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How much luggage is too much?

Heading to Italy in July with my family of five. Transportation will be several train rides, regional and high-speed, and a rental car for a couple of days. Plus several hotel changes. Will be in Cinque Terre, Venice, Rome, Florence and Siena.

I am that person who used to always take far too much. A dear friend said she's seen me pack like a princess going on the Titanic. So I've been practicing on paring down, reading articles, color coordinating things, getting airbnb's with washers in two locations, and getting things that don't wrinkle in preparation for my trip.

That said, how much luggage is too much to easily maneuver on trains and planes and automobiles? We have plenty of carry-on sized hard-sided suitcases but my friends who travel abroad frequently say to skip those, to stick to soft-sided duffels. So I've purchased one 28" and one 32" rolling duffel. We will check both of these bags. Teenage son can carry the 28" and husband can carry the 32". They have wheels, but obviously rolling a bag over cobblestones in Venice isn't an ideal situation, so we want to keep them light enough to carry.

My plan is to give 1 large and 1 small packing cube to each kid and tell them whatever they can get in those, they get to take. And same goes for my husband and myself. We'd like to leave the bags 1/3 empty so that we have room for purchases while in Italy. I'll also allow each person to take a backpack on the plane to carry a change of clothing and snacks and anything else they need to have handy on the long trip.

Does that sound reasonable?

Posted by
208 posts

What are the ages and the genders of the other 2 kids? i.e. will you have to lug their stuff, or are they self-sufficient?

Cheers,
Vivian

Posted by
7680 posts

Wow, I have not traveled with a family but I can't imagine hauling those big bags around. I don't like duffels as I can't keep them organized. I'd probably go with very small suitcases for everyone - like 20-21" or if you have younger children, perhaps they can go smaller. I can't imagine everyone tearing in to the 2 big duffels to get their stuff out.

Have you done a trial run on the packing cubes to make sure people can get pants/shirts/unders/pjs in the one large and one small? I can get shirts in to a medium cube, unders etc into a small cube but I wind up flat-folding my pants on the bottom.

Cinque Terre - You'll have to board the commuter train between villages. Then when you get off you may have to walk uphill to your lodging. Which town are you staying in? There are stairs up to the train platforms.

Venice - The bridges look like arches but they are steps - up and down. You'll have to be able to pick up your luggage and carry it over. Will the guys be able to lift the duffels? Cobblestones are not as bad as the up and down over the bridges.

I am glad you are working on this before time to go, lol!!

This will be a wonderful trip!

Posted by
131 posts

Genders: boys ages 9 and 16, and a girl, age 14. And a husband, age 45. :)

Other than the two duffels, which will be handled by my 16-year-old and my husband (both 6 feet tall, strong guys), everyone manages their own backpack. That's all there will be - two big duffels and a personal backpack if someone chooses to take one and carry it.

As for clothes, the kids will only take one pair of pants for the churches, and I'll have them wear those on the plane. As for shirts, I'm allowing them to pack 3 shirts each, and one extra pair of shoes each. Two scarves for the females to cover our bare shoulders in the churches. And three pairs of shorts each, plus underwear and socks. Same with my husband. I only wear dresses, I hate pants, so I will take three dresses of varying lengths. We have washing machines for four nights, and there's even a dryer in our Florence hotel which I planned to fall midtrip. So we can manage. Fast-drying clothes can be put on clothesline in bathrooms (we have two bathrooms in each airbnb I rented.) I'll pack the basic toiletries for us, and we can replenish anything we run out of and throw away the extras at the end of our trip.

We will keep the duffels organized with the packing cubes. They're color coded, so everyone just yanks out their cubes in each hotel, and stuffs them back in the next day. I've never traveled with packing cubes before, but my traveling friends swear by them. I bought mine from from Eagle Creek, along with one of the duffels. Seems like a solid yet economical brand.

I'm not taking a backpack for myself. I always travel with a large tote/purse and that's what I bring on the plane. I can easily stuff a change of clothes and toiletry necessities in there. I downsize to a small crossbody purse when I'm sightseeing in Europe.

I'm really the weak link here. I can keep the kids, and my husband, pared down to very manageable amounts of clothing and shoes. I'm the one who has a problem. I have two business trips between now and Italy, so I'm going to test out my theory about washing clothes in the bathroom sink, taking minimal toiletries, etc. Of course my trips are just to Vegas and San Francisco, not quite the same as Italy. But it will give me a sense of what I'm capable of doing without.

Posted by
5005 posts

Scully, where do you live? In a city that has street cars, subways, Metro, BART, MARTA, or anything like that? If not how about city buses? Try getting on and off with enormous bags like that, during rush hours, going up and down long stairs and with people in a hurry trying to get on and off around you. Then imagine that your carefully stepping on to a floating boat. If you can picture all that, you can get an idea of what is manageable for you. Checking bags is no crime, but you really don't need that much.

