CHOOSE A SUITCASE/BACKPACK
[singlepic=1441,150,,,right]The first step is to decide what you are going to carry – suitcase or backpack.
Look at your itinerary and think about the types of places you’ll be staying, the types of transportation you’ll be using, and how often you are going to be moving from place to place. If you are staying in hostels, camping, and traveling in less developed countries by bus or car, then I personally think that a backpack is the way to go. However, if you are staying in nicer hotels, traveling by air, and focusing on developed countries, you can simply take the weight off your back and use a traditional suitcase with wheels. Look for something durable, yet lightweight.
I actually compromised and purchased an Eagle Creek Switchback (a suitcase with wheels that turned into a backpack), a great solution for me since I was planning on doing both types of travel. My Eagle Creek Switchback was made of heavy-duty nylon which was lightweight and ‘moldable’ – good for stuffing a lot of items into it!