5 week train trip, luggage and packing worries!

My husband and I are going to Europe in exactly one month. We are flying round trip to London and taking the Eurostar to Paris where we will catch trains in Munich and Zagreb and eventually end up in Belgrade, Serbia for one week. We are visiting 4 exchange students we hosted from Serbia, Czech Republic, Berlin and one from Sweden who is meeting us in Prague. From Belgrade we go to Budapest for 2 days, Prague for 8 days, Berlin for 4 days, Paris for 2 days and then back to London for another week where we are going to several concerts. We are travelling on 11 different trains total not including taking the tube from Heathrow to hotel. I actually started packing my bag last week because I always overpack and am concerned I am taking way too much clothing! I am also concerned that I purchased the wrong kind of luggage for this kind of trip. I purchased hard shell luggage in 28, 24 and 20 inch sizes for both me and my husband and can't figure out which ones to take. I have since read hard shell luggage is not as good to take as soft sided. I also have a Vera Bradley weekender for my carry on and a Ipad cross body purse and my husband has a convertable backback with wheels for his carry on which will have our electronics etc inside. I am so afraid that we are going to be carrying too much weight hopping on and off trains for 5 weeks. I tried to put the clothing I want to take in the 24" bag and it doesn't fit. I have already taken out several items of clothing and do not want to take out any more due to the activities that I will be doing. I also have to bring a pretty large scrapbook for one of my exchange students that would cost an arm and a leg if I mailed it to him. My husband on the other hand is only bringing 2 pairs of pants, 5 shirts and 2 pairs of shoes so I can use some of his suitcase if I have to. My question is should I bring the 28" suitcase with all of our clothing and check it in or the 2 smaller suitcases? I think the 24" has to be checked in too. I have read many posts on packing here and have watched many Youtube tutorials on packing but I still need advise. Thank you!

Posted by stan
Kansas City
1210 posts

pamraitt just my opinion, but if you have to check, then take the biggest one you have. But its really the on &off trains and to and from hotels that will do you in. Hopefully these are wheeled bags? Hard shells are heavy, no doubt.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3279 posts

I'm fairly certain that you will hate that 28" suitcase after about two times wrestling it on and off public transportation. Let your husband use the 20" one and force yourself to fit everything else into the 24" case. Study RS packing lists. Pare down to about 3 total outfits plus whatever you are wearing. You will be glad you did! If you have dressier events, take a nice top to wear with plain skirts or pants. Of course, you must have one pair of super comfortable shoes.

I save on weight and bulk by loading my books up on my Kindle via a mini ipad. I take only small sizes of shampoo, lotion, etc. I buy more if I need it. Usually hotels have these things available. There are plenty of stores in Europe selling necessities.

I usually travel during cooler months and take various items so I can layer my clothes to stay warm enough: a lightweight fleece "sweater", a cotton turtleneck shirt, a scarf, headband. I do get bored with only a couple of changes of clothes, but the trade-off of lightweight luggage is worth it. I simply wash-out some things as I go along, then hit the laundromat every 5-7 days.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1994 posts

I would suggest packing whatever suitcase you decide to take with everything you want to include. Also pack whatever carry-on and purse you are planning to bring. Take all that stuff for a long walk – at least a mile, preferably with some hills, as well as uneven walking surfaces and curbs. Then carry it up and down a couple of flights of stairs. Finally, lift it into and out of the trunk of your car a few times, which is not unlike dealing with luggage on trains. If you can handle all of that by yourself, then you'll be fine with the luggage on your trip. If you need to cut back on what you're bringing, you'll find a number of threads on this website providing suggestions. There are also lots of other websites that talk about light travel. You'll enjoy your trip much more if you can easily handle your luggage by yourself.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
2094 posts

It helps to travel with more than one person if you are doing train travel with more than just a carry-on plus personal shoulder bag. The weaker partner boards with his or her carry-on stuff. The stronger person(s) need to lift and throw the heavier bags up on the train. Weaker person drags the bags hopefully into a storage space or at least move them so they don't block entry/egress. Stronger person boards and attempts to find storage lockers. Put carry-on bags into the overheads. Breath.

