Packing Tips

Backpack vs. Suitcase: How to Choose on Your Next Trip

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Travelers often have strong opinions in the backpack versus suitcase debate - you may even be thinking about your preference as you begin reading this blog post. But the truth is there are pros and cons to both backpacks and suitcases, and the best option often depends on the type of travel you are about to embark on. To help make the selection between a backpack or suitcase for your next trip, let's break it down.

Backpack

Pros

  • Extremely mobile

  • Fits just as much stuff if packed correctly

  • Lots of pockets!

  • Lighter weight compared to a suitcase

Cons

  • Can be heavy and/or uncomfortable

  • More difficult to organize

  • More difficult to lock a backpack

  • Finding the right size matters

When it's best

Backpacks are great to use on trips where you will be on the move a lot. The more destinations on your trip, the more reason to bring a backpack. If your travel destination features cobblestone roads, dirt paths, narrow hallways, or lots of stairs, you should probably consider a backpack. When mobility and practicality are more important than carrying your bag on your shoulders and the higher likelihood that your clothes will be wrinkled, choose a backpack!

Suitcase

Pros

  • Hard-shell suitcases can take a beating

  • Easier to pack and repack

  • Can be waterproof

  • Roll easily on flat surfaces

Cons

  • Difficult to carry up stairs

  • Difficult to use on uneven surfaces

  • Often take up more space

  • Not as mobile as backpacks

When it's Best

Suitcases with rolling wheels are a great choice when you have one or few travel destinations on your list. If you are on a slightly more luxurious trip where you might not be carrying your bag yourself, or if you aren't moving around much, you likely will not have to worry about most of the cons of carrying a suitcase making it an awesome choice. When ease of access, organization and style are more important than moving freely and flexibly, choose a suitcase!


Pick up one of our Travel Notebooks to go along with your backpack or suitcase for your next trip!

What Not to Pack

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In our view, packing is a personal challenge to ourselves to not be miserable keeping track of and lugging around too much stuff. There are many tips to pack like a pro but what it ultimately comes down to is deciding what not to pack. Easier said than done, what not to pack is often some of our favorite things or even something that we think might come in handy during our trip. We all have various needs, so this is far from a concrete list of things not to pack, but if you're feeling a little overstuffed on your next trip consider leaving these things at home.

Don't Pack IMpractical Shoes

Packing too many shoes is the quickest way to fill up coveted luggage space. Packing impractical shoes is the best way to ruin your trip. Aim for one pair of comfortable walking or running shoes, and another pair of comfortable shoes that can be dressed up or down. Think twice about bringing boots, high heels or any other shoes that are not comfortable or you're unlikely to wear more than once or twice.

Don't Pack UNNECESSARY Gadgets or Devices

If you brought a portable DVD player on your last trip, we're looking at you. Bulky gadgets or just too many devices can be a pain to keep track of. Even over the ear headphones are a nuisance to pack. You're phone is probably the only device you really need except for those of you that might need a computer for work reasons. Likewise, there are rational reasons to bring a kindle or small portable speaker but definitely leave your book light, mini iron and toothbrush sanitizer at home.

Don't Pack your whole Beauty REGIMEN

Try restricting your toiletry bag to the basics (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant) and any medication you may need on your trip. If you're opting to bring your makeup bag, the same principals apply - the basics will probably do just fine. Your accommodations will likely have soap and shampoo, and if they don't you can just as easily purchase them at your destination. Definitely think twice before packing your 8 step skin care routine or your elaborate regimen to tame your hair.

Don't Pack Valuables

Expensive jewelry, fancy electronics and designer clothes are probably best left at home. Bags are often lost in transport, tourists are more likely targets for theft, and it is easy to forget or misplace items at your hotel. As a general rule - If you wouldn't be okay with losing it, don't bring it.

Don't Pack Towels

Towels are bulky and take up a lot of space in a suitcase. They can also take a long time to dry and stuffing a wet towel into your bag is not fun. Your accommodations should have towels that you can use during your stay. An exception would be the light, quick-drying towels which are a solid all purpose solution for a beach towel, yoga mat or if your hostel is stingy.

Don't Pack Bulky Clothes

If you're traveling to a cold climate, it is a far better strategy to layer than to bring bulky items. You can probably get away with one heavier coat if you wear it while traveling but beyond that, stick to lighter items that you can layer together to stay warm.

Don't Pack Unique Outfits for Different Days

We all love options but the truth is you have to make some sacrifices. Instead of packing a full new outfit for each day of your trip, bring versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched to maximize your suitcase space. Wearing an item in various ways creates more room for you to pack other things. Earth tones are usually a safe bet because they can usually be worn together and you can always add some style with a unique scarf or hat.


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Packing for a big trip? Get an Adventure Assist travel notebook today to plan, organize and journal the most important details.

How To Stay Organized While Traveling

Traveling can be the perfect time to "get away" and explore new cultures, go on epic adventures, or just relax for a few days. It should be a thoroughly enjoyable experience! These are our tips for how to stay organized while traveling so you can have the best time possible rather than feeling stressed out.

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Packing List

A great place to start your travel organization is with a packing list. Putting a packing list together insures that you don't leave any must have items behind and that you are properly prepared for your travels. (You can use ours!)

Pack Light

Packing light is the easiest way to stay organized while traveling because you don't have as much to keep up with. By packing light, you are more mobile, flexible, and you know where all of your travel gear is.

Packing Aids

Packing cubes and compression bags not only save space but they are also great for separating and organizing your items so that you know exactly where everything is when inside your bag.

Unpack Immediately

This is a hot topic but we have found that we are the most organized (and most sane) when we unpack immediately upon arrival to our travel destination. Living out of your suitcase or backpack is just no way to live. Put clothes in drawers or on hangers, take your gear out to put in a safe place, etc. You'll be more organized while at your destination and won't have to search for that missing item deep in your bag. Whether you plan on staying for a few days or a few months, we stand by unpacking immediately upon arrival. 

Keep Travel Details In One Place

Write down your most important travel details in one place. Recording flight numbers and times, hotel addresses and phone numbers, and anything else that you may have to reference, is a total hack for being efficient and organized while traveling. (Our Adventure Assist travel notebook is perfect for this!)

Itinerary/Calendar

Another hot topic -- Do you plan your travel itinerary ahead of your trip or just show up for a completely spontaneous adventure? Our proven plan of attack is to do our research, know our options, but decide for sure what we want to do as we go along. This way we feel better informed and connected to our destination but also maintain some spontaneity. We've found that making a list of all our options is extremely helpful and we also recommend maintaining a travel itinerary/calendar as you make decisions for tours, transportation, etc. (Adventure Assist travel notebooks come equipped with both a To-Do section as well as a full 12 month itinerary calendar!)

TO GET YOUR OWN ADVENTURE ASSIST TRAVEL NOTEBOOK, AND STAY ORGANIZED ON YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE, HEAD ON OVER TO OUR SHOP PAGE.