Posted by
131 posts

I don't want hard sided suitcases on this trip. Too difficult to fit into the trunk of the small rental car. I looked up the measurements of the vehicle we are renting, and these fit in it. five suitcases would not. I cannot even begin to imagine traveling with five carry-on sized hard-sided suitcases. That would be far more trouble than two soft-sided duffels.

Perhaps the 32" is oversized. I could swap it out for another 28".

Posted by
10 posts

Carry-ons for everyone. They are perfectly capable of hauling their own stuff. They can also have a small day pack as their "personal item." Any more than that and you will be suffering.

Posted by
131 posts

No, I don't want five carry-ons. I hate trying to find overhead space in a plane. That just drives me nuts. As Stan said, there's no crime in checking luggage.

Posted by
208 posts

I think you've thought this out very well. I agree that the larger duffel is pretty big, but I do like the idea of lugging fewer pieces of luggage overall. Each with their own napsack is a good idea -- watch out for the carry-on restrictions for the flights.

Quick-dry clothing is how we live -- we just wash stuff every night in the sink and they're dry for the next day. I only ever travel with 3 pairs of undies, for instance! We take athleticwear-type t-shirts, not cotton. That weight adds up, and they're so much easier to wash and wear.

In the summer, it will be warm everywhere, including leaving home, so you hardly need anything! LOL. I find it's not the clothing that bogs me down, it's the "gear"... especially if everyone has electronics and chargers.

I think you're on the right track, but I'd re-think the big bag. I'd also try to pare down the shoes. When I was in Italy for 3 weeks one September, I could have easily done with one pair, (my Keens Mary Janes), and my husband DID only wear his one pair of gray/black New Balance running shoes.

Posted by
6795 posts

how much luggage is too much to easily maneuver on trains and planes
and automobiles?

No, I don't want five carry-ons. I hate trying to find overhead space
in a plane. That just drives me nuts.

You seem to have your mind made up so what exactly are you looking for?

Posted by
131 posts

I'm seeking advice on what other people do with families. Going from two bags to five doesn't make sense. But the idea of downsizing the 32" is wonderful advice I gathered here. Thanks so much!

Vivian, thanks so much for the advice. I agree on the shoes. I wore the same pair of Chaco sandals almost every day of my trip to Europe last year, except dressing up for dinner. Which I won't do this time. Most of the kiddos won't need a second pair, except there is a need for water shoes in CT. My husband likes leather sandals and his sneakers, so I shall allow him a second pair. :)

Posted by
95 posts

You seem set in your mind, but in my opinion those bags are just WAY too huge for carrying on/off public transportation. Not only because they are a pain for the carrier but also for the people trying to get on/off around you.

And if you're staying in places with laundry, I think you still might be over packing. I'd pare it to 2 pairs of shorts and 2 shirts packed, plus whatever they wear on the plane. And if they are also packing a change of clothes in their backpacks, then I'd limit to 1/1 in the suitcase.

Remember, unless your family is really large or a different size, you can easily pick up other stuff to wear in your travels. My DH is 6'6 so there is nowhere he can buy pants off the rack, but we still only take 2 bottoms for him, no matter how long the trip.

Have fun!

Posted by
1108 posts

Everyone gets their OWN bag - and when someone says "carryon", they don't necessarily mean that you cannot check it. They may mean the "size" of the bag.

All four of our family lugged 25" rolling suitcases around Europe for several weeks 20 years ago. Never again !

Now, no one travels with anything other than a 21"22" size that we usually check. And we carry on one of the RS's day packs as a backpack.

I cannot imagine 2 people having to lug and drag a 28" and 32" for EVERYONE's stuff ! And we rent compact cars with friends in Europe and get all 4 bags and backpacks into the trunk !

Posted by
365 posts

Hi Scully:

You might also want to consider letting everyone carry a duffel bag with their own things. If one of your bags gets delayed will more than one person lose their clothes. Also what if you are in an area when either your son or husband can't carry the bag. Getting 5 people on and off a train can be a challenge and everyone should be able to carry the bags
If it is necessary.

Lastly, i think that unless you are under 10, everyoneshould be responsible for their own bag. That ensures packing light .have you considered asking your son if he wants to be responsible for toting his siblings things around Europe when they could do it themselves? Would that take away from his enjoyment?

At any rate enjoy your vacation whatever you decide to do
.

Posted by
208 posts

I totally "get" the idea of consolodating. Too many small pieces, and something is going to get left behind, somewhere! When I'm using public transit, I often my "personal bag" stuff inside my expandable rolling carry on (and expand it), just so I have the one bag to deal with rather than two.

Have a wonderful trip!!! Your kids will have an amazing trip.
Vivian

Posted by
5497 posts

My rolling duffle bag uses roller skate type wheels and axle that takes bouncing on cobbles and has skid rails for dragging up stairs if needed. Dimensions are: 15"H x 30"W x 13"D meeting the check bag 62 linear inch limit. Packing cubes are a help, but having the 30" length is handy for long items like trekking poles and flexible for large items. When combined with our carry-on bags, the two of us can share the rolling duffle bag.