Posted by gone
2081 posts


you have time, learn to pack lighter.

happy trails.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3584 posts

You should not have more than 7 days of clothing. And for things that can be worn more than once without washing, like pants, shorts or skirts, bring only three or four (total). Bring things that can be mixed and matched. Bring no more than two pairs of shoes (one on your feet and one in the bag). Clothing gets rolled up tight or packed in soft cubes. Bring small bottles of toiletries. If you have special products, buy some small plastic bottles and put it in the bottles for travel.

Expect to be doing laundry about every 5-6 days.

Posted by Val
Long Beach, USA
246 posts

Of course this all depends on how in shape you are I would say. Have you ever considered a backpack?
I know some people will not use them for various reasons, look, back problems, etc. But they are wonderful.
I can run to catch a train with mine on my back...and I can hop on a train and I laugh when I see people sweating to lift big suitcases on the trains...or stairs. (sometimes escalators do not work and lots of smaller hotels do not have lifts)

Sherry has great advice...practice that. Lifting your suitcase on a train would be harder than putting it in your trunk...since you probably have to climb 2-3 steps to hop on the train yourself with the suitcase.

I second Ray...try packing a suitcase...and try packing half of what you originally packed. It makes travelling more enjoyable.
Leave room to buy a few things in Europe too!

Posted by Allie
130 posts

I agree with Douglas. No longer how long I am staying I pack for a week and do laundry or shop for toiletries once a week. Once you unload the scrapbook use that room for whatever you pick up along the way. I just make sure I have clean undies and a clean shirt for 7 days, the pants can be worn a couple of times with just spot cleaning between laundering. Bring a sweater and just one other pair of shoes. You can do it and you will be glad you did!

Posted by Eef
252 posts

I think you should follow the RS packing list. You will be really glad that you did. You don't need a lot of stuff. You can wash out small things like underwear in your hotel room. (I wring things out in a towel and then leave them to dry overnight.) Follow your husband's lead.

Posted by doric8
347 posts

Edgar has the right vision. we did Italy and Slovenia, I carried a 25 inch wheeled bag and a day back pack only about half full, and was able to get my stuff on and off trains about 4 days.....2 trains each day. if you do the 20 and 24 bags....remember that after you deliver the scrap book you can celebrate by buying a new blouse!! but yes, make yourself get by with a pair of shoes on your feet and one in the bag.....ok, and maybe a 99cent pair of flip flops for in the room and down to breakfast. you can do this!!! ( I had checked my roller bag on the flight....with just my meds, one Tee and 2 pairs undies in my day pack)

Posted by Jean
924 posts

What an exciting adventure to take this trip to see the students you hosted!

Here's your packing list:
Everything will fit into a carry-on suitcase with room to spare. Seriously, you can do this, and it will save your arms & back and can keep you much safer and even save you time since you'll be much more mobile. Limit yourself to 1 carry-on max & if you really, really need more, make it a small backpack (put the purse in your suitcase between locations). May I comment about the scrapbook... since you had been willing to pay for extra luggage, couldn't you put that money towards mailing this, instead? ..unless it's the first stop on your trip.

I've used this list for the last few years for multiple weeks, and it is plenty. Enjoy your trip!

2 pairs of walking/comfortable shoes: Keens or similar & black sandals
A black short jacket (plane, rain, evening); black formal cardigan
2 washable dresses
1 pair of black washable long pants
2 pairs of capris
4 blouses - 1 long-sleeve, 3 short-sleeve
2 scarves
Light-weight nightie

Posted by June
Edmonton, Alberta
475 posts

In addition to Rick's packing list, I recommend the following blogs to help with packing lists: theviviennefiles.com and travelfashiongirl.com. I used the travelfashiongirl's 15 item clothing list with great success, with some alterations to fit me, for instance switching a pant for a skirt. Make a packing list and stick to it! All clothing should coordinate. Keep shoes to a maximum of 3 pair, 2 if you can ( wear the heaviest and pack a second pair). I have survived a few trips of up to 5 weeks with 2 pants and a skort only as "bottoms". Bring a flat sink stopper, a couple of heavy duty plastic clothespins & RS clothesline, to do a bit of laundry on the go if possible. Try different packing methods, I roll some and lay other things flat. Use every space wisely. I line my packed shoes with a clean plastic bag and shove my clean socks and undies in them; keeps the shape of the shoe and saves room. Every little bit helps to save room.

