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Carry on rolling luggage or backpack?

I'm getting ready for the Village Italy in 14 Days Tour and trying to decide on using a carry-on rolling luggage or a backpack (the same size). My husband and I used backpacks for the 7 nights in Paris tour a few years ago. We found it wasn't necessary, since we stayed in the same hotel all week. Although our upcoming trip to Italy will be spent in numerous hotels, I'm wondering if the bus will deliver us directly to the hotels, hence eliminating the need of backpacks.

Sometimes- luggage needs to be hauled up staircases or down alleyways with uneven pavement. I use a 40 liter pack (just under 20"). I'm under 5'5" and it's all I can carry. My husband uses a 22" inch roller (2-wheels). He needs more packing space than me. Both bags work fine for Italy. We have even traveled Italy on trains with larger 25" bags. All in all, we find the smaller bags easier to maneuver on trains, etc.. So, it is just a matter of whatever you can handle yourself. Either option works.
For carry-on sized bags - invest in some packing cubes. Makes packing a lot easier.

Posted by
996 posts

I haven't done that tour, so I can't speak to where the bus delivers you in proximity to your hotel. Personally I prefer a small, roller bag because it's easier for me to transport from place to place. That's just me, though. The final decision may rest on how comfortable you are with carrying a backpack vs. rolling a similar sized bag when that option is available.

Hopefully somebody who has done this tour recently can weigh in on the bus to hotel distance question. Even then, I know that tours sometimes have last minute changes. Always prepare for what can change!

Posted by
2523 posts

I haven't done that particular tour, but I think there has been at least one hotel on every tour that required a bit of a walk from the bus.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for all the responses! Hopefully, someone who has taken the 14 day Italy tour can tell me if there are any long walks along bumpy cobble stone streets where a backpack would be more sufficient. I prefer my small carry-on luggage but only when it can be rolled. Suggestions from anyone who has taken this trip would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
1194 posts

I haven’t been to Italy but on several other RS tours. There is almost always at least one hotel that has a bit of a walk to it (sometimes several). The streets are narrow and the buses are wide. Usually they drop you off a few blocks from the hotel and you walk in. The hotel is always worth the walk.

Have you tried using Google to see what the streets are like near the hotels? That will give you a decent feeling about things.

At some point RS will send you the itinerary with the hotel names. Use Google maps to look up the hotel. Then use street view to look at the road in front of the hotel. Wide road? Bus. Narrow road? You’re waking in from the wide road.

Posted by
1259 posts

For the same external dimensions, a backpack will have a slightly larger capacity without the frame, handle, and transmission necessary for the wheelie.

Posted by
2713 posts

I’ve done this tour and can tell you we did fine with our 21 inch spinners. We can’t do backpacks.

Posted by
15702 posts

I have taken that tour. It's a mixture of some walking and some easy drop offs. None of the walking was over difficult ground.

All but one person on that tour had rolling luggage. No one struggled.

The talk of difficult use of rolling bags in Italy is overly exaggerated on this board. Most people use wheels. I have used both two and four wheel bags in Italy--and other places--with little problem.

Posted by
4174 posts

I was on the Village Italy tour in 2017. I took an Eagle Creek 2-wheeled 22x14x9 carry-on roller bag. The only place it was a little difficult rolling it was through the gravel at the villa where we stayed. I also have a spinner and I doubt I could have rolled it at all because the gravel was deep.

There were some times when the bus delivered the luggage to the hotel while we did something else. There were some times when the bus couldn't begin to get into the town at all, so we walked with our luggage, usually over some cobblestones, to our hotel. To me, these were neither short nor flat walks.

Although I hate to admit it, I'm past my backpack days, so a roller bag is the only thing for me.

I think the Rick Steves folks may have adjusted the description of this tour a bit. Beyond the luggage issue, the towns visited are mostly hill towns. There are steep slopes and stairs that lack handrails. You have to go up and down both. The truffle hunt is on a steeply sloped hillside with very uneven clods of dirt.

Those challenges would not have kept me from going, but I would've taken a walking stick or 2 if I'd known about them in advance.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Alan, Frank II, and Lo. Your responses are very helpful.

Posted by
1878 posts

You have received some good feedback, but I just wanted to add that of the 6 tours I have taken this was the tour where we had the most days of having to walk our bag to or from the bus, many times over cobblestones. However, a couple times a van or bus was arranged to meet the bus and deliver our bags to our hotel. Also, the cobblestones were never a problem for my rolling bag. BTW, this was my first and still one of my absolutely favorite tours. The villages you visit are fabulous

Don't be afraid to take a Rolling bag to Italy. The luggage goes over the uneven pavement just fine. Get a good brand of luggage like eagle creek, samsonite, etc. and you will be fine. If you want to do a backpack - stay at 40 liters if you are under 5'5" (19-20" length). 45 liters, up to 22" for those over 5'7". (Don't get smart with me here if you are 5'5"- 5'7". Just joking.)

Posted by
5 posts

Ha Ha Sunbaked! I'm 5'4" but no worries, the rolling luggage will be for me. I think rolling a small piece of luggage is easier than carrying it on the back. Thanks for your advice.

Posted by
5 posts

Laurie Beth - thanks for your very helpful reply. You're really getting me excited for my trip! :-)

Posted by
1259 posts

I was stuck at the San Jose, California, airport last week for about three hours. To prevent terminal boredom, I decided to count carry-ons. As folks passed a small candy kiosk, I noted their luggage.
Over only two minutes, here’s what I saw: 78 spinners, 90 wheelies, 15 backpack- or duffle-style travel bags, 20 dumb or inappropriate shoulder bags, and 18 travelers who carried only a tiny bag, a purse, or nothing at all.

I don’t know anything about luggage brands but most of the wheeled units were hard-sided. The dominant brands in the backpack genre were Osprey and North Face. I saw two Patagonia and one Tom Bihn. Shoulder bags included messenger bags, huge computer bags, and the odd pillow case with attached handles.

Posted by
32268 posts

Mary,

Even though I'm somewhat "older", I've always used a backpack as a matter of personal preference, and that's worked well for me. If you have rolling luggage and you're comfortable with it, that would probably be the best choice.

Whether the coach will deliver you right to each hotel will depend on circumstances on your specific tour, as tours can sometimes use several hotels. I've taken eight RS tours and have found that in most cases, the coach will get you reasonably close although a small amount of walking may be required.

Posted by
1259 posts

BlockquoteWhat constitutes dumb or inappropriate shoulder bag in your opinion?
Blockquote

Pillowcase. Giant Gucci shopping bag. You know, that really dumb stuff folks do.

Posted by
3 posts

I'm headed to London mid-August then touring the UK, train to Paris, etc. whole trip may be 2 months, booked only a one-way over, let the winds take me where they will. I really want to do this on a backpack and a "murse", "man-bag" thingy. Can I just buy a cheap fold-up cart once there if I have to drag stuff very far? You know, one of those laundry carts but meant for luggage. Also want to pack lightly and buy over there at used clothing stores. Are there any such stores?
Thanks for any tips, comments, references to my being a bit crazy, etc.
Steve

Hayclan,
You may want to ask your question as a new thread, rather than piggy-backing on to this one. You will get better results.