I'm leaving in a week for a 6-week trip through China. Should I bring a suitcase (with wheels or no?) or a backpack?
I'll be traveling (mainly by train, but also some airplane) around for the entire time and won't stay in one place longer than a week. Most of the time I'll be in cities staying in hostels or hotels. I'll be bringing ~4 days' worth of clothing (4 shirts, 1 shorts), a digital SLR, and a 15" MacBook Pro. This trip is essentially tourism. I won't ever need to dress up, and I don't care about bringing nice clothes or avoiding wrinkles in my shirts.
There are three ways, as I see it, that I can do this. 1) Wheeled suitcase for clothes and small daypack
for laptop+camera+day stuff; 2) Non-wheeled suitcase for clothes (which would fit more than a wheeled) and the same daypack; or 3) Big backback
for everything, no daypack. I'm physically capable of carrying any of these; I'm just wondering which is the best. I am leaning toward #1.
The main advantage of having a backpack, as I have been told, is that you can carry all your stuff and have your hands free. But I'll almost always go straight to my ho(s)tel when I arrive in a city, so that doesn't seem to apply to me. The disadvantages of having just one big backpack are 1) I can't carry a daypack for outings; 2) it's harder to fit into small spaces since it is one big bag; 3) if it's stolen, everything's over; 4) it makes me look like a tourist; and 5) it's more difficult to pack and unpack from; and 6) it's annoying to carry everywhere when I could just wheel something around, since usually I'll be on hard surfaces.
When I've asked people who have backpacked on similar kinds of trips (city-to-city, not wilderness), they think it's crazy I'd think of bringing a suitcase. Even when I tell them why I think a backpack would be a bad choice, they kind of shrug and say, "Well, I kind of still think you should just have a backpack. A suitcase just doesn't feel right." I feel like there is something I am missing.
Please help me decide whether to bring a suitcase or a backpack. When you are traveling with a big backpack, what bag do you take with you on day outings? Do big backpacks even fit in airplane or train carryon compartments? Have you ever traveled with a suitcase and wished you had a backpack, or vice-versa?