The duffle bag had cinch straps so we can go outbound in the 30# range and return in the 40# plus range and the bag fully expanded. One danger of a duffle bag is the tendency to return full.

Posted by
131 posts

Melody, very good point about the backup outfit in the backpack already. I had totally forgotten about that. Thank you!

And yeah, my little guy, age 9, is too weak to carry his own luggage through the city. He weighs 60 lbs. Tall for his age, but super skinny and no muscles.

Posted by
767 posts

I think everyone is trying to save you the heartache (and backache) of lugging around large suitcases in the heat and crowds of Italy in July. Even if you checked a carry on size suitcase (or backpack!), it will be so much easier to transport multiple smaller suitcases (one per person plus a day bag, perhaps a little less for your 9 year old) versus a few large ones. It will be easier to find spaces for them on trains and easier to maneuver the MANY steps you will encounter in the Cinque Terre and Venice. It's one thing to carry two duffels for a short distance-it's quite another to carry them up and down steps for a 10-15 minute walk to your hotel. Google some of the images of the crowds getting on the trains in the Cinque Terre, and imaging having to maneuver a large suitcase in those crowds.

I used to travel with a 26 inch Samsonite until I got sick of lugging that around and realized I wasn't wearing 1/4 of what I bought. Then I paired down to a 22 inch. I am going to the Cinque Terre in May and am bringing a 46L Osprey backpack specifically because of the stairs.

But to answer your question, does the amount you have alloted per person sound appropriate? Yes. But I think you should consider changing how you pack it.

Have a great trip!

EDIT: So many people wrote posts while I was writing mine! I love how much everyone is trying to help!

Posted by
208 posts

The kids might not need water shoes in CT -- If their only pair is a sports sandal (keens/Teva, etc), then they can wear them in the water! I have snorkelled several times in my Keens (closed=toe sandals) in Hawaii and the Caribbean. Since you've had Chacos, you'll know what I mean. ;-).

Just food for thought. Using things for double-duty saves space and weight.
Viv

Posted by
131 posts

love it, thanks Viv!

and yeah, the logistical nightmare of having several small bags just freaks me out with the kids. it's one thing to say everyone is in charge of their own bag, another to deal with the aftermath of one of the kids leaving their bag behind because I told them it's their responsibility. the reality is I would still be in charge of overseeing everyone's bags and making sure they all had them, etc.

My youngest son can't even remember to bring his lunchbox home from school.

Posted by
16826 posts

I join the others in worrying about the size of the two duffle bags--not just when getting on and off the trains (or buses or vaporettos), but also when you need to find a place to put them on the train. I don't thing bags that size will fit in the overhead racks, so they'll need to go on the rack near the door. What happens if there's not enough room on that rack for such large items? I'm afraid you might have to sit with the duffles on your laps for the entire trip.

Posted by
7680 posts

I do love the Eagle Creek packing cubes. Do try them on your business trips as for me there was a learning curve. I know many people roll their clothes but for me with the EC Compression sil-nylon (the really light one) my shirts did better folded to fit the cube exactly. Rolling then zipping closed the compression zipper just made them hump up funny in the middle, lol!

You'll have to do a Trip Report! It's always fun to see what kids enjoy!

Posted by
967 posts

Would you consider getting Rick's Appenzell small backpacks for your kids? For the flights you could cross-pack and check some of them if you are worried about overhead space on the planes. Or they might even fit under the seat of your younger kids, depending on how long their legs are.
Then perhaps you and your husband could share the one smaller duffel.
For my upcoming trip of 7 weeks I need to bring (for the first time) a second smaller bag (the Eurobag) to fit on top of my roll-a-board 21 incher because I now need to lug a cpap around with me. Even these relatively compact bags are causing me some anxiety when I think of the trains and buses and stairs I will need to manage.

Posted by
590 posts

I haven't read through all the comments but I will tell you what my husband and I take for the both of us for 10 days of traveling: one carry-on piece and one medium sized checked piece. We have plenty of room in the medium sized piece for any purchases we make. We both take a backpack for electronics and essentials that we want to keep on us for the flights and we will use them during on our trips as well to keep the camera, jackets, water, etc handy. We typically wash clothes once in this timeframe. I finally got a new Eagle Creek carry-on to replace my old and worn Eddie Bauer piece and I absolutely love it. I am a huge fan of the Eagle Creek packing cubes because it keeps everything in order. We take two very light packing zip sacks to keep the dirty laundry separate. The lighter you pack the easier it is to move around and you won't regret it! I always try to pack lighter each trip and each trip I tell myself I could have done even better :)

Posted by
131 posts

I really appreciate all the input. I hope I don't seem too negative (other than my insistence on not bringing a bunch of carry-on pieces on the plane. That just stresses me out!)

Here are pics of the pieces for anyone interested:

http://i.imgur.com/IJEN1Uu.jpg - black one - 28" Bric's duffel with wheels

http://i.imgur.com/KTOEFXp.jpg - blue one- 32" Eagle Creek duffel with wheels

The blue one does look awfully big. That's a 28" upright hard sided Raden suitcase behind it. (Love my Raden smart suitcases!)

