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Best Luggage for Month Italy Travel

Hi all fellow travelers! I am a 65 yo, woman, in pretty good shape traveler (periodic shoulder issues). We are going to be in Italy for a month next spring. The first 10 days will be traveling, Rome to Venice to Cinque Terre via trains, staying in apartments. Then we are settling for 2 weeks in Umbria with some "day tripping". Wanting the best most convenient bag option. Mainly trying to decided between soft rolling luggage or wheeled backpack. Hoping to get the best use of space and convenience navigating several train stations and hilly streets, perhaps steps to where we will be staying. Prior travels I had a 26" rolling case, would like to be able to do 22", although I will probably check the bag from NY to Rome for convenience, both ways being nonstop. Want the most space possible with a wheeled option. Price hopefully within within $200, maybe a bit more for the PERFECT option. Too much to ask?? Thanks so much!! Love this forum! Ciao! Karen Sortino

Posted by
367 posts

Hi Karen:

I recently changed from a 2 wheeled bag to a spinner. It is an Eagle Creek 22 inch spinner. You will get all sorts answers on the forum. Spinner, no spinner. I love my spinner and I really like the interior design of the Eagle Creek. It works perfectly with packing cubes.

I suggest you go to a travel store that has a range of suitcase options and try on a rolling backpack. It may not be too comfortable. I think what you want to decide is , is the ability to carry the pack on your back more important than rolling it. I prefer rolling and have had no trouble with my spinner on any type of surface.

The key is to pack light. I went for a month with a 22 inch rolling pack and had no trouble carrying it on and off trains and up stairs.

Posted by
6950 posts

We noticed that many well seasoned travelers use TravelPro 21" spinner/roller bags. They're so much lighter than our previous bags, and easily available at discounts on Amazon.com.
My parents were world travelers, and I remember my poor father having to haul around my mother's huge suitcase. Anyone can change bad habits, and that can start with following Rick Steves' packing list. It does work very well--with some minor changes.
We just returned from a month long trip, and actually took too many clothes in a 21" roller.

Posted by
56 posts

Great response! I definitely would prefer to roll than carry! My true backpacking through Europe days are in the past! Super idea to go and just try out various bags. I have been looking at the Eagle Creek. Thanks for your suggestions!

Posted by
4585 posts

I would avoid the backpack style if you have shoulder issues. I have the Eddie Bauer Expedition 21 in a blue sapphire color, and my hubby has the Rick Steve's roller carry-on. I like to use a couple of mesh packing cubes to keep items organized.

Even with a non-stop flight, I just put my suitcase in the overhead bin - eliminates the chance that the suitcase is lost and saves time when we land.

Posted by
2526 posts

Why consider a combination backpack/rolling bag given a a shoulder issue? Utilize the smallest bag with wheels. Rick's suggested packing list includes too much for my style of travel. Traveling lighter = traveling happier for me.

Posted by
192 posts

I have the 21' Travelpro roller bag. I used it on my trip to Europe last year and it worked out great over cobble stones etc. My older spinner, with the smaller wheels, did not work out so well on a previous trip. I bought it on sale on luggagepro.

Posted by
3789 posts

I concur that a 21 inch roller will be a better bet for most. However, you want to determine the number of 'walk up' apartments you have or the terrain of Cinque Terre. Having to carry a suitcase up a lot of stairs by the top handle may also exacerbate shoulder issues as you are not balancing the weight evenly. A pack with a good waist strap is what you want for a convertible wheeled pack (as it can alleviate a lot of shoulder strain), but by default it weighs more empty and may not fit as much as a conventional suitcase. On the flip side, I note some suitcases are sloped, or eat into packing space by being high in the wheel clearance or with sloped corners or top near the handle.

As suggested, a visit to a (few) luggage stores may be best.

Posted by
490 posts

Sound like a nice trip!
I travel to Italy every year and used to take a two wheeled 22" roller and in recent years a spinner.
NOW I find that I can move about better with TWO bags with weight distributed.

