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Carry on recommendation

My sweetheart and I are going to be visiting Italy in May of 2020. Part Rick Steve’s tour part on our own. We would like to each bring a carry on only. Unfortunately I am physically unable to do a backpack larger than a purse type so I’m looking for recommendations for the best/largest wheeled carryon that’s allowed for travel to and in Italy.
Thanks to all that respond.

Posted by
2906 posts

Darlene, you do not need a backpack. My SIL and I both used RS Rolling Carryon during our May tour in Italy; easy to pull, easy to carry, easy to lift into plane/train overheads. We’re 72 and 68. We also had Totes with trolley straps as plane/bus bags.

Rick’s Holiday Sale just started if you need anything.

Posted by
2252 posts

For the RS tour part, although they encourage you to bring carryon sized suitcase, I have seen every size on the tours you can imagine. It seems as if you can bring anything you can manage yourself and you will be expected to do just that. I have two suitcases, one a 21" RS wheelie and one an ebags TLS 21". They are almost exactly the same suitcase. I have used them both for years and have been happy with each. Full disclosure-the reason I have two almost identical is because I really don't find the RS colors very much "fun" and ebags offers all kinds of color choices. Rick Steves is having a 20% off sale right now. And BTW, even though these suitcases may look like they won't hold very much, you'll be surprised. I have traveled with just the suitcase and my personal item for up to 5 weeks at a time. Have a wonderful time on your trip!!

Posted by
8234 posts

We use TravelPro 21" swivel wheel "ultra light" carry on bags. And we max them at 22 lbs. Usually come home with some clothes never even worn. There are many other comparable brands, but I've noticed many world travelers using TravelPro--good values.
We bought ours on, but often see them at TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning for low prices.

Posted by
85 posts

Do you have your air reservations already? If so, your airline will have baggage rules. Be sure you know your fare class, it determines your baggage allowance for both dimensions and total weight allowed for your luggage. Once you have that information you can shop for luggage. If you're on a basic-type fare it's likely your restrictions will be severe.

I'm rather a bag-a-holic and have far too much luggage. OTOH, I always have the right bag for any trip. My favorites at present are: Travelpro Platinum or Maxlite, eBags eTech 3.0 hardside, and Lipault Original Plume. But you shouldn't shop for luggage for your trip until you have your air reservations and know the exact rules for your fare.

Posted by
6370 posts

Dianne W makes a good point, especially if you're going to be flying any budget airlines. Be sure to check the size limits for all the airlines you'll be flying.

Posted by
3210 posts

Also consider the weight of the bag. As with size limits, airlines also have weight limits on carryons. Some airlines enforce weight strictly. My carryon was 3 pounds over and it had to be checked. The flight was late and my bag never made the second leg. My luggage was delivered to my home 7 days later.

Posted by
15662 posts

Don't feel had about not being able to manage a backpack. You will find on your tour that most will have wheeled bags.

First, take into consideration the size and weight limits of your airline.

Next, decide whether you want a two or four wheel bag. ( People here will tell you a four wheel bag (spinner) is no good in Europe. They are the ones who have never used one. I went from backpack to two wheels to spinner and I'm not turning back.) There are pros and cons to both. (Even Rick Steves now offers a spinner.) If you use the search function on the forum you will see numerous discussions on this topic.)

Then, decide on a budget. You can get really cheap--I don't suggest those--to ultra high end.
If you live near a discount store like TJ Maxx or Marshalls they have a huge selection and you can get a feel for which type you like. Don't trust the measurements given. Bring a tape measure. And a luggage scale if you have one.

Posted by
8234 posts

I like the spinner wheels because you can roll it sideways down the aisle of an airplane easier.

Posted by
1338 posts

allowed for travel to and in Italy.

If you will be flying in Italy, you will need to heed Jane's advice to check carefully each company's rules.

If you are going by train in Italy you can take "anything" but you will need to handle it yourself (or maybe you can persuade your sweetheart to help :-) ) and that includes boarding the train in a VERY short time if you are not on the start station. I have encountered trains where I had to actually climb some very high steps. Luckily I use a backpack so I had both hands free. And I have heard horror stories (hopefully apocryphal) about people putting their bags on the top step and seeing the train leave before they were able to climb up themselves.

Thankfully newer trains have lower entrances which are much easier to handle.

Check for more info.

Posted by
4469 posts

Be warned that on some airlines, you will have to carry your carryon up steps to get to the plane, if the airplane isn't parked at a gate. My elbow is still hurting from doing that in Venice in Sept. I have never had any problems putting my carryon on a train because that's only a few steps. My current international carryon is the Travel Pro Maxlite 5 Spinner-the smaller international size. I like the front pouch that can be opened without opening the rest of the bag. It still met Air France's size requirements when expanded.

Posted by
94 posts

I recently bought a Cath Kidston cabin bag on sale and have been very happy with it. It’s a bag designed for carryon and I had no problems using it on Norwegian and on EasyJet last week. It has 4 wheels, maneuvered with ease throughout my trip and was very light. They currently have a sale online. I think I paid about £56 for my bag and £20 for a matching lightweight tote bag. Have a great trip!

Posted by
1466 posts

My husband's carry-on is a backpack, mine is a two-wheeled suitcase (because it seems better and sturdier on cobblestones and stairs than a spinner), so he wears his and pulls mine. Works for us. My suitcase is quite old or I'd give you its name.

Posted by
1259 posts

Darlene, welcome to the group. Using a single carry-on (plus a personal item) for an extended European visit requires packing disciplines you may not have tried before. Review the packing light theories and practices while you are shopping for a wheeled bag. Most of your existing wardrobe and travel accessories are readily adaptable to going light but you may also be shopping for replacement clothing or specialized items, so give yourself plenty of time to get your stuff together before your big trip. You can take relaxing a multi-day vacation a nearby destination to debug your new bags and packing systems.

Wheeled carry-on bags can range from $50 to $500. Aside from the materials and the quality of the transmission and frame, design differences usually mean a loss of internal space, space you may or may not need depending on your packing abilities. Spinners require a larger frame to accommodate four wheels and, since the external dimensions of all full-size carry-on bags are roughly the same, the frame steals a bit a internal space. Pockets, flaps, expansion abilities, and all those zippers add cost and complexity. You may not need these amenities and they can be more appealing than actually useful; a matter of taste and experience.

I know lots of folks who are delighted with their Rick Steves luggage items and have used them for many years. Of the twenty-eight people on my RS tour of Scotland, I counted fifteen large RS bags and another dozen RS personal items. The RS bags represent good value but there are many other sources and designs. I like my old North Face Rolling Thunder 22-incher ($250-300). It’s basically a no-frills duffle on wheels but it’s built like a tank and I expect it will last decades.

Try to have fun shopping!

Posted by
2765 posts

No some of us who will tell you spinners are bad have used them. And then we donated the horrid things to goodwill

Posted by
2916 posts

some of us who will tell you spinners are bad have used them

Good to hear that. I haven't used them, and won't. I just won't. And I don't need to justify it to anyone. On the other hand, I wouldn't tell someone that they shouldn't use a spinner. That's there decision. Obviously, based on sales, a lot of people like them.

Posted by
2788 posts

My wife and I have gone to Europe for 16 of the last 18 years and only take a RS wheelie carryon. We have traveled all over Europe from north to south and west to east and have never had a problem with his suitcases.