I'm totally taking all of this under advisement and rethinking all my plans.

Sharyn, love that idea of maybe just doing the smaller duffel. This is exactly why I posted. I wondered if I was packing too much! If we can pare down to just the black one we'd be in great shape. The 28" Raden and the 22" Raden in the pic behind my duffels are what I normally take for myself for a six-day business trip. I'm pathetic. As I said, I'm the weak link. Pare down, pare down, pare down needs to be my motto this summer.

Posted by
11549 posts

No, I don't want five carry-ons. I hate trying to find overhead space
in a plane. That just drives me nuts. As Stan said, there's no crime
in checking luggage.

No there's not. And without spending too much time going through all the previous threads, it's all about what your family can handle. Five carryons isn't too much as long as they are small enough to fit UNDER the seats: ours do. Aside from those, we travel with a 24" checked bag apiece for 3 weeks or more and can manage them ourselves on the trains: they are not stuffed to a ridiculous weight. Sure, by the time we've picked up all the stuff we want to take home, they're heaviest at the end of the trip (which is why we check bags) but that's also at the point where it doesn't matter as much.

Personally, I'd go with more smaller-sized checked bags than 28" and 32" (those are REALLY large!!!) and expect everyone to pitch in. Yes, I know this doesn't follow the RS mantra of carry-ons only but that just does not work for us and not for other posters as well. It's no problem as you have 5 able-bodied people (yes, even your 9 year-old can help) to share the task. Practice before you go and if there's some moaning and groaning, then everyone will need to leave the non-essentials behind.

No one in Italy will care if you wear the same thing ___ of days in a row so ease and efficiency trumps fashion!

Posted by
490 posts

I lost one bag for 4 out of 6 day trip to ITaly in July...so think about it...lost bags could really impact your trip negatively. I would add one more rolling bag...to carry on....I recently purchased a 15 inch rolling( to carry on with the one 22" rolling bag I normally use, I never check bags) bag that has two top handles and only 2 wheels which work better than spinners on cobble stones, this fits under your seat or very well in overhead, it also can go on top of one of your larger bags.https://www.amazon.com/Travelon-Wheeled-Underseat-15-Inch/dp/B00ICD5KKC

It would fit a lot and be easily transported and can protect electronics etc better than a backpack. This can be carried on your return trip with breakable items like pottery. Three bags plus a small daybag for everyone should still be very manageable for you, unless you have very small children whose hands you need to hold etc this extra rolling bag give you peace of mind that should something not turn up for a few days everyone has a swimsuit and change of clothing.

As far as items that don't wrinkle, that may mean hot unnatural fibers?, if so it is going to be VERY HOT there, I recommend cotton and linen which can be easily steamed out in the shower or just use the iron for 3 minutes at the hotel/apt. Not sure if you have been to Italy before, the heat is dry and searingly hot like Arizona, make sure everyone hydrates double what you normally would, especially the day you get off the plane! Have fun! Make sure everyone has a lightweight hat to keep cool!

Posted by
971 posts

Scully- I will chime in what others have said, those are some really large suitcases you are taking. It's the trains I am thinking about, the steps to get on are high and the stops are short. When your stop comes up you should have suitcases on your hands ready to disembark. Then once you are off your next train may be 3 tracks over which may require going down stairs, through a tunnel and up stairs to the next track, all done within 10 min. Does all your lodging have elevators? If those two large suitcases are carrying most of the families clothing, I can only imagine how heavy those sucker is going to be!

I would think your two teenagers can handle their own small suitcase (no larger than 21 inch) and a personal item each (backpack, tote). You know your kids best, but you would be amazed how responsible they can be, especially when it is their stuff I like hard shell cases, no need to worry about putting garbage bags over your case if it rains or mud splattering up on it, a soda tipping over on it etc.

Also see if the AirBNB's have dryers. The Airbnb in Italy that we stayed at did not, but they did supply a drying rack which took about two full days for clothes to dry, so plan accordingly!! We did laundry twice in 15 days. And your only taking 3 dresses?? No tanks and skirts?? I travel pretty light and I always have one dress and one tank/skirt combo.

For souvenirs we usually purchase a cheap duffel bag in our departing city, put all of our dirty clothes in there and check that in, expand one of our suitcases and stuff with more clothes and other stuff, check that in, and have one carry on with all our souvenirs on the plane with us along with one personal item each.

You have your work cut out for you mama!

