Unless you are Rolf Potts, you will need a bag when you travel. There are a lot of options available and it can be a tough decision to choose one; especially when it will carry everything you own. We currently use hard sided suitcases to travel with. These work well for travel, but take up a lot of space and scream “tourist!” The wheels are also small and do not do very well on gravel or rough surfaces, as we discovered in Mexico. So, for the last few months we have been going to REI and looking at and testing the different types of travel bags that they offer. Having traveled with a backpack before, we quickly decided that that was not an option. Maybe we are just feeling our age more, but lugging around everything we own on our backs does not sound like fun. The other option that sounded promising was a rolling duffle bag. Big enough to hold everything we wanted to bring, but flexible enough to compress down when not fully filled or being stored in a closet or under a bed when empty. Some rolling duffle bags even offer straps so that you can carry it on your back just like a backpack. But one issue with those is they add to the weight of the bag and the straps take up space. One of those types of bags would probably be perfect for our daughter Sydney in case we need to carry her bag (think stairs or mud) and carry ours at the same time.
Yesterday we finally purchased our first bag. After looking at all of the different options, we decided on the REI Wheely Beast 28 rolling duffle bag. It was awarded a 2009 Gear of the Year award from Outside magazine, had excellent reviews, and offered what we were looking for to transport our stuff. It seems well made, lightweight, has rugged zippers, a good price, and most importantly it has big ass wheels!
We plan on testing this bag on our next big trip in May when we visit Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I would rather find out if a bag has problems or limitations BEFORE committing to taking it on a RTW trip. So, if it works out for us on that trip, we will buy another one. As for a bag for Sydney, I don’t think this bag would work for her as it will be impossible for her to carry it by herself or for us to carry it with our bags. Also, the extendable handle only stops at the maximum extension, which makes it difficult for her to pull when fully loaded. So, we are still looking at the different options for her.