Most travelers I know galavant around the world using a backpack. I’ve met a few that prefer using a suitcase, but I personally think that is nuts and ridiculously inconvenient. Also, using a suitcase in places like Egypt can just be one big hassle. You don’t want to end up chasing your tampon case around a baggage carousel like my friend did, do you?
Before going to Egypt, I invested in a medium-sized backpack that I’ve used many times since. I went for the North Face Napali 50, and it’s one tough mother*&^$%# that hasn’t let me down. It’s the same size as a carry-on roller suitcase, so if you want to carry it on your flight, you’re golden. Also, it doesn’t have 25 pockets for you to forget where you put, say, that tampon case. It only has 2 internal pockets (one regular pocket, and one good for holding your passport and a few documents) and 2 outer stretchy pockets good for holding water bottles and whatnot.
But the most awesome thing about it is the access - it has a roll-down top, full zippered access around the bottom, and a zippered side panel that all give access to the main compartment. You can easily find your junk no matter where you crammed it.
It has a few other nifty features - an internal sleeve for a hydration bladder, a mesh compression panel that neatly stows away on the front of the pack, and a nicely padded hip belt complete with 2 mesh zipper pockets.
Amazon doesn’t currently carry this backpack, but Backcountry.com does, and it’s on sale! Check it out here.
If you are an Amazon whore, though (I certainly am), they have a number of similar backpacks available for women...
...and for men. Ok, these are a little smaller, but men don't usually pack as much crap as women, anyway.
If you don’t have a backpack like this, it’s about time you invested in one. I’ve used it for traveling, camping, and even on weekend trips in place of my usual carry-on suitcase. Do it!