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Traveling w/ backpack vs. luggage piece: Which is better?

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Postby momopi » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:56 am

I spent about a year working as a 100% traveling consultant. Almost every week I was on 6 different planes. 2 planes from CA to 1st customer, 2 planes from 1st customer to 2nd customer, and 2 planes from 2nd customer back home. Very quickly, I learned that check-in luggage/suitcases was a BAD idea. Your luggage gets left behind, goes on the wrong plane, or get trashed by luggage handlers. I had my nice Polo luggage trashed at Chicago.

After that, I went to Costco and bought a carry-on sized luggage case. While the hard shell offered more protection for the contents (I often carried parts for customers), it's also harder to "squeeze in" to overhead compartments when it's pretty full. A carry-on sized backpack is much easier. If it didn't fit in overhead, sometimes they take it for check-in and you can watch the nice luggage handlers toss your luggage around, or fell off the luggage cart on the tarmac.

Since the nice TSA folks confiscated my tools -- including the little 3" screwdriver kits because it has removable bits, my boss said "we gave you an AmEx, figure it out". So whenever I arrived at customer site and need tools, I just went to Walmart and bought some cheap tools and leave it behind. You come to the realization that, you're paying (or customer paying) over $2,000 per week in airfare, hotel, and rental car fees. Why jump through hoops to save $5?

When I went backpacking in Europe (France-Belgium-Netherlands) couple years back, I packed disposable men's boxers (about $1 each). Considering the amount of money I was spending on the trip, it did not make sense to carry dirty underwear around. But if you plan to stay longer, then you can spend time at the laundromat. Otherwise, just buy some cheap shirts from tourist trap shops. I carried a rolled-up duffel bag, on the way back I filled it with various crap I bought. If you opt for this strategy, make sure the gifts and souvenirs that you're buying are relatively light and not fragile.


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Postby eurobrat » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:43 am

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Last edited by eurobrat on Sat May 25, 2013 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Winston » Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:22 am

momopi wrote:
Winston wrote:
momopi wrote:Can you please reduce the number of questions from 17 to 3 or less?

Why? You don't make sense. You are smart enough to answer multiple questions. You aren't dumb. In this case, you can answer a few main questions which would cover the other ones, since the questions are all related. This is common sense.
It's very easy to combine things in this case. Maybe you are not good at seeing the big picture?


This is about your bad habit of asking 17 questions in a single post. You don't have to take my word for it. Feel free to ask others if it's bad etiquette or not.


publicduende wrote:I don't actually agree with Momopi, you are free to pen as many questions as you want, so long you don't mind people not necessarily wanting to give you a point-to-point answer.


It's simple question-asking etiquette to be concise.


I've never heard of such etiquette. But you can easily just answer two questions per day, or combine them all into two questions, because most of those questions are related anyway.

You are supposed to be the Spock of this forum. lol. But Spock doesn't nitpick irrelevant things like this though. lol

Anyway, ok let me just simplify the question for you then:

Why do so many travelers use those big backpacks? Are they really better than using luggage pieces with wheels? I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing here.

To avoid dragging luggage over uneven pavement or cobblestone streets, you can just get a small luggage case that you lift up by the handle and walk with right? I think I've even seen some luggage cases that can be converted to a backpack, but they are smaller ones.

PS - Momopi, I see in your above post that you went backpacking in Europe. Does that mean you carried one of those big backpacks too? If so, why did you do that rather than just use a luggage case?
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Postby momopi » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:29 pm

Winston wrote:I've never heard of such etiquette. But you can easily just answer two questions per day, or combine them all into two questions, because most of those questions are related anyway.


As the person who is doing the asking, you should be the one who "combine them into two questions" before asking.

Three simple rules:
1. Don't ask for the sake of asking. If you're already asking "what are the benefits of using a backpack", don't ask "does it matter" in the same breath. Don't ask questions like "Can I ask you something?"
2. Ask questions as you would do in real life conversation. In real life conversation, an adult does not ask 17 questions in the same breath.
3. Don't ask more than 2-3 questions at a time, preferably one.



Winston wrote:To avoid dragging luggage over uneven pavement or cobblestone streets, you can just get a small luggage case that you lift up by the handle and walk with right? I think I've even seen some luggage cases that can be converted to a backpack, but they are smaller ones.
PS - Momopi, I see in your above post that you went backpacking in Europe. Does that mean you carried one of those big backpacks too? If so, why did you do that rather than just use a luggage case?


Yes, I carried a large backpack. I doubt it'd have been very comfortable lifting a luggage by the handle and hike for 1-2 km from Rilly-la-Montagne to Chigny-les-Roses in rural France. There are no taxi's or buses (other than local school bus).
Last edited by momopi on Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby noog » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:49 pm

To me travelling internationally with a backpack is a no-brainer. It's very likely you will have a laptop or other valuables that you want on your person at all times and attached to you in a way that is not easily stolen and also not left behind in a hotel room.

