Traveling the World? Don’t Carry a Backpack!


I see you here in Europe, backpackers, hobbling across the continent strapped to the bottom those crushing mobile billboards for everything that’s wrong with your travel philosophy: backpacks.

The thing that has made Tipsy Pilgrim adventures possible is travelling light.



Your money, time, and energy are always limited, and this is even more true when you’re on the road, experiencing new cultures. Traveling light and free ensures that you don’t expend these commodities on lugging around stuff that you will rarely use — which brings us to the next point.

You Will Not Use Half of What You Pack

What specific things you really need to carry is a rather personal decision, but that experience of arriving home and unearthing the stuff at the bottom of our luggage that barely got used is universal.

As we travel more, we learn not to pack certain things. You’ve heard the axiom; the more seasoned that you are as a traveler, the less you pack. You know that if need be, it’s better to pick up, say, a small umbrella or a swimsuit on the road. There is no sense in being prepared for each and every eventuality. It’s not worth the weight and the trouble.

Who Should Carry a Large Backpack?

If you’re trekking through forests or jungles and need to carry your own food and camping gear for a few days or more, you definitely want a good backpacker pack.

Who Shouldn’t Carry a Backpack?

Everyone else.

The Alternative to Backpacks for World Travellers

"Convertible" carry-ons like the Osprey Ozone are usually wheeled around but can also pop up on your back with the slide-out straps. Head to our sister site for full reviews of this and other such bags.
“Convertible” carry-ons like the Osprey Ozone are usually wheeled around but can also pop up on your back with the slide-out straps. Our sister site has full reviews of this and other such convertibles.

I recommend carrying a small wheeled carry-on, preferably a convertible style that also has backpack straps; I have myself been living out of one as a digital nomad/permanent traveller/tipsy pilgrim for the last five years. This has been a great improvement over the previous weary half-decade I spent lugging around a backpacker bag or large suitcase.

I almost always use the wheels, but occasionally it’s great to be able to pop the piece up on my back for a set of stairs, rough street, or when I get on a bike. Straps are not strictly necessary if you’re limited to urban environments with decent pavement.

I’ve had a pretty good unbranded bag that I picked up in Paris for a couple of years; if I were going to buy a new one, I’d get one of the ultralight wheeled carry-on backpacks reviewed over at our sister site SelectoGuru (where we do meta-reviews of travel gear).

The Ultimate Travel Minimalist’s Disposable Luggage

My dear brother has taken the idea of minimalist travel a step further, and no, this is not a joke. He generally travels with his worldly possessions in a small, sturdy trashbag. There are obvious disadvantages to this (the lack of durability, protection for electronics, definitely not for airlines, etc.), but also some clear and interesting advantages:

  • It’s cheap and disposable; when your bag (inevitably) gets a tear it can be instantly and cheaply replaced.
  • They’re theft-deterrent; thieves are not likely to target someone who is carrying a trash bag.
  • They’re light and collapsible; what other suitcase can be wadded up and stuffed in a pocket when not in use?

The disadvantages still outweigh the advantages for me, but you’ve gotta appreciate the creativity.


Head over to our site for more on backpacks and other travel gear. 

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