FYI SPINNER DO NOT WORK ON COBBLE STONES, so you will only benefit from this style in train stations and airports. It was not worth the extra space that the wheels sacrifice in storage space for me. The weight bearing on wrists etc. is not much if you reduce SIZE of your roller....

Here is what I used this past fall for a trip involving international flight, train and car travel within Italy.

I am not endorsing the brand or being paid, I own a 16" Travelon 2 wheeled roller;;;but there are other brands of this style bag out there.

One small 16" 2 wheeled roller and one 30 Liter back pack/daypack.and bungee

/www.travelsmith.com/product/bag-bungee.do

https://www.ebags.com/product/osprey/porter-30-travel-backpack/277437?productid=10313627

https://www.ebags.com/product/travelon/15-wheeled-under-seat-bag/277007?productid=10311871

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPqnyXqe27s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYSeFs4lK8E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT98d15llSo

...I was impressed by these videos that I watched prior to purchasing...and it held true when I packed my own things. In warm weather you won't need tall boots or bulky clothing so this smaller size can work well! Of course I rinsed out things daily and did real laundry once in two weeks since I was traveling in early October and had jeans.

This makes lifting the roller on to trains etc. very easy. I use the day pack for longer day trips or going to markets. I always pack a smaller squish down style of daypack for cities as a bag for essentials.

** I like being able to lift the 16" anytime I needed to with ease and one hand. Like on and off trains, or up stairs.
You can also show up at a cafe with these small bags and tuck under the table or out of the way and not have a bulky bag getting in the way. Then you can keep your bags WITH you on all trains, 22" do not always fit over head, and if they do it is very high and cumbersome to reach, the main luggage storage will be far away from where you are sitting making it hard to keep an eye on it. Some trains can fit ONE roller between the seats.

I packed in Travelon: 5 long sleeved tops, 1 pair flip flops, 4 pair underwear, 3 socks, 1 bra, 1 pair light jeans, 1 thin cotton sweater, one windbreaker, 1 hat, 1 scarf and a small bag of toiletries, flat iron for hair, umbrella, 1 pair shorts, 1 bathing suit, 2 guide books, 13" laptop, sunglasses, small note book, phone charger, computer cord, electronic converter, small digital camera, and assorted do dads :) There was still room left over, plus I had the backpack, which I only packed 1/2 full leaving room for other items.

Whatever you choose, do a test run for about 15 minutes of walking, do stairs and consider all weather conditions.

Some folks think that 2 bags slows them down, but lifting a heavy 22" bag was no longer fun for me :)

Enjoy planning your trip!!

Posted by
56 posts

Great suggestions and thoughts!! I have plenty of time to check these various ideas out. Looking seriously at the Rick Steves rolling bags, Ravenna and 21 inch rolling bag, and TravelPro 21 roller bag. I have a day pack bag that will fit on top when rolling or on my back. We are staying at Villa Steno in Monterosso and there may be steps up to the hotel from the train. That is the only area I am really concerned about. We have someone meeting us at the airport in Rome and taking us to our apartment. Same sort of thing in Venice, staying right off Saint Marks Square. Although, both apartments require some stairs to the entrances, but both have terraces! We are used to that even with the larger luggage we used before. One reason we want to downsize!! Once we are in Umbria 2 weeks of no worries!

Posted by
2574 posts

I think a backpack would get old, and fast. At your price range TravelPro offers good options in spinners. Check out the crew series, often on sale. We've used them for years. Only complaint is that when you put your smaller bag on top, when you let go of your suitcase it will often unbalance and fall forward. Two years ago this happened several times in transit in France. When I got to my destination my Kndle, stored in the front outside pocket, was non-functional (Amazon replaced it as it was only a few months old). So I've retired my TravelPro relegating it to short trips where I don't need a second smaller bag. I've moved to Briggs&Riley but those bags are more than a bit more. The international expandable spinner runs about $500, guaranteed for life.