Posted by
490 posts

Looking at some good points...above...if you rethink and choose to carry on, four rolling 22" bags would give you tons of space, and one guy can easily lift ( stairs) and roll two bags at the same time. Don't check, that way you will be sure to have everyone's items when you arrive...just not sure if you can exchange your duffle purchases. I have found that top heavy duffles wobble and fall over off to the side too often so the lower center of gravity 22" is better for me in Europe. :)

Posted by
645 posts

Our family of four has easily lived out of a carry-on sized backpack each plus a personal item that can be stuffed into the backpack if necessary for long distance walking to a hotel or train. That works just fine for 45 days at a time. That is the same amount of space as a carry on suitcase each. If you have more than one bag per person, you will probably regret it. Seriously, you are likely to have to carry your luggage up stairs and over cobblestones repeatedly. And you will have to exit trains swiftly.

PS There is no reason you can't check carry-on size bags.

Posted by
1029 posts

It sounds like you've thought this out.

I assume you haven't packed and traveled before like this so I have one suggestion. Try a dry run. Pack up the 2 larger bags and try getting them up our down a narrow set of stairs. Maybe get on a bus or two during busier hours. Drag the bags around for 10 or 15 minutes or so. This should give you a sense of what your trip will entail. BTW for train cars with steps, I find it's sometimes easier for one person to hand the bags up or down to the other person.

If part way through you find it more difficult than expected you can always start taking taxis to and from the train station.

PS don't forget pants for the guys (for churches)

Have a fun trip.

Edit to add: Do not forget the money belts or something similar. To me a family group with large or many bags and small kids will draw attention.

Posted by
131 posts

thanks, everyone!!!! You've definitely given me lots to think about and assess. Letizia, you make a good point. I do have skorts that I like, and I wear those with tanks and t-shirts. I buy a lot from Athleta online, and I love their easy-dry fabrics. See? I'm already planning to pack more! ;-)

and yes, absolutely one pair of pants for each guy. I bought my husband loose linen drawstring pants at Macy's for our trip to Italy and France and Barcelona last year and he loved how cool they were and I thought they looked fantastic with a loose linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up. we even hired a professional photographer to do our photos in Barcelona and walk around with us and the outfit looked so good he wore it then, too.

the heat in Italy in the summer felt much more humid to me than Arizona. but definitely hot. I lived in Arizona for seven years, and that desert heat is unrelenting. Pompeii and Rome heat was also unrelenting, but we took refillable bottles around with us everywhere and we were okay. it's typically about 90 degrees and humid on summer days where we live, so we are used to the heat. we just pop into the shade as much as we can and stay hydrated. Rome heat feels more like Texas heat to me, since it has that humidity added in.

dry run - good idea! definitely have a lot of work to do in the next 90 days!

Posted by
1059 posts

Scully, i think you have thot this thru very well, and if your husband & son are capable and willing, go for it. I dont know yr kids, but id say anything yr daughter wants in terms of makeup, etc she needs to be carrying....yr 16 yr old can see the limits of yr younger son....but might get annoyed at being the sherpa for for his sister's doo dads.
Full disclosure, i carried\pulled a 30 " roller bag just for me. (trains, buses, etc) However we did not do Cinque Terre, and when we got to venice, we stayed on the mainland. Did florence & lake como, & brief jaunt to slovenia. I check my bag on the way over. My favorite tip is to carry a lightweight school back pack as my personal item, and put my toothbrush in one of pencil slots for the flight over.

Posted by
3262 posts

If you haven't already done so, you might take a look at this packing info right here on the RS website. Beyond that, there is the latest info on ultralight packing from Sarah. The video is linked at the bottom of her report. I actually take fewer garments than she does, but she is a very tall woman, so her clothes are not small.

During all the discussion so far you haven't said how many days you will be traveling. That can affect what you take, or not. Many travel for long periods of time packing only for a week or less. Doing laundry or having it done for you is the key. When it comes to sink washing, everyone can, with a little training, do their own. If they don't already know how, you have plenty of time to teach them between now and July.

I haven't traveled with kids, but one daughter with her husband and 2 kids did visit us using the"big bag for everyone" strategy. Our son-in-law is a big strong 6'4" guy, so he could easily handle that bag. It was okay on the way here, but when they tried to check in for the flight home, it was overweight. They didn't want to pay extra, so they stood at the desk and rearranged stuff until they got it down enough to avoid the fees. Needless to say, the folks behind them in line were not amused.

The point? The bigger the bag, the more likely it is to be overloaded. It's not only size that matters. How much it weighs can be just as big of an issue even if it isn't overweight for the airline.

On the other hand, our son's family of 6 (with 4 daughters ages 3, 5, 13 and 15 and his wife) manages to go places with minimal luggage, all carry-on. Even the little ones carry something or wear a backpack.

Posted by
6795 posts

We travel like Lo does, except she uses a 20" case, while we splurge for 22", but like many others who post here regularly, these 20" and 22" suitcases are what we live out of for five and six-week trips. Most of us bring a day pack of some sort, too. Soft-sided always so they can expand and contract. Her point that you'll go overweight with large duffels is quite correct.

I also agree with Lo about everyone pulling his/her weight when a family is traveling. Even my little five-year old great-niece rolls her little child's suitcase around. My 2.5-year old granddaughter has her backpack. It gives them responsibility, and makes them feel part of the endeavor.

