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Best travel bag

We are taking our first Rick Steves tour this July. We've signed up for the 21 day Best of Europe. I need to buy 20" carry-on travel bags as our existing suitcases are too large. Any thoughts or suggestions for a good bag other that the Rick Steves line?

Posted by
2081 posts

welcome jpl,

i went to our local REI shop and went with the Ospray Porter 45. It a packpack/bag and it works for me. Its not a hard shell bag either and there are no rollers either.

when it comes down to it, youre going to just have to buy and try. The thing i like about the Ospray is that its an open style pack. No partitions to dictate where i put things and i like that. there are a couple pockets to put some small things in which is good. Its soft sided too and i can push/mold it somewhat to fit those unyielding storage compartments.

the major thing i like is that i can wear it like a back pack thru the airports and not stop while others with the rollers are stopping to lower/raising the handles to go up/down stairs. i can put the straps away and carry like a bag too.

so, go to your local luggage and travel shops and do some window shopping. get an idea on whats there. Others will chime in what they like to use too.

Posted by
78 posts

Ray
Thank you for taking the time to reply. Unfortunately there is no REI where I live and they don't ship to Canada. I will have a look the next time I visit Washington state.

Posted by
484 posts

Here's some criteria to consider: 1) The RS bags are fine. Just wait for a sale. 2) Budget 3) Need to haul up many stairs? 4) Use many times a year or only once in a while? 5) Size 6)Other brands - go to ebags.com, eagle creek, briggs and riley, ebags brand 7)Outlet stores like Marshall's, Ross, Bealls.
You know what size you need already. That helps a lot. If you have to lug up many stairs or escalators - consider a rolling backpack. The backpack will help with hauling over uneven terrain for short distances. The wheels for long distances. Budget: there are many fine bags (Eagle Creek, Briggs and Riley) for more money. For a low-end budget, you can find carry-ons at local outlet stores (listed above) for a mere $60. They may not last as long. But, they should serve you well for a few trips. (Consider frequency of travel). Just take a tape measure to the store and check size before purchasing (include wheel length). For a moderate budget - ebags brand (check weekly for bargains, expect about $100-$125) and RS brand. Sometimes you get lucky and find a great sale on discontinued items.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ jpl,

I would have to believe that with the vast wilderness up there, that there would be some outdoors sporting/travel shops like REI?

have you tried looking or googling for "travel" shops in your area?

Ive recently saw some copies or close to it in some other countries on my last trip. To me they did a great job of it.

To comment on some of Barbs points.

you get what you pay for. I agree if youre just going overthere once, then go on the cheap or find 2nd hand luggage or borrow. But the last thing i want to do is to look for a replacement on my vacation instead of sight seeing or doing. just my 0.02.

just an fyi, you can use a duffle bag too. i usually see several on my trips so far.

happy trails.

Posted by
9904 posts

On a RS Heart of Italy, I used the RS convertible which I like, but I think is 21 inches. My brother took his Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender which is a 20 incher. One of his adult kids used an Osprey Porter which was about 22inches (and was bigger than he needed really) There is also available at Campmor a bag called the Essential Carry on. (You can use a black magic marker to black out the campmor name!). The Essential is very light, but also it's zippers are not as sturdy as the RS or the Eagle Creek. LLBean also has some nice carryon luggage, but I don't like the opening on their Quickload Travel Pack. One of the other nephews carried this one, which again was too large for what he needed.

Are you looking for a bag with backpack straps or a roller bag? The tours also don't really tell you what size to bring, just that you will need to manage it on your own. I did fine with the RS 21 with the back pack straps in Italy. The longest we had to walk was probably from the train station in Monterosso al Mare to the hotel.

Someone upthread also mentioned looking at nearby outlets. I have seen some nice roller bags at TJMaxx if that is what you are in the market for. Remember the rollers and the structure add about 3 pounds to the weight of the bag.

BTW, I am also signed up for the 21 day tour...leaving the end of August. It is going to be such fun!

