Travel with a Backpack – Older Woman Solo

Travel with a Backpack – Older Woman Solo

Over the years, I’ve found that travel with a backpack cuts down on the drama.  Travel with a backpack makes getting to my destination more stress-free.
In preparing for a trip to DC, I mentioned to a friend that I ALWAYS travel with my beloved backpack.  My friend recommended trying a suitcase for this trip.  I thought, okay why not? Maybe I’ve been missing something.
Capitol Washington Dc
What I found was I over-packed.  I had packed so many unnecessary shoes, change of clothes and unessential nonsense that I couldn’t find anything in that suitcase.   AND every morning, I could never decide what to wear.  I had too many options.  Drama! Stress!
Social Tourist at Dorothy Height Building in DC
When I went to San Francisco a couple months later, I walked through the crowded streets of the city, backpack in tow. Lesson learned.
Chinatown Gate San Francisco
I came to this conclusion: I’m a backpack type of gal.  My time in the Army taught me a soldier always travels light because you never know what might happen along the way, on your journey.
Street Food Vendors San Francisco
A suitcase doesn’t fit my go-with-the-flow style.
So, here are the reasons why I travel with a backpack and not a suitcase.

No overpacking with a backpack

Travel with a backpack forces me not to over-pack.  Since I only take the essentials, I must be creative with my wardrobe. A nice dress, a cute pair of sandals, a couple of shirts, some underwear (plural), toiletries and I’m ready for the open road or a jet plane.

Tip for the Older Woman Solo:  We’ve come a long way, baby but our backs aren’t what they use to be.  Come to the realization that you can’t take everything (and you shouldn’t). Taking a backpack is a great way to make traveling stress-free but remember; only take the essentials.  If you feel that your back won’t be able to take a regular backpack then purchase a backpack with wheels or a small carry-on luggage (with wheels).

View of Chicago for plane

No checked luggage fee 

A carry on backpack saves me tons on checked bag fees.  Checking a suitcase can be quite pricey, depending on which airline you fly on. It just makes more sense to me to spend that bag money on a tour of the city that I’m visiting. Or dinner at a nice restaurant.

CAF Tour of Chicago


No worries about lost luggage 

Carrying my backpack cuts down on me becoming one of the unlucky, unfortunate folks that have landed at their destination, primed for the time of their lives;  just to find out their luggage is lost. It’s like someone slashing your car tires, you gotta get to work on time this time or you’re going to get written up. It kinda sucks.

 The airlines are reporting an all-time low when it comes to lost luggage – 3.24 bags per 1000 passengers in the U.S., 6.53 bags per 1000 passengers, worldwide – and that’s really awesome and all.  But I still don’t want to become part of that statistic. If I get kicked in the ass by Murphy’s law, I want to at least have clean underwear.
Carnival Imagination
I remember on a cruise, a fellow guest told me her luggage fell off the baggage cart while being loaded and ended up in the ocean.  Yes, apparently lost and damaged luggage can happen on a cruise also.

It just feels AMAZING

Carrying my backpack makes me feel like a travel BEAST….like a motha-freakin’ superhero in tights. There’s a certain freedom that comes with packing light and carrying everything that you possess on your back.
I never know when I might have to whip out my magic camera to catch a beautiful shot.
View of Trump Tower
I can sprint up the stairs of a broken escalator.  I can maneuver through crowds.  No tripping distracted cell phone users who aren’t watching where they’re going.  Escalator Red Line Chicago CTA
I can hail cabs in a single bound.
And I can tell that cab driver who’s about to pick me up; on my way to elsewhere, “No don’t get out, man…”
“That’s okay you don’t have to heave my heavy-ass suitcase angrily into the back of the trunk of your smelly-ass hot cab.”
“Because I’m traveling with my backpack.”
Streets of Chicago

Here are my criteria for the best travel backpacks for women:

 1. Must have at least 3-zippered pockets.
2.  Multiple organizational compartments, front loading backpack.
3.  Big enough but not so big that I feel like I’m carrying a small suitcase on my back. If I can fit my laptop in it, it’s perfect.
4. Not too expensive, however, very durable.
5. Must be a lightweight backpack.
6. Backpack with wheels is a no-go.

What’s your preference?  Backpack or suitcase?  Let me hear it from you!

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