Janice is a big proponent of traveling light - she even offers her packing list of what to put in those front and back-backpacks. But I just couldn't see myself loaded down like this. So I went searching on the millions of other travel blogs for what these writers/travelers use for luggage on their RTW trips.
Weight was the #1 factor when choosing their luggage. The lighter the better, and that means not only the weight of the luggage, but the weight of the stuff you are going to stuff into that luggage.
I took into consideration all the pros and cons of a backpack verses a suitcase. I noticed that the majority of long-term travelers who blog are just a wee bit younger (20-30 years) than me, with strong backs and legs. They all seem to prefer backpacks. Very LARGE backpacks.
Another consideration I needed to keep in mind, was that foreign airlines have different size requirements for their carry-ons than US airlines do. US airlines use 22" for a standard carry-on. But I will be flying Ryan Air and Easy Jet to get around Europe. These cost-savings airlines have horribly strict luggage weight and measurement standards. (Think Spirit Airlines) If you don't meet their standards, you can easily pay more to bring your luggage on your flight than you do for your flight! A very LARGE backpack can incur a very large fee. Their standard carry-on is 19".
I knew I wanted luggage that I would never have to check - that would never be further away from me than in the overhead bin of the aircraft. It would have to be lightweight, even when packed, for me to easily put it up and pull it out of said overhead bins, and meet the measurement requirements for ALL foreign airlines I might be flying.
FYI, luggage shopping is not nearly as much fun as shopping for clothes - but there are sure a whole lot of choices out there nowadays! I had narrowed my search down to either a 19" Eagle Creek or a 19" Briggs & Riley wheeled carry-on. Both have life-time warranties, so even if the airlines were to destroy the bag or it got chewed by an orangutan in the jungle, they will repair or replace it at no charge. But in the end, Briggs & Riley won for two very important reasons.
First, it's outstanding design element. It's the only suitcase company that puts it's pull-out handle-bars on the outside of it's bags, not in the inside.
Think about that for a minute. If you open any other suitcase with wheels and a pull-out handle, those bars for the handle run right down the middle of your bag, on the inside, where they are covered nicely with the cloth lining, but take up a lot of space (2 1/2 - 3" each) and make packing difficult - because the bottom of your bag is has two 'ribs' you have to pack around.
The second reason I chose this perfectly wonderful little suitcase is - it was FREE! I was in SoCa in late September doing a little luggage shopping while babysitting my granddaughter and my oldest happened to be with me one day in their local REI-type store. I showed him the B&R bag I liked and he got a big grin on his face and said "don't buy it here, just come on back to the house!" When we got back he ran upstairs and came back down with exactly the bag I was looking at - AND a matching backpack!!
In his line of work he gets lots of logo 'freebies.' He had just gotten these from one of his customers in northern Washington state. I certainly don't care one bit that each piece has the customer's logo colorfully embroidered on them. As a matter of fact I liked the idea that with the logo they would stand-out in a crowd of luggage.
Here are some photos of my 19" carry-on. I realize that European cobblestone streets and hiking up stairs aren't great for wheeled-suitcases (which is why so many travelers use backpacks). But this one is so lightweight, with both top and side handles, as well as it's pull-out bar, that I should be able to maneuver most any situation.
And here's a couple of photos of my B&R backpack. It's very comfortable to wear, has lots pockets and places for everything you might need. With both of these well-constructed and light-weight pieces, I will have plenty of room to pack my clothes, toiletries, gadgets and all other necessities that I will need for my RTW trip. In case you are interested, both my suitcase and backpack are gray. They won't show dirt and with their colorful logos, they will be easily identifiable.
So what's next - WHAT TO PACK - Which mean planning an itineray!
Until then remember -
"Life is either a daring adventure - or nothing!" Helen Keller