Posted by
78 posts

Pam
Thanks for the advice. I have a few issues with my neck so I'm going to stick with a roller bag that doesn't convert to a back pack. I'll carry a smaller back pack with me when we are out of the hotel sightseeing. I've always been someone who seriously over packs so I am looking forward to the challenge of packing light. I am so glad to hear you are going on the 21 day trip. We've never been on a Rick Steves tour and we can't wait.
Best wishes,
JoAnn

Posted by
9904 posts

Someone here gave what I thought was the best advice when I started reading about light packing. The advice is to pack on paper first. I've got spreadsheets for my trips from last year with notes on what worked and what didn't. I've got one started for my 21 Day so I can put things down as I think about them. It gives me time to consider things like how warm is it going to be in Italy and how cool might it be in Switzerland...will I need crop pants and/or a fleece vest and gloves!

It is also a good idea to do some trial packs ahead of time to see how things fit once you get your new bags. We laugh because my brother, who got my SIL and me started with light packing, is a recreational packer. He will disappear into a back bedroom and we will find him trying out a new packing system. Really, pretty funny but also very useful!

Posted by
78 posts

Pam
Great ideas. I do plan on trial packing and keeping a list. You would think going in July would be easy but the Switzerland stay makes it necessary to take some cooler weather clothes. Going over trip reviews rain seems pretty common as well. I'm going to try to keep things light but be prepared as well.

JoAnn

Posted by
31513 posts

jpl,

Have you considered adding your location to your Profile? That would be a big help in suggesting a place in your area where you could check out luggage.

Regarding the luggage, you could probably look at slightly larger 21" bags as well. I assume you'll be packing along a carry-on or smaller bag in addition to the wheelie bag? I don't use that style of luggage, but have noticed that people seem to have an easier time with the two large wheels as opposed to the four small "spinners".

You'll have a fantastic time on the tour! I've taken seven so far, and always looking forward to the next one.

Posted by
1288 posts

JoAnn - The first time packing light is difficult but oh, so liberating. Have fun!

Posted by
78 posts

Ken

I also live in Vernon British Columbia. The Rick Steves tours are pretty specific about limiting your luggage to one 21" carry-on size bag. All the bags I've looked at so far have the 4 spinner wheels. The best selection for the price seems to be The Bay. Have you taken the 21 day Best of Europe tour?

JoAnn

Posted by
3713 posts

Especially since you stated you are an over-packer, I don't think you can talk about bags without considering packing issues.

My husband and I pack for "a week and a day" on our month-long trips and do laundry along the way. We can do this even though we are both XXL sized people. He uses an RS convertible backpack and I use a 22" Lipault spinner. Contrary to what some people say, I find the spinner easier to maneuver than a 2-wheeled bag. I like mine because the sides are soft and because it has one big opening, not a bunch of little compartments. I use zippered mesh packing cubes for organization and everything fits. I resisted them for a long time in favor of plastic Ziploc bags, but I find them much more efficient and I hate the way plastic bags slide around.

I keep the weight down to 20 pounds, even though the spinner weighs 6 pounds itself. I also have an RS convertible backpack, but I found the weight on my back, no matter how light, unacceptable after the first trips with it. I have knee issues and those extra pounds on them did not make them happy.

I also carry-on a Baggallini tote of some kind. I have 3. The smallest is the Hobo, the Kindred is medium-sized and the largest is the Expandable. It has to be big enough to contain my small walking around purse and medications and Kindle when going through security, but small enough to be okay to actually take through security. I used to use a small backpack for that purpose, but found it uncomfortable to wear and a pain to constantly pull off and put back on to get something. My husband has also replaced the small backpack with a crossbody messenger bag.

I can put any of the totes over the handle of my spinner to go through airports or train stations or whatever. On our last trip, after a few transfers, the coveted spot on top of the spinner was used for my husband's CPAP machine and I wore the Hobo tote crossbody.

Now back to the packing. I have learned a lot from this RS source, although the packing lists contain more stuff than I take. To me the most important lesson is that if you expect you won't wear it at least 3 times, leave it home. The best place I've seen the options laid out visually is on the Vivienne Files (http://theviviennefiles.blogspot.com/?view=classic). It is all about wardrobe coordination, but use the "search" box to find posts specific to packing. She also has more items than I take. I'm proud to say that on our last trip I was so well coordinated that I could create dozens of outfits when I only needed a few. That trip was last spring, so I also had to have some cool weather clothes. I hate to layer, but that's what I did, just like when I lived in WA.

