What suitcase would anyone suggest on buying? Soft/Hard case? Size/pounds? Going on a 17 day trip to Italy on RS.
Stroff - whichever tour you're on, it will be great.
Here's what it says in the tour conditions agreement that you signed:
"Pack light: Each tour member is allowed to bring just one airline carry-on-size piece of luggage (approximately 21" x 14" x 9") plus a small day pack or shoulder bag. Your Pre-Tour Planner includes tips for packing light and creatively."
Yes sometimes people bring more or larger but here is also what it says:
(you must be able to) "Carry or roll your own luggage for up to 15 minutes over uneven pavement from the bus to the hotel (not applicable on 7-day city tours), then haul it up as many as five flights of stairs to reach your room."
There is no porter service, and you have to manage your own luggage. So the lighter, the better. Plenty of packing light tips under the Travel Tips link on this page.
Take a look at the carryon bags on the "Shop Online" link on this page, and you'll have an idea of what works. I've been on four RS tours and a lot of people have the RS Rolling Carryon, but any similar size will work. there are dozens of brands and configurations that can work. Some people prefer backpack-type bags. Thats an endless debate.
Its not a crime to have bigger bags. You didn't mention whether you were planning to take you bag as carryon on the plane. Thats what RS recommends, but its not a crime to check your luggage. But if you do want to go carryon only, you should make sure you check the actual limitations on size and weight on the specific airlines you're going to fly.
There is no best. Best is what works best for you. Lot of variables. What is your age, strength, back problems, etc.? Even at 76 we prefer the back pack style of carry on and have use the RS's bags for years. The key, of course, is keeping the weight in the 20 lb range. Mine is normally about 25 'cause I get to carry guide books and some misc items. Wife is closer to 17, 18 pounds. Lots of people swear by the carry-on size rolling bags. We don't like them because we like having our hands free when moving through a crowd. And you can move quicker through a crowd when you are not dragging a trailer behind you. We do use rolling bags in the US and prefer two wheels over four wheels. Often with wheeled luggage the wheels and handle are not included in the official size so often will not fit in the sizing box so your may be forced to check. Two wheel bags total measurements are generally a little smaller and fit the box better. But not always.
Your physical limitations may dictate what works best for you. Each has its advantage and disadvantage that only you can decided what is important or critical to you.
Pretty much what Stan says. But I would add that if you go carry-on only under pack (save some space) to allow for purchases during your 17 day holiday.
Take note of the weight of the suitcases you look at--it helps to start out with a minimal weight.
Other than that, do what works for you. I just finished my 6th RS tour and this is what works for me:
I need to pack a CPAP machine, so carryon only doesn't work for me. I check a 22" softside EagleCreek bag, and usually include my folding trekking poles in that.
I carryon a smaller wheeled backpack for my CPAP. one change of clothing, and anything else important or necessary for the first 24-48 hrs.
When necessary, I can shoulder the backpack, and carry or pull the 22" bag, including up/down the occasional stairs.
On top of what Stan, Frank and Edgar said, I'd recommend you go to the main page of the travel forum and enter in the search cube at the top left/middle of the page and enter 'luggage recommendations'. Luggage is a topic that is discussed regularly here under the 'packing' topic as many of us are packing addicts. After you have reviewed the varied discussion, you might then have a specific question that you would like to ask the forum or private message a particular individual whom you think might be similar to your own perspective.
I'd also recommend reviewing Consumer Reports' fairly recent review of carryon wheeled luggage (within the last 12 months...I think within about 6 months) ...as Consumer Reports leaves the emotion out of it. If you can't access it I'll see if I can go back and find it and summarize the top rated bags relevant for an RS tour. But you don't have to be carryon size if you can handle larger luggage; ie, pulling on wheels, which is not a problem or carrying up flights of stairs, which can be a problem for some.
It looks like you will be on the Best of Italy tour. That’s a wonderful tour! It was our kickstart into Italy, and we’ve been back several times since. The tour has 8 lodging locations, so trust me that you will seriously want to just take a carry on suitcase and maybe a daypack. Also recommend arriving a few days early, so you’re over jet lag when the tour begins. We stayed a couple nights in Verona, first.
My husband has the Rick Steves roller bag. I have an Eddie Bauer medium Expedition. We both like our bags. I also use the Rick Steves mesh packing cubes.
Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 liter and Patagonia MLC45 liter. Anything else is just silly.
I went into the AWAY store in Chicago and was impressed with their luggage, will probably buy one.
Best Approach is write down your criteria, then surf the Internet. Here's a starter list: size, color, two wheels/spinner/backpack, cost, handle type, durability (read reviews), weight, pocket features.
Good places to research bags: ebags.com and Amazon.com.
Good size: 40-45 liter (you can supplement with a daypack or personal bag if necessary).
U-shaped handles are easier to pull than T-shaped.
Stick to a bag under 7 lb.s.
Reliable brands: eagle creek, ebags, Patagonia, Eddie Bauer, Rick Steves, Samsonite, north face duffles, etc.. Keep asking questions as you narrow down your search.
I’ve been super pleased with my Red Oxx SkyTrain. It’s been all over and it always fits in the overhead. Lifetime warranty. Virtually indestructible.
Not sure if you have bought your luggage, or even gone on your trip yet. We can no longer use backpacks and are moving to small roller bags. While we have spinners, they are too large because airlines count the size of the wheels in the overall size and spinner wheels stick out. Plus, they tip over! We found this Timbuk2 carryon at an outlet store in Livermore, CA. It's exactly what we needed, plus the ugly gray color was on sale! The inside compartments are neatly organized, with access from the top as well, and the two wheels are large and quiet. I just took this on a short trip to Alaska and the the bag did not make that clickety sound in the airport, did not tip over (I saw plenty of bags that did both), and it was super easy to access my jacket from the top.
In addition to the roller bag, we'll each have a larger carry-on for a change of clothes, etc.
One thing to pay attention to is wheels. Make sure any bag you get has good solid wheels. Cobblestones do a number on suitcase wheels. After much research, DH and I chose to each use a 22" Travel Pro maxlite 4 with 2 wheels. Large enough to hold enough clothes for our 8 week European adventure. Easy to lift up to luggage rack on trains.
I use a Victorinox Werks Travelor 5.0 soft-sided two wheel 22 inch rolling carry-on, expandable (expands 2 inches). Weight is 7.31 lbs I think. I saw it at several stores, but found the best price on Amazon.
I took this on a RS tour last year and it worked great. On the trip back to the U.S. I did expand it for more room. It's not as convenient pulling a 2 wheeler behind you, but it works better rolling over cobblestones than a spinner style with 4 wheels. I did check my bag on the plane. While most on the tour had around a 21 inch bags, a few brought bigger bags probably because that is what they already owned. They were too big and unwieldy moving from place to place from what I observed.