Travel Styles & Preferences #2

Rolling Luggage V. Backpacks:

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I use the ‘Expedition Travel Pack’ by L.L. Bean. They’re without a doubt one of my favorite brands for luggage – tough and durable, but lightweight. Robert uses the ‘Expedition Duffle’. I don’t think they make these exact models anymore, unfortunately; however, I’m sure L.L. Bean has bags that are comparable. We’ve brought our packs with us on several long trips, including an 11 day trip to Florida and on our 16 day honeymoon to Italy. That being said, we are not ‘backpackers’ and therefore if that’s the kind of bag you’re looking for, I can offer little insight into which bags are appropriate.

For rolling luggage, I’ve been using the American Tourister 20″ Spinner DeLite Hardsided carry-on in black. Hard-sided luggage can get a bit pricey, so I’ve avoided taking the plunge until this little guy went on clearance at Target this past winter just in time for me to visit a friend in Orlando for an extended weekend. I’ve used it on about 3-4 trips now and I think it works great. This is the bag I plan on bringing with us to Florida for this next trip. Before now, the longest I’ve ever packed this bag for was 5 days, so 8 days might be a bit of a stretch, but I think I made it work! Robert’s rolling luggage came from a flea market type of place, and I have no idea what the brand or model is, and truthfully it’s not the most durable bag on earth, but it works for what he needs and has so far {knocks on wood} never let us down.

There are pros and cons to both types of bags.

L.L. Bean Expedition Duffle
L.L. Bean Expedition Duffle

We bought the L.L. Bean backpacks because we didn’t want to deal with rolling luggage on the cobblestone roads in Europe. The 11day Florida trip was a dry run with the bags, and I thought they worked out well. Most obviously, the biggest downside to these types of bags is, of course, the weight. If you’re not careful or if you’re going on trip longer than a week (or if you’re like me and like to have clothes for a variety of situations) the weight can get really very cumbersome. But, if you’re going on a trip where your attire is more straight forward {i.e. you’re going on a business trip and need less casual or evening wear} than the weight thing may not problematic at all. It all depends on how much you know you can realistically carry around. For Italy, my backpack was just over 40lbs — which when you do a test ‘drive’ around your living room seems like nothing at all, and then when you carry it for hours around the airport seems like the biggest mistake you’ve made that day. Also, if you don’t pack the bottom layer as flat as possible, it may get a little uncomfortable against your back.

That all seems like negatives, I guess. But in truth, I did love the convienience of having everything on my back. We had no trouble walking the unpaved side streets of Italy with our backpacks and, because they’re carry-on size, enjoyed having everything so compact. The L.L. Bean bags fit perfectly in the overhead compartment on airplanes, much easier than my rolling luggage, and because they’re soft-sided smush down smaller if necessary. 11-16 Days was a stretch, with regard to weight, but both of these bags would be perfect if you are able to bring less items with you when you travel. On the website, L.L. Bean refers to this bag as a ‘weekend’ bag, and the newest model measures at 22.5Hx14Wx9D. My personal opinion, is this bag is great for much longer than a weekend, but not for much more than a week.

Another consideration with backpacks is to think about what kind of personal bag you’ll be using on the plane, if you’re going to be using one. As a woman, it’s not a problem – I use my Longchamp Large Le Pliage tote and just hold it on my arm or in my hand. However, as a man your options become much more limited. My husband likes to use a bookbag as his personal bag or sometimes even his camera bag and finds it very challenging to to have both bags be backpacks. A messenger bag might be a better option.

L.L. Bean Rolling Duffle, Large
L.L. Bean Rolling Duffle, Large

Rolling luggage, in general, is great for so many reasons. Weight is not an issue, especially if you have a well built bag. I’ve had many rolling bags over the years, including the L.L. Bean Rolling Duffle, in ‘Large’. I bought this bag before going to Paris on a study abroad trip, thinking that it would be my ‘European Luggage’ {haha, oh how naive I was!}. I way overpacked using this bag, I brought probably everything I owned and very little of what I needed. I also brought it with me on a few vacations after that, and realized, slower than I probably should have, that this bag was just ridiculous for one person. I have to say, that the only times I’ve ever liked rolling bags, is in carry-on size. Anything larger than that for luggage of any type gets very unwieldy.

The American Tourister bag is turning me, quickly, into a convert for life. This upcoming Florida road trip is the longest I’ll have used this bag on. So far, I’ve brought this with me on a few long weekend trips and it’s served me very well. For our 8 days coming up, the fit is a little snug, but everything fits well enough. I love the 360° spinning wheels, it makes it so you don’t have to drag your luggage behind you, which can get extremely uncomfortable after long periods of time. The hard-sided feature can take a beating without me worrying about my luggage inside. Yet, even though it’s hard-sided, it is still extendable if you need a little more room. I usually prefer not to use that feature, because the more compact, the better.

With rolling luggage, you can use any type of personal bag you’d like – backpack, tote bag, camera bag … the possibilities are endless, which is ultimately what led Rob to want to use his rolling bag on this trip.

It seems, that rolling bags are most people’s preference. They are in abundance whenever you walk down the luggage aisle of most stores, whereas duffles and backpacks are harder to come by. It’s hard to say what my preference is, because I love both of these bags for very different reasons. For European adventures, I really don’t see myself ever using anything except my L.L. Bean Expedition Pack. There’s just so much more walking from one place to another and I’d rather not have to drag a bag behind me. I’m much more mobile with the L.L. Bean bag than with the American Tourister, oddly. However, my rolling bag has been great when I’m traveling by myself, or to places where I know exactly where I’m going an don’t have to do much walking.

I’d love to know what your preferences are, and what brands you use and love (or hate!). Thank you for reading, and I look forward to your sharing!

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