Why you do NOT need to buy a backpack

I believe traveling is very personal! Some like to travel for long durations. Others like short city trips. There are those who like to emerge themselves in luxury, while others like to travel on a budget. This holds also true when deciding on how you are carrying your precious belongings. After reading this post and when reflecting on your past or upcoming travel destinations. Think about it… it is likely that you do/did not need to buy a backpack!


When to still consider a backpack

Don’t get me wrong I usually take my backpack on a trip, but I very often deliberately choose not to! To everyone out there who are planning one or more of the below:

  • Travel for a longer period (more than 3 months) and to destinations with less developed infrastructure.
  • Use various (adventurous) means of transportation. For example small airplanes with weight restrictions.
  • Plan on doing multi-day hikes (with full gear, not a daypack excursion) into the wild.

In those cases, I would definitely advise buying a good backpack! You will need to pack light and likely need to squeeze your luggage in narrow corners from time to time.

For example, we took a backpack on a 6-Month trip through South America. Traversing an entire continent with different terrain, using multiple means of transportation. Obviously checking most of the bullet points above!

baccpack rio de janeiro

backpack on truck

Why you likely do not need to buy a backpack

Unfortunately for many travelers out there, this type of holiday is out of reach due to the limited amount of annual leave days available in a year. Still many of you will travel to “backpack” destinations, e.g. South East Asia, South America or Africa. Hence, you need to buy a backpack, right?

Wrong! You do not need to buy a backpack! At least if you ask me, the money invested in a backpack is money better spend elsewhere (on an excursion, that nice hotel you saw or even better, a budget for those few extra days of travel!

I hear you doubting… “Has Casper lost it?”… Certainly not! I am just mindful of the fact that the majority of the time you will not be using the backpack where it is designed for in the first place… Which is carrying it on your back (for long durations of time). I would even argue that most “backpackers” never need to put a backpack on their back for the full duration of the trip!

As an example: I traveled through India for around 2 months, and just bought a very cheap (street-side vendor) suitcase. I must honestly admit that I needed to change half-way, but they only cost me approx. 20USD in total. Moreover, compared to my travel companions, the roller wheels proved far more comfortable than carrying a heavy backpack around.


A “backpack” scenario to consider

Think about the below scenario of an ordinary summer holiday “backpack” travel itinerary. You will see why I used the apostrophes below. Note that you likely find the word to be very easily interchangeable for the word “luggage” or “suitcase”…

  • When traveling from your home to the airport, your “backpack” will be in the back of your car.
  • At the airport, your “backpack” will be on a trolley and will be checked in. (“Backpack” gone for the coming hours during the flight)
  • Once landed at your exotic location of choice your “backpack” will be on the conveyer belt and (often) placed on a trolley and into the back of a taxi
  • When arriving at your first accommodation you will put the “backpack” on your room and chances are high that someone will even do this for you! (believe me, even in hotels the bell boys will “carry your backpack in their hands and not on their backs”) – See funny photo below in Africa where they even carry it more unconventional. (to note: We took our backpack to Africa, due to weight & luggage restrictions on small safari airplanes)
  • Once you leave the hotel to explore your surroundings, you will bring your (small) day pack. (Or as I like to travel with only minimal belongings in my pockets)
  • It is likely you are moving to multiple destinations, you are “backpacking” after all. So what will happen? You will take a taxi, bus or rental car to the next destination. Where is your “backpack”? Correct… It is stowed away in the trunk again…
  • The above situations will repeat themselves until you reached home.

backpack in trunk Backpack carried on head



After returning home from a great holiday, you may not realize, but think about the number of times you REALLY needed the “backpack” as opposed to a regular suitcase… Looking back you likely would even consider it would have been easier and more comfortable if you would have taken a standard suitcase with wheels!

  • Although I personally like to travel light, you definitely could have taken more luggage with you!
  • And you would have way more space to bring those nice souvenirs back home, which did not fit in your backpack.
  • Not even to speak about the numerous times you just “hand carried” that heavy beast for those few minutes exiting the lobby and putting it into the taxi. Rather than putting the backpack on your back… Not convenient at all!

Remember! Traveling is about relaxing, and being comfortable (to some degree). I hope I made you think and reconsider buying that expensive backpack. Think about what the situation would look like on your destination (e.g. mode of transport, infrastructure, duration, etc.).

Chances are high that you do not need to buy a backpack, and are better off sticking with your good-old suitcase! Your money is better spent elsewhere!

I am really curious about your thoughts and to hear your experiences! Drop a comment on my Ghost around the Globe social media channels!…