"I would advise travellers 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
Suitcases Vs. Backpacks
The general consensus taken from forums is that suitcases are easier to travel with on a Contiki Tour. It should go without saying that wheels on any suitcase are a must and that the following pros and cons do not take into account personal preference.
- Can fit more in
- Keeps your souvenirs safer
- Makes you gear more accessible as you don’t have to rummage through a back pack
- Harder to carry up stairs in hotels and places where there is no elevator.
- Good if you are actually hiking somewhere
- Easier to carry up stairs in hotels where there is no elevator
- Often come with detachable backpacks
- Good if you are travelling on by yourself after the tour
- Heavy to lift and get onto your back
- Harder to organize you gear
A new player has appeared on the luggage market – the backpack with wheels. By all accounts these offer the best of both worlds.
Contiki Tour Mangers and Drivers are on the road most days of the year and almost all, without exception, use hard-shelled suitcases with wheels. Strength, practicality, durability and ease of loading on and off the coach make these a must for the Contiki veteran.
If you travel Europe on a Camping Tour then you will stay in a tent for most, if not, all of your tour. You should certainly take this into consideration as it may be more practical to use a backpack as they are generally easier to fit into tents. You should also consider using a backpack with zips that can be locked with a small padlock to keep your property secure.
I've done, two Contiki Europe trips with a suitcase and it was alright but would've rather used a travel backpack. Dragging a suitcase through all cobblestone roads in Europe isn't really the most ideal especially with a fast paced style of travel. There are times where the Contiki Bus can't drop you off in front of the hotel/hostel/campground because the streets are too narrow or there is traffic so the group will have to walk. Then there are places like hostels, where if they have elevators they are small, slow and packed. It's much easier to take the stairs if you don't have a suitcase. Then there are also campgrounds, transit stations, etc. I'm going on my 3rd Contiki trip in a month and I'm definitely bringing a backpack. Just make sure if you're going with a backpack to go with a Travel Backpack and not a Hiking/Trekking Backpack. In all, the difference isn't that much, I'd rather be dragging a suitcase after a night of partying, but having a backpack is definitely ideal when you want to get to point A to point B quick and efficiently.