Posted by
367 posts

One of the reasons I really like the Eagle Creek spinner is that the wheels are fairly large inline skate type wheels. When I go over cobblestones I just pull it on two wheels. The Eagle Creek also has a built in bungee type cord that allows you to fasten and hold bags on top of the suitecase so the don't slide off.

However, I hope on the next generation version they put in some kind of brake. If you are on a hill or the BART train you are taking goes around a bend, the silly thing will take off without me :-)!

Posted by
22 posts

I love Eagle Creek bags. I currently own the 26” Load Warrior and brought it on the Rick Steves Best of Europe in 21 Days tour in 2014. I thought I just couldn’t manage 4 weeks of touring in a carry-on. It was a great bag but was way too heavy for the Cinque Terre journey and the 5 flights of stairs to our hotel in Rome. (That was packing light for me — because I usually took a 30” plus a carry-on bag!)

On my 2016 tour I learned to pack a lot lighter. I took a backpack style carry on bag. However, without the wheels — it got heavy real fast. My back let me know that no wheels was not ok. So, I am now going back to wheels — but I wanted a light and carry-on sized version. Eagle Creek is having a sale this weekend with free shipping and returns so I just ordered the 22” version of the Load Warrior. It is on sale this weekend for $191 (normally $239). It weighs less than 5 pounds and has a strong two-wheel configuration to manage those cobble stones. Good luck!

https://shop.eaglecreek.com/d/1511c1531

Posted by
8829 posts

I prefer the roller bag( 2 wheels) over the spinners as the wheels on the spinners extended from the compartment and count against your size requirement on planes, but provide no packing space.

Truly a personal choice issue.

We have Travel pro 21" bags and been happy..

Posted by
2574 posts

Even a lightly packed rollaboard can wreak havoc with bad shoulders and/or backs. I have both, a primary reason we switched to spinners.

Posted by
173 posts

I take the Travelpro 21" spinner, perfect size and weight for handling myself (petite with wimpy arms). HOWEVER, I would love to travel like JJ!

Posted by
11432 posts

My RS Ravenna broke two weeks into a 10 week trip. I had to buy a new bag. (Samsonite Uplite-- 21.6 x 13.8 x 9 inches and weighing 3.75 lbs. Not available in U.S. Sturdy and well made.)

As for spinners, I've run into quite a few people with good luck using them in Italy including the RS guide on my tour. They do have to drag them like two wheeled bags occasionally but that didn't seem to be a problem.

Make sure the dimensions given for the bags you are interested in include wheels and handles. Some don't.

Posted by
21283 posts

I am disappointed but not surprised at what happened to the spinner wheels on my $49-from-TJMaxx IT-brand bag. I used it for 3 months in Spain, walking between train/bus ststions and hotels, nearly always rolling it on 2 wheels. Before the end of that trip the wheels were no longer gliding easily even on totally smooth surfaces. The bag was still OK on two wheels. By the time I reached my first hotel in France this year one of the back wheels was distorted and did not roll at all. I don't know whether it overheated while in the airline's custody (probably a fluke occurrence) or somehow jammed and then warped due to friction as I rolled/dragged it a few blocks to my hotel in Nice. In any case, if I wanted a spinner bag, I would not be happy with the loss of smooth gliding capability I experienced before the wheel failed from use on rough surfaces.

Based on my experience, a cheap spinner bag is unlikely to remain a spinner for long if you're not taking taxis to and from your hotels in Europe.

Posted by
3789 posts

Every trip seems to 'need' some other luggage. I don't collect handbags, but I do collect luggage. I still haven't decided what to use for an upcoming Spain trip. But if I was going for a roller backpack, the High Sierra REV is the one I would get. I think it is going out of circulation, so you should be able to get it at a good price.