Suitcase Vs. Backpack – What to Take on Your Vacation

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Ah, the eternal battle. Backpack or suitcase? Based on our experience, we think you’ll be most comfortable traveling with a wheeled suitcase for your vacation. However we’re certainly not ones to make a huge conclusion like that based on nothing – so here are some pros and cons for both.


Most of our travelers would agree that they prefer a suitcase over a backpack when traveling on a Contiki Tour.  When choosing a suitcase, wheels are a definite must.  Here are some pros and cons to using a suitcase.

Suitcase Pros

  • You have more room for clothes, shoes, souvenirs, etc.
  • More accessible (you don’t have to rummage through all your things to reach that last pair of clean socks at the bottom of your backpack)
  • Easy to wheel around

Suitcase Cons

  • Bigger, bulkier, heavier and harder to carry up stairs


Even though we suggest bringing a suitcase on your Contiki Tour, there are some pros to using a backpack especially if you plan on traveling through Europe on a Camping Tour

Backpack Pros

  • Perfect for hiking and camping
  • Easier to carry up stairs
  • Great if you are traveling by yourself before or after the Contiki Tour
  • Often come with a smaller detachable backpack

Backpack Cons

  • Less accessible (all your things are mixed up in a limited amount of space)
  • Not as convenient to carry around (unlike suitcases, there are no wheels to carry your load.  It’s all on you, buddy).

The Suitpack

Beware! there is a new hybrid on the prowl.  It is half backpack half suitcase.  Which basically means it is a backpack with wheels.  Still can’t decide between a backpack and a suitcase? Try the suitpack.  Yes, we made that name up, but it kinda works.

Tips from the Professionals

Take it from the professionals.  Our Contiki tour managers are used to traveling.  They spend most of the year on the road living out of a suitcase.  Almost all tour managers prefer hard-shelled suitcases with wheels.  Why, you ask?  They are strong, durable and easy to load on and off the coach. Plus it won’t get smashed by everyone else’s stuff.

There is of course always an exception to the rule.  If you are traveling Europe on a Contiki Camping Tour then you will be staying in a tent for most, if not all of your trip.  This is a perfect time to use a backpack instead of a suitcase.  Backpacks fit better into tens and are perfect for camping.  One quick tip; consider using a backpack that has zippers that can be locked with a small padlock so your belongings stay put.

“I would advise travelers to take a suitcase with an extendable handle and wheels for any overseas trip. Firstly, suitcases can be packed in a very organized manner so that anything is easily accessible once you hit your hotel room. Wheels and a handle allow for easy transport, whether into a hotel, a coach in the morning, or out onto a sidewalk to catch a cab to the airport. Additionally, suitcases offer better structural protection of anything remotely breakable or any souvenirs picked up in your travels.” – Jordan Allen, Tour Manager, USA

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