Backpack Or Shoulder Bag For Travel – Which Is Right For You?

Aside from the suitcases, another thing to consider when traveling is your travel day bag. Typically a backpack or a shoulder bag, day bags can carry around your daily items as you go about your trip. As a traveler, you're probably wondering what's best for you and we're here to answer your questions.

Between a backpack or a shoulder bag, the right option for you ultimately boils down to personal preference and the things you'll be carrying around. Some people feel more comfortable with hands-free, larger volume backpacks, while others find stylish, less bulky shoulder bags more practical to use. The right bag is the one that works for you.

Choosing between these bags for travel can be a tough choice, especially if you are okay with either one of them. Fortunately, we can help break down this problem for you. Keep reading as we list down the pros and cons of these bags, as well as the best choices you can consider when getting one.

Outdoor full body portrait of young beautiful fashionable woman with yellow bag and a backpack, Backpack Or Shoulder Bag For Travel - Which Is Right For You?

Backpack Or Shoulder Bag For Travel - Which Is Right For You?

Whenever you need to pack for traveling, it is also important to take a bag with you that can carry your items wherever you go. Depending on how much you carry around with you, a travel day bag is important to keep important and valuable items close to you at all times.

There are many travel day bags that are available on the market to use. Ultimately, two of the most common bags that both men and women use for travel are backpacks and shoulder bags. There are a number of varieties and kinds of these bags that people can choose to use for traveling.

What are backpacks?

A man sit with map. travel bag at the train station.

These bags come with two shoulder straps that help carry the bag around over one's back. Commonly used by students, backpacks have gradually transitioned into travel bags. They now come in many different sizes that are small enough to carry personal items to large hiking backpacks.

Check out this backpack on Amazon.

Backpacks are favorites for traveling because of the number of items they can carry. It is also quite practical to bring one because it's a hands-free bag and you are able to move around with it. Travelers also find that backpacks are practical because some styles have options to strap on other items to them.

What are shoulder bags?

Bag on wooden table.

Shoulder bags are bags with long straps that one uses to sling over the shoulder. There are different kinds of shoulder bags that are available to use, from purses to "camera" or messenger bags. Travelers, however, prefer shoulder bags that are big and spacious as their travel day bags.

Get this messenger bag on Amazon.

A classic favorite for shoulder bags is a messenger bag because they are spacious enough to carry even a laptop. They are perfect for travel, or even when just going around on tour. Crossbody bags are the smaller versions of these messenger bags and it is quite popular with many people as well.

Which one is best for traveling?

Mini portable alcohol gel bottle to kill Corona Virus(Covid-19) hang on a brown leather shoulder bag on counter in coffee shop.

The kind of day bag that you will be using for your travels ultimately depends on your personal preference. Both of them are great to use for traveling because of the number of items you can keep, but the method of having to carry them around greatly differs.

If you prefer being hands-free most of the time, backpacks are very ideal. They are particularly better to use if you also have a lot of things inside the bag, as they can carry more volume than your standard shoulder bag. It's also easier to carry because the weight falls mostly on your back.

However, people who don't need to carry as much may benefit from the smaller, yet very functional shoulder bags. They are also less bulky, so you'll be able to carry them around wherever you may go without feeling overburdened. Shoulder bags are also more stylish to look at, especially if you are doing business.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of These Bags?

A large assortment of luggage on white background.

For both of these bags, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages you may want to consider. Generally speaking, these two bags are very different from each other, so you may find that they really don't stack up against each other well. Hence, the choice of what to use is really up to you.



  • Backpacks have more packable space, so you can generally pack more items in one go.
  • For people who are carrying heavy loads, backpacks are perfect because it spreads out the weight on both straps and across the back.
  • Some backpacks also have special features like an additional power bank wherein you can quickly charge your phone while traveling.
  • Backpacks are better to carry around if you want everything hands-free.
  • They are also very secure and you can put locks on them if necessary. Some backpacks can also be checked on the flight if it gets too heavy to bring in as carry-on.
  • For travelers or hobbyists, some backpacks also give you the option to strap other items outside the bag. This is particularly favorable if you have some bulky items that won't fit inside the bag.


  • It's hard to get things out of a backpack. You'll have to dig through all the things inside especially if you've left something at the very bottom.
  • They can be bulky, so you'll have to maneuver your way in crowded spaces with a backpack.
  • Backpacks are rarely stylish, and it's hard to pair them in certain situations like business trips. You'll tend to look quite out of place with them.
  • Overpacked backpacks can cause injury to the shoulders, neck, and arms. This happens quite a lot, especially to people who tend to stuff everything inside their bags so they can carry everything.

Shoulder bag


  • For travelers who don't have too many things to carry around, shoulder bags will be perfect for them.
  • These bags are not bulky, so you can generally squeeze your way through crowds without bumping into anyone while carrying a shoulder bag.
  • You can keep your eyes better on a shoulder bag to keep it secure. Since you will be carrying it close to your front, you are aware of the bag all the time.
  • They are quite stylish and fashionable. Some shoulder bags can even be used during social functions, and even for business events without looking out of place.
  • It is also easy to get items out of shoulder bags because you won't have to dig through so many things inside them.


  • Shoulder bags are smaller, with less space for packing. Generally speaking, the only "big" shoulder bag one can carry around is a duffle bag in which you can pack your clothes in.
  • Heavy shoulder bags can be painful to carry as the weight of the entire bag only rests on one side of your body. This can be a problem for people who have shoulder or back problems.
  • Most shoulder bags are not as durable as backpacks, and they can't stand excessive mishandling. This runs the risk of having the bag straps snap, unlike backpacks.
  • Shoulder bags do not have too many compartments, so you can't bring a lot of things with you.

Best Backpacks And Shoulder Bags For Travel

If you're looking into using either one of these bags, we have some great suggestions for you! These bags are great for travel, whether you're packing clothes or you simply need a small bag while on vacation.

Small duffle

Check out this small duffle bag on Amazon.

For a quick overnight, small duffle bags are great to use. These are also perfect for light packers who love to travel.

Laptop Backpack

Get this laptop backpack on Amazon.

Aside from carrying your laptop, this bag also comes with a solar-powered charger for your small devices. This is great for travelers who need some juice for their gadgets on the go.

Wrapping Things Up

Choosing between a backpack or a shoulder bag ultimately boils down to your personal preference. When choosing, it is important to consider your comfort and the practicality of your bag. Traveling should be fun and you shouldn't simply spend it worrying about carrying your bags all the time.

Are you looking to know more about the bags you can take onboard the flight? We've got some articles that might interest you:

Do Personal Items Have A Weight Limit?

Do Carry-On Bags Need Tags