounds of stuff with them when traveling here anyway. Suitcases are awkward to move around. Rolling ones are easy, if you have a decent surface. But sidewalks and streets here are crap, often cluttered, potholed... tough going with a rolling suitcase.

    #18 Posted: 17/11/2010 - 16:00

  • mahadragon

    Joined Travelfish
    17th November, 2010
    Posts: 6

    Not sure why people are responding to the question since it's been a year since it was posed. In any case, I learned from my trip to Thailand that pulling a large suitcase around SE Asia is a bad idea. On my recent foray through Cambodia I brought a backpack which actually worked quite well. I have learned to pack the minimum amount of gear so to make things easier on myself.

    #19 Posted: 18/11/2010 - 12:04

  • atawa

    Joined Travelfish
    18th November, 2010
    Posts: 3

    I find its best to take a daypack + duffelbag as you'll probably wont walk further then a couple of 100 meters wich all your luggage anyway.
    But even when trekking its much more enjoyable to leave the bulk behind and stuff what you need in a daypack.

    #20 Posted: 21/11/2010 - 00:45

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