When travelling to Milan for a city break with my baby, I ummed and ahhed about whether to take a rucksack or a suitcase. Generally I like travelling with suitcases (you’ve got enough baggage as it is with kids, who wants to lug it around on your back?). However, I went for the rucksack in the end as I had relatively light baggage and felt it would be easier than pushing a pushchair and dragging a suitcase around.
Here are some pros and cons of suitcases and rucksacks for carry on:
- Allows you to be hands free
- Can be heavy and tiring to carry
- Can have useful pockets and pouches if you get a well designed one
- Smaller rucksacks can double as day bags on holiday
- If you have to (or want to) check it then the straps need to be tucked away quite well to avoid damage
- You don’t have to carry it on your back!
- Can be easier to sort and live out of than a backpack
- If you’re in a queue it’s easier to put it down and move it
- If you have to check it (if there isn’t room on the plane or if they offer to check bags for free) it may be less likely to be damaged than a rucksack
Tips on what to look for in suitcases and rucksacks for carry on:
- Lumbar strap (this is the strap around your waist)
You want to make sure it’s thick and sturdy as it will help distribute weight to your hips rather than your back
- Chest strap
This will help pull the backpack into your body and make it easier to carry
- Suitable pockets
Think about what you’ll need to take. Do you need a water pouch? Do you need pockets on the lumbar strap for keys and wallet? Do you need a zip that allows access to the bottom of the bag? There are lots of different types of bags – think about what you’re going to use it for an choose an appropriate one
- Ergonomic shape
Make sure it’s comfy! Ideally add some weight to it in the shop before you try it on as you don’t want to pack it and then find that it’s horribly uncomfortable when full!
- What size?
Do you want it to be as big as possible whilst still fitting in carry on or could it be smaller? I love my little North Face rucksack. It’s much smaller than carry on needs to be, but most of the time I check a bag anyway so don’t need the space.
- Hard shell or soft shell suitcase
Hard shell suitcases can protect your luggage but will likely be heavier than soft suitcases. I’ve also found that the zips on them can be tough to use.
- Two wheeled suitcase or four wheeled suitcase
A four wheeled suitcase will allow you to push it along rather than drag it. Personally I’d always go for a four wheeled suitcase as I find them much easier to use.
- Expandable suitcases
Do you need an expandable section?
- Lockable suitcases
You can buy padlocks that can lock two zip pulls together, but you can also buy suitcases with a built in lock. The benefit of this is that you’re never going to lose the lock. These locks are usually made to international regulations so airport security will be able to unlock them if they need to.