Are you a suitcase snob?

Santa Monica Beach - how do you travel?

This morning I had lunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She has been off travelling the world for the last year, roaming around Europe and Asia – she has made a pit stop in Sydney over christmas before she continues her adventures in New Zealand… oh what a life!

Over breakfast she was telling me a story about how she had met a Chilean guy while traveling, at first she didn’t think he would be cool to hang out as he was travelling with a suitcase but then on further acquaintance she learnt that the reason he had a suitcase was because he was so broke he couldn’t afford to buy a new backpack.  She looked at me and said with refreshing honesty “I’m a suitcase snob”.

Cambodia - to suitcase or backpack - how do you travel?

It got me thinking – previously I have written about how we are all travel snobs, how we judge people for not travelling in the way that we think “real” travel should be done.  What it came down to is that there is no right or wrong way to travel – but you may not get along with someone who is cocktail bar hopping when you are chasing down the cheapest beer in town. Fact.

My friend is a very practical lady, throughout our misspent youth there would be many times when her practicality would win out – such as at 3am after dancing all night in heels and a short dress… suddenly my feet were sore and I was cold.  Whereas she would be in cute but sensible shoes and would have packed a cardigan – all warm and toasty! So she practically unpacked her comment – suitcases just weren’t a sensible travel accessory if you want to travel on a budget. Therefore anyone travelling with a suitcase is either a) travelling in “style” or b) not sensible.

Croatia - taking a suitcase or backpack... oh so many stairs

After a few moments thought on my last few trips I had to agree.  Suitcases were not sensible for the budget traveller!

So can your travel bag define your travel style? And does it determine the travellers you will associate with while on the road?

Yes, your travel bag is definitely going to determine your travel style. Without the money to splurge on door to door taxi’s wheeling a suitcase through most cities would be a nightmare.  I could mention the crowds and the numerous stair cases but I think the main problem would be the cobbled streets – your arm would vibrate off! Then imagine schlepping it through the underground in London or New York – up and down those escalators with people rushing past climbing over your bag – just awkward. If your island hopping through South East Asia try wheeling your suitcase through sand as you walk along the beach looking for the path to possible accommodation.  None of this sounds like fun. So you wouldn’t do it – if you are travelling on a budget a backpack is always going to be your choice (unless of course you are one of those people who common sense eludes).  You would catch a cab from the airport instead of public transport.  You probably wouldn’t go to little off the beaten track islands which have no resorts on them to avoid getting bogged down in the sand. And the underground was never an option. Therefore a suitcase would be no hassle and actually the right bag for you.

But should we backpackers be snobby towards the suitcase pullers? Like my friend, when I am in a hostel and I see a group of girls with suitcases – my first thought is always “they are probably not my sort of travel people” and yet 9 out of 10 times once I have chatted to them I have learnt that the suitcase never mattered – they are girls, I have had a good gossip with them, maybe even borrowed their hair straightener – which they mercifully had room for in their spacious suitcase – and found some fabulous new friends. In short, no – lets not judge the suitcase pullers for their bad decision.  Their travel style is just a little different is all. You can still travel on a budget and have a suitcase – you may choose to spend your money on those methods of transport that make your life easier rather than the numerous beers your average backpackers consume every night. Or you may enjoy carrying a suitcase up several flights of stairs as it’s how you get your daily work out in while travelling.

I ask you fellow backpackers out there – are you a suitcase snob? be honest now!

Backpack or Suitcase - how do you travel;


14 thoughts on “Are you a suitcase snob?

  1. I’ve noticed an increasing trend for ‘backpackers’ to actually bring suitcases instead. I haven’t actually succumbed to the trend yet but I’m considering it. For a long trip I could take more stuff and then leave it somewhere to make smaller ‘branch trips’ with just a small backpack. Just an idea. I’m thinking about it. I hate the endless battles to find laundries and the constant trying to fit everything back into the bag when all you’ve bought is a postcard.

    • Really?? I hadn’t noticed that trend – but it does have its advantages. I agree, the endless battles to find laundries and re-packing…. oh I just had a flashback nightmare to all of the re-packing!

  2. Interesting observation. It seems to me, that we should just travel the way we want and let others do the same, as long as its not dangerous or damaging. After all, isn’t travel supposed to make us more openminded and accepting of personal differences?

      • Haha yes, I’m actually a suitcase traveler currently as I’m doing an internship in Japan, so work clothes plus winter wear (and it sooo dam windy and cold here!) Then luckily il meet my parents on holiday in Malaysia where I can swap to a backpack and get my summer gear 🙂

  3. Oh man. So I have a confession. I don’t think you’re going to like it! … I’m a suit case traveler!

    I can justify it though. I’ve backpacked through Mexico, the USA and Canada so I’ve tried it. I take it you’re speaking of our mutual friend Mandy in your post? I’ve actually visited her with both a suitcase and backpack now. On different occasions. I have now traveled far more often with a suitcase though. It’s better! I don’t do it for the street cred (obviously) but I find it more practical. Plus I’m kind of forced into a suit case as I have a bad ankle that doesn’t like me carrying weight for any type of distance. So there’s another reason why other travelers might have to take a suit case instead of a backpack too.

    I was first compelled to use a suitcase while traveling for work. A backpack just isn’t that professional. Yet once I started traveling for pleasure again I still kept my trusty suitcase. You say it’s too hard to travel with a suitcase in big cities, but I find it easier. I’ve been crammed into trains with it all round the world and it’s better because you can still turn round. With a backpack you’re stuck facing one way. Unless you’re carrying it (like a suit case). Although sand I can’t compete with. Sand always involves me carrying the damn thing. But it’s pretty rare that I travel over sand to get to accommodation anyway. And the cobbled European roads aren’t an issue either. I have skateboard wheels on my suit case.

    One specific example I can give of when a suit case was far superior was in old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia. The ground was wet and incredibly slippery. I had to carry my suit case up about 100 death traps of stairs. In my flip flops it was like ice skating. I was able to use my suit case as a third leg to get up those stairs. With a backpack I would probably still be climbing them.

    So yeah, I know other backpackers judge me but at least now somebody knows my side of the story 😎

    • Wow – Dale you are definitely the ultimate suitcase budget traveller! I applaud you – and although M is in the photo she wasn’t the friend I was referring to…but I am sure she judged you 😉

      Seriously though you make some good points about weight distribution. though when I was in Dubrovnik walking up those same death stairs all I could think was “thank god I don’t have a suitcase” – I could just imagine me letting it go and it falling down all the stairs!

      but no – I don’t judge you – I applaud you for budget travelling with a suitcase and making it work!! champion effort!

  4. I’m turning into a checked in luggage snob! After travelling through Thailand and Lao with only a backpack small enough to take as carry on, I find it hard to consider travelling with something much bigger. There’s a definite advantage in being able to run with all your worldly possessions on your back!

    • Oh that’s a whole new level of snobbery that I will have to consider. I always wish I could cut down to just a day pack but then I remember how much I hate my clothes after a couple of weeks like that and end up buying new ones… which defeats my budget travel moto!!

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