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Carry on or suitcase?

If I am taking a nonstop flight to Rome for a 7 day tour and staying in the same room for the 7 days, is it still recommend to only bring a carry on bag?

Posted by
13189 posts

Are you going anywhere after your tour?

If not, then size of luggage is not a big consideration if you are not trying to take public transport from the airport in to Rome. I always use a carry on size bag but I check it for the plane flight particularly if I'm going to be in one place for the first few days.

If you are on a RS tour then it's a suggestion based on possibly needing to porter your own bags and is mainly for the tours with bus components. Whatever you take you'll want to be able to manage it by yourself.

Do know that your Rome hotel might just have a teeny elevator so you might have to take it up stairs.

I'll also add that if you are just traveling for a week or so, you might not need a lot of clothing.

Posted by
1662 posts

Hi berry,

Since your trip has one base, then if you want to take a checked bag (for extra stuff or to pack larger, liquid-type souvenirs), go for it. But, it really is a personal thing for you. (Note that if your wheeled luggage has spinner wheels, sometimes, they could get caught on cobblestone, uneven walks or broken curbs.) I like the larger, in-line/2-wheelers.

If you go that route, maybe take a carry on that is somewhat smaller with essentials; so you're not fiddling with the OH or trying to fit it under the seat.

Have fun! Rome is delightful and amazing!

Posted by
3134 posts

I ditto what Pam said, all of it. I do the same and think the same on this subject... I like to be very comfortable with my bag(s) so that I can be very mobile at the drop of a hat, as we never know what might change our plans and require me to move quickly and/or easily.

Posted by
840 posts

We would use carryon bags only regardless of whether we stay in one place or change hotels every few days. That is how we choose to travel.

Depending on the airline, carry-on bags usually save you a checked bag fee. You need to check with your specific airline for fees. If you are going to check your bag anyway - stay with a bag 25" or smaller. Check with your airline about maximum bag weight. This will keep you from packing too much and exceeding the bag limits. You should be able to do 1 week with a 22" carry-on sized bag (45 liters).
If you are checking a bag - carry some type of underseat "flight" bag for your flight comforts, valuables, extra set of undies and shirt. (Luggage can get lost.)

Posted by
794 posts

Even with a non-stop flight, if possible, I would stick with the carry on bag. We have never lost a bag but I know people who have, and I have no interest in joining their exclusive club.

Posted by
6113 posts

I always take a checked bag unless I am on a one week (or less) city break, when I can manage with just hand luggage, but I don’t buy souvenirs. For holidays where I have a checked bag, I use a large hold-all with 2 wheels and I don’t have an issue with dragging it over cobbles, dragging/carrying it up stairs etc.

Posted by
4475 posts

Many of the regular posters here are practically phobic about checking bags on their flights or packing anything larger than 21". It is a rare thing for me NOT to check a bag, and in 45 years of traveling I've never lost one. Delayed by a day or so, yes- I can count the number on 2 hands. Im well over 65 years old and need a cane, but I i still use my trusty 25". Bring what you're comfortable with and still able to manage without assistance. Just avoid packing nonessentials- it's often the case that the more you travel the lighter you pack. But you need a few trips under your belt to find out what is essential or not FOR YOU.

Posted by
2788 posts

We have flown to Europe for 16 years and most every time have checked our 21/22" RS roller bags so that we can pack things that we would not be able to carry onto the airplane. We have never had a checked bag come up missing either going to or from Europe. We each take a lightweight carry-on sized bag that we take things onto the plane that we do not want to risk loosing like medicine, cell phones, etc.

Posted by
7879 posts

The last time we checked a bag, it was left by Austrian Airlines in Prague. And my car keys were in it. We had to wait in a hotel in Atlanta for two days for the bag to show up.
Therefore we never, never check a bag. We travel with a carry on bag indefinitely. For 7 days, it'd be very easy.

Posted by
13189 posts

I kind of thought OP was asking about the information a tour participant receives from the Rick Steves organization after they sign up for a tour date (and it's on the tour description page) advising travelers to just bring a carry-on sized bag.

Many wonder why, particularly if they are on something like the Best of Rome which berrystephanie may be taking which doesn't change hotels. Some assume the tours with bus portions don't have enough room for bigger bags which is not the case. It's that you have to porter your own stuff and lighter and smaller is easier!

I may be reading too much in to her original post, though!

editing to add: David I think you might have posted about your car keys before. I ALWAYS think about that when I am ready to leave and make sure I have them clipped into my day pack which I take on the plane. I'm sorry it happened to you but I'm so glad you shared the story because it has helped me!

Posted by
4073 posts

I agree with the others that if you're staying in only one place and you can manage the weight and size of the bag, it's fine. I also agree that if you're going to be gone for only a week, you probably don't need a bag larger than a carry-on.

Having seen how bags are typically loaded into the hold, I try to avoid ever checking a bag. However, I did pay extra for checking my bag on the 3 intra-European flights I'll be taking this summer. My bag will be the smallest I've ever taken, and even though I paid extra to check it, I'd really prefer carrying it on.

How small is it? Eagle Creek International carry-on. 20.25x14x8 in, 36 L, 4 lbs, 9 oz empty.

I'll be using this for a 5 week trip, but there will be a lot of moving around. I wanted to keep the total weight down to 17 pounds, but I think I have a lot more paper to toss to achieve that!

Posted by
1194 posts

For a mere 7 days why wouldn’t you carry on? If they lose your bags you’ll be without them for a major part of the trip.

The smaller bag also gives you much more mobility. No problem using public transit etc.

I don’t know if you are taking a non stop or multiple flights. I’ve had the airlines lose my luggage enough that I’m unwilling to check it unless it’s super special conditions.

