We are traveling for 10 days from Rome, to Montelpulciano then to Florence and finally back to Rome. My question is with all the train and bus transportation to and from these locations with 2-3 big suitcases, how difficult is it to lug these all over with us? Is there a better solution like leaving 1-2 suitcases at our final hotel and asking them to store it there?
OF COURSE !!! and even better to have only 1 suitcase. The entrance to train cars are narrow and have three steep steps. There is a crush of people getting on and off the train at the same time so moving multi large suitcases through is challenging. Second luggage storage becomes the next issue. Smaller suitcase can be placed on the rack over your seat. Large suitcases go in the storage bins at the car entrance which can be limited or buried by other luggage. If you have to change platforms in smaller stations which often means walking downstairs cross under the tracks, and back up to the next platform, then a large amount of luggage adds to the struggle. There is no substitute for using one carry on size bag.
I used a carry on only w/ wheels and was thankful. Some trains have very high & narrow steps from platform to train car and storage can be limited once in train car. Leaving your xtra luggage in Rome is a terrific idea and one you will not regret.
I'm confused. If you can travel without those pieces of luggage, why are you taking them in the first place?
Absolutely do not try to do this with three large suitcases. Getting off and on is a problem and trying to find a place to put them is a problem. Curious as to why you are taking so much luggage?
You could ask a hotel ahead of time if they have room to store luggage and are willing. Most of the hotels I stay in don't appear to have a lot of extra storage space. Be sure and ask the charge to leave the luggage. (We have left ours just for a few hours so we could check out but continue to explore the location. Some have charged us a couple of euros which we gladly played.) I have to agree with others that it will be difficult traveling on trains with that much stuff. Be aware that unless you are riding to the end of a line, trains DO NOT stop for long. Be in the door ready to get off before the train comes to a complete stop or you may not make it off. (seriously...there are also people waiting to board the train. They generally give the people in the door time to jump off, but if you are still making your way down the aisle to the exit, you will find your way blocked by the people getting on.)
It might be best to rethink your packing strategy if your entire trip is 10 days. I ran into a family of 3 with eight (!) pieces of luggage (4 huge suitcases and 4 normal size ones, no carry-ons) but they were in Tuscany for a wedding (no way to pack light for that).
Every time we go to Italy it's for a self guided bike tour. We take our tandem in two suitcases, then 2 carry on pieces, plus the trunk for the bike and our helmets. It's a PAIN to get on and off trains, but it's doable. Just be prepared to get on fast if you are in a smaller town. In Rome, you will have more time to board. If you have to take all that with you, devise a plan. One of you get on and the other one hands the luggage up one at a time. It's difficult to get down the aisles...think of an airplane aisle, same width, but with no organized boarding...it's a free for all, people coming from both directions. Plus, there is NO room in the car for luggage, you will have to leave it where you can find space, and that won't be next to you. We've had to leave our bike cases by the door, outside the seating area of a train. Made me nervous, but nothing happened to them. As others have stated, we wonder why you have so many suitcases for a 10 day trip. Your final hotel can probably hold the cases for you, no charge, they usually have a small room to use for this.
Connie gives a very valuable reminder about the importance of being ready to hop off the train with luggage in hand as soon as it comes to a stop.
I just spent the month of September in Italy with only a RS 21" carry-on sized suitcase. I do the same every summer for one month. See the "packing lite" topic elsewhere on this web site.
Joe, To answer your first question, it will be quite difficult to haul "2-3 big suitcases" all over Italy using trains and buses. I'm assuming you're using wheeled luggage? As the others have pointed out, there may be limited room to store larger bags in the racks at the end of the car, as other passenger will also need space. If the bags are that large, they may not fit the racks above the seats and you may not be able to lift them up there anyway. Should the train happen to have compartments, if there are six people seated, there won't be any room to place the luggage on the floor. I have the same question as someone else mentioned - if you can manage fine by leaving most of your luggage at your last Hotel in Rome when you're in Montepulciano and Florence, perhaps you can get by with less gear overall? Again as mentioned, the trains sometimes don't stop for long so you'll need to be prepared to board or disembark promptly. Keep in mind also that you may be "fighting a tide" of other passengers who will be both getting off and trying to get on the same train. You might check some of the "packing light" websites to get some ideas on reducing your packing list somewhat, so that you can get by with less luggage. For a short 10 day trip, it should be possible to get by with perhaps one checked bag and a carry-on. Happy travels!
Last month, I was surprised by the number of trains I took that didn't even have baggage areas at the end of the cars. Don't know if I just didn't search enough, but I've not had that problem before. It was challenging even dealing with a single 20-inch carry-on (which I often found I had to keep at my feet, on the floor in front of me). A few large suitcases would have been impossible. Unless you have very young kids, a huge family, or some elaborate event, you might want to pack more minimally.