Many other posters are spot on; hauling a big bag on and off trains is difficult. I would suggest the smallest possible bags. Will you be able to get off and on a train with your VB bag, purse and a 20"? Will your husband be able to manage his backpack & the 24"?

I would not bring the 28". I have seen too many people struggle with large suitcases on trains. Be aware of the weight limit for your packed bags. There is such a variation in airlines of how strict they are with the weight limit.

Your trip sounds wonderful. Have a great time!

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
2094 posts

Be aware of the weight limit for your packed bags. There is such a variation in airlines of how strict they are with the weight limit.

Not sure about "variation in airlines". The major carriers that I fly all seem to have a 50#/23kg maximum. Some allow 70# at an extra fee. The reported migration to 50# a number of years ago was attributed to worker protection.

If your bag is close to the 50# limit you will want strategically placed handles in addition to your roller handles to facilitate lifting. (My Bean Adventure Rolling Duffle has both top handle straps and end handles.) Its easier to pick up the bag and place/push/throw it up on the train than bending over and dragging your bag up. As baggage handlers are trained, use your knees when lifting, not your back.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
9919 posts

I have traveled for many months at a time in Europe using only the smaller size of bag and doing laundry about once every two weeks. Nobody but you cares if you wear the same clothes "all the time." Do use your smaller bags and pack them as light as possible, due to the number of times you will have to handle them yourselves in train stations and other situations. You are bound to buy things along the way, so the bag will only get heavier. Husbands who get stuck carrying too much of wife's gear may sour to the idea of travel.

Posted by pamraitt
13 posts

Thank you travelers for all your advise! Last night I went and purchased a 24" soft side suitcase with spinner wheels. I decided the 28" was way too large and the 20" is way too small with the 24" being just right LOL! So after I got home with the new suitcase, I started putting my clothes that I already had in packing cubes into the suitcase. I was amazed at how much more room I had then in the hard shell case! I like having the outside pockets that hard shell cases don't have. I also took out about 5 pieces of clothing that I felt I really didn't need. I have plenty of room in my husband's check in and we will put the scrapbook inside it. After we drop off the scrapbook on our 4th day of travel, I will have plenty of room to buy souvenirs!

I have travelled to England twice with my best friend in the last couple of years. We were only there for a week and both of us brought way too much stuff! We had to take a train from London to Nottingham and my friend who is small could not lug her own suitcase up or down the train platforms. I was not able to help her because I had my own stuff to worry about. Luckily for her, each time a nice man offered to carry her suitcase up the platform. On our way to Paddington Station to take the Heathrow Express to the airport, the wheels on my duffle bag suitcase broke and would not wheel so I had to carry the bag and it was way too heavy to be carrying. By the time we got to the train station, I was so frustrated and upset that I swore I would never pack that heavy again especially when I don't have my husband to help me LOL!

So this is what I am bringing for my wardrobe:
3 pairs nice pants, black, brown and tan,
2 pair leggings (don't take up any room)
5 tops.
1 sweater top,
1 skirt,
2 dresses, one long casual, one short dressy,
Dressy lightweight jacket,
Anorak with hood for rain,
Warmer Jacket (wearing on plane)
Short leather jacket (must have for my concerts)
Free Spirit walking shoes (most comfortable shoes I have ever worn)
Riding Boots (wearing on the plane)
7 pair underwear
2 bras

All these clothes fit into 3 packing cubes except the leather jacket which I am taking in my carry on as I don't want to risk it getting lost or stolen. I still have plenty of room in my check in for my toiletries and cosmetics. I am going to practice carrying the luggage outside, up and down stairs and into the car trunk etc. just like some of you advised. I think we will okay with one 24" check in each, one smaller carry on each and my mini Ipad purse which I can put into my carry on bag if needed.

