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packing help (carry-ons only)

Hi, I went to Europe last year with 2 friends, combining ground travel with inter-Europe flights. We had one large suitcase each and checked them for each flight.

This summer I'm taking my family for 3 weeks. We are "high-stress" ... so I'm trying for carry-on bags only (packing very light). Taking 2 inter-Europe flights - Paris to Vienna with Air Berlin/NIKI, and Rome to Barcelona with Vueling. Both allow ONE carry-on (no personal item), 55x40x20cm and a 6kg max.

HOW DO YOU PEOPLE DO IT??? Carry-on only, I mean. We'll have to fit backpacks (personal items) into bags which will increase weight...

Posted by
223 posts

I'm carrying on my bag for the US-Europe flight, but must check it for my inter-Europe flight because the weight limit is SO LOW. Personally, I don't see how to do a 6 kg (what is that - 15 lbs?) limit when my bag weighs 7 already (wheeled bag).

Posted by
18863 posts

Incredible! Does this mean a wheeler has finally seen the light. If your bag weighs 7# and the limit is 13.2# (that's 6 kg), over half of what you carry is the bag. You could carry 6# of stuff in a grocery sack and not need wheels at all.

Last time I flew, Luftahansa weighed my bag, and I was under their 8 kg (17.6#) limit. That was with a handheld laptop in its bag with the charger and spare battery (about 4#).

How do I do it? Well, clothes are relatively light; I take lots of them. My bag is a Campmor clone of Rick's bag - lighter material and a little smaller, 1.75# empty. It's the other things that can add up. I wear my only shoes, and my camera is in my pocket. The heaviest thing in my bag are the camera charger and spare battery, and my electric razor. Next I'm going to see if I can shave with a safety razor and save most of the 1# the electric one weighs.

Posted by
223 posts


As far as a "wheeler seeing the light," I'd love to have the option to carry a non-wheeled bag. Maybe you could call the creep that ran into me a few years ago and tell him I'd like my good back returned.

Until then, I'm carrying on my bag for the US-Europe flight, and checking it on the inter-european flight because I don't have any other option. I could carry on a non-wheeled bag, I suppose, but then I'd spend my entire trip laid up on ice in bed.

Posted by
131 posts

Do it by treating the three weeks just as if it were one week, planning on one laundry day at the mid-point. (Take only two pairs of underwear each, besides what you wear, and wash it at night.) Everyone wears their heaviest shoes and outfit on the plane. You can frequently find Internet cafes either next to or even part of a laundromat and everyone can catch up on e-mail...share toiletries, and take tiny sizes and use what's in the hotels...I think your "packing block" is thinking of three weeks' worth of clothing- try the week idea, with everyone wearing the same bottom piece of clothing two days in a row- and three or four outfits enough.

Posted by
5 posts

Hey, thanks everyone. Actually I have been packing light - 4 pairs of underwear/socks, 4-5 shirts, couple pairs of pants...etc. I'm going to try and lighten the load as much as I can.

Last year I tried once washing some clothes in the sink and air-drying them overnight, it was a real hassle and they didn't dry well. I know my family (mom/sister esp.) would NOT go for hand-washing clothes. My mom has expressed repeatedly that we're a family, not a bunch of "young teenagers" backpacking Europe, and that she doesn't want to look/feel like a slob/trash LOL. Right now I've planned for laundry every 3 days or so. Some hotels have laundry service, in other places I've been trying to stake out laundromats in advance.

*****Very important question that was raised yesterday - how do you guys deal with souvenirs and purchases? Do you ship stuff home? Do you NOT buy stuff? I don't want to upset my family because we have no room to store stuff we want to buy. Thanks! :-)

Posted by
223 posts

Just ship the stuff home. It is super-easy. I just recommend shipping it "surface mail" or "par bateau" because it is much cheaper than air mail.

I love your mom's spirit. I can really get her point of view. She's "earned" a more "luxurious" trip to Europe. I love her spunk. Just so you are aware, hotels do offer laundry services for a fee. It can be spendy, but when you consider how much your vacation is costing per-hour, it becomes more of a bargain.

I hope your family has a great time!

Posted by
160 posts

For clothes, I carry synthetics that dry easily and are wrinkle-resistant. Heavy cotton wrinkles and takes forever to dry. I allow myself one pair of jeans, but this time I've purchased a travel pair from Travelsmith.

For my last two trips lasting 16 days each, I've taken toiletries, two pants, three regular shirts, three undershirts, three underwear, three socks, a hat, and a rainjacket. I did laundry every night, but it didn't take long, and was dry in the morning. I've also carried various knick-knacks, such as an umbrella, iPod, and some blow-up pillows for flight comfort. Next month I'm taking more, since I'm doing a 2-month pilgrimage and have to carry a sleeping bag & such.

If I needed something extra (like dressier clothes for a wedding I attended in Spain), I bought them in Europe.

As for souveniers, I either bought small things that were easy to carry, or shipped them home. I'd say that the bottom line is that you need to bring less stuff than you think...

Posted by
196 posts

agree w/ others that using lightweight clothing (cotton T's w/ a little lycra, silk T's, nylon or rayon blend slacks, silk undies) helps w/ weight and will wash & dry easier; I take two of the microfiber towels and roll up items after handwashing in hotel sink--this helps them dry faster and the towels dry fast also---have a couple of 1 or 2 gallon Ziplock bags in case anything's still damp. Going to a local laundromat is a fun experience because there're almost always other customers to visit with and/or time to catch up on journal, reading, post cards. I've also been known to have undies laid out on the back window ledge when we've had a car---they dry FAST on a sunny day!

With the one only bag per person, my husband and I are checking our wheely backbacks and carrying on a small daypack each w/ the meds, extra glasses, etc that we truly would have trouble duplicating quickly in case of baggage loss/delay.

Posted by
87 posts

Whilst we checked our bags, I packed lighter for 5 weeks in Europe than I do for a few days away from home! What we did for souveniers was to each pack an empty box/mailing tube, so we had space for a few things. The box may not have really been empty but may've had disposable type items in it, like tissues which were going to be used along the way, but with your weight restrictions I'm not sure if this will work.

Posted by
14 posts

First, the size of teh carry-ons that most Americans have will no longer fit in the luggage sizer that most European airports have now. I know I just ran into it. Their max lenght is 21", I know my two caarry-ons are 22" and 23". I flew Lufthansa from Heathrow and they didn't weigh my bags coming or going. They did two years ago but only in Boston.

For souvenirs, a few places will ship them home for you and when they do that you don't pay the VAT tax. I know in Rothenburg this pass month we bought two steins, two cuckoo clocks and with the tax being taken off and paying in cash, the total for purchases and shipping was less than buying then and bring them back ourselves. Shipping time is usally 2 to 4 weeks