What Is the Best Luggage Size for Long Term Travel?

The Husband and I currently are in Sri Lanka.  On travel days the Husband often gives me s**t about the size of my backpack (a 60 liter) and my tote bag (which he claims is really a second backpack) but unfortunately when we first arrived in Sri Lanka the snide comments got worse.

This is what I started out with back in July, 2015.  My backpack was 45 liters, which was too small.  It ended up breaking and I had a series of cheap backpacks after that (purchased on the road).  When we were in the U.S. visiting family I bought a higher budget 60 liter backpack.

A lot of cheap transport between cities in Sri Lanka is on pubic buses.  The bad thing about these public buses is that they are not like the standard tourist buses we have been taking in other countries where they have a designated storage area for luggage.  On the public buses the only storage area for luggage is a little area next to the driver.  We had read that a lot of buses won’t even stop/let you on if they see a big backpack because there is no room for it.

Yes, my backpack is now noticeably bigger than the Husband’s backpack.  His is the green one.

So before we got to Sri Lanka the Husband was giving me even more s**t, worrying that my “big” bags were going to prevent us from getting on a public bus.  I had read that on some buses you actually have to pay for a seat for your backpack, but the buses are so cheap here (maybe $2 or $3 USD) that didn’t seem like such a big deal to me.  Turns out the Husband didn’t like the idea because he was worried about looking like a jerk if our backpacks were taking up a seat while other people were standing.


Fortunately the size of my backpack and tote bag have not been a problem and we have had no issues getting on a public bus.  The bus conductors (they have those in Sri Lanka) have always found a place to store our bags and we have seen much larger backpacks stored on buses as well.

The storage area on the bus.  Our stuff does fit.

However, the worry about the size of my bags combined with me feeling a little travel weary (we’re moving too fast in Sri Lanka) have made me think about what size of a backpack/suitcase is the best size for long term travel.

Honestly I am always envious of those big roller bags I see, they are so much bigger than my backpack and most of the time you can just roll them so your back doesn’t suffer. Think of how much stuff I could have with me!


On the other hand, on travel days I struggle so much because my backpack is quite heavy (about 15 kilos right now) and I have a hard time lifting/carrying it around, so I am often envious of those with the smaller backpacks (like my husband with his 45 liter backpack).  In fact I won’t get a bigger backpack because I simply cannot carry anything heavier.  I often wonder about the people with the smaller backpacks, are they on a long term travel adventure or are they just traveling for a few weeks?


I have told the husband that if we were only traveling for a few weeks I wouldn’t have a problem with a smaller backpack and he doesn’t understand why I can’t do it now.  To me the answer is quite clear:  it is one thing to know I only have a few changes of clothing for a few weeks (with a known end date), it is totally another thing to know I only have a few changes of clothing for basically the rest of my life (or as long as this travel adventure lasts – right now we are predicting at least another year and a half!).

Take a look at the red backpack, that thing is huge!  On this bus our backpacks were placed under the seats (they were small enough to fit) while the larger backpacks were placed up front.

I am living a pretty minimalist lifestyle right now but I know I am not a true minimalist at heart.  I am so jealous when I see the people on vacation who are clearly wearing their cute matching outfits purchased just for the trip, or people who have enough changes of clothing to shower and change (and even dress up some) for dinner.  I don’t feel like I have any cute outfits or shoes and usually don’t have enough clean clothing to be able to change clothes more than once a day.

Being travel weary seems to make it worse and I can’t help but notice that a lot of my homesickness involves wanting to have more stuff.  I read a lot of blogs these days and have noticed that people spend an awful lot of time talking about shopping and buying. Before this trip I didn’t realize how much time and effort went into accumulating stuff.   Keep in mind I’m not judging here, I’m jealous!


I know I’ve been rambling a bit here, but the bottom line is I can’t help but wondering what is the best luggage size for long term travel?  Is the bigger suitcase/backpack better because even though travel days will be really difficult you have a few more things that make where you are feel more like home?  Or is medium size better because while you aren’t going overboard you also aren’t going full minimalist?  Or is small carry-on the best size because it’s just so much easier to get around?

I’d love to hear your opinions about what you think the best luggage size is for long term travel.

Until next time…………..







2 thoughts on “What Is the Best Luggage Size for Long Term Travel?

  1. We finished fourteen months of travel a few months ago, most of it with 35 litre backpacks. I wish that was enough space, but realistically, most of the time our small day bags were stuffed too, and we sometimes had an extra cloth bag. I reckon 45-50 litres would be perfect. Any bigger and you’re asking for a bad back, and you can’t really manage walking far with your stuff so you’ll be shelling out extra for taxis and or luggage storage. I just swapped out clothes when I wanted a change – in most countries we found thrift shops and clothes bins where we could donate old stuff.


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