All right. I will be moving to Europe in July and want to take as little as I possibly can, as I am not sure where I will end up staying and may travel around seasonally. First though, I will be making a few stops before I reach my first long term destination, Budapest. I will be spending four days each in Glasgow, London, Paris, and Amsterdam. I am restricting myself to one carry on, one checked bag, and my laptop (which I have to take for obvious reasons). With as many stops as I am making (trying to get the most direct flights etc), is this reasonable? I am a single woman traveling alone, though I will only be staying alone in Paris. What is your experience with stackable luggage? Could anyone recommend a good set? Or should I get one of Rick's convertible carry on/back packs?
Alexis, If you're going to be travelling via European airlines, I'd suggest using a large enough carry-on bag that will also fit your Laptop. In many cases, they only allow one carry-on bag. That doesn't mean one bag plus a "personal item" such as a Purse or Laptop case, it means ONE carry-on item ONLY, of the approved size and weight. They often do enforce the rules! I assume you've addressed the issue of staying in Europe longer than 90-days, as permitted by the Schengen Visa rules? Happy travels!
I wouldn't bother with stackable, almost everytime I see someone in the airport with that it is almost always flopping around and falling off. I have never attempted it myself. My suggestion a carry on backpack (Rick's, Campmor, MEI, whoever you like best doesn't really matter much) And a rolling checked bag with large roller blade size wheels. Big wheels get jammed less often than small wheels and spinners are useless anywhere other than the perfectly smooth floor of an airport. I would suggest leaving enough room in your carryon backpack (or checked bag) to fit the laptop in there so you only have to deal with two bags instead of three. Make sure you can lift the larger bag and carry it up a flight of stairs or two, while wearing your backpack. Or you might want to consider having the larger bag be convertible (wheels or backpack) and the carry on bag be a backpack no wheels. Keep the backpack light and the big bag with the heavy stuff. When you can wheel the big bag do so. When you need to carry both (e.g. stairs) the heavy bag goes on your back and you carry the lighter bag in your hands. Weight not volume of the bags is what hinders you. Think light. Even though you are checking a bag I would only bring small travel size shampoo etc, as if you were checking the bag and buy more when you get to Budapest. Liquids are heavy. To determine if your luggage is reasonable for you pack everything you are going to take. Then spend a couple of hours walking around town. Make sure you travel down some unpaved areas and climb a couple of flights of stair. If after two hours you are like "no way" than you need to trim some weight out. If after two hours you a like "no problem" than you are good to go.
I'm going to second the suggestion of a wheeled bag and backpack. That's what I use all the time when I travel to Europe. I am usually walking with trek pole and tripod and so have to check my bag. My wheeled bag is small enough to be a carryon for US carriers, but not for the European budget carriers. One thing, I do like about it, is that I can expand it a tad. I like the flexibility. The last two times I've traveled I did take my computer with me. I really enjoyed having it, but it was heavy. I had a big enough back pack that it could handle the computer and other items so it was more than a day pack. But, I used it as a day pack, I just did NOT fill it. ; ) I would also suggest that you pick up one of those lovely packable duffles. They are very handy. There are lots of ways to connect to these cities planes and trains. Don't forget to check some of the smaller airport. For example, I flew through London City from Amsterdam to Edinburgh last year. It was the cheapest option. Pam
We use a wheeled bag plus a carry-on (mainly for my cameras). It helps if you can hook your caryon onto the wheeled bag. Ends up being manageable and can pack a reasonable amount of stuff
Ken, thank you that is good advice about European airlines. I would like to take a carry on if possible, but I am not going to quibble about checked baggage if it is the only option I have. Considering I am moving there, I would rather be confident I have everything I need than not pay to check my bags. And yes, I am aware of the 90 day issue. Ed, I really appreciate the advice about liquids. I had been planning on packing my full size shampoo/conditioner/body wash in my checked luggage, but perhaps you are right. I think I will probably get a convertible carryon and use the larger suitcase I have now - it's not great but I've been happy with it in the past! Great advice all, thank you!
My suggestion is to just pack and carry what a normal tourist would need for your first round of cities. Then, when you get to Budapest (or your next long-term destination), you can buy what else you need there, or have someone mail you supplies you need if there's something you can't find locally.
My daughter moved to Europe 3 times, so I am kind of familiar with this question. The major difference is that she did her traveling after she got to her destination. To get to her destination she took a large suitcase and managed to use public transportation all the way. I second the point of making sure that you can manage the size, but I'd go for the biggest thing you can handle. You can get lots of stuff there, but I would take a winter coat. That is something that will be expensive to get there. Someone mentioned that you can get stuff sent, but that is easier said than done and it is quite expensive as well. Additionally, European mail, especially for packages, is quite unpredictable. So, take anything you can't live without.
The first time I moved to Europe I brought it all with me. BIG suitcase, smaller suitcase, backpack. I schlepped it though London and Paris before finally arriving at my destination in Germany. It was bothersome and very tiring.