It’s the long debated travelling conundrum – suitcase or backpack? Suitcases offer more room but mean you can fall into the nightmare of over packing; backpacks are easy to carry but are, let’s face it, a total pain if you ever want to find something in a hurry. So which one wins? The gloves are off as we compare the two arch rivals of the travel world…

"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." - Jordan Allen, Contiki Trip Manager, USA

That’s the opinion of one well seasoned traveller but don’t take his word for it. In true Ross from FRIENDS style, we’ve drawn up a list of pros and cons to really get to the bottom of the ultimate debate:

Suitcase Pros

  • You can fit more in
  • It keeps your valuables safer
  • It makes your gear more accessible and easy to find in a hurry

Suitcase Cons

  • Heavier and hard to carry up stairs and hills
  • Tempts you to over pack and bring things you don’t need
packing suitcase

Backpack Pros

  • Good for walking long distances, especially if you are staying somewhere remote
  • Easier to carry up stairs
  • Often comes with its own detachable ‘day bag’ backback

Backpack Cons

  • Heavy to lift and often difficult to get on your bag (especially if travelling alone)
  • Hard to organize your gear
  • Difficult to find things in a hurry



It’s all the experience. If you’re planning a three month adventure through Thailand or even a two week holiday where you know you’ll be walking long distances to get to your accommodation, a back pack is definitely the best option. Easy to carry (if you pack sensibly) and super handy if you’re planning on taking long bus/train journeys during your travels, you’re backpack will become your whole world during this time and yes, though it may drive you crazy at how IMPOSSIBLE it is to keep things folded, you will learn to love it.

For all other instances, a suitcase is THE ONE. With more space and the ability to keep things organised a suitcase is the perfect travel companion to keep your belongings safe and organised. If you’re travelling on a Contiki trip, 9 times out of 10 we would advise to bring a suitcase, hard shelled if possible with wheels. Easy to store under the coach and with minimal walking distances to your accommodation, suitcases are the preferred weapon of choice for most Contiki travellers.


  • Cristina Mendonça Torres

    Great advise. I’m definitely a Suitcase lover

  • Ashley Arvay

    Loved my suitcase when I was looking for items .. hated it when I came to 5 floor hostels with no elevator lol

  • Meg Casson

    I will be travelling for months and after my Contiki I will be travelling alone so I bought an Osprey Ozone backpack with extendable handle and wheels, it also opens all the way like a suitcase.
    Best of both worlds.

  • Tully Rivett

    Generally the suitcase was great for Contiki. It became an irritant when I was travelling solo outside of Contiki. Regular train hopping and having my luggage all day between rooms was an extra hassle. If you’re just doing Contiki then definitely go suitcase, if you plan on additional roaming you may want a backpack.