I wore my trench coat with the button out lining and my other heavy stuff on the plane. I got a few looks in Tucson when we left and in Atlanta on the way, but when we hit rainy, windy, cold Amsterdam, it was perfect. Wearing your heaviest or bulkiest stuff on the plane is a big help with the packing which also makes it a help in deciding on which bag to get.

Posted by
210 posts

"You would think going in July would be easy but the Switzerland stay makes it necessary to take some cooler weather clothes."

Not necessarily unless you plan to go to the upper elevations in the mountains. We spent 10 days in Saitzerland and it was surprisingly warm. I often just wore a short-sleeved shirt. Even when in the mountains I got by with an all weather coat that I wear in Houston's "winter."

For rainy days, you can buy plastic wear once and throw away hooded rain covers for a cople of dollars at sporting goods stores and I have also seen them at Target and Wal-Mart.

We use the RS roll aboard, and the light daypack during the day and it has worked well.

Posted by
78 posts

Chris
I was going to post a question about what to bring along to wear for the Switzerland part of the trip. I don't want to bring bulky cold weather clothes. Did most people wear long pants and jackets to go up the cable car or hike in the Valley?
Thanks,
JoAnn

Posted by
361 posts

jpl, Do you have a Mountain Equipment Co-op in your area? If not, I think that their On-line store offers free shipping for an over $100.00 purchase. They have a large selection of travel bags. I have found at the dept. stores that the ratio of the weight of the wheeling equipment (hardware) versus the storage is quite high. Be sure to compare the weight of each brand's bag. BTW, we took the RS Best of Italy tour a few years ago. Best vacation we ever had! We purchased the RS convertible bag and stayed for a month in Italy. We had tons of room in our bag when we followed packing suggestions of this website and travellers suggestions on the Packing Light section. We washed out underwear, socks and tops in our room's sink as soon as we arrived at our next city and it was always ready for wearing the next day. The packing cubes are great too, you can see what's in each cube and it keeps everything neatly folded and fitting in it's place. Now that we're older, with bad knees, we're going to purchase the RS 20" wheeled bag. It was so easy to purchase on line from the travel store and delivery was quick too. The carry-on bags were so liberating (esp. in train stations) and we had enough to wear as well. Instead of having to figure out what to wear each day we picked the cleanest! HaHa. We recently spent another 6 weeks in Italy and took the same convertible bag even though we had a car for half the time. We did overpack it coming home and it got rather heavy so we will change to the wheeled bag. Hope that this helps. Sherry

Posted by
1976 posts

I travel with a Delsey 22" carryon-size suitcase. You have enough time before your trip that you can watch for sales, since luggage is expensive. If you think you'll use the suitcase for future trips, either in Canada or abroad, it's worth investing in a well-made bag.

My back hurts if I carry too much weight so the suitcase is perfect. Pack light enough that you can carry it up or down stairs. Rick Steves has a packing list on this site which helped me greatly with packing light. I modify the list a bit for my own needs.

Posted by
1994 posts

I got an Osprey Ozone wheeled bag about a year ago and really like it. Empty it's a little over 4 pounds. I was quite surprised at how much it holds when necessary, and it's survived a fair amount of abuse. The fabric appears to be quite light, but it is strong... I've checked it several times on the way home with no damage.

Posted by
515 posts

We took the 14 day Best of Europe several years ago in late June, early July. We each used the RS roll aboard and a small backpack, and a Civita day bag for daily touring. For Switzerland, we just added another layer over a t-shirt, and a lightweight jacket and neck scarf for Jungfrau. Weren't up there long enough to get really cold, and hiking in the Lauterbrunnen Valley was pleasant, delightful, and we peeled off jackets. Don't pack oversized coats or bulky items. You shouldn't need them anywhere else. Warm in Paris, HOT and humid in Venice and Rome. Trip of a lifetime. LOVED every minute. Ciao and happy travels!