Posted by Lo
1682 posts

The hard shelled luggage may indeed be a mistake. Do you know how much each piece weighs on its own before you put anything in it? Most people seem to worry about the size, but don't give a thought to the weight. And I don't mean just the airlines limits.

The major weight limit for me is how much I can lift and manage on my own. That's 20 pounds tops. My French-made Lipault 55x36x23cm carry-on spinner weighs in at 6 pounds. That leaves me 14 pounds for anything else I pack in that bag. If I weigh more than 20 pounds extra with it, I take things out until it gets to the right weight. It is partially soft-sided and the measurements include the wheels and handles. The advantage of soft-sided luggage is that it can squeeze down to fit in both the sizing bin at the gate and the overhead bin in the plane.

FWIW, this is the Baggallini Kindred Tote in Dolphin (light blue) I will be using as my 2nd carry-on for our trip this fall -- http://www.ebags.com/product/baggallini/kindred-tote-exclusive/253096 and this is the Lipault spinner in Aqua (turquoise) I've carried on for the past few years -- http://www.amazon.com/Lipault-Paris-Upright-Wheeled-Trolly/dp/B0061MXAZ8.

A lot will depend on which airline you take, but even your 20" bag might be too big in one of its dimensions. You've probably already seen many discussions of recent carry-on limits here in the packing section. On trains, the bigger the bag, the farther away you are likely to sit from where it will fit.

Take everything to heart that you have heard here, especially the advice to pack like you want to and then lug it all with you on experimental trips. If there are no trains where you live, use the buses. The struggle and crowded aisles will be very similar. Go into and out of buildings and up and down steps. It's not just getting on and off trains. It's going from platform to platform often down and then up steps. It's walking to your hotel and then often up and down stairs there. If you can't manage on your own, cut back.

You can definitely pack lighter than you think and get along just fine. Our trips are for +/- a month. I pack for a week and a day, that extra day being the flights with my heaviest/bulkiest garments on my body and/or a laundry day. Even though I hate washing things in the sink, I do it occasionally. Mostly we ease out at home if we are staying in an apartment, or at a laundromat if not, and enjoy the downtime of reading, more trip planning or whatever while we do our laundry. BTW, I am a XL-XXL person, so my garments definitely are not small. I used to use Ziploc bags, but packing cubes are now the way I organize my bag.

The suggestion of the Vivienne Files is excellent. This link goes specifically to the posts indexed as packing ones: http://www.theviviennefiles.com/search/label/packing. But almost every post is about coordinating your wardrobe for maximum effect and to save money. Even though she shows more than I take and more expensive items than I would ever buy, the way she shows how things can go together to make multiple outfits makes it much easier to visualize how to do that. I've also learned a lot there about scarves and jewelry.

If those concerts in London have you worried about what to wear, and are influencing your tendency to take too much, don't let them. I hope someone with more knowledge than I have will speak up here, but my own experience and what I've read indicates that people wear anything and everything, just like here at home.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
2658 posts

I'm currently at the end of week 1 of 7 in Europe. I am a light packer and knew I had overpacked last week when my RS convertible weighed 22#. I have a bunch of guide books which are heavy even though I've ripped the irrelevant chapters out. I thought I was going to not make it yesterday getting on/off Eurostar/Thalys/sprinter trains. It was awful. I have big bruises on my arms which shocked me because I am pretty strong.

I encourage you to pare down some more. What you wear at home to a concert where you will know people is different than when you go somewhere where, as my Grandmother used to say, "you wont see anyone you know or care about". Even though the leather jacket seems essential now don't take any item of clothing of value that you are going to worry about. Also weigh it and see what it will add to your suitcase weight if you dont wear it every time you are in transit. You may want to pare down the dresses as you have a skirt which hopefully goes with all tops and leggings.

Have a wonderful time but look to making it easy on yourself and DH!

