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travelling with luggage on trains

We will be be travelling for a month in Italy next October and plan to use the trains a lot. We only have to wheel our suitcases from the train to accommodation and always stay 3 nights in a town. How are our cases stored on a train from say Milan to Verona and any suggestions/advice on the amount and size of bags would be welcome. Cheers

Posted by
59 posts

You will be carrying your luggage up and down stairs at the train stations. Even in stations with lifts, they don't always work. Storage on the train will be racks above your head or between the seats and large suitcase will not fit in those spaces.

I had a 22" roller bag, a carryon, and a backpack with my laptop. There were many times that lifting even smallish bags was a pain. It was especially tough going up and down stairs and getting the bags on the train in the 2 minutes or less stop. The roller bag and carryon would link together when I was rolling through the station but I'd have to take them apart to go up and down staris and into the train.

The weigh of the bags is important too, You will have to lift it up several steps into the train and then be able to get in above your head in the racks.

Travel as light as possible.

TAB

Posted by
25 posts

We spent 24 days in October in Italy, mostly traveling by train. We felt sorry for the people struggling with big wheeled suitcases or multiple suitcases on trains and in stations. We traveled carry-on with one bag each that converted from a rolling case to a backpack for easy maneuvering through train stations. We used (and loved) the Osprey Meridian brand travel pack, although the Victorinox brand pack looked good also. Both have a zip-off day packs. They will hold 3-4 changes of clothes, a warm coat, etc, with room for your camera and guidebook. We loved the liberating feeling of traveling light and in hindsight could have traveled even lighter.
Ed in Seattle

Posted by
78 posts

Thanks. I guess I have to rethink my travelling wardrobe and hope you can launder and iron clothes fairly easily. In October is it still fairly warm. Will a light jacket do? we start in Como area and end in Amalfi.

Posted by
1449 posts

Rick Steves tours send thousands each summer to Europe and they specify a carry-on size bag. Even for the 21-day tours. Its not hard to do if you get the right kind of clothes and bring a limited supply of things. Rick has more details on this website and in his book "Europe Thru the Back Door".

IMHO this is how you want to travel. Just one bag. And if it is wheeled it is nice if there are also straps to carry it like a backpack since many streets are cobblestone, and you go up and down stairs in train stations.

Posted by
712 posts

Keep light weight as possible. Bring nothing that has to be ironed. Rolling small bag is best. I thought I had traveled light weight but it still was a struggle going up an down steps at train stations to get to the appropriate track and trying to put my suitcase overhead in some of the train luggage racks. My husband helped me alot even though he had his suitcase and carry on to worry about.

Posted by
7209 posts

I've never stored any luggage in the overhead luggage racks on the trains. I always store between the seats or at the end of the car where the bulky luggage storage is located. The overhead racks are for smaller pieces.

Posted by
23343 posts

While I will disagree that a rolling bag is "best," it is really a matter of personal preference. We use rolling bags in the US but the back pack style of carryon bags in Europe. Regardless of travel mode the emphasis should be on small bags and min weight. The most we will have is one carryon size each and a SMALL day bag.

If concerned about ironing clothes, you are taking the wrong clothes and probably cotton based fabrics. We have not taken any 100% cotton clothing for years. The one concession is a couple pairs of pants that have a 20% cotton blend. Depending on the coach arrangement we will store our luggage overhead or in the end bins. BUT is all situations we use a light, retractable cable lock to secure the luggage to something or to each other if "something" is not available. During 300+ days of travel and thousands of train miles we have never had a luggage problem.

Posted by
504 posts

My experience is that you have to put your bags in an overhead rack. Therefore, my rule of thumb is that I never travel with a bag that I cannot lift over my head.

Posted by
196 posts

Travel Light! and be aware of where your stop is. Where people seem to have the most difficulty is getting off the train. The train will often stop for only a moment and you do not have a lot of time to unload a bunch of luggage. I saw one poor guy in Annecy screaming and waving his arms as the door shut with one of his 6 pieces of luggage still inside the train! Have a great trip.

Posted by
24 posts

Christine....I concur with everyone else. we went to Italy , first time this last Oct. Our 21" carryon and backpack that would roll was doable, but still became VERY HEAVY and inconvenient when we arrived at smaller train stations and had to go down steps, then back up steps to another train. It works best if you stay in one place as long as possible and spoke out on day trips whenever you can. Going from north to south will be good. We did the opposite and Lake Como area was getting colder and windy. However, I left my coat on the plane at the beginning in Rome,( not a good way to start ! ) and found that my windbreaker, silk long johns and a cashmere larger pashmina that I purchased there kept me warm enough. Pack lighter than you think you can....do laundry in your room....and enjoy, as it is a beautiful, exciting country !