Also it leaves both your hands free for various activities abroad :). Yes it will be heavy to carry around and your back will get sore, especially if you are standing around a lot. A good way to get in shape :).

I'm wearing one in my profile pic. I don't worry about the fashionability part ... and anyway some people do say it forces your shoulders back a little so can give the appearance you are just a little more buff.
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Postby Rock » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:55 pm

momopi wrote:
Winston wrote:
momopi wrote:Can you please reduce the number of questions from 17 to 3 or less?

Why? You don't make sense. You are smart enough to answer multiple questions. You aren't dumb. In this case, you can answer a few main questions which would cover the other ones, since the questions are all related. This is common sense.
It's very easy to combine things in this case. Maybe you are not good at seeing the big picture?


This is about your bad habit of asking 17 questions in a single post. You don't have to take my word for it. Feel free to ask others if it's bad etiquette or not.


publicduende wrote:I don't actually agree with Momopi, you are free to pen as many questions as you want, so long you don't mind people not necessarily wanting to give you a point-to-point answer.


It's simple question-asking etiquette to be concise.


I think its fine for him to ask 17 questions as it's more open ended and the people who address them can cherry pick. We are not machines here. Let him ask as much as he likes and you can answer as many as you like or not. Nobody is twisting your arm and besides, its his forum, lol

What I do think think is rude however is when we he posts such questions but then ignores, discounts, or even criticizes the advice he is given, even that which is sincere and honest.
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Postby Winston » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:50 pm

publicduende wrote:It depends on what you mean by perpetual travelling. If you plan to move across hotels, inns or at least places which offer secure storage, I think a medium-sized luggage (for clothes and toiletries) plus a small backpack (for laptop, tech gadgets and valuables) is the best combination. If you are on such a budget that you will have to transport all of your luggage at all times, then the big backpack is probably a better option.


Thanks publicduende. What's your take on these other questions of mine:

Also, if I am going to carry my camcorder around to film my trips, should I put it in a camera bag strapped around my shoulder? What about a fanny pack? Do fanny packs look bad? They are very useful and convenient but they do look touristy right?

For short trips, it is better to carry a small backpack or use a shoulder bag? Do backpacks look bad? Do they make you look like a student?
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Postby Winston » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:57 pm

Rock wrote:I think its fine for him to ask 17 questions as it's more open ended and the people who address them can cherry pick. We are not machines here. Let him ask as much as he likes and you can answer as many as you like or not. Nobody is twisting your arm and besides, its his forum, lol

What I do think think is rude however is when we he posts such questions but then ignores, discounts, or even criticizes the advice he is given, even that which is sincere and honest.


I disagree with your second point. Advice should not be taken on blind faith. Some advice is good, some is bad, and others are dangerous. One guy here even told me to move back to Washington.

It is your task to separate the wheat from the chaff, and decide which advice is good for you and which is bad, which applies and which doesn't. If I gave you advice, should you accept it uncritically? Of course not. But then again, I don't tell people what to do, so I rarely give someone bad advice.

One is not obligated to agree with all the advice one is given. I'm sure you know that. So I'm not sure if I understand your point.

momopi wrote:Yes, I carried a large backpack. I doubt it'd have been very comfortable lifting a luggage by the handle and hike for 1-2 km from Rilly-la-Montagne to Chigny-les-Roses in rural France. There are no taxi's or buses (other than local school bus).


So backpacks are good for long hikes then. But what I don't understand is, if you are going on a long hike, why don't you just leave your backpack or luggage somewhere like a hotel or storage facility, and then go hiking and come back to get it? Isn't it better to hike without heavy attachments?

Rock goes around with a shoulder bag. I've never seen him use a backpack. Isn't that ideal?
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Postby momopi » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:04 am

Winston wrote:So backpacks are good for long hikes then. But what I don't understand is, if you are going on a long hike, why don't you just leave your backpack or luggage somewhere like a hotel or storage facility, and then go hiking and come back to get it? Isn't it better to hike without heavy attachments?


It's a one-way trip from A -> B -> C, not A -> B -> A.

Also, don't expect rural train stations to have storage lockers.
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Re:

Postby Winston » Tue May 26, 2015 3:55 pm

noog wrote:To me travelling internationally with a backpack is a no-brainer. It's very likely you will have a laptop or other valuables that you want on your person at all times and attached to you in a way that is not easily stolen and also not left behind in a hotel room.

Also it leaves both your hands free for various activities abroad :). Yes it will be heavy to carry around and your back will get sore, especially if you are standing around a lot. A good way to get in shape :).

I'm wearing one in my profile pic. I don't worry about the fashionability part ... and anyway some people do say it forces your shoulders back a little so can give the appearance you are just a little more buff.


But noog, backpackers don't carry their backpacks on them at all times. They only do so when they are moving from one location to another. When they put their backpacks in the hostel dorm room, they go out without it to tour the town. So even they have to leave their stuff in the dorm room.

I think you should carry your valuables on you, such as money, wallet and passport. Hostels and hotels usually have a safe in the room or at the front desk reception, that you can put laptops in.

