Backpack or Cabin Bag? Pros and Cons when Traveling to Thailand

Backpack or Cabin Bag? Pros and Cons when Traveling to Thailand

One of the most popular destinations in the world, Thailand is a gorgeous country with rich history, great Thai food and affordable prices. Whether you are looking for a relaxing beach vacation, fascinating historic sites or gorgeous natural parks, Thailand has it all. In fact, this Southeast Asian gem is a magnet for expats and remote workers looking to relocate to a cheaper place. Local residency laws make receiving a permanent residency status relatively easy even without a large monthly income. But how do you pack your luggage to ensure you are fully prepared for both Thailand wet season and dry weather? In this article, we will explore the Thailand climate as well as try to pinpoint how to efficiently pack your luggage and what to choose between a suitcase and a backpack. 


What to Take with You on a Trip to Thailand

Besides the monsoon season from July to October, Thailand is a country of perpetual summer and warm weather. Even during the coldest month in Thailand, December, the weather is still nice and the water is warm enough to swim and snorkel. In Thailand, the temperature usually does not fall below 25-26°C (77-78°F) and averages at 32-34°C (90-92°F) during Thailand dry season. However, the country is quite big which is why climate may vary from location to location. Let’s explore the list of essentials that every tourist should pack in their luggage when traveling to Thailand. 


Summer shoes

Thailand and other Asian countries are known for their no-shoe policy inside people’s homes, temples and sometimes even cafes and restaurants. For this reason, most locals and tourists wear flip-flops, crocs or other slip-on shoes that can be easily taken off at any time. 

Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Flip-Flops  


Especially if you are traveling around the rainy season, having a raincoat is a must. But even outside of monsoon, there is always a chance of rain in Bangkok and other popular destinations in Thailand. Rain jackets are also amazing at keeping you warm in the mountains and other windy areas. 


Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Raincoat 


Since during most of the Thailand weather seasons it is warm or even hot, locals are known to set their air conditioners to a very low temperature. A few hours on an intercity bus can make you feel extremely cold which is why a light jacket or sweater will come in handy. 


Reusable water bottle

On hiking routes and even in towns, visitors and locals can cheaply refill their water bottles with filtered water for just a few cents. Help the country stay plastic free and keep the beaches clean by carrying a reusable water bottle. 


Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Reusable Water Bottle 


Although available in the country, sunscreen in tourist locations can be quite expensive. Make sure to pack one for the road as well as procure bug repellant to prevent mosquito bites. 



Traveling all the way to Thailand and not visiting the beach would be a huge disappointment. Local beaches are famous tourist attractions in Thailand which is why you should consider packing several swimsuits as well as a towel and other beach items. 


Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Swimsuit 

Hiking footwear

To explore the jungle and national parks, one of the popular tourist things to do in Thailand, make sure you have hiking shoes to keep your feet comfortable and protected. Avoid packing boots due to the heat and opt for trail runners or hiking sandals. 


Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Hiking Footwear 

Small backpack

Whenever you leave your hotel, you will need a small backpack to carry your essentials like documents and money. However, consider acquiring a sturdy daypack as opposed to a purse or handbag as tourist locations are prone to bag snatchers. Purchase a backpack that is harder to rip off of you or cut through. 


Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Small Backpack 

Travel insurance

Although there are no outbreaks of specific diseases at the moment, accidents happen and having travel insurance will protect you from unforeseen catastrophes.

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Traveling in Thailand with Hand Luggage

Before you land in Southeast Asia and taste amazing local Thai dishes, you have to answer the eternal question: to pack a hand luggage or a backpack? Depending on your lifestyle, habits and type of vacation, you may choose between the two options. In this section, we will identify the benefits and drawbacks of packing hand luggage. 


Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Traveling with Hand Luggage 

Benefits of Hand Luggage

Stay organized: suitcases make it easier to remain organized as they open like a book and offer easy access to the insides. 

Wheels: almost all modern suitcases come with wheels that allow users to roll the luggage and effortlessly navigate airports, stations and cities. 

Maximum capacity: the rectangular shape of the suitcase allows you to efficiently pack without leaving any idle space. 

Wrinkle-free clothes: if you would like to have a night out in Bangkok and pack a nice cocktail dress or suit, hand luggage can keep them neatly folded. 

Clothes protection: as opposed to flexible backpacks, suitcases have plastic around the edges that protects the contents from getting damaged or broken. Moreover, you will not wear out your clothes by rubbing straps on your shoulders. 

No back injuries: carrying a backpack for hours can cause serious harm to one’s back, especially if the straps aren’t properly fastened. A suitcase will protect you from such injuries allowing you to simply push the luggage around without putting too much weight on your shoulders. 

Convenience: if you travel often, especially for work, you are likely to already have a suitcase at home. Buying a backpack will be an additional expense that not everyone can afford. 

Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Traveling with Hand Luggage 

Drawbacks of Hand Luggage

Only one hand free: while carrying a suitcase, one hand will always stay occupied which limits your movements and activities. Moreover, setting down your luggage while looking for change to buy a bus ticket can be dangerous as someone might snatch your bag. 

Uneven roads: Thailand is not famous for smooth roads and pavement. You will encounter holes and pits in the ground, long staircases without elevators or escalators and uneven terrains everywhere you go. To overcome these obstacles you will have to pick up the suitcase which really defeats the whole purpose. 

