One of the things you don’t want to do when you’re packing for a trip is to bring a bag that is too big. It can take up too much space, and what you bring may break or become entangled with other things if there is too much room inside the bag. Contrarily, items you wish not to have any interaction may mingle if forced into a tiny space.

Here are a few questions to keep in mind when choosing your luggage, whether it’s a suitcase, a duffel bag, or a backpack.

1. For how many days are you packing?

If you are only taking a day trip, you probably don’t need anything more than a backpack, especially if you aren’t spending the night anywhere. Additionally, if you’re taking a month-long trip, you would likely want to bring a suitcase.

2. Do your necessities fit?

Though selecting an oversized bag is a common occurrence (at least for me), attempting to force everything into a too-small bag is also not a solution. While it may be convenient to shove everything into a backpack because it fits onto the bus or train better, you must also consider that you have to use it. You will need to get your clothes, toiletries, and other items out of your bag. Thus…

3. Do you have to keep everything in the bag or will you have a dresser?

If you have to keep everything in your bag during your stay, the easier option will be to get a bag large enough for you to move things around and easily access everything without having to remove all of your other stuff first.

However, if you will have a dresser or trunk in which to keep your clothes and other items, you can easily bring a smaller bag with everything stuffed inside because you will be able to move your stuff into a more accessible place. Additionally, after you empty your backpack or tote, you can use it as a day bag when you go out.

4. Is its material convenient for your means of travel?

While a small, flimsy suitcase might be nice in theory for a long trip, you must consider how the travel and trip will impact it. A bag with more structure, such as a hard-shelled suitcase, will hold up better through the baggage system of an airport. Suitcases can also be easily locked, whereas a duffel bag may not, so you would not have to worry as much about your suitcase in a hostel or other more public residence.

If you’re traveling by bus, a duffel bag would be more convenient. Its flimsy, flexible material would allow for it to fit better in an overhead bin or underneath a seat, and it would take up considerably less space.


There are many more criteria that you may want to consider when deciding which bag to bring on your trip. My personal preferences are as follows:

  • just a duffel bag for short trips, up to three or four days
  • a suitcase for over five days and/or if I plan to bring back souvenirs
  • a suitcase and a backpack for airline travel and trips over a week long

Bonus: If you’re taking a long trip, you should find a way to wash your clothes so that you can bring less and make it last longer.

And always remember: if you pack less in your bag than will actually fit, you will have even more room for things to bring home!

Happy travels.


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