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Trouble Rolling Luggage Through Streets to Hotel?

Trying to decide whether to purchase new luggage or use the larger than carry-on sized Tumi I have that weighs 15 pounds empty, but rolls decently and will weigh about 40 pounds when filled. Traveling to Budapest, Prague and northern & central Italy. I know this is very general, but does anyone know whether chances are good that I won't be able to roll the luggage through these cities to get to my hotels/pensions and may have to carry it and another carry-on sized bag to my destinations? Prefer not to have to purchase another luggage if I don't have to. I can put second bag on top of the roller bag as long as I can roll it through the streets.

Posted by
5258 posts

Donnallee,

I have not traveled to Budapest or Prague but have traveled in northern & central Italy & I would not want to lug around a midsized suitcase that weights 40 pounds!

Where will you be traveling to in northern & central Italy?

Will you be taking public transportation?

The problem may not only be rolling it to/from hotel ( you can always take a taxi for convenience) but carrying on & off the train/ bus.

You may want to reconsider your packing & pack a carry-on sized roller suitcase & plan to do laundry while on your travels ;-)

Posted by
23411 posts

If you are saying that you will have a 40lb rolling bag and a rolling carryon, then that is too much luggage. You don't have to buy new luggage, just dump the 40lb rolling bag. You may or may not be able to roll to your hotel. Sidewalks in most of Europe tend to be poorly maintained, often very rough, cobblestones, no curb cuts, etc., can sometimes make it difficult to roll a bag. Second, sidewalks tend to be narrow and crowd so dragging a big rolling bag takes up a lot of space. Finally, many hotels will be one level up with no elevator so you need to carry that bag up at least one flight of stairs. And sometimes the hotel elevators are not always working. Then if you are using trains you need to be able to quickly host your luggage up three or four steep steps.

You really need to rethink your luggage situation. But what you really need to do is load the big bag with forty lbs of weigh - flour, sugar, and add your carryon bag on top and drag it around your neighborhood for 30 mins. I think you will find that the second bag adds a lot of extra weight to the roll bag and throws the balance off.

Posted by
162 posts

Prague sidewalks are fair as far rolling luggage goes. Theyre made of small smooth stones so rolling is a wee bit rough, but doable. Of course the cobblestone streets are a nightmare. On one trip to Prague, my hotel was a few blocks off Wenceslas Square, and when I got off the train and started walking, the rough streets convinced me to get a cab, even though it was walkable otherwise.
Budapest streets and sidewalks were mostly paved smooth in the area I stayed (near the Great Synagogue), so no problems there.

I've never been to Italy.

Posted by
5837 posts

I had to roll a LL Beam rolling duffle bag and a Sportstube ski box for about 1 KM in Prague. Also had a RS Classic Carry-on backpack. Pulling two bags is in some ways easier than one as long as it's flat. The cobbles weren't too bad and I could usually find smooth pavers for the ski box.

Northern Italy towns like Venice have bridges with steps. Carry or drag your roller up/down stairs/steps.

PS. The rollers can be a struggle on steep stairs. The LL Bean rolling duffle has multiple handles and a detachable shoulder strap. The Sportscase also has a detachable shoulder strap and can be carried close to the box's center of gravity reducing the load on its wheels.

Posted by
795 posts

I wouldn't dream of dragging luggage through the streets of Budapest, Prague or any Italian city. I am in Prague and Budapest each year (lived in Prague at one time) and all over Italy year around and have never once in my life dragged my own luggage about. We usually get a cab and let them drive us to the hotel where the hotel's bell staff then carries it in and up on the elevator to our room. We don't travel lightly but with plenty of luggage. A good hotel should have airport or train shuttles to carry you and your luggage to the hotel where the bell staff can carry it. Just use a shuttle or cab and choose a quality hotel with bell staff and elevators.

Posted by
4171 posts

I'll pile on here. You are planning to take way too much stuff, no matter how long you are going to be gone. There will be virtually no one to help you to do any of the things others have already mentioned you will need to do with your luggage. You may be able to roll it, but I doubt that you will be able to lift it in any of the many situations where that will be required.

I travel for 4-8 weeks with a 22" carry-on spinner that weighs about 6 pounds empty and a tote that I can carry over my shoulder or slide over the extension handle of the spinner. I load the spinner to a final weight of 20 lbs. I can't manage any more weight than that, especially in situations where I need to lift it. My purse, meds and absolute essentials go in the tote. The spinner gets clothes and that's about it.

The heavier your bags, the harder it will be to roll them or indeed take them anywhere. There are many bags out there with 2 or 4 wheels that weigh 6 pounds or less and are considerably cheaper than a Tumi. You can find something cheaper, or as others have said, use the carry-on you already have and get a smaller tote for your personal item.

To answer your question, chances are indeed good that you won't be able to roll that monster bag to get to your lodgings and you may indeed have to carry whatever luggage you have to your destinations unless you take taxis. That could end up costing more than if you just got a new, more appropriate, bag. And struggling with big bags will make you a potential target for pickpockets.