Posted by
78 posts

Sharon
Thank you for the good advice. I was worried about what to bring to wear in Switzerland. Your message has helped me sort it all out. I am so glad you enjoyed your trip. We can't wait to go.

JoAnn

Posted by
18373 posts

The zippers on the Essential Carryon might not be as robust as some others, but I have used mine for three two week trips and my SO used it for another three weeks (9 weeks total) without a problem. As long as you don't over-pack and stuff it so that you you have to sit on the bag or pull hard on the zippers to close them, you shouldn't have a problem.

"I have a few issues with my neck so I'm going to [add three or four pound] with a roller bag " Right!

Posted by
31513 posts

JoAnn,

Thanks for the additional information on your location! How about that, someone else in Vernon!

If you have the time, I'd suggest taking a short drive to Kelowna. Bags N' All (Orchard Park) usually have a good selection of various types of luggage, and their staff are very knowledgeable. It's unfortunate that they closed their store in the Village Green Centre, but that's business I guess.

The Bay has a fairly good selection of luggage (back of the store, towards the Real Canadian Superstore) but there never seems to be any staff members there, nor do they seem terribly well informed on the products. You could also check Target or Bentley in the Village Green Centre or WalMart, but the quality may not be up to par. Bags N' All would be the best option in this area.

I haven't taken the flagship 21-day Best of Europe tour, but I have taken seven other tours. Regardless of tour, the rules are the same and in my experience they don't enforce the luggage size rules too vigorously. The main criteria is that if you bring it, you'd better be prepared to carry it, up five flights of stairs if necessary. There won't be any Porters although your fellow tour members will probably help if you really need it. I normally use a Backpack along with a companion Daypack (carry-on) and a Camera bag. I've never had any issues with that.

If you plan on buying a four-wheel Spinner, keep in mind that it may not work too well on cobblestone streets. The models with the two large skateboard wheels are probably more practical (although since I don't use wheelie bags, that's just my observation from watching others). Your choice......

Regarding clothing in Switzerland, it's likely going to be fairly warm in July and the snow should be gone, but it would still be prudent to pack some light sweaters or other gear for "layering" in the evenings. Some rain gear would also be a good idea, not just for Switzerland but everywhere (it does happen, even in summer). You'll likely be based in Lauterbrunnen for your time in Switzerland, which is at the bottom of the valley so it doesn't get as much sun as Mürren or Wengen (but it's still a beautiful spot, and the place I prefer to stay in that area).

You'll have a fantastic time on that tour! I was speaking with many of the Guides at the recent tour event in Edmonds and they're awesome!

Cheers!

Posted by
2986 posts

Check www.llbean.com for a variety of bags and large messenger bags. Very good quality, and they ship all over the US and Canada. Great return policy, too.

Posted by
1 posts

There are some good tips on how to pick a bag, how to pack and links to suppliers at onebag.com

Posted by
5 posts

My only real complaint with my RS wheeled convertible bag is that it doesn't stand up very well. It is forever tipping over. I use it a lot and have also noticed that the rubberized coating on the pull handle is starting to wear off. I suspect this is from rubbing on the door to the overhead compartment.

Jack

Posted by
5 posts

I also use the RS euro shoulder tote a lot. I really like it as my "under seat" addition. I can use it alone on overnight trips. I just wish it was more secure when used on top of my convertible wheeled bag. It likes to spin around on the handle. I may try adding velcro to the inside of the mounting strap since the snap doesn't want to do the trick.

Posted by
8 posts

My daughter loved her RS 20" Rolling Carry-on (designed for Europe) during a 1-month tour of Italy & Spain. They moved frequently by train. The main 2430 cubic-inch compartment holds more than you'd think, especially with packing cubes, and she was glad it expanded a good 2" (to 2970 cubic inches) for the last week. She also packed light and hand washed socks, underwear & tops, even loaning her flat rubber sink stopper and homemade 6-ft braided elastic clothesline w/small carabiners to her roommate. She liked the variety of zipper pockets, especially the long one on the outside where she stashed her sweater & raincoat for easy access. I was so amazed at how much stuff it carried, I got one for myself.