We took a train from Rome to Florence and back with 2 large suitcases and multiple carry on bags. It was not easy. We had asked the hotel if they could store our luggage and this particular hotel could not. I agree with everyone, it will make your life so much easier, the lighter you pack. Not only is the storage area on the train small but you have to be able to fit all your big suitcases with all the other luggage that is there. You also need to take into consideration how far you will be walking with your luggage. They get heavy fast. And if you have any connections, what if the train is late and you have to run to catch the next one.
3 large suitcases for 10 days? Are you carrying some stow-away members of your family to save on airfare? If you travel through Italy by public transport (trains, buses), you must be able to pack everything in a medium size carry-on suitcase per person. Carry also a small backpack per person for day trips. Use cleaners or laundromats or even your hotel cleaning service (albeit more expensive) to wash your clothes while traveling. I often travel with old clothes I want to get rid of, and instead of washing them, I throw them away after I use them while I travel and replace them with T-shirts (sweaters) I buy as souvenirs. If you absolutely need 3 large suitcases, I suggest you rent a car, because they are a hassle on a train.
Seriously, 2-3 large suitcases for a 10 day trip? You don't need a separate wardrobe for each city. I suggest cutting it down to one carry-on each. You won't use most of the stuff you pack in those large suitcases so leave it at home as you have already planned to leave it at the hotel. Donna
Thank you all for your feedback and help. I'd like to blame my wife for needing to pack 3 suitcases but we also planned to buy a lot of christmas gifts and a fair amount of wine while we are there. I think we will just try to pack lighter and follow the rest of helpful advice.
Joe, you can probably have the wine shipped (or ship it yourself using UPS or a similar private service). You can do the same with other purchases as well. A little research when you're shopping will help you determine if it will be easier to purchase from the vendor's website rather than carrying a lot of stuff around with you (I brought back several bars of olive oil soap and one happy recipient found the website on the box and ordered more). This will save you a ton of aggravation.
You can ship your gifts and wine home using UPS or FedEx. Last summer I purchased a biscotti jar in Bellagio and they shipped it home for me. The extra cost involved was worth not needing to carry the item through the duration of our trip. Buon viaggio,
Click on the Travel Store link above. Look at Rick Steves' 21" Wheeled Bag and look at the Shoulder Bags. You do not have to buy his bags (even tho I use many of his stuff), the idea is to travel light and wash clothes in hotel sinks. I would suggest 4 outfits and 2 pairs of shoes per person, etc. One suitcases per person. One shoulder bag person.
There are Mailboxes etc in many towns, even small ones. It's not cheap, but much preferable to carrying stuff around. However, if use them, I'd suggest arranging to have things sent to a friend or relative: I found I couldn't arrange slow shipping, which meant things arrived before I got home.
Leave your shopping for the end of the trip when you are in Rome. In other words shop for gifts the day before returning to the US. Pack an empty duffel bag which you can fill with gifts. However please inquire with your airline on the limits on the size, weight and number of checked bags allowed. Most airlines will let you check in the first bag for free on international flights. The second checked bag however often carries a stiff 70-75 Euro bag fee. In other words those extra gifts might in the end cost you much more than shipping them. Traveling light pays in more than one way.
Another thought is to buy a really cheap suitcase in Rome at a flea market and stuff all your purchases in there. Most airlines let you check at least one bag for free so if your other stuff for the 10 days fits in a carry on bag, then you are all set!!
Rick Steves has a suggested packing list that'll do you for an indefinite trip to anywhere. Use the list, a 21" rolling bag and a backpack or shoulder bag for essentials. Starched blue jeans and khaki's can last for many days' travel. My mother was a world traveler, and my poor father hauled her overweight bags until his late 70's. I don't know how or why he did it. You don't have to travel that way. And as for buying gifts in Italy. You can buy essentially the same items in the U.S. for much less. We seldom purchase anything when we're over there. Wine shops can transport cases back to the U.S.
Off the luggage topic and on to gift buying: you can find a greater ion of things in Italy than you can find Italian goods in the States, and I think part of buying something for someone is a way to share your trip with them. If you're talking about olive oil or balsamic vinegar, you can find made-in-Italy imports everywhere, but that hand-stitched pair of gloves with multi-color webbing, I don't think so (bought them in Florence, happy birthday to me). As I posted previously, lots of makers do have websites where you can purchase, or you can find good wine ions here, but many of "the best" things don't get exported, or at least not at a better price. I take along an RS scrunchable backpack for purchases with the intention of checking my carryon and taking the backpack on the plane, but I haven't used it yet - I prefer to throw away clothing to make room for purchases. One nice Christmas gift idea if friends have Christmas trees: ornaments with the name of the town (make sure they're made in Italy, not China).