Take a look at this packing advice from right here -- http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/packing-smart. Pay attention to the pictures, too.

Edit based on Terry Lynn's comment: I've never stayed in a hotel in Europe where there even was a bell staff. I have stayed places that have shuttles and I have taken taxis. But that only goes so far. You still need to get on and off trains, up and down stairs in train stations and metros, and with all the places you are going you will be in many other situations where there is no bell staff or anyone else to help you.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you, ALL, for your very generous replies. I think I knew the bag was going to be too heavy but needed some affirmation that I am being an idiot and should rethink my luggage situation! I think I will consider purchasing another, bag since the only other one I have has wheels that are narrowly spaced and a bit top heavy when packed and unstable when rolling on uneven ground. I am a slight woman and have always been considered strong for my size, but your comments hit home in getting me to realize that dragging heavy stuff will detract from the beauty of the trip. Thank you, again, for your wise comments that will save me the regrets I likely would have faced with the 40 pound bag!

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you, Ray and everyone else. I suspected there would be lots of cobblestones but didn't really know how difficult it would be to roll a big bag. I have ditched the large, heavy suitcase and small carry-on bag and have opted for the smaller roller bag and backpack. May not have much room for purchases, but think you are all right that I will enjoy my trip much more and I can always ship back those things that I can't do without, it i really have to. I am looking forward to those Happy Trails! Happy trails to all of you!

Posted by
8582 posts

Not just cobblestones, but somewhere along the way, you will have to go up long staircases (usually in a hurry) that will make you curse your big bag.

Posted by
1994 posts

If you are going to get a new piece of luggage, you might want to look at the Osprey Ozone. It is the lightest that I could find that is still strong enough to survive being checked when I don't want to carry it on. I've taken it on several trips checked it several times. It's wheeled, with no option to convert it to a backpack, but Osprey has done a really nice job of incorporating their backpack technology to make it strong and very light. It also held much more than I expected – as much as the 22 inch RS roll on.

Posted by
16894 posts

The cobblestones in Prague, where they exist, are much rougher than in some other cities; the newer paved streets and sidewalks, where they exist, are fine. If you've booked a few of your hotels/pensions, then you already know whether your budget allows you to spend more for elevators and bell staff. Some hotels have elevators that don't start from the ground level, but from a half-floor or one floor up. If you're traveling by train, you'll encounter stairs in train stations and when boarding trains, and will handle your bags yourself.

I prefer the packing light solution to the spend-more-money solution, even if a new bag does require a small investment. I'm concerned about the weight of the bag you have. 30 pounds is about the maximum weight I can handle in my carry-on sized bag, even though it's less bulky.

If your bag happens to have spinner-style wheels, then you can see other discussions in this forum about using those on cobblestones, which is not recommended.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you, again, for all your kind responses. I ended the "luggage drama" and purchased a Swiss Gear roller bag that weighs less than 8 pounds, empty. I know I will be much happier with this sturdy, but light luggage and it only cost me $60 at Ross. I didn't think to look there until a girlfriend made the suggestion. Much relieved that this travel drama is over, and I can relax and enjoy my trip. :)

Posted by
5258 posts

Donnallee,

I purchased a Swiss Gear roller bag @ Ross last Fall before my trip too & I love it!

I actually purchased 2 of them, one for me & one for my mom.

Did you get the one with 4 wheels (one at each corner of the base)?

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
9 posts

I did purchase one with the "spinner" wheels. Read somewhere that these spinner wheels may not perform optimally rolling over cobblestones, but you can always choose to lift the back wheels and roll it on two. I am happy about the purchase and think I will continue to be so on my trip. Thank you! Happy travels to you!

Posted by
5837 posts

...spinner wheels may not perform optimally rolling over cobblestones....

The typical 4-wheel "spinners" I have seen are less than optimal for two reasons. The first is involves
Newtonian mechanics/physics. The bag's handle is somewhere between upper thigh and hip height above the rolling surface. Cobbles retard the bags' wheels (push back relative to bag motion). The user pulls the bag handle (forward in the direction of bag motion). Because the equal and opposite forces are not in the same plane, the bag tends to rotate (tip) forward onto its two leading wheels.

The bag tipping forward is not the problem unless you ate dragging the bag on a road with a aside slope. The problem or the second reason spinners are less than optimal is fragility. The spinner wheels are typically smaller in diameter than more robust roller bags using skate wheels. To spin, they also need a turntable bearing more than wheel diameter above the rolling surface. This puts note load on the turntable bearings than the skate wheels axle bearing at half diameter above pavement.

Not to say that a spinner wheel set could be as robust as a skate wheel, but the aren't for boh cost and size reasons. The bottom line is spinners are least robust and are more likely to fail on rough surfaced than rollers with two skate wheels.

Now all that said, it comes down to each his or her own.

Posted by
19138 posts

If you do use the Metro in Prague make sure you check to see if you luggage requires a ticket. When I was there, I found luggage tickets to be necessary for larger luggage on the Metro, but my carry-on sized convertible was small enough not to need one.