Posted by
1352 posts

I have travelled all over Europe with my children. Everyone has their own bag, and carries their own bag! The only time one didn't was when my youngest was 7. My husband and I split his stuff and carried it. You're children should be old enough to carry their own. I would suggest a backpack for each person. Then it is that person's responsibility to carry how ever much they chose to pack!

Posted by
773 posts

Adding to the feedback! We only have two "kids" (now 21 and 18), but except when they were toddlers, everyone always had their own soft-sided roller bag (21" for everyone except my husband, who insists on a 24") and a small "day bag" of some type. Some thoughts.
- When you're taking public transportation of any type, those big bags will be a huge hassle take up and down train station stairs, and to get on and off trains, in addition to where you will store them during travel. Lots of people do it, but it is a hassle. Those trains are in and out in minutes, and it will be more efficient if everyone has one bag to carry up the train steps (with day bag on back or cross-body).
- Maybe I'm just selfish, but I can't imagine having to share luggage space with others. At least in my family, everyone has their own packing preferences.
- And if there are two bags, I can guess who will be in charge of fitting everything back into the bags, and it won't be your teens or your 9-year-old.
- Keep in mind that two of your "kids" are almost adults, and should be in charge of their own clothing and packing choices.
- Call me too feminist, but it seems a bit sexist to assign pulling-bags duty to the two oldest guys. A 14-year old young woman is full-sized, and they can be pretty strong too.
- For purchases during the trips, leave room in the day bags for that kind of stuff, or bring one extra very light-weight nylon bag for the goodies.
- Even for our two-week trips, we didn't spend our precious vacation time around clothes washers. If something got horribly dirty, it got hand washed, and underwear gets washed a couple of times in the bathroom sink. But that's personal preference.

Posted by
524 posts

I love to plan on how to do things, too! Like everyone, my first thought was why you aren't letting everyone just take their own 20" carryon. They are small, light and you don't have to worry about lost luggage. But you mentioned carryon for 5 people stresses you out. If it does then it does..and that is not fun for the main organizer. Everyone has their stressors.

But the 2 carriers are doing a lot of heavy carrying and I wonder if that will be burdensome on them and they will start to get grouchy.

So, I would do two 26" and one 22" (duffles or lightweight bag...both rolling) You and your daughter can take turns pulling the 22" one and you can carry that on.

You would get the same amount of clothing in them and it wouldn't be so big and heavy for the guys. I think 3 would really help in organizing.. You could also carry on the 22" with a stuff just in case any luggage was delayed. Maybe one change of clothes for each, and grooming essentials (among other things).

This would be so much easier for all to move around as much as you will be doing.

BTW, I bet you DH looked great in those linen pants! I'll have to remember that for my DH!

Posted by
11549 posts

Arg. 26" is still pretty darn big. I know I wouldn't want to wrestle one quite that large/heavy but as we can see from this growing thread, everyone has a method which works for them! Someone earlier mentioned that it's easier for one person to hand the bags up or down to the other person? That's what we do on the trains: one of us hands the bags on or off to the other. We generally store our larger 2 at the entry end of the carriage - in the space intended for larger bags - anyway so it's pretty efficient. Carry-ons stay with us.

As far as the young people taking care of their own carry-ons, think about a buddy system? Assign everyone a buddy to ask, "Do you have..." prior to departing planes, trains and accommodations. If you're still freaked about them leaving items behind, you and your husband can manage the critical stuff, like all 5 passports, train and plane tickets tickets, etc.

Posted by
524 posts

Yes, 26 is still heavy, but better and less cumbersome than 30 or 32. Maybe two 25 and one 22. I have a 25 and it's not bad at all. Weighs 8.5 lbs bag, would be much less as a duffle.

Posted by
524 posts

Yes, 26 is still heavy, but better and less cumbersome than 30 or 32. Maybe two 25 and one 22. I have a 25 and it's not bad at all. Weighs 8.5 lbs bag, would be much less as a duffle. With three bags, you could have parents share one bag, two oldest share another and the youngest get the 22 inch with everyone's essesntials inside (if that is carried on plane).

All of your color coordinated packing cubes would still be put to good use.

Posted by
203 posts

My kids were 10 and 12 when we went. They each had a backpack for their body size (so obviously they were small enough to be carry on but we checked them in for convenience). My husband and I had slightly larger bags and carried communal things like a shared toiletries bag, insect repellent, sunscreen. Each kid got 3 packing cells. If they could fit it in, they could take it. The rule was we did a practice pack a week before. They knew that if they couldn't pack it and carry it it wasn't going. So much easier than carrying everyone's gear together. It meant you could pack cars depending on each cars dimensions and move things around like a puzzle. Obviously everyone carried there own backpacks when going to and from railway stations and on and off trains.

Posted by
131 posts

Excellent points! Luckily, my 14-year-old doesn't wear makeup and likes to throw her hair in a ponytail while on vacation, so toiletries will be minimal for her. Nevertheless, having her brother schlep all of her stuff might very well annoy him. He'd be more forgiving of our youngest.

