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Keep Calm and Carry on! We took a leap of faith, and we now believe!

My wife and I just returned from a little over 2 weeks in France and England. We were moving quite a bit during the trip and decided to challenge ourselves to "Keep Calm and Carry On". We purchased the Rolling Carry on bag for her and I chose the Convertable carry on for me. Using Ricks packing lists we prepared the weekend prior to see how everything was going to fit. Best thing I can say its like preparing a complicated meal. All in the prep work. Lots of deciding what we really wanted and how well it packs and washes up.
After coming home we both decided that never again will we bring large suitcases! It was liberating! First off, going to the airport. No more waiting on line to check the bags. Head straight to security. When arriving, no waiting at baggage carousels fighting for position. Instead head right for immigration ahead of the crowd from your plane thats waiting to find there bags!

Now moving to transport. getting in and around cities and towns with smaller bags is simple and easy. These bags worked well.
Mine I used as a backpack. Weighing in around 22 lbs. it was pretty comfortable and I had my hands free to read directions or just push through crowds. Wasn't able to use the waist strap on mine as my waist is a bit too big, but no biggie the pack sat comfortably.
My wifes Rolling bag weighed in around 25lbs. She had the harder time taking the leap as she is the queen of hair product. but fillng 100ml bottles, I showed her how many days she could get out of them and offered to carry a cpl of them for her. It worked.
Stairs and tiny elevators no longer a hassle.
We did use the packing cubes. This we felt was a big plus. Not only for organization but to make unpacking and repacking simpler.
We bought good lightweight rain jackets and used them as a layered shell even when not raining, to be used along with light jacket or light sweater or combination of 2 or all three! plenty warm even in the Vosges mtns when it snowed.
These bags also went on Easyjet flights with no problems. She took a flat packing pocket book that she could pack for this route. I have the civita day pack which packs like nothing there. Only complaint about civita pack that shoulder straps too small for big guy like me. most of time was used as carry on, or over one shoulder, or to throw in car for day trips. worked well.

Believe it or not, after the trip was over, I decided that I could have probably gone with less! (shirts that is.) felt I could have taken 2 less shirts and brought one more Tshirt. also traveled with a pair of blue jeans, packed 2 pair LLBean chino pants. Next time the jeans stay home and I wear chinos the whole time! Shoes. we both bought GOOD walking shoes, I carryed a pair of light deck shoes that doubled as slippers or something to trek out to the boulangerie to fetch breakfast. She brought an extra pair of shoes and a pair of light sandals.

Find clothes that hand wash and air dry quickly and look ok after that!
One other great thing about the RS bags we bought. When taking last flight home, we brought a lot of extra stuff back from England. Bale of tea, candies for the kids, souvenirs and stuff. just unzipped the bags expansions which gave us the extra room. At this point we checked them for the last route, though I think we could have made it on board with them. Just no rush from that point on.

I can't tell you how liberating traveling light is. so much less hassle, and less to think about once you have your list down.
Do it, you will not regret!

Posted by
11613 posts

Congratulations! You are right about the liberation of packing light. I recently downsized from a 22" to a 20" RS rolling carryon for 89 days in Europe. Also use the Civita daybag.

Posted by
4407 posts

(in my 'best' Texan-twanged Joy-see accent):

Yo Pauly! Welcome to the Lighter Side!

Even domestically, I don't travel with anything but a carry-on bag. Once I experienced one-bag travel, I never wanted to schlep bags around again. My only concession is that I've recently started to use a rolling bag in place of my backpack when traveling in the USA.

I can't believe how much crap stuff I - and everyone else I knew - used to drag into car trunks and onto airplanes! Complete outfits for each and every conceivable occasion and weather condition, shoes to match, etc...

Posted by
524 posts

Love your post, as we are getting ready to try and drink the cool aid, too. Did you buy RS packing cubes? If so, which ones fit in your wives 20" rolling carryon, as that is the one I purchased.

Posted by
3940 posts

Luckily hubby and I - once we started taking trips that required planes (as opposed to our car - which we just throw everything into)...subscribed to the Rick Steves mantra of packing light...always just a carry on and personal size...even for 23 day trips! I had people think I was crazy going to Europe that long with only a carry on (one was someone who would take giant bags for a week in the Dominican). And after seeing people struggling on an off trains and buses and subways and up and down the stairs - I am so glad we did it right from the start.

