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Day Pack Question

Just signed up for my first Rick Steeves trip and have a back pack question. I know that we can only bring a carry on (not full sized suitcase), but what size can the backpack be? Can we only bring a day pack or can we bring a full sized back pack in addition to the carry on and pack a day pack in the carry on? Thank you very much.

Posted by
2482 posts

There isn't an actual limit to what you can bring on the tour, other than you must be able to handle your luggage yourself, including on stairs if your hotels have them.

I bring a 22" bag (which I check!), and a "International" size wheeled backpack for carryon, and a small backpack that doubles as an underseat bag/bus bag.

BTW, most people who participate in the forum don't go on the tours, so it helps to post in the tour section or mention the tour in your title.

Enjoy your tour!

Posted by
2468 posts

Welcome to the forum, slh359. There has been much discussion on this subject in the forum over the years - see example post here, or use the search bar above to look for "rick steves tour luggage." The main issue is that you must handle all of your luggage by yourself, sometimes walking a fair distance from the bus to hotel or up flights of stairs in hotels. What you described is basically two pieces of luggage according to the RS tour philosophy. I'd encourage you to check out the many posts about how to pack light, it really isn't as hard as it seems.

Posted by
2866 posts

Welcome to the forum slh359. Which tour did you sign up for? I've taken three and ready to sign up for next year. All have been great.

As for luggage, carry-on is recommended but not mandatory. Just remember that if you bring it, you carry it. Some of us use a packable backpack as a day back or RS Civita day pack, although I tend to use it for day trips only and just carry my small purse in town. I use a packable tote and the RS Rolling Carry-on for packing. I have a concurrent thread to consider mini carry-on, aka "under-the-seat", if you're interested. If I go that route next year, it'll be a real challenge.

My problem is I buy too many Christmas ornaments along the way and have to check a bag on the way home. This year my suitcase made it home a day after I did. I would never check outbound; why stress about not having clothes, etc while your luggage hunts for you. AirTags now a permanent part of my packing.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
14167 posts

Welcome to the forum!

I've done 12 RS tours. There have always been people on there with bigger than carry-on sized suitcases but they can be a chore depending on which tour. So with the others I'll ask what tour you signed up with! One of us has probably done the trip and can tell you where you might struggle to get to the hotel with a bigger bag.

The luggage bays on the buses are big and you'll probably only have a max of 28 on your tour date although someone recently said they had 30 on their tour departure. Still, it's plenty of room for bags.

You can certainly have a large back pack but why would you want to? Will you be traveling for a few weeks more than your tour? I'm a light packer and can go for 6-8 weeks with a carry on but I realize that is not everyone's style.

Definitely bring a smaller bag for your day bag or bus bag. I don't really like a day pack in big European cities as I want to keep my hand on the zipper closure. Still, I usually leave the day pack on the bus and take a purse with me for touring. In the bus day pack I have water, iPad Mini (which has a RS guide book on it), snacks, my waterproof outer layer, etc.

Posted by
806 posts

Here is the recommendation in the RS tour conditions:

Pack light: Each tour member is advised 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.

Posted by
1843 posts

I’ve been on over a dozen tours. I generally carry a larger checked bag and a carry on which can vary in size. I have no problems handling my bags up and down stairs, metro stations etc. no one is going to monitor what you bring unless it becomes a problem for others. I pack heavy because I hate doing laundry while on vacation.

Enjoy the tour! They’re addictive.

Posted by
395 posts

We've done one Rick Steves Tour (Best of Italy in 17 days) and I had a carry-on-sized backpack for my main luggage, and a medium-sized Lands End zip-top canvas bag for my personal item. This became my "bus bag" which stayed on the bus holding the various gifts I bought during the trip, and I used a regular purse during the day. When I went home, I checked the backpack (we bought liquids), and carried the other gifts and essentials on the plane with me. On this tour there was the opportunity to do laundry in a machine at the second stop (which was about a week in for us since we arrived a couple days before the tour), and the hotel in the Cinque Terre did laundry for a fee, so I was able to pack light and not do sink laundry.

Posted by
104 posts

You can basically take any size bag BUT you have to handle it by yourself from the bus to the hotel room and then back again. Consider your comfort level - On one tour I took, a lady had an enormous suitcase. She seemed to have a different outfit with matching jewelry for each day. But that suitcase was quite a chore to move around. But she wouldn't have been comfortable without a complete change of clothes each day.
I've learned over time to eliminate the what if I need it sort of things. And once entering a new hotel room, I quickly do a mini wash in the sink.

Take what you need to feel comfortable and hopefully that will fit into bags that are fairly easy to move from place to place.

Posted by
1224 posts

I have been on 4 tours and there isn't a strict limit but since you have to carry everything yourself, and if there is an elevator it isn't large, I highly recommend you limit the size of your luggage. Ex. I use the RS rolling conv. to backpack luggage with cross body I think they call it the Veloci bag or something and that's it for 3 weeks. Works great. My husband takes the same RS roller but a day pack. I can tell you we've been glad more than once not to have too much stuff and there still always seems to be things we don't use. Also, summer 2022 we were in Europe with all the luggage nightmares going on and we breezed right through because we didn't have checked luggage. Something to think about.

Having said that adjust to what you can comfortably handle on your own and feel you need for a great trip. If having a larger backpack and a smaller day pack flat in your luggage works for you, then do it. Happy travels!