We will be travelling to France & Germany in the winter for 3 weeks with four people (two adults: 1 can carry a backpack, 1 cannot, and two kids: ages 6 & 8). Our only flights are between the USA & Paris -- all other travel will be by train (plus metro & taxi). For previous international trips, we have packed altogether in one giant suitcase but after doing some research, that sounds like it might not be the best plan for Europe.
We are thinking we should try to do carry-on only on the way there (we will be travelling by train later that day so don't want to risk a delayed bag) and check them on the way home. Also, carry-on size sounds easier to deal with on trains. If my kids were older, I think I would pack one wheelie bag carry-on plus one backpack personal item per person and none of us would be carrying a backpack suitcase. I realize many kids can deal with their own luggage at these ages but I'm trying to keep it real and I'm honestly not sure that will work with my kids yet. I'm worried if we have four wheelie bags there might be times when both adults are dealing with two wheelie bags and no adult has a hand free to hold one of the kids' hands if needed. I guess I'm leaning toward three 21" wheelie bags and one 21"-ish backpack for my husband to carry. Ideally we would have just two 21" wheelie bags and one 21" backpack but I'm not sure if we can pack that light for four people. We will also be accumulating some souvenirs along the way. Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions for logistics as we haven't done carry-on only with the kids yet and it sounds like a lot of bags to deal with. Thank you!