Posted by pamraitt
13 posts

Thank you for your responses! I weighed my 24" bag last night and it only weighs 22 lbs and that is with everything. My husband's bag only weighs 18 lbs and that is with the scrapbook inside. I think we will be fine with what we have packed now and that includes my 2 concert outfits which I can wear on other days. I am so excited to go and wish it was tomorrow!

Posted by Jaye
51 posts

I second the suggestion to look at theviviennefiles.com and travelfashiongirl.com. Both blogs have great ideas about packing light AND looking appropriate/stylish for every occasion with a minimal amount of clothing. You can probably get everything you would need into the 20" bag. In the beginning it's hard to imagine how to travel that lightly for more than a few days but once you get the hang of it you may never go back to having to check a bag. Your trip sounds wonderful. Have a great time.

Posted by Adam
2925 posts

The less stuff you pack, the fewer problems you will have.

7 days is way too many days to pack clothing for. Aim for 3 plus what is on your back.

Posted by pamraitt
13 posts

Thanks but no thanks Adam! :) I could never go anywhere with only 3 days worth of clothes. If I was a man, maybe. I need at least 7 days worth of clothes and that's less than half of what I have taken on other trips to Europe. I am definitely high maintenance LOL!

Posted by gone
2081 posts


"Riding Boots (wearing on the plane)"

If you dont mind me asking, where are you going to ride? Private or public?

On my travels ive been trying to get a ride in each city/country i visit, but this year it didnt work out.

Happy trails.

Posted by pamraitt
13 posts

Hahaha Ray, I am not going riding at all LOL! The boots are just called riding boots but they are really just tall boots that hit the knee. They are very comfortable and go with all my outfits and boots are very fashionable in US and in Europe! :)

Posted by Wray
Boston, ma, usa
517 posts

Pamraitt, I am able to pack 7 outfits in my 20" carry-on. Once this also included dressy clothes for my daughter's rehearsal dinner and wedding in the UK. In addition to what I'm wearing on the plane, I pack 2 slacks, 6 forms of blouses/tee shirts, 6 days of underwear, 2-3 bras, and 6 days of socks. I also pack a vest, scarf and sometimes jewelry. In the winter I substitute a warm scarf, hat and gloves. You should be able to downsize your bag and still have a week's worth of clothes. My clothes are business casual because I like to look nice when I'm traveling. I sure wouldn't want to be lugging a 24" suitcase on and off trains, but more important, the 24" has to stay at the front or back of the train. A smaller suitcase can often be worked in where I'm sitting. I like to keep a close eye on my things. I think you can take enough clothes to satisfy your own definition of lighter and still pack in a smaller bag. My bag is expandable, which I often use on the flight home for items I have picked up along the way. Packing light is a process. I actually started much lighter, but after all these years I have ended up with the above system, because I like to look nice and be comfortable. Wray

Posted by gone
2081 posts


"Hahaha Ray, I am not going riding at all LOL! The boots are just called riding boots but they are really just tall boots that hit the knee. They are very comfortable and go with all my outfits and boots are very fashionable in US and in Europe! :)"

thats what i was thinking, but i thought i would ask anyway.

a comment. I hope those boots are comfortable. Theres alto of cobblestone overthere.

happy trails.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
7357 posts

Cobblestones are no fun for those tiny spinner wheels, either, but you are making great progress!

I pack for seven days (fewer bottoms than tops) plus what I'm wearing, plus any event clothes I have to take, meds, electronics, extra pair of shoes, toiletries but no soap or shampoo (hotels provide these or they can be purchased overseas), crossbody messenger bag, and it all goes ino a 21" rolling carryon and a Civita daybag. That's for 89 days.

Posted by Lo
1682 posts

You need to wear those boots on your experimental excursions with your luggage. Your feet may not enjoy them for long periods of walking and standing. And they may be an issue, as are any shoes, if you get them wet. So wear them in the rain at home outside for several hours to see how they and you hold up.

In my experience, the absolutely most important thing I wear is my shoes. I'm on my feet walking or standing several hours a day on our trips and if my feet (and legs and knees) aren't happy, I'm not happy.

