If you’re going backpacking across Europe like I am (traveling or hike carrying one’s belongings in a backpack), then it an integral part of your journey will be your luggage. Whatever your choice of bag(s), it is important to remember that you will need to carry everything with you basically everywhere you go. This is especially true if you plan on staying in hostels where you don’t feel safe leaving your belongings.
Great advice from a backpacking expert, Rick Steves, is that you primarily have three choices. Either you use a backpack, a small suitcase, or a piece combining attributes of both. Ever open to as many options as possible, I decided on the last option. I bought one of Rick Steves own creations, a backpack (with shoulder straps) that’s the size of an allowable carry-on. It’s designed to be the only piece of luggage you should need on a backpacking trip, starting from the airport itself.
One advantage with this type of bag are that it will conveniently stowed in the airplane with you; meaning that you won’t need to check it in and have to wait at the baggage claim at your destination. It also allows you to fit all the necessities you would have in a regular carry-on, into something like a regular backpack you can take on your back in the event your arms get tired, and vice-versa. This particular bag came with a small mesh pouch for separating soiled laundry. I will speak more about space management in an upcoming post.
One tip about backpacks in places where you have even the slightest risk of theft, always put the backpack in front of you. So, if you’re at a cafe, bar, or any other place where your backpack is exposed behind you, but the bag in your lap or put the straps over your shoulders in the opposite direction so that the bag is secured to your chest. Another safety precaution involves using proper locking devices, which will be touched upon in an upcoming post.