I had an epiphany moment a few years ago when I swapped my suitcase for a backpack. Since then I have not travelled on holidays with a suitcase and I have never looked back. This moment occurred after hauling a wheeled suitcase over the cobblestones of Europe for 6 weeks in winter. Snow, ice and rain and I heaved and hauled that suitcase all over the place. Hard work.
The freedom of a backpack is immense! Suddenly I had two hands free to hold onto rails or point things out or take a photo. I could walk up stairs, down stairs, jump onto a bus or train with ease. My backpack seems more robust than a suitcase and serves so many purposes. It can be a backrest, footrest, pillow or a seat and has been used as a step on more than one occasion. Handy when you just must look over that stone fence!
My first backpack was a 55l travel pack with a detachable day pack. It was a wonderful pack that saw so much of the world. It went to China and Morocco and Croatia, Turkey and more. The type of travel it was good for was regular destinations and small group travel.It was a sturdy, robust pack that stood up to the wear and tear of checked luggage on planes, buses and trains. I don’t use it anymore – I’ve moved on.
I changed to a 38l top-loading rucksack and went trekking in Morocco, Germany, the French Alps and Australia. I changed the way I pack and what I pack. My attitude now is that if I need anything I will buy it, although I rarely do. I travel much lighter now.
I became even more adventurous. Using a backpack meant that it was easier to travel, having two hands free and the very nature of a pack allowed for more casual travel. My travel moved from iconic destinations to places that were a bit more ‘out there’. I changed what I expected from a holiday. I began to want more out of every moment away from home. I wanted more experiences and adventures and from these I wanted the most amazing memories. I moved on again.
I now use a 26l pack whenever I can. I pack light and take the pack as hand luggage onto the plane with me. I only check luggage if I am taking walking poles and any type of knife with me.
Choosing a back pack needs some research as it is important to get one that suits you and also the purpose of your travel. It is best to start at a good outdoor store and try on many different packs to work out what is best for you. I would suggest trying a few different brands as each one has different features and sizing.
Changing for a suitcase to a backpack revolutionized the way I travelled. Suddenly I was organizing trips to amazing places and now I travel where a suitcase will never go to. These are the places where you find true adventure!