Another suggestion is to check the weather averages for all the places you are going at the times you are going to them. Of course, it can always be different, but you are going at the end of September and into October. You may want to lose the sandals and readjust what you are taking when it gets closer to packing time. This is a good website for checking month by month averages -- http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/country.php3?r=EUR&refer=&regionname=Europe. The current weather and forecasts are at the top of the page for each location.

Just for fun, this is the link to Belgrade where you will be for a week early in your trip -- http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weather.php3?s=27231&cityname=Belgrade-Serbia. Note that for October the average high is 65 and the average low is 48. The average number of rainy days is 12.

You can do that for all the places you are going. I didn't check anywhere else, but you can expect the weather to be colder and wetter as the month wears on.

Posted by gone
2081 posts


i forgot to add, that cobblestone can be slippery when wet. My tush told me that.

happy trails.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4235 posts

"It helps to travel with more than one person if you are doing train travel with more than just a carry-on plus personal shoulder bag. The weaker partner boards with his or her carry-on stuff. The stronger person(s) need to lift and throw the heavier bags up on the train. Weaker person drags the bags hopefully into a storage space or at least move them so they don't block entry/egress. Stronger person boards and attempts to find storage lockers. Put carry-on bags into the overheads."

And while this little vaudeville act is going on, the growing crowd of people trying to exit and board the train are growing more and more irritated...Many train connections only allow about 2 minutes, some more.

Be sure you can run with whatever luggage you bring. It's not uncommon to realize at the last minute that your train is actually several platforms away...and boarding NOW! Good times.

For me, a 24" bag would be too much especially for that long of a trip and that many train changes. My first, virginal, trip to Europe eons ago was 5 weeks long, and I took 5 shirts for temps ranging from 30F to 100F. Two pairs of thick-soled shoes. Those cobblestones are killers! Two or three pants/shorts and maybe a skirt.

Worst case, and you get there and decide you have nothing to wear - Go Shopping!

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4235 posts

Just noticed 2 dresses and a skirt. Rethink that. Also: Four.Jackets. "Short leather jacket (must have for my concerts)" Unless you are performing these concerts, nothing is a 'must have'. If you can wear your warm and rainproof (?) jackets together for cold, rainy days, and you really want to bring your dressy jacket with you (would a dressy scarf work as well?), then I'd really think long and hard about that leather jacket. Really scrutinize your choices of jackets, and how many you really need. Or rather, how many you really want to drag all over Europe for well over a month. I'd love to have lots of my things with me, but not nearly enough to justify dragging them all over Europe.

You want to wear your riding boots on the plane; if your legs and feet swell - and even if they haven't on other overseas flights, never assume they won't start sometime :-( - you won't be able to get them back on once you land. You might want to wear something else on the plane.

Posted by pamraitt
13 posts

You have all given me great advise! Today I took out one dress, one vest that I forgot I had packed that is rather heavy, the tan pants and one top. I will not bring the sandals as I think the weather will probably be too cold or rainy on most days. You are right about not wearing the boots on the airplane as my feet do tend to swell. So I am just bringing my walking shoes and the boots and will put the boots in my check in bag. My husband is only bringing 2 pairs of pants and 5 shirts so his suitcase is practically empty other than the scrapbook which I will be rid of after the 4th day. I decided to use the 20" hardshell suitcase instead of the 24" as the his check in. Then we will have plenty room to buy things. I am still bringing the new 24" that I just purchased and when I weighed it today with all my toiletries and cosmetics, it weighed 20 lbs. I have never been anywhere that my bag did not weigh the maximum of 50 lbs so this is a huge accomplishment for me! We only have 2 platform changes so I am hoping we don't have any problem getting on and off the trains. We plan on getting to the stations early for each trip. By the way, I have pre booked all my train tickets except in Serbia and Croatia where I need to buy them at the station. I did not buy a railpass and saved hundreds of dollars by booking early. I got the best advise and learned how to book the trains on http://www.seat61.com

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
2658 posts

Good progress. Now did you have a chance to weigh the leather jacket? Can it get wet?