Posted by
32224 posts

Christine, some trains have luggage racks at the end of the coach for larger Bags, and also racks over the seats (if the Bag is heavy, lifting these to the rack can be a problem for some people).

As the others have noted, it's a good idea to PACK LIGHT, especially as some routes require multiple changes. Often these involve a trip down stairs to a "sotto passagio" and then back up to the tracks (it's NOT possible to simply walk across the tracks). Also, the cobblestone streets can be a minor annoyance when traveling with wheeled suitcases.

I travel with a Backpack and Daypack, and this has worked well for me so far (that's along the lines of what Rick recommends). I can usually be at the next track while those with large wheeled Bags are still "bumping their way" up and down stairs (some stations have Lifts).

Also as noted previously, some trains in Italy stop for literally one minute, so it's a good idea to be ready to disembark promptly!

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
78 posts

Thank you everyone for the helpful replies. I will throw out most of my wardrobe and start again - any excuse!! I love this forum.

Posted by
78 posts

I have been out looking at the roller backpacks and they look perfect - seems I need new clothes and new cases. Fantastic. Many thanks everyone

Posted by
11507 posts

I am sorry, I am laughing a wee bit here,
IRONING, on HOLIDAY, now Christine shame on you!! Remember this isn't like a cruise holiday with formal nights and all, this is your Europeon ADVENTURE!!

"A month in Italy", that sounds so wonderful, like the title of a book .. aahh, the romance of it, pack seersucker and other no iron fabrics, heroines in my novels do not IRON on vacation. LOL

Posted by
1449 posts

one thing I'd add is that the roller mechanism takes up a fair amount of room in the bag. If you can carry the backpack-style bag (such as the one Rick sells) it means a bit more room for clothes and the like. Be sure it has a waist belt, like the one Rick sells. The idea is to carry the weight on your hips thru the belt, not on your shoulders.

Posted by
1158 posts

Chritine,

Even if you are from AU, I think you know what an American size luggage is. Do not take those. They are big and hard to move or store. The overhead racks are small, you can only put on 22" or a bit bigger. If you will be using sleepers , then you will have more room, on the floor.
I recently purchased a backpack roller from High Sierra (AT gear line ).It's heavier then a regular backpack, about 8-9 lbs, but pretty roomy. It also has a daypack attached to the mail luggage theu a zipper. I would get something like that. I know Rick Steves has those roll abord bags, but never used them.

Posted by
49 posts

Just got back from Italy yesterday and wanted to chime in. My wife and I took several train trips during our vacation and had no issues with storing the luggage (as long as we had seats on the train!). We each have a Rick Steve's roll aboard carry on that we check on the plane, and the back pack carry on bag. We were able to fit all four bags on the rack above our seats with no problem. If the train is already packed when you get on, these fit between the seats as well. I saw plenty of people also putting larger rolling bags on the sideways (length against the wall of the train) on the rack as well with no issues. You can also fit those behind the seats as well as long as they are not too big.

Posted by
4555 posts

Pssst....Christine....Don't tell anyone, but I almost always take a travel iron with me...to make those shirts looks crisp and clean before a meeting or big dinner with my overseas friends. If you've got room, stick it in! I travel with a 19 inch roller, and I always manage to find space...unless all I'm doing is kicking back at the beach.

Posted by
78 posts

I am happy to walk long distances and explore in comfy clothes but prefer to dress natly in the evening so I will seriously think about a travel iron - and also pack lightly. I am sure my husband can fit the iron in his case...... Thanks Norm

Posted by
586 posts

We just made a similar train ride from Milan to Venice, through Verona...if you buy first class train tickets it's more expensive, but we had plenty of room up top above our heads and next to us for our two fairly large bags.

Posted by
14 posts

We spent all of Oct. going from south to north so I sympathize with packing dilemas.It was 80 degrees in Amalfi then in the 50's in Tuscany. Use layers and try to pack in one color scheme, black being easiest. Don't worry about the iron I packed one and never used it.

Posted by
81 posts

Ah ha! I'm one of those who will be combining time on the land with 7 days at sea.. therein lies my packing dilemna... We (darling daughter and myself) are arriving in Rome on a Thurs am and need to be at the Port of Civitacecchia on Sunday afternoon so we have time in Rome pre-cruise, as well as associated transfers from Airport -> Termini -> Hotel -> Termini -> Port.. you get the picture. While I would love to pack light, we'll be on our adventure for 13 days in total with a cruise in between. Cruises alone normally involve a lot of changes of clothes.. Not sure how to best deal with this given the fact that we are not just going Airport to Ship and back again.

Posted by
78 posts

Donna,
sounds like lightweight layering based around black -can be very dressy with a few good accessories- will suit you too. Have a great trip.