Posted by
11434 posts

Since I review bags on my website, let me add a few things:

If you go with a rolling bag, make sure the handles lock into place. If you have a bad back, and have a bag with locking handles, there is no need to drag it behind you causing your body to twist to pull the bag. Instead, you could push it.

Check the dimensions carefully. Do they include wheels and handles? Not all companies include them. Also look at weight. Are the airlines you're planning to fly restrictive when it comes to weight if you want to carry on?

I recently reviewed the Osprey Ozone 18. Good bag. Packing is a bit tricky.

I'm about to review the IT "World's Lightest Luggage' 19". Very lightweight, easy to pack, may not withstand being checked.

As stated before, spinners can be a problem on cobblestones.

Eagle Creek, Delsey and Travelpro make excellent wheeled bags that are known to withstand quite a bit.

Posted by
78 posts

Thank you to everyone for all your helpful suggestions. I have purchased two bags both of which I can return in the next couple of weeks. I've purchased a Delsey carryon and a Travel Pro carryon. They both have spinner wheels which is a concern however it was difficult to find a bag locally that had the two large wheels. There was one bag however the weight went up with the larger wheels. I plan on "test packing" the bags, lifting them up and down my staircase and then making my decision. As long as the bags aren't used and the tags cut off I will be fine making a return.

I do have a question for RS tour alumni. My daughter recalls reading everyone has a box on the bus for storing souvenirs that remains on the bus. Is this true? It would make a difference with packing as we travel across Europe. If so we would just purchase an extra bag before flying home and check a piece of our luggage.

Thanks again to all.

Posted by
3713 posts

I typically don't respond twice to any posting, but I must say that I don't understand those who say spinners are bad on cobblestones. When I'm walking with mine, I usually drag it behind me. When you do that, it's rolling on 2 wheels, not 4. I only have it on all fours when the surface is flat and I can roll it right next to me. Even on cobblestones, if I have to stop, the 4 wheels are more stable than trying to stand a 2 wheeled bag upright. As far as measuring goes, the size of mine is from the ground to the top, i.e. the wheels and the handle are included in its 21.5" length. It has always fit in the typical overhead luggage bins, wheels out or in. I hope your new "test" bags have a handle on the side as well as on the top. I didn't think about that when I bought my first spinner and carrying it up and down stairs using a handle at the top was a bit awkward. That's why I replaced it with one that also has a handle on the side.

I was a little thrown by the 20" bag size you mentioned. This is what the tour FAQs say:

"Does my luggage have to measure exactly 9 x 21 x 14 inches?
Pretty close. These dimensions reflect the typical bag size many airlines allow you to carry on. If you plan to check your luggage, don't panic if your bag is a little bit larger. The main point is that you are able to comfortably handle all your luggage by yourself at all times during the tour, and be able to carry it up lots of stairs."

Posted by
31513 posts

jpl,

Regarding your last question about the "box on the bus", I don't believe the tour or the bus driver provides a box for tour members. However, if tour members buy souvenirs (boxed or otherwise) these can stay in the Bus for the duration of the tour, either in the hold or in the cabin. There will probably be a reminder from the guide to collect souvenirs before the bus leaves the group at the end of the tour.

The bus will depart after dropping the group at the last city of the tour, which is usually the day before the tour ends. In some cases the driver will be able to get right to the hotel, while in other cases the group may be dropped several blocks from the hotel and will have to walk (with luggage and souvenirs).

Cheers!

Posted by
2 posts

I have never been on RS Tour, but if I may, I suggest a backpack type of luggage. It's easier since your hands are free and you are much more mobile, as opposed to a rolly-type luggage, so you can use your hands when opening doors or at the TI Office, or when your running to catch your train ;-) as at times happens. The cobbled streets are weird with rolly-type luggage and you stick out more as a typical tourist. Not so much in Europe, mind you, but in other places. Try a rolly-luggage in Morocco or Nepal or Machu Picchu and you'll see what I mean. I have a hiking backpack, Kelty Redtail 30 Daypack that I use practically all the time when I travel irregardless of the continent or country [these are the measurements: 1,800 cubic inches 13.5 x 21 x 13 inches] these types are built for the long haul, as it were, and ease on the back. That is what they are specifically designed for, they are meant for the abuse of the great outdoors so they can do quite nicely for everyday normal travel in Europe. Plus, if you were to ever need an actual hiking backpack, then blamo!, you have one there already! Best of luck jpl!