Posted by pamraitt
13 posts

Pam, it's not real leather so yes it can get wet and it's a short jacket size small so it's not overly heavy. I will be wearing it to a 3 day festival that lasts all day long in Nottingham, England and to a concert in Paris. I get cold easily and always have to have a jacket on but don't want to wear anything too warm or heavy as I will be at indoor venues.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14155 posts

I agree with Adam. Clothes for seven days is too much. This isn't a fashion show; you're a tourist. In addition to what I wear on the plane, I take two addition khaki slacks, one pair of walking shorts (sorry, Kent), about four more shirts (cotton/polyester blend knit), two sets of cotton/polyester underwear. I've been doing this (refined over the years) for 15 years, over 150 nights; longest trip was 21 nights. Works great. My bag, packed, weighs about 11 lbs.

Posted by Bets
3359 posts

Not a good idea to always count on a stronger travel partner to help with the weight. Those strong partners throw their backs out, become immobilized and then the little weaklings have to manoeuvre everything up and down the stairs, step-by-step, case-by-case. Personal experience with our two 22" cases on part of a six-week trip.

Posted by gone
2081 posts


You plan your trip, you can also plan to do laundry.

Try to match up the number of change of clothes with your husband so you are doing the wash on the same day.

good luck and happy trails.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1994 posts

Just to let you know, you can get by on less – which saves you from having to rely on someone else for help with your luggage. No matter how long the trip, I take the same things.

The following list includes what is packed, as well as what I'm wearing on the plane:
– 2 pairs of pants
– 5 to 6 tops that coordinate and can be layered
– 3 sets of underwear
– the walking shoes that I'm wearing on the plane (black, and ok with dressy pants), plus a pair of 99-cent flip-flops
– A hooded rain shell and umbrella
– A hat that is appropriate for the season
– Something to sleep in
– A few pieces of inexpensive light weight jewelry

Since I travel in the spring or fall, I also add the following as appropriate, depending on anticipated plans and weather:
– A lightweight zip-up fleece top that can be layered under the rain shell
– Light weight silk long underwear
– Swimsuit
– A nice black cardigan sweater, if I'm going to need something little dressier

This has worked fine for trips of 1 month or longer. I just do a little hand laundry every night or two. And I ensure that what I bring will dry overnight and not need ironing.

Posted by Jean
924 posts


Now that we've lightened your load, I'm worried about your hubby: "My husband is only bringing 2 pairs of pants and 5 shirts so his suitcase is practically empty other than the scrapbook "

Does he really want to need to wash clothes every night & how is he going to have anything to wear while his pants are drying? : )

Posted by pamraitt
13 posts

Hi Jean, my husband is bringing 2 pairs of slacks and wearing his jeans on the airplane so he will have 3 pairs of pants total. He will also have the shirts he packs as well as the one he wears on the plane. We will be buying him souvenir t-shirts in some of the countries we visit and at the concerts to give him extra shirts so that is why he is not bringing too many with him. My hubby is very low maintenance and has no problem wearing the same thing day after day. Every trip we have been on, he has shirts he has never worn as he tends to put on the same one. I have to tell him he does have other shirts in his suitcase, so put another one on LOL! We will be able to do our laundry when we stay at our exchange student's homes so we don't have to worry about washing them out in the sink which will be nice. Now if I can just decide what tops I don't want to bring now as I still have too many. I am down to 3 pairs of pants and one pair of leggings including what I am wearing on the plane and one dress and short skirt. 3 1/2 weeks to go!!!

Posted by doric8
347 posts

eliminate the tops that will most easily show soil or a dribble.....of course make sure all tops could go w all bottoms (for me that means bottoms that are solid neutral colors) (and a few tops with a pattern) you are going to have SUCH a good time!

Posted by Kathy
Burbank, CA
17 posts

A couple of thoughts from one who has used the too large suitcase and male companion method, and will not do it ever again. Polyester blouses that wash and dry without wrinkles; tees made of cotton, modal and a bit of spandex; well cushioned shoes, really well cushioned shoes; inflatable hangers. Now, from someone who is always cold, I have found a short, light cashmere or cashmere blend sweater I can wear under another sweater or jacket to be indispensable, and it can be worn in bed if I'm cold there.
Sounds like a great trip.

