Ok experienced travellers, I would like to know whether it's better to take a backpack (one of the bigger kind) or a small suitcase with wheels? I'll be travelling around Thailand for just over 3 weeks and have been reading that nowadays travellers tend to take cases with wheels (small ones obviously) rather than carry around backpacks. Any advice for a first time traveller?
#1 Emma23 has been a member since 13/4/2012. Posts: 13
Depends on the kind of travelling you'll do. If it's off the plane into the taxi to the hotel, a suitcase will do. If there's more walking and changes of vehicles involved, I'd say a backpack is much more useful.
Unless you're all pre-booked and catching taxi's as Bartje83 mentioned, I'd have to vote for backpack. There are seldom flat surfaces in south-east asia and footpaths are generally uneven, cracked, super crowded or non-existent so navigating all of the people/animals/stalls, motorbikes etc that crowd the walkways could be a nightmare, and I can't even imagine dodging cars and tuk tuk's and scooters on a busy road in Bangkok or Hanoi whilst trying to wheel a suitcase behind me.
If you're worried about not being able to manage the weight of a backpack you can buy pretty decent backpacks which also have retractable wheels so both options are available to you. That would seem like a good option :)
One of the funniest memories I have (at someone else's expense) is watching a couple of young girly-girls taking their over-sized wheelie suitcases off the boat in Railey and trying to drag them through the sand. If you're spending time on any of the smaller islands, do yourself a favour, and forget the wheels!
The hybrid type (backpack with wheels) as suggested by shaydan could be a great option for a 3-week trip, and still be useful for travel beyond this trip.
I have experience with both backpacks and suitcases with wheels. I prefer a suitcase with wheels. To be more specific: the kind of suitcase that has four wheels which have swiveling capability. That way you can move very flexible, have the suitcase next to you when walking (instead of behind you), move through small aisles, etc. I find this more comfortable than carrying a heavy backpack in the hot and humid tropics.
Agreed, backpacks do better on smooth surfaces than on rough surfaces, but even on Bangkok pavements or the occasional sandy path I don't mind having a suitcase on four wheels.
It would be a different thing if you're going to do long days in the forest with all your stuff or something like that. In such cases backpacks would be more practical for sure.
#5 tomdegoeij has been a member since 23/2/2012. Posts: 8
Backpacks are better for islands. But it's not a big deal either way. Buy whatever suits you. You want a strong one that will last years to come.
#6 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
I second that. Buy something sturdy, wether backpack or suitcase. If you buy a backpack, buy one that suits you well. Go to a quality store and have someone assist you with choosing one. If you go for a suitcase, I would go for the sturdy plastic variants without a zipper. The flexible ones with a zipper tend to break more easily...
#7 tomdegoeij has been a member since 23/2/2012. Posts: 8
We backpacked at 50 with our children, except that they were the ones with the suitcases on wheels and we were the ones with the backpacks. Since we didn't do islands, mostly, bus travel across, Thailand, Camboida, Vietnam, Laos, we found both worked equally well, so long as you travel light. My personal preference though is a backpack for extended travel from place to place.
If interested you could check out my blog on our trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap. http://thequaintmenu.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?post_type=post
#9 tasqeenm has been a member since 15/5/2012. Posts: 3