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RS Athens & Peloponnese: backpacks or rolling carry-ons of same size?

Husband and I are planning our first trip to Greece and to Santorini this spring, and I'm trying to figure out if it'd be easier to use backpacks or rolling bags of similar carry-on size? On the last tour, we used rolling bags, which worked out well. The worst we ever encountered were cobblestone streets. But given Greece's hillier, rockier terrain in some places, I wasn't sure if backpacks might be easier.

Our backpacks and rolling bags are similar in size and both expandable. As for pros and cons, the backpacks are 4.5 pounds lighter than the rolling bags and roomier, because of the lack of hardware. They also have side handles and detachable shoulder straps. The big upside to the rolling bags is, well, they aren't on your back. Then again, I'm not sure if we'll have to carry our bags for extended amounts of time. Anyone who's gone on the Athens & Peloponnese tour have any thoughts or suggestions? Your opinions are much appreciated!

Posted by
7404 posts

Did the RS 14 day Greece tour using our 21" rolling bags and they worked great.
Not once did I wish I had a backpack!

Posted by
1573 posts

We used rolling bags with no trouble. They don't always use the same hotels, but the only time I remember having to roll luggage for any distance was on Hydra and that wasn't that far.

Posted by
2740 posts

We were in Greece last September and were in Athens, Peloponnese, Naxos and Santorini. We used our same 2 wheeled Travel Pro as we have throughout Europe. It's endured cobblestones. We didn't encounter rough terrain where we had to roll our suitcases. We prefer a rolling bag vs. a backpack. I don't recall anyone using a backpack as their main luggage on our tour. My husband uses a lightweight backpack as his carry on.

Posted by
33 posts

@joe - haha! Never really thought of it that way - not wishing I had used a backpack! I was curious, because there were several people on our last tour who used backpacks - young and old, and I never heard complaints. Whichever we decide to use, we have to check in our "carry-ons" with the airline. They only allow one carry-on or personal item, which for us will be my travel tote and husband's camera bag.

Posted by
7404 posts

They only allow one carry-on or personal item

I sure hope you did not pay over a $100 to fly on Draconian Air.

Ugh

Posted by
33 posts

@joe - We're flying economy class on Emirates, which we've never flown before. I had to reread their rules for carry-on allowances to make sure I wasn't seeing things. It still wasn't crystal clear, so I went to Sky Scanner, and yup, in Economy, it's either a handbag, a laptop bag, or wheelie bag. Apparently, Ryanair has more generous carry-on rules.

Posted by
2710 posts

I'd say it is easier to use a wheelie vs a backpack, in general, and for this trip specifically. I took the RS Greece tour last spring with my RS wheelie (not the ravenna) and it was perfect. The only time I had to pick it up was when I chose to walk up the stairs to my room instead of standing in line for the elevator (most hotels had elevators, if not all; I didn't pay that much attention.) The only time the bus didn't get close to the hotel was when it was downhill to the hotel in Napflio. At the hotel the owners took over and carried everyone's bag as it is a fun and crazy hotel on a hillside. The hotel delivered the bags to the bus at the end of the stay. Oh, Hydra, the island, obviously no bus so there was an uphill walk to the hotel from the boat, but easy. Only one couple on the tour had backpacks. Everyone else had wheelies...some fairly large, and I never observed them having a problem. I travel independently usually so RS tour was much easier handling my luggage then when I'm on my own...which isn't a problem either. This was a great tour. I'm sure you will love it. I did a scrapbook that has a photo of my bags if you want to see my luggage.

Posted by
33 posts

Hi Wray - Thank you for the details, and I'd love to see your site. Thanks!

Posted by
825 posts

Once you get to wherever you are going you can leave the rolling luggage in your room and take your backpacks for a day of exploring. No need to drag along a suitcase on wheels everywhere you go.

When I go to Greece I take a small suitcase on wheels and a standard size carry-on back pack with a small day bag inside.. When I get to my destination I leave the suitcase in the room, take along my smaller day bag with essentials for a day out and enjoy myself without luggage a suitcase on wheels up-and-down village lanes, out-of-the-way sites where you don't want to be dragging a suitcase.

I haven't taken a Rick Steves tour, but I do think his advice is important for exploring. However, you need to do your own research to find out what's best for you and not what's best for someone else.

If I had my choice I would take just a standard and regulation size carry-on backpack and leave the luggage at home. However, I use use the luggage for gifts and souvenirs to bring back home. Still, I have never had to pay extra for the luggage, make sure I know what the weights are for checked baggage and use my carry-on backpack for items I can't afford to lose.

Posted by
2263 posts

plumeria, one of my favorite flowers, on this RS tour last June, as on other RS tours, I used an RS 20-inch rolling bag, along with a spacious Samsonite tote bag which fits over the handle. They have always been accepted as a carry-on plus personal item. On airlines with very low baggage allowances, I know I will need to check my carry-on, and arrange for that when booking. Inside my baggage I carry an empty RS Civita day pack to use when out and about, plus an empty, folded up, light-weight Nike gym-type bag in case I need another checked bag for purchases when I fly home.

Posted by
16852 posts

The hard part of the Emirates economy service carry-on allowance is the 7 kg weight limit. You'll probably be checking your main bags for that reason. I flew with them last spring and they did weigh the carry-on bags in Seattle, both at the check in desk and in the boarding area. (That time, I made a concerted effort to use a smaller backpack and meet the weight limit because I had an "unprotected" transfer to another airline on a separate ticket. But my usual European packing plan tends to weigh at least 10 kg.)

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks for all the tips, everyone! It sounds like we'll be just fine with our rolling bags, like last time. I'll take a daypack, and we'll both stow packable bags in our carry-ons, like before, too.

@Laura - Thanks for the info on flying with Emirates. I can't believe they weighed your bag twice before checking in! Good to know before we go. We'll just check in our 21" bags. No need to stress over their 7 kg weight limit.