Posted by
517 posts

Does anyone have any experience with RS bags specifically the old rolla-board and the new european standard one as carry-on on British Airways. W. E. Have. The older 21 inch and measuring it inclusive of handles and wheels it comes near close to 23.5-24 inches. I've heard on FT that BA checks dimensions and if over make you check hence thinking about RS 20 inch.

Posted by
125 posts

@Chris,

We decided to try the no checked bags approach on our just completed 20 day trip to Italy. It was a bit of a challenge for us this first time but we loved the mobility and now we know better how to pack next time. The nasty surprise I got was that my 6 year old RS 21" roller does not easily fit in and come out of the British Airways carry on bag checker. It took a considerable amount of pushing and pulling to get it in there and take it out. I was lucky to get lenient BA staff who let me carry it on but they could easily have made me check it in. Others weren't so lucky. I had the same issue with the overhead bins on the 767s we flew, although the bins on the smaller Airbus 320 swallowed the bag with no problems. The Frecciargento train we took also could not accommodate the 21" roller in the overhead shelf. The Frecciarossa and Italo trains we took were able to do so.

The roller was not even close to bulging. It was full but looked empty when closed. The problem seemed to be a combination of the way the wheels stick out the bottom and back and the handle at the top. It looks like the 20" model (or smaller) is the new 21".

Posted by
90 posts

RS Classic Back Door Bag for $79.99: http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=product&theParentId=8&id=346
or
Osprey Porter Travel Duffle for $99.99: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008NHMNES/ref=cm_cd_asin_lnk
or
ebags Weekender Convertible for $79.99: http://www.ebags.com/product/ebags/etech-20-weekender-convertible/242274?productid=10211617

Trying to decide, want something $100 or less. Your choice? I looked at Marshall's, Ross, TJ Maxx as suggested, but just found rolling bags. Just looking for a lightweight bag that will probably be able to carry on most flights.

Posted by
90 posts

Btw, I look forward to the day when I return from my month long vacation and I can give other people advice on this forum, instead of always grovelling for it myself!

Posted by
11434 posts

Iggystooge....sing up for ebags daily emails and wait for a good sale.

Be aware the etech has not attachment for a shoulder strap if that is important to you.

But the ebags bags are the best value.

When you wrote Weekender Convertible, I originally though you meant the Motherlode TLC. That too is an excellent bag. I just picked up the junior version for $53.

Posted by
90 posts

Thanks for the advice, Frank. I noticed they were having a sale that ended yesterday, so I got a bag from ebag for 15% off. May not have noticed without your nudging. Appreciate it!

Posted by
941 posts

I carried a Patagonia MLC Wheelie on my last trip to Austria and it was perfect for my needs.

Posted by
672 posts

Lee mentions the Essential Carry-on, but I don't know if anyone has mentioned that it is made by Campmor. I used it for a month in Europe earlier this summer (thanks to Lee's recommendation), and it was perfect, except for a slight tendency toward shapelessness that I will remedy by using more rigid packing cubes next time--slightly more weight, yes, but I am going so light I can afford it. I never even used the backpack straps, and am considering removing them to save that little bit of weight.

It weighs 1 pound 12 oz., and measures 21"X13"x9". Cost is $30!

Posted by
11434 posts

@Joel...The Essential Carry-On is not made by Campmor. It was designed and manufactured by Outdoor Products. A few years ago, they made a deal with Campmor to sell it through them exclusively and include the huge logo. (While numerous retailers sold the bag, Campmor sold it for so much less that what was originally called the OPEC Bag later became known as the Campmor bag. The exclusive arrangement just made it official.)