I know on one Rick Steves tour that a member had the airlines lose the luggage for 3 days.

Posted by
6438 posts

When I went on the RS 1-week Paris tour, I was traveling solo. My roommate I was paired with and I represented the two extremes of packing, so I'll share some of my observations. See which one of us seems more like you and pack accordingly.

My roommate brought a very large suitcase. She never needed to wash clothes during the entire week, and she had full-size hair products, etc. in her suitcase. Her suitcase was larger than our small closet, so she just kept it next to her bed. She was able to bring home souvenirs, etc. that she picked up during the week. She used a van service to/from the hotel.

I had a small carry-on suitcase. I washed a dress three evenings before bed and hung it in the warm closet where it was dry by morning. My toiletries were all tiny to fit into the 3-1-1 bag. I purchased a scarf as a souvenir (photos are my favorite souvenir.) I took the RER train from the airport to another hotel the day before our tour and then took the metro across town to our RS hotel. On the way home, I took the metro/RER back to the airport.

I know of a few cases where luggage was lost or delayed for a few days. My absolute favorite story is what happened to my husband. He went to a small convention in the USA. His luggage was lost. He's a big guy. A young woman going to the same convention loaned him her t-shirt/night shirt. He wore a Daffy Duck t-shirt on his first day at the convention -a time when everyone is getting introduced to each other. It was a conversation piece. Still makes me laugh to this day. (My husband usually dresses in a conservative manner and can be rather reserved.). I give him credit though.
So, if you don't want to sport a large Daffy Duck t-shirt - do carry-on or a flight, underseat bag.

Posted by
797 posts

My wife and I have settled on smaller carry-on rolling bags (~ 40 L), and modest backpacks - about 25 L each. That is 5 packing cubes of clothes and 1 1/2 cubes of toiletries, iPad mini, chargers, etc. We do laundry in sinks (Tide pens are great for emergencies!), or once during a trip at a laundromat. Bring a little (4 oz) good quality easy care/concentrated detergent like Woolite, or a concentrated one from REI for campers.

I believe the RS recommendations about carry-ons is simply their style of "concentrate on the fun, skip the multiple decor options." Honestly, how different are each of your shirts? For summer hot travel, wash something every night in the sink and it will be ready by the following evening.... Have a glass of wine in the room and whistle while you work...

Great trip plan. Have fun!

Posted by
3134 posts

I actually don't think you need to worry about doing laundry for a 8 day trip with a carryon bag. With your personal item and your carryon, you should have plenty of room, unless you want lots of shoes...a downfall IMO, LOL. Pack 3 bottoms, 7 tops, all unders, PJ's, toiletries, electronics, etc. Wear your sweater/jacket (not sure what time of year you are going. I even bring a DSLR and accessories with this 21" luggage along with my personal item which is 12 x 16 x 6. So with these two items you really can carry a lot. My suitcase will expand incase I go on a spending spree, but I've never expanded it.

That being said, 22"-24" will probably be quite manageable for you as well...and then you can take the long as you can carry it. This all being said, I check my carryon in most cases. You can bring what ever size you can manage and there's no shame in it! Have a great trip!

Posted by
14110 posts

Take whatever you like. Everyone here is giving their opinion on what they would do. You do whatever makes you happy.

From the airport to your hotel, you can take the train and then walk/bus/taxi from Terrmini to your hotel. Or for 48 euros flat rate you can take a taxi from the airport to your hotel. No cobblestones.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
3965 posts

This is totally up to you. Before I had a back condition, I took my pullman with me as a carryon at it meets in-flight requirements. Now I have to check it as I cannot lift it to the overhead and would never ask anyone to do it for me. The problem with checking it is having to wait for the bag at the carousel assuming it doesn't get lost.

If I had the choice, I'd take my bag with me on board.

Posted by
3096 posts

There isn't a wrong answer. I am short; so I have hard time heaving my bag into the overhead bin. When I am traveling solo, I check my bag. When I am traveling with my husband, I carry it on and have him lift it for me. I have a "thing", as my mother would say, about women who expect a stranger to stow their carry on bags for them.

Posted by
713 posts

There isn't a wrong answer.


I think the important issue is that you be able to handle all your luggage yourself once on the ground: walking down the street, on and off public transportation, even up and down stairs in your hotel (if there's no elevator). And if you can't, that you will have help with it.

My own experience, which is probably irrelevant to the OP, but anyway: I rarely do carry-on only. But often my checked bag is a 22" roller which could be carryon for a lot of US airlines, and my carryons are smaller bags which can be stacked onto the roller bag (or one of them stacked and the other carried over my shoulder).

And yes, I always pack some clothes in my carry-ons. A friend is in Spain right now, traveling with her daughter. Their checked bags were AWOL when they landed, and for three days. My friend is an experienced traveler but this time she (1) didn't pack any clothes in her carryon, and (2) had chosen to travel in a t-shirt and sweatpants for comfort. Also, she's tall and curvy and had no luck finding clothes to buy in Madrid. Fortunately they finally went back to the airport to personally pursue their bags, and found them. This was after three days of BA sending them texts and emails saying a delivery service had their bags and would be bringing them to their hotel in a few hours. When in fact the bags were just sitting at the airport. Oy!

Posted by
38 posts

I travel multiple times a year often for 3-4 weeks at a time. I always take a 25” checked bag and a carryon that I can attach to my larger bag if I need to. I have a thing about clean clothes (I know it’s my problem). So on longer trips have booked a home away apartment with a washer. In my carryon I put meds valuables, electronics and all trip documents. This way I enjoy my trip. So I agree do what makes you happy. It is worth it to me to take a taxi from airport to hotel. And we often rent a car if we are traveling for weeks around a country.