Backpack or Suitcase for Asia?

Travel Forums Asia Backpack or Suitcase for Asia?

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1. Posted by jameserob (Budding Member 52 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I've been in Australia for almost a year. I have a backpack but I'm pretty sick of it now. It's a decent size, it's just that there comes a point where you do want to buy things. A lot of people out here have suitcases which hold more and seem better. I'm off to Asia soon though and I'm wondering would a suitcase be ok there in terms of getting around? I'm going to Bali, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and India. A suitcase would work fine in Australia but I'm just wondering about Asia? Thought I'd ask advice before going out and buying one!

2. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2420 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

My experience is that a suitcase only works well when you have paved streets. So I'm thinking that No, I wouldn't get a suitcase for the some places in Asia.

3. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 4939 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

For many years I got by with a couple duffel bags when traveling around Asia for weeks at a time. Now days I use couple wheelies. One small enough for carry on and one for check in. For long distance flying internationally, using major airlines, there no extra cost for the check in bag so why not bring one! In the check in bag I can bring my Swiss Army Knife, extra books to read, spare shoes, spare socks, other odds and ends. (Got big feet, replacement shoes in Asia in my giant size aren't cheap!) Larger size liquids like aftershave, sunblock, shampoo, shaving cream also in the check in bag. (All liquids packed in plastic bags in case they leak.)

I know some people say they can buy whatever they need overseas, yes this is true. But I already have stuff that fits me, some tailored the way I want too. Also I like changing my underwear every day and having enough with me to make it so! The wheelie comes in handy from house to train to airport, from street to check in desk. Then pulling the carry on wheelie through security, then through the secure side looking for my gate, etc.

Overseas you do carry a pack or suitcase from airport to bus or taxi and from there to hotel room. Then most people leave most of this junk in the room and when out and about probably have a smaller carry bag for wakling around. Something big enough for maps, guidebooks, sunglasses, sunblock, etc. Not a full pack everywhere like Stanley looking for Livingstone in a remote jungle!

In Asia if the sidewalk is too cluttered or full of peddlers or trash I move out to the street like the pushcart vendors. Even my wheelie bags have handles like suitcases and if necessary I carry them. Many millions of tourists over the years managed to get by with suitcases. (I did use big packs from time to time in the military - didn't care for it then and nothing has changed!)

Bring what you want on your trip. Chances are most of the time your big pack or big bags or big suitcases will be left in the hotel room anyway! (Have packs, bags and suitcases you can lock.)

There are soft sided duffel bags that fold up into a small bundle that you can use for junk you buy overseas. Bring it over empty and bring it home full!

4. Posted by Teoni (Travel Guru 1870 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I suppose it will depend what you want to buy, but I have heard of people sending bought items back home. Maybe that is an option?

5. Posted by Piecar (Inactive 1218 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!


I'm tempted to leave it at that, but...If you are talking a REGULAR suitcase, then Ewww. If you are talking a Rollie Suitcase....Then I have found it's only good for cities. It's only REALLY good for going across the airport floor to a cab and then out to your hotel. If you are going to price out hotels, or are moving around on surface streets with your stuff through Asia, you'll hate a rollie suitcase. Too much broken concrete. If you just HATE to carry stuff around on your shoulders, then....rollie suitcase.

[ Edit: Edited on 08-Oct-2017, at 20:38 by Piecar ]

6. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 4939 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

For about 8-10 years lots of overseas travel with 2 duffel bags. One bigger one for check in. One smaller for carry on bag. Durable, could lock them, etc. Then with old age knees got a little testy. That's when I switched to a couple wheelies. (I can piggyback them with a strap and keep a hand free.)

Next time getting off a flight overseas look at the baggage coming off the plane. Still lots of suitcases being used.

For some travelers calling themselves a "backpacker" is sexier than "suitcaser!"

Whatever works - get out and see the world!

7. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1589 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Take your backpack; then when you get to Asia buy a duffel for things you want to buy and take home. Check your backpack (with dirty clothes and things that aren't of great value), then carry the duffel on board for your flight home.

Soft-sided is better for flexibility and offers advantages. For example, it's easier to fit on motorcycle taxis. My preferred bag is a soft sided rectangular bag (no wheels) made of heavy-duty Cordura that I carry on board with a personal item (a small-medium backpack for laptop and two cameras). This has worked well for me on all sorts of trips. Both bags allow me to access things quickly, such as a rain jacket. No need to dig down into a large backpack, or having to open a suitcase to get something. If you opt for a suitcase made of hard material, make sure you can carry it for a distance.

8. Posted by HaadRinGuide (Respected Member 550 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I always used to use a backpack, but the last few times that I've been to Thailand I've used a suitcase (with wheels), and it's generally been more convenient. You find the odd spot where the road has lots of kerbs, but in general I prefer a wheeled suitcase nowadays.

9. Posted by Giinny (Budding Member 4 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I think both have their own advantages. It depends on the places you want to visit and what kind of travel itinerary you have. It is true that the roads in Asia are not all good, especially if you have a plan of not visiting somewhere too city. I myself use suitcase when I travel in Asia, I don't like carrying things, and I can say that it is not a problem most of the time, though I find it difficult when moving in a place with a lot of people, but since I don't move from city to city that much, carrying a suitcase is much more convenient for me.

10. Posted by Tabithag (Respected Member 1042 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

It's all about how you choose to travel and personal preference. If you are going from airport to hotel in a cab, and that's the only time you have your luggage with you, then I would use a four wheel case. But if you will be walking distances with it, going up and down steps and negotiating the often terrible and blocked pavements, I would use a backpack. I use a backpack for most of my travels, and I can fit in most things that I buy, but if not, if it's a short trip then I'd buy a small bag to carry them in, or send them home if it's a longer trip.