I still have one without the Campmor logo. It just has a little tag that says "Outdoor Products."

Posted by
18373 posts

I weighed my "Outdoor Products" (old) Essential Carryon bag, and it weighs 1#13oz (picky, picky), still the lightest carryon I could find.

I generally leave one backpack strap out and throw it over one shoulder for shorter trips. For longer trips I use both straps. What I don't use is the removable shoulder strap - hard to keep it from slipping off.

Posted by
9904 posts

Joel, when you look for packing cubes take a look at the Eagle Creek Silnylon ones. They are very light. The regular small size is .6oz/18g. They also have a set of compression bags which just have an extra zipper to squash them down to a smaller size. The small compression bag is 1.5 oz/43g. I would not bother with the compression model of this packing cube. It just mashes it into an odd shape. You can pack these cubes pretty tightly. The zippers seem strong so far and they definitely hold a better shape than if you pack them loosely. I suggest you get these ahead of time and do some trial packing with them as well. They don't zip completely open which does not bother me, but some of the reviews are critical of this aspect. I would rather have them lighter with the shorter zipper than heavier with a longer one.

Posted by
1 posts

For what it's worth..... My wife, adult daughter and I recently traveled 21 days through Spain and France. Mostly via trains, one rental car in southern France. Thinking we were doing the smart thing, we chose the backpack suitcases from RS. We packed light and used the packing cubes and planned our stays at occasional apts. with washer/dryers to keep up on laundry. I cannot state emphatically enough how we regretted NOT using suitcases with rollers. No matter how well you pack lightly, cases invariable gain weight on that long a trip. I watched with envy on every train platform, sidewalk, metro station and airport as other travelers wheeled their cases (soft or hard case) as we lugged ours everywhere and sweated profusely, especially on metros. Anyway, checking luggage versus sticking it in the overhead bin, to me, is better as well. Never had a problem with our bags making the trip even though we had a flight delay/change. We have plenty of wheeled bags at home and I thought longingly about them as me moved place to place. I urge you to go with a wheeled bag. Really really.

Posted by
672 posts

Frank II, Lee and Pam, thanks for the information. Pam, I did use those Eagle Creek packing cubes; I'm thinking I just did not have enough stuff in them to make them (and thus the bag) more rigid. So, I need either to pack more stuff (given the additional weight, not really an option), get a smaller bag for the same amount of stuff (only if it were no more than c. 2 lbs.), or use more rigid cubes.

Posted by
18373 posts

@mocuppajoe

I'm sorry that you weren't able to meet your admirable objective of packing and staying light. I encourage you not to give up; keep trying. The solution is not to give up and use a roller bag, but to learn to start and stay light.

I've been using a lightly packed, carried backpack for 15 years now, and I appreciate the freedom and mobility I get from it. Admittedly I wasn't as light 15 years ago as I am now; it's been an effort to learn to do it. In 2001 I arrived in Frankfurt after two weeks with a 26# bag (I left with 17#), and it was all (9 #) literature I had picked up en route. Nie wieder. Last September I was in Germany for 21 days and I doubt that my bag was more than ½# heavier when I returned. I started out with about 11#, packed.

You can pack light and stay light. In his traveling tips, Rick suggests sending things home by mail. In 1988, my mother bought gifts for her grandchildren in Hohenschwangau, and the store mailed them to Coloradp.

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208 posts

I'm "with" the poster above who travelled with her daughter. Hubby and I used the RS Convertible Carry On for a few trips. Got too fatigued with schlepping the things, so bought Samsonite luggage carts. We used those for two trips and have now given up on that combination. We are died-in-the-wool "carry-on only" travelers (last checked bag was in 1998), but wheels do make traveling less of a chore. After researching almost all the airlines' size and weight limitations, and luggage on the market, we are replacing those bags with the RS Rolling Carry on (and matching Euro Tote). I know I'm going to be very, very happy with them. Just in time for our October trip to London, England, for 3 nights, then flying to Rome for a night, then catching an 11-night Med cruise, with clothing suitable for all those climates and venues. And, we never resort to using taxis... we always walk or use public transport such as trains, subways, buses.