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Convertible Carry-On or Roll-Aboard?

I am looking to buy either Rick Steves' Convertible Carry-On or the 21-inch Roll Aboard for my 2 week trip to Italy and wanted some opinions. I am not sure which one will be the best and most comfortable for me. I am short at just under 5' 1" and also have a short torso, so I worry that the Carry-on might not sit comfortably on my back. I typically prefer backpacks to shoulder bags because I like having the weight evenly distributed. The Roll-Aboard looks nice and lighter than similar sized rolling luggage that I already own. We plan to travel by train from Rome to Venice to Florence back to Rome.

Any advice? Thanks!

Posted by
3428 posts

I have used Rick's convertible for more than 20 years (40+ trips). I am the same height as you. I find the bag to be VERY comfortable. And after all the trips- it still looks really good. It is so light and yet so durable!!!

Posted by
1449 posts

my recommendation is for the carry-on. A lot of Italy in the hill towns and other older areas is cobblestone or brick and the rolling bags don't do so well over that kind of terrain. If you're in a hotel without an elevator you're going to have to lug that thing up the stairs. Since it sounds like you're familiar with backpacks, you should know the convertible bag has a waistbelt. Most of the weight should be carried thru the waistbelt to your legs and the shoulder straps are just for keeping it against your back; as in a real backpack, your shoulders aren't carrying a load.

Posted by
354 posts

As a reminder: if you decide to purchase a Rick Steves convertible bag, the Classic Back Door model does not have a waist belt or any expansion zippers (just shoulder straps); however, the Convertible Carry-On model has both of these features.

Posted by
153 posts

We did a RS tour of Italy and all of the people except the very youngest were using roller bags. When we walked down the street to the bus, it sounded like a tank! But the convertible bag would hold a little more, since it doesn't have to make room for the wheels and such.