Posted by pamraitt
13 posts

All my shirts are light weight and roll up to pretty tiny and are pretty much wrinkle free. I am down to 5 tops, 3 pants, 1 leggings, 1 short skirt, 1 short dress, 1 dressy sweater, 2 light weight jackets and 2 pairs of shoes! If I need anymore clothing, I can always going shopping! I am 5'10" and work out and therefore I and am able to carry my own luggage without the help from my husband who is 6'1". I wouldn't want to throw his back out LOL!

Posted by christa
alameda, ca, usa
585 posts

I just returned from a trip where for the first time I travelled between countries on a train, and I was anxious about it since I'm alone and didn't know what to expect as far as how to get luggage on the train, where to put it, would there be a seat, etc. A few days before I left Vienna for Budapest, I did a day trip to Salzburg and the return trip was utter mayhem--train was jam-packed, luggage racks full, people rudely taking up 2 seats, train starts moving and there's still a bunch of us roaming through the cars for a seat until I finally asked a woman to move her purse and tablet so I could sit--did I get the evil eye all the way back to Vienna!

The trip to Budapest on a mid-morning Wednesday, though, was a piece of cake. I travelled with a rolling soft-side 28" bag and good-sized shoulder travel bag as well as my cross-body purse and had no trouble hauling that on board and getting a spot in the rack in the middle of the car, with a bonus seat right across from it. I locked my bags for the train, but not on the plane.

I made a conscious effort this trip to pare down what I brought for 2 weeks: extra pair of shoes, 2 extra jeans, 10 tops, one pullover outer top and one black linen 3/4 sleeve sweater (perfect travelling sweater!), 4 extra socks and 5 panties and spare bra. Washed undies and socks every night until I had enough clean left for remainder of trip, washed tops a few times and jeans a couple of times. Next trip I can see that I really only need 5 or 6 tops, since I seemed to favour the same 4 this trip.

Posted by Crystal
WIsconsin, USA
21 posts

The longer trip need not dictate the packing of more clothing. On any trip, no matter the length, I pack roughly the same amount of clothing. It depends on the season. Usually, 4 pants (jeans), 7-11 thin tops. Don't skimp on socks. Undergarments are your choice, but nobody knows if you travel sans undies some days! My jeans are worn at least two full days. Some tops are recycled if layered on previous wear or worn for short spans. Layers are your friend. Febreze and wrinkle remover is also your friend to freshen up your clothing, as are dryer sheets to keep your shoes fresher. Two pairs of shoes, generally. Don't forget, you also wear something in flight, so plan to wear it in flight and take it out of rotation when you land, because wearing plane clothes twice is just gross. Make yourself a clothes matrix with pen to paper - starting with 5 jeans/9 tops minus plane clothes = 4 jeans/8 tops minus day 1 outfit = 4 jeans/7 tops minus day two outfit = 4 jeans (2nd wearing)/6 tops minus day three outfit = 3 jeans/5 tops, and so on. Plan for laundry days and plan for your clean outfit on return flight. One more tip, I tend to shower after sightseeing and a nap to freshen up for dinner, which means I might wear my new clean top for only a few hours. So long as I don't get messed up, I can recycle that top for a sightseeing day. Just a bit of math and pre-planning works for me every time and I still have more than I need on most trips. You can buy clothing there too!

Posted by debfloet
5 posts

pamraitt, Your trip sounds wonderful, glad you can reconnect with your students. We are planning an itinerary similar to yours for spring of 2015. Tell me about your favorite shoes - did you call them 'free spirit' walking shoes?
Happy packing
Thanks, Deb

Posted by pamraitt
13 posts

Thank you Deb! We are packed and ready to leave Friday afternoon! I purchased my walking shoes at Macy's. They are called Free Spirit Travel Time Sneakers and everyone rates them 5 stars for style and comfort. I got the black quilt with patent leather on them and I love them!