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Different Types of Luggage and When to Use Them

A large component of planning a trip that often goes overlooked is what you will bring with you and what type of luggage you will use to carry your belongings. Most people are so excited about the trip itself that they leave the dreadful task of packing to the last minute.


There are several different types of luggage that you can choose from, the most common ones being the suitcase, backpack and duffel bag. These different options exist because every trip is different meaning that there are ideal luggages for each situation.

To decide which luggage type you will take, it is important to consider the following:

  • Where will you be staying (i.e. camping, hotels, hostels etc)?
  • How often will you be moving between lodgings?
  • Will you be trekking, taking public transit or rent a vehicle to get around?

This article will explore the most common luggage types mentioned above and give recommendations as to which type of luggage you should use based on your travel details.


What is a suitcase?

Probably the most common type of luggage for travellers, a suitcase refers to a rectangular shaped bag with rounded or square corners. Suitcases are made out of a variety of material including plastic, metal, cloth or leather. All suitcases have at least one handle and have a door-like mechanism that opens on hinges for easy access to your belongings. Some suitcases even come with wheels for easier transport.


When should I use a suitcase?

Suitcases are very convenient due to their ideal shape and large openings. It allows you to neatly store your belongings and have easy access to retrieve your belongings. Although they are the most efficient for packing, suitcases are not always the right fit for your travels.

If you are planning a trip where you will be staying mainly in hotels or a home and will not be moving from one lodging to another very often, a suitcase would be ideal. Suitcases are bulky and uncomfortable to walk with so if your trip requires a lot of public transit or walking with your luggage, there are better options than a suitecase.

A suitcase is best for the following types of travel:

  • travelling to urban areas
  • visiting family
  • business trips


What is a backpack?

Travel backpacks are very popular amongst young travellers who plan on visiting many different places within their trip. They usually have one large compartment with a few smaller compartments for cosmetic or electrical items. Backpacks have two straps so that you can easily carry it on your back, hence the name backpack. Contrary to a suitcase, backpacks do not have a door-like mechanism for easy access, instead they have zippers for each compartment. They are a bit more inconvenient when you need to retrieve your belongings, however, they offer the benefit of being easy to transport from place to place.

When should I use a backpack?

If you are travelling to a resort or a destination that you will be staying in the same lodging for the most part, a backpack would not be the best choice. Backpacks are more convenient to use in other situations such as if you plan to visit several cities in a short amount of time. The reason they are good for this type of travel is that they are very easy to carry around with you.



Another time that backpacks are very convenient to use is when you plan on travelling to hard to reach places such as a campsite where some amount of trekking with your luggage is required. In these situations you would not want to be lugging around a bulky suitcase.

A backpack is best for the following types of travel:

  • backcountry camping
  • adventure travel
  • multi-destination trips

Duffel Bag

What is a duffel bag?

Duffel bags are light weight, cylindrical or rectangular luggages, usually with only one large opening. The opening can be sealed either with a zipper or drawstring. They are made of thick cloth and have no hard components to them so they can be easily stored. There are usually two small straps plus and over arm strap that make it easy to carry around in one hand. Economically, duffel bags are the best choice as they are usually cheaper than a suitcase or backpack and can have close to the same carrying capacity.

duffel bag

When should I use a duffel bag?

Duffel bags can be used in a variety of situations. They are not as efficient as a suitcase in storing your belongings nor as efficient as a backpack to carry around. This type of luggage is usually used as a supplementary to a suitcase or backpack as they can easily be folded and stored away until you acquire too many things and you need the extra carrying space.

Duffel bags are best used for:

  • budget travellers
  • short trips (less than one week)
  • as a carry-on

Tips for maintaining your luggage in good condition

As you can see, there are several luggage options for travelling. The three mentioned above are only the most popular ones but there are many more to choose from that serve their own purpose.

Regardless of what type of luggage you decide to use for your next trip, always make sure that it is in good condition. The last thing you want is for your luggage to rip on you while travelling and potentially lose some of your belongings.

You should also make sure that your luggage is clean of any bugs or organic debris that you may have acquired on your journey. This is very important considering that invasive insects can be introduced to your country of residence by hiding in your luggage. Click here to learn more about luggage cleaning and what type of options are available.

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