I have completely rethought my packing plans. I am going to give the oldest kids a choice. They can either each carry their own smaller duffel, and be fully responsible (yes, deep breath for mom here. I can be such a helicopter parent!) or they can share one slightly larger duffel bag and share responsibility for carting it around. And then my husband and myself and our youngest will put our stuff in the 28" duffel. I do not think the 32" duffel is necessary in addition to everything else. That is one huge duffel. Taking the photo of it yesterday, next to my 28" suitcase, sent that message home!

And then I will still give everyone the option of taking a backpack with them on the plane with personal belongings, electronics, snacks and a change of clothing in case a bag is lost.

See? I'm stubborn for a minute, but then I assess and realize the error of my ways. :)

Posted by
11549 posts

And then my husband and myself and our youngest will put our stuff in
the 28" duffel.

Scully, just be cautious to weigh that bag once it's fully packed, and consider what else you might be bringing home in it? The bigger the bag, the easier it is to push airline weight limits. We haven't even come close with our 24-inchers - I generally run around 25 pounds UNTIL coming home with all the museum books and whatnot not packed in my small carryon - but that's just my stuff and not stuff for 3 people. That bigger bag probably weighs more empty as well.

Posted by
524 posts

I think that is an excellent, workable plan for everyone. Please let us know what the 2 oldest decide, I really am curious. After I get involved in someone else's travel plans, I enjoy knowing the end result. My bet in on they each want their own. It will be interesting.

I learned so much on this board and TripAdvisors. I did find this board more respectful many times.

Posted by
131 posts

Thanks, Kathy! Yes, I have my portable luggage scale that has saved me MANY times! It's so easy to overpack a bag. Will definitely keep the weight under control (much like with my own personal weight!) on that bag. One time I was bringing a buttload of meyer lemons back from my in-laws house in California and it made my bag weigh too much and I had to do the transfer of stuff from bag to bag at the airport to avoid the $75 overweight fee. Never again will I deal with that embarrassment/stress!

Lulu, yes, it will be interesting to see what the teenagers decide. As for my youngest, his clothes are so small and weigh so little that they won't take up much space in the bag my husband and I use.

Posted by
1075 posts

Lots of good tips here.
I will add that you should put at least one outfit for each person in EACH bag.
That way if even one bag gets lost or left behind somewhere, everyone has a change of clothes.
Bravo for taking your kids to see Europe!

Posted by
11549 posts

One time I was bringing a buttload of meyer lemons back from my
in-laws house in California....

ROF!!!! I thought I was the only person who used that word!!!!

Posted by
3458 posts

Scully,

First don't panic...

I just read on another of your posts that you fly Delta to Paris then Alitalia to Rome. Have you checked their size and weight requirements? They are different than Delta.

Posted by
131 posts

Gerri, do Alitalia's requirements even come into play when it's a Delta flight operated by Alitalia? we are checking our bags in Cincinnati and won't see them again until Rome. I know it would matter for carry-ons, but I am not doing carry-ons, other than personal backpacks for the kids. I can't imagine that any baggage restriction could possibly come into play with Delta checking my bags for two Delta operated flights.

Posted by
767 posts

The weight limit for checked bags for Delta and Alitalia is the same: 23 kg

The weight limit for carry on bags for Alitalia is 8 kg (17 pounds) and you would have to comply on that leg of the journey. If people are bringing laptops and toiletries and extra changes of clothes, an extra pair of shoes, and/or are sharing a carry on (although looks like from your latest posts, everyone will have their own backpacks), the weight can get op there pretty quick! So just keep an eye on it.

Please let us know how things went after your trip!

Posted by
3458 posts

Makes no difference if your bags are checked. Think I jumped off the thread when you were giving the 2 older kids their own carry on sized bag. But defiantly check the weight on the backpacks. Kids can sometimes hide a few things they think they need.

Posted by
4010 posts

I want to second the notion of backpacks. They're easy to carry, and leave your hands free. I think the Appenzell is probably too big for your little guy, but how about the Civita?

And as numerous people have mentioned, "carry on" luggage can be checked. And most small or medium backpacks will fit under the seat in the plane.

I use an Appenzell as my main bag, and my hubbie's backpack is even smaller. We do just fine. And that way the kids can chip in. I'm cringing at the thought of that huge duffel bag, even with a strapping young man (or not-so-young-man) to carry it. Stairs, hills, cobblestones, bridges - downsize, Scully. You're going to have your hands full tracking the kids and husband; you don't want to hear someone complaining about the size and weight of his bag.

And have a wonderful trip!

BTW, I'm interested in the drawstring linen pants. One of the pants I always pack is linen, cut rather loose, and I love it. Macy's? Do you remember the brand?

Posted by
298 posts

I'm not sure if your kids are going to use the backpacks as a daily item but remember most museums make you check them.

