I have a confession: I hate suitcases for long trips. If you’re traveling around the world, your luggage is going to get thrown about and piled high on buses in random countries. It will get used and abused and it’s simply hard to walk up hills and stairs with your suitcase bumping everywhere. Try carrying a suitcase up five flights of stairs in a tiny place in Italy! It’s a pain!
Suitcases are great for weekends away or if you’ll be staying in one place for a long time. I always use a carry on suitcase on my short trips.
But, if you are moving around a lot and backpacking around the world, it is far better to have a proper backpack. They are simply more versatile, easier to carry up flights of stairs, pack into tight places, and overall, they just make life simpler. I don’t need to pick them up when getting on the escalator. Or drag them up a flight of stairs or across cobblestone streets.
Backpacks just make more sense, which is why this page is devoted to them and not suitcases.
If you have back problems and can’t use a backpack, a smaller suitcase with wheels and a long handle can be a good substitute. It will still be difficult carrying it up and downstairs, and annoying as you roll it across uneven sidewalks, but there are many companies (those listed at the end of this section) that make fairly good and lightweight travel cases.
Additionally, you can get a hard backpack with wheels that’s sort of a hybrid between the two so you can get the best of both worlds. (However, my personal preference is for a backpack so we’re going to talk about that!)