12 Best Backpacks and Suitcases for Traveling Light
If you’re like me, you move around often from parks to bars, wine tastings to tasting menus, and even hotels to Airbnbs.
Most of the time you find yourself on narrow and windy streets made of cobblestones (think Florence) or crammed on a subway with a few disgruntled businessmen during rush hour (think New York City). Thus, having the best bags and suitcases for traveling light is a must for the person always on the go.
In this post, we’ll cover the best backpacks, daypacks, hiking backpacks, carry-on luggage, and suitcases for traveling light including some of the ones I use myself and love!
Best Backpacks for Traveling Light
A backpack is essential to any trip. It’s the best bag there is to hold your laptop, camera, and any other electronic gear to keep close to you on the plane and walking around a foreign place.
With all your important gear in your backpack, you’ll be hopping around from place to place in no time.
This is the backpack I’ve been using for three years around New York, Amsterdam, on planes and trains, and ok you get the picture, basically everywhere. It’s held up really well and has been my most trustworthy and sometimes only sidekick on my travels.
I picked it because it has a slot for your laptop so even if you have a bunch of stuff “packed” in chaos, you can still slide your laptop in easily.
The main reason I love it is because the style is so classic, and the price-quality ratio is on point.
Buy it here for less than $50.
This lightweight backpack is one of the bestsellers on Amazon for good reason. It’s only half a pound, has a lifetime warranty, and folds into a pouch for easy packing so you don’t even need to pull it out until you get to your destination.
There are two options: the 20L or the 33L, but considering you want to travel light and not have a huge pack on your bag, 20L is plenty big enough.
Buy it here for less than $20.
Best Daypacks for Traveling Light
The daypack has completely over taken my use of a regular sized backpack and a purse.
Regular sized backpacks are unnecessarily big for day trips around the city or through the mountains, small purses don’t have enough room for a water bottle, and big purses are not ergonomically good for your shoulders (according to my chiropractor).
This is why the daypack is great. It’s not bulky and has room for the basics: water bottle, wallet, keys, and even a light rain jacket.
My Budget Daypack
I recently got this junior backpack from Amazon for $8 and have been using it everyday in Amsterdam. It is way easier to use this while bike riding than a purse and feels better on my back than a regular sized backpack.
I’ve been able to fit a water bottle, light rain jacket, keys, wallet, and a few other knick-knacks in the pack. It’s technically for kids (hehe…) but I extended the straps, and it fits both me and my husband great.
Buy it here for less than $10.
My cousins have the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Daypack, which is both a classic design and functional. It’s water resistant and highly durable.
Seriously, the more you wash it, the tighter the fibers in the fabric get so this timeless piece will last you on hundreds of adventures making your day trip efficient and environmentally responsible.
Buy it here for less than $100.
All day I dream about getting a leather daypack so I can bring it out at night (instead of the $8 junior backpack above) but I can’t pull the trigger ‘cause deciding on just one is so hard to do!
Ideally I’d love them all, but less money on too many backpacks means more money for food tours!
Best Hiking Backpacks for Traveling Light
I used to travel with only a hiking backpack and made the mistake of not buying a lightweight one. This meant in addition to all the stuff I was carrying on my back, I was carrying unnecessary weight from the backpack itself.
Here are two hiking backpacks that are both lightweight and durable for your backpacking adventures.
40L Capacity Water Resistant & Folding Backpack
This lightweight Mozone backpack is less than a pound (half a kilo) and can fold into a little pouch it comes with so you can use it as your main backpack, or pack it away to use at your destination. Talk about the ultimate convenience.
Even better, it’s less than $25. Buy it here.
60L Capacity Internal Frame Backpack
If a 40L backpack isn’t big enough for you and you want something more rugged than the Mozone above, then opt for this TETON sports hiking backpack.
Although it weighs 4 pounds (1.8 kilos), I like it because it has an internal frame, which means no matter what you put it in, it’ll lie flat on your back and maximize comfort.
Furthermore, you can attach a sleeping bag, tent, or pad to it with two lower compression straps meaning you never have to be in touch with society as long as you have food and water.
Buy it here for less than $90 (the quality and use is 100% built into the price).
Best Carry-on Luggage for Traveling Light
I’m in love with this carry-on luggage I bought in 2014. The main reason is because all four wheels spin, which was a total game changer for traveling, but the red one (among other colors) was only $42 when I bough tit.
$42 for having used this suitcase over 20+ times without it breaking down and being able to use it on any flight as a carry-on is seriously a great value.
Also, the inside has a zippable cover on one side, which makes it really nice for closing the suitcase without all your stuff falling out.
Buy it here.
I’m really happy with the Rockland brand I showed you above, but in case you wanted another option, here’s another lightweight carry-on with spinner wheels I was considering. It’s from Kenneth Coles and has 4.5 stars on Amazon.
Buy it here for less than $60.
Best Suitcases for Traveling Light
Now I don’t really recommend a suitcase if you’re traveling light.
First of all, it means that you have to check it in and possibly incur a fee if you’re traveling domestic. Second, it isn’t so easy to fit on trains, subways, stairs, escalators, elevators, and other tight spaces. Third, it’s not so fun lugging around so much stuff you don’t end up using on your trip.
Have you ever tried rolling a giant suitcase on the cobblestone streets of Florence? Never again!
Nonetheless, sometimes you need a suitcase, and in those cases, you might as well get a lighter suitcase to avoid overages on weight.
Rolling Duffel Suitcase
I recently bought this Olympia rolling duffel for my trip from New York City back home to Amsterdam because I had “accidentally” done way too much shopping and needed more space.
I like it because it’s only 7 pounds, has a ton of pockets to use, and it folds easily to tuck under my bed.
Did you know a lot of suitcases weigh around 10-15 pounds? With a limit of 50 pounds for check in bags, that could easily put you over the limit!
This Vortex 24 inch suitcase is only 7 pounds, and with all spinner wheels, it’ll be easy to maneuver around the airport in addition to the other bags you’ll probably be carrying.
If you care more about price than color, get the turquoise one for less than $50.
Now that you’ve seen a bunch of backpacks and suitcases to help you travel light, have fun shopping!
Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. If you found this article helpful, please consider buying a backpack or suitcase through the Amazon affiliate links listed above. There’s no extra cost to you, and I get a small commission that keeps this website running ad free for you!