As for the dryers are they a separate unit? Most units over there are a single unit washer/dryer. The Airbnb one in Florence advertised a dryer but it was the single unit. The items went straight to the dry after the wash with no ability to take any items out. It took us a while to figure that out so I wanted you to be forewarned.

Posted by
131 posts

Thanks for the extra input. You guys have convinced me to pare down to smaller duffels.

As for the linen pant brand, I just went to look. I bought him two pair, one is Roundtree & Yorke, so Dillard's private label, not Macy's. and the other is Caribbean. I suspect it's another private label brand for Dillard's but I'm not as familiar with it as Roundtree & Yorke. I bought them in mid-August, right before our late August vacation, and scored them at about $20 a pair, at around 66% off for clearance. Seems like they were around $60 a pair full price.

One pair is drawstring and the other has a button front. Here is the button-front style: http://www.dillards.com/p/caribbean-linen-flat-front-pants/506545890

I don't see the drawstring version on Dillards.com right now. There are some drawstring versions on Macys.com

Posted by
131 posts

Kristen, does any airline actually weigh a carry-on bag at the gate? I've never seen that happen.

Posted by
7680 posts

Scully, I had Alitalia weight mine at the gate in Florence. I had booked thru Delta and as a newbie to International travel, didn't realize our departure flight from Florence was on Alitalia and that they had a carryon weight limit. I was not prepared to check it and had to stand there and pull out my Kindle, charger, etc before I checked it. I learned my lesson!

BTW, they sized and weighed everyone's bag in my group who was carrying on. My brother and one nephew were good to go, the other nephew and I had to check ours.

Posted by
1878 posts

Keep in mind the weight limits on checked luggage. My wife can pack her 25" Eagle Creek Tarmac to close to 50 lbs. I am also a big strong guy who lifts weights but lugging her heavy bag up several slights of stairs is not a lot of fun. So glad we switched to 22" bags which max out well under the weight limits and are so much easier, whether in a rental car or on public transit.

Posted by
131 posts

Interesting on the weighing at the gate! Seems like boarding on Alitalia is very time consuming if they stop and weigh everyone's carryon.

Posted by
396 posts

The less luggage you have, the better your trip will be. I never check a bag. Carry on or backpack for 2-3 weeks in Europe. I only travel by trains and the steps are high getting on and off. We wash clothes at end of first week. Laundries are easy to find.
My first trip to Europe, I took way more than I ever used. Learned a valuable lesson and never did it again. Have a great trip.

Posted by
4010 posts

Thanks for the link, Scully.

Karren, I did the same thing, and I suspect many others did, as well. My first trip to Europe I was dragging around a huge hard-sided Samsonite suitcase. Even after the group I was with for part of the trip had to dump about half our belongings (long story, short runway in Kiev,) it was still a nuisance to deal with, just because of the sheer size of the thing.

Pack light, pack light, pack light!

Posted by
5005 posts

Scully they don't necessarily weigh everyone's carryon, but may weigh the ones that look overweight. Yes this is becoming more common.

Posted by
767 posts

I have also had an Alitalia agent lift up my bag as if to test to decided if it should be weighed. There was not a scale at the gate but I have always wondered what would have happened if he thought it was too heavy. Found a scale? Told me to check based on his estimate?

I have heard of there being scales at the gate for the European based airlines but I have never seen it.

Posted by
80 posts

Had my carry-on bag weighed in Rome upon departure and was given of packing up extra stuff in a box (if i could find one myself) or ditching items. I had to ditch some items. Yes, they DO check carry-ons.

Posted by
1094 posts

Yes, they weigh and/or measure carry-ons. Each airline has different rules, also. My husband's bag is slightly bigger than mine, most airlines let him through, one made him check it. One made him take stuff out and put it in mine. Can't remember which one, though.

Posted by
752 posts

Any luggage is too much on Italy trains. If you can throw a few items in a duffel bag, do that. The happiest travelers slam dunk their duffel bag onto the overhead rack and plop down in their seat.

Those with more luggage are struggling to get it up the stairs, which can be long, steep, and narrow, only to find they have to stand cause the duffel baggers grabbed all the seats!

This grabbag occurs on Regionale trains. If you have first or second class reserved seats, then you're in better shape. But you still have to hoist luggage to the overhead racks, and you just get that space above your seat, unless another luggager grabbed it before you!

Also, be sure you have your reserved ticket ready to show the squatter who may be in your seat! Always best to travel very light!

Posted by
490 posts

One more clothing tip. I always travel with a lightweight sarong to use to cover up in case I have shorts on and want to visit a church. It has also served as a ground cloth for picnics, beach blanket, wrap, and blanket on airplane! :) enjoy!

Posted by
6209 posts

One very sage item of advice I have seen by RS on packing was the suggestion to pack your bags as planned and then spend a few hours playing tourist in your home town. This should give you an idea of what the reality is of how manageable your baggage is and what is "too much"

As for Alitalia, the carry-on scrutiny is somewhat random. Did a r/t from Rome to Athens and our rolling carrying bags ( 21") got little more than quick glance.