When we travel in the United States we usually don’t have to put much thought into what sort of bag we need to take with us when traveling. Most hotels have elevators, our streets are well paved with sidewalks, trunks of cars are large and we have assistants at airports – so what bag we use for our travel really comes down to personal preference. But in other parts of the world, traveling with a bag may not be as easy, and there are many factors that need to be taken into account in deciding what type of bag to use.
First, it’s good to know exactly what options are available to the international traveler, and then make a decision on what to take based on what’s most suited to the destination where you will be traveling. You can check out a website like Luggage Direct to see all the latest bags on the market before making decisions about whether you need to buy something new.
Travel bags generally fall into three categories – suitcases, backpacks, and duffle bags – but there are many variations available and even some hybrids between these categories. But it’s the destination to which you are traveling that should be the first consideration in deciding what to take.
Unless you are staying in 5-star hotels in Europe, you need to be aware that many hotels in Europe don’t have elevators. Therefore small suitcases will work best for a European trip. Many younger travelers prefer duffle bags because they are trendy, though backpacks are much easier to carry and maneuver. Many towns in Europe still have streets made of cobblestones, which can make dragging a suitcase awkward and noisy.
Mexico and the Caribbean
This part of the world is probably the most luggage-friendly after the Unites States and Canada. The majority of travelers to Mexico and the Caribbean are heading for beach resorts, so suitcases work well. If you are visiting this area on a cruise, check the recommended sizes with the cruise company because most cabins are limited in size.
However, if you plan on traveling outside the resorts in Mexico or the Caribbean, a suitcase may not be the ideal choice. A duffle bag or backpack will work better when traveling by bus in Mexico or between islands in the Caribbean.
Central and South America
Outside of the big cities, traveling with a suitcase in these parts of the world is not ideal. This is particularly true if you’re after more adventure and won’t be spending all of your time relaxing in a resort. The perfect travel companion here is a backpack. In addition, if you’re planning to visit some more remote places, keep in mind that small boats, mini-buses, small airplanes and other modes of transport often can’t accommodate very large bags.
Most of the famous tourist destinations in South America are well off the beaten track, so a backpack is usually the best choice if you are traveling to places like Machu Picchu or the Iguazu Falls. Countries with more advanced infrastructure like Brazil, Panama, or Costa Rica are easier to travel in with suitcases if you are using taxis to get around. If you are using public transport, then a backpack is a better option, even in the cities.
You can bring any kind of luggage in the major cities in Asia. However in India and Southeast Asia, it is better to use a backpack or duffle bag for any travel outside of major urban areas. In most ports and transport terminals there will be porters who will carry your bag for a small tip, so this is the one area of the world where duffle bags are actually a good choice as they can be more easily stowed on buses and boats.
Be aware that in many of the developing countries of Asia, pilfering of belongings from bags often happens in transport terminals and hotel rooms, so ensure that bags are securely locked at all times. Of course, this is a problem not only unique to Asia, but many parts of the world.