Durability: backpacks are much more durable compared to suitcases which are not made for lengthy and extensive travels. 

Not for long routes: if you land in a secluded area without easy-to-access transportation or taxi services, you might have to be on foot for extended periods. Walking for miles with a suitcase in hand is not optimal and may tire you a lot faster. 

Heavyweight: the additional features like wheels, handles and plastic edges make suitcases a lot heavier compared to backpacks. In case you have to carry it through terrain or up the stairs in your hotel, you will end up with severe back pain. Heavyweight suitcases will also prevent you from packing everything you need as the Thai airway baggage allowance stays the same regardless of the type of luggage you choose. 

Lack of flexibility: seasoned backpackers manage to even utilize the outer space to pack extra stuff. For example, you can strap items like laptop stands, airplane pillows and even shoes to the outside. Suitcases lack this function and can only hold that much inside. 

Lack of mobility: to avoid taking long walks with a bulky suitcase, you are likely to take a taxi or bus. As a result, you will be spending more money on fares instead of adventures and essentials. A backpack offers more mobility as you can easily walk a couple of miles wearing one. 

Staying spontaneous: packing a backpack helps tourists to stay spontaneous and swiftly change their plans on the go. 


Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Traveling with Backpack  


Traveling Thailand with a Backpack

What about backpacking around Thailand? Let’s familiarize ourselves with the advantages and disadvantages of backpacking through Thailand as opposed to carrying a suitcase. 


Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Traveling with Backpack 

Benefits of Backpack

Free hands: since you don’t have to drag the suitcase around and can keep the backpack on your shoulders at all times, you can benefit from having both hands free. This will also reduce the chances of getting your bags snatched while you are opening your wallet and counting change. 

Navigation across terrain: regardless of the quality of the roads or the presence of an elevator at the hotel or airport, you will be free to walk around. As suitcases are only beneficial when you have a smooth surface, they are not handy in Southeast Asia where the roads are often old and uneven. 

Weight distribution: if you adjust the straps to accommodate your body type, a decent backpack will distribute all the weight across your hips, back and shoulders.  As a result, you will not overload one area of your body and get injured even if you take even long tours

Durability: backpacks are designed to sustain long walks, bad weather, including rain and wind, as well as extra weight. Good quality backpacks can be used for years and years without losing any features and functions. 

Security: having your belongings literally attached to your body makes it a lot more difficult for people with bad intentions to take advantage of you. No one can grab your bag while you are busy paying for a bus fare or snatch it from you, especially if you have securely fastened all the straps in place. 

Lightweight: backpacks are also a lot lighter than suitcases as they are made of lightweight materials and lack extra features like frames and wheels. Besides, you will be able to pack more things and stay below the luggage allowance. Moreover, you can even pack additional items by fixing them to the outside using straps. 

Multiusability: backpacks can be used for various purposes, not only for traveling. You can pack a few things for your next hiking trip, go camping or even go to the gym using the same backpack. 

Weather protection: most travel backpacks are resistant to water and wind. You can be assured that no matter the weather conditions, your belongings will stay dry and undamaged. 

Easy transportation: carrying a suitcase on a bus or tuk-tuk can be almost impossible as they are quite limited in space. A backpack will not occupy that much room and can be easily placed even on a small vehicle. 

Mobility: if you want to stay mobile and spontaneous, bring a backpack. Traveling from city to city on a local bus is a lot easier with a backpack. You can also swiftly hop on a morning walking tour to Bangkok without putting too much effort into the planning. 


Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Traveling with Backpack 

Drawbacks of Backpack

Hard to access: to fit everything you want inside a backpack, you need to neatly fold clothes and utilize space highly efficiently. This will make packing and unpacking more difficult and time-consuming. Instead of quickly opening a suitcase and grabbing an item, you will need to dive deep inside the backpack to find whatever you need. It also takes a lot of planning ahead to make sure the most useful items are packed closer to the zipper. 

Wrinkled clothes: to pack efficiently, you will have to fold your clothes multiple times leaving wrinkles on them. While luxurious hotels provide irons to their guests, small hostels may not have any available. 

Injuries: always make sure you are wearing the backpack properly and adjust all the straps according to your body type and height. Otherwise, you can receive an injury from the backpack jiggling on your back and distributing weight incorrectly. 

Additional expenses: while most people already have a suitcase at home, getting a backpack is an investment. A good quality backpack that will serve you for years and properly work, will cost at least $100 or even more. 

Loose straps: backpack straps can get caught on trees, airplane chairs and other surroundings. This can be frustrating and also dangerous as it can put you in a vulnerable position in a public place. 

Pickpocketing: travelers sometimes put their valuables like passports and money in the pockets of their backpacks for easy access. This can lead to you getting robbed or pickpocketed, especially in crowded Thailand tourist attractions.

 Best luggage to travel in Thailand: Traveling with Backpack

No matter what type of luggage you go for, you will certainly have a memorable time. A beautiful country full of friendly people, delicious Thai food and endless tourist attractions, this Southeastern gem has something for everyone. Can’t decide what to see in this majestic country? Consider booking free tours in Thailand to learn more about this region and its background. And if you choose the option of backpacking in Thailand, the cost of your trip will be considerably lower.
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