Anyhow, I was wondering if someone can explain something. Why do many travelers carry backpacks? What's the advantage? I still haven't gotten a full logical explanation for that in this thread.

Usually, backpackers are on a budget and seeking cheap ways to travel. So they stay in hostels and use Couchsurfing. They don't like expensive touristy stuff, and prefer to see something with historical and cultural significance. They tell me that you can get used to carrying around a heavy backpack, but I don't see how. I could not get used to that.
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Re: Re:

Postby momopi » Sat May 30, 2015 1:26 am

Winston wrote:Anyhow, I was wondering if someone can explain something. Why do many travelers carry backpacks? What's the advantage? I still haven't gotten a full logical explanation for that in this thread.


Specific to "backpackers", backpacking culture looks down on tourists with luggage. The idea is to enjoy an "authentic experience" (whatever that means) away from tourist traps and see the "real country" by backpacking on foot.

For me, I had to backpack through the French countryside on foot simply because there was no public transportation. The nice folks at the winery that I was visiting was kind enough to give me a lift to the train station on my way to Belgium.


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Regardless, what is most important is not towing a luggage on dirt road looking stupid, or wearing a backpack and looking down on "non-authentic" (whatever that means) tourists with nose in the air. What is important is actually getting out there while you're still alive and able. Fools who waste time talking about it but never get off their arse will one day find themselves unable, and by then it will be too late.
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Re: Re:

Postby eurobrat » Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:51 pm

momopi wrote:
Winston wrote:Anyhow, I was wondering if someone can explain something. Why do many travelers carry backpacks? What's the advantage? I still haven't gotten a full logical explanation for that in this thread.


Specific to "backpackers", backpacking culture looks down on tourists with luggage. The idea is to enjoy an "authentic experience" (whatever that means) away from tourist traps and see the "real country" by backpacking on foot.

For me, I had to backpack through the French countryside on foot simply because there was no public transportation. The nice folks at the winery that I was visiting was kind enough to give me a lift to the train station on my way to Belgium.


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Regardless, what is most important is not towing a luggage on dirt road looking stupid, or wearing a backpack and looking down on "non-authentic" (whatever that means) tourists with nose in the air. What is important is actually getting out there while you're still alive and able. Fools who waste time talking about it but never get off their arse will one day find themselves unable, and by then it will be too late.


Very nice, can you elaborate on your France trip. Honestly I was planning out my trips for the rest of the year and I can't really find anywhere else to visit here in Europe.

I just went to Barcelona and I was pretty disappointed. It was lackluster, full of drunk UK ppl, horrible food, expensive and overall a very shitty experience.

The best part I guess was walking on the boardwalk reminded me of California. The coastline was perfect (except for all the drunk beef head British guys). The Spanish people were pretty disappointing.

Honestly I think Italy is a much better food and wine country.

I give Spain two thumbs down.
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Re: Re:

Postby momopi » Thu Jun 04, 2015 4:55 am

eurobrat wrote:Very nice, can you elaborate on your France trip. Honestly I was planning out my trips for the rest of the year and I can't really find anywhere else to visit here in Europe.


Saw some youtube video with nude French model walking down the street in Paris, so drove to AAA office and booked a flight to France. Picked up Rick Steve's guide to France and international driver's license at AAA. Contacted some old friends in EU and was invited to an anime convention in Almelo (Netherlands) and visit to a winery in rural France. Looked up on the map and drew a line from Paris to Chigny-les-Roses to Belgium to Netherlands. Packed my backpack and read Rick Steve's book on the plane. On my way out of the airport in Paris I bought a museum pass. Did the tourist trap circuit in Paris for a week and really enjoyed it. The French really knows how to bake pastry and when I returned to California, I went to a culinary school to study under a French chef for couple of months.

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My advice is to start with Paris if you haven't been there. Instead of the metro (underground light rail) take the bus instead, so you can actually see the city. Take water taxi to see places up and down the Seine. If you like fishing you can take the water taxi to upstream station and hike a bit to fishing areas. If the weather is good you might find locals taking a dip or sun bathing there. The museum pass doesn't cover all museums so read the list. Check metro station at Opera District for people holding up signs advertising cheap hotels. But these days you can prolly find deals online. If you take overnight bus to go somewhere you can save on hotel expense, but expect some oddball folks on the bus.

There are many tourist guides to France, but it's more fun to "wing it". If you over-think everything like Winston, you simply won't have as much fun.
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Re: Traveling w/ backpack vs. luggage piece: Which is better

Postby Jester » Thu Jun 04, 2015 5:20 am

Momopi that is impressive. You are a real Traveler.
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Re: Traveling w/ backpack vs. luggage piece: Which is better

Postby momopi » Thu Jun 04, 2015 5:48 am

A few photos of Dutch girls (for your viewing pleasure here only, not for use in reposting, advertising, or commercial use):

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Hotdog looking for warm bun
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What the Dutch put on top of their toast
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p.s. KLM in-flight meal was actually not bad, prolly because they kept it simple:
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