And to reinforce it, my mom joined us last year going to Italy. We met up with her in the UK, where she had spent 3 weeks visiting my sister, so of course she had a larger bag and a carry on. OMG - hauling that larger bag around was a nightmare! (Poor hubby usually ended up with two carry ons, I'd have the large bag and mom had one carry on). Hindsight being what it is, we should have left the bigger bag with my sister in Portsmouth and paid for a grandchild come to London on the train with the darn thing (we were flying home from London). What a hassle.

But one way we do get our purchases home - we will expand out the bag while on the road and we always will go visit my sister before coming home, so we always get a little small extra bag (like a 15 inch) and when my mom goes to visit her the next year, she takes it back - works perfectly!

Posted by
93 posts

in answer to the packing cube question we both had the set One large, 2 small which fit well in both our bags the large fitting across and the smaller 2 side by side the other way. I used my large cube for my shirts. the smaller ones one for socks and t shirts, the other for underwear and tshirts (pajamas) they crush down and squish in to fit easily.

Posted by
7269 posts

Congratulations & welcome to the time-saving, weight-lightening club!

We haven't checked a suitcase for 12 years - since our 1st RS tour. I returned from a 2-week business trip to the snowy New England area - still just my 20" Eddie Bauer carry-on. Since I teach Lean courses at work, I guess I'm "walking the talk" with my suitcase, too. : )

Posted by
5835 posts

Yo Pauly! Welcome to the Lighter Side!

"Compact and Lighter Side" yes but not "Light Side". 22# (10kg) and 25# (11+ kg) exceed Lufthansa's 8kg carry-on weight limit. Just found out that domestic China flights have an even more restrictive 5kg carry-on bag weight limit.

http://flyingwithfish.boardingarea.com/2009/06/28/carry-on-weight-baggage-limit-chart-for-65-world-airlines/

–European Carriers–
Aer Lingus – Size: 22″x18″x10″ (50 linear inches) – Weight: 13lbs
Air France – Size: 21.5×13.5″x10″ (46 linear inches) – Weight: 26lbs
Alitalia – Size: 18″x14″x10″ (42 linear inches) – Weight: 11lbs
British Midland/BMI – Size: 22″x18″x10″ (50 linear inches) – Weight: none
British Airways – Size: 22″x16″x8″ (46 linear inches) – Weight 26lbs
EasyJet – Size: 22″x16″x8″ (46 linear inches) – Weight: none
Finnair – Size: 22″x18″x10″ (50 linear inches) – Weight: 22lbs
Iberia – Size: 18″x14″x10″ (42 linear inches) – Weight: 22lbs
KLM – Size: 21.5×13.5″x10″ (46 linear inches) – Weight 26lbs
Lufthansa – Size: 22″x16″x8″ (46 linear inches) – Weight: 18lbs
OpenSkies – Size: 18″x12″x10″ (40 linear inches) – Weight: 51lbs
Ryanair – Size: 22″x14″x9″ (45 linear inches) – Weight: 22lbs
SAS – Size: 22″x18″x9″ (49 linear inches) – Weight: 17.5lbs
SWISS – Size: 22″x16″x8″ (46 linear inches) – Weight: 18lbs
Virgin Atlantic – Size: 22×14″x9″ (45 linear inches) – Weight: 13lbs

Posted by
13925 posts

I love your testimony!! So funny and yes, it's fun to hang out with others who feel the same way!

Posted by
795 posts

My family never packs light so I am always fascinated by people who do. I like Rick's rolling bag a lot! I recommend his products highly. We do carry quite a bit but never really haul it. The cab or limo drivers and bell staff do the lugging but with wheeled luggage, that is made easier for them. We carry along formal wear for things like the opera, ballet, theater, and symphony and formal dinners so I can't imagine how we could go lighter. We bring lots of stuff back too like you did (tea, sweets, etc) too and try to tuck them into our regular luggage. It sounds like you and your wife did some clever packing!

Posted by
4385 posts

My wife, the queen of overpacking, tried the cube thing on our last trip and she said it really helped her organize and visualize. And I've sworn off traveling with jeans, they are too heavy, too bulky, take forever to dry if you get them wet, are too warm when it's warm and don't help when it's cold. Chinos and microfiber for me!

Posted by
127 posts

Congratulations of coming over to the light side!

I'm a big fan of the convertible bag. The framework of rollers take up valuable real estate and I don't have physical reasons why I can't tote my stuff. Generally, I use the convertible bag with a shoulder strap and wear my day pack. It works very well for me.

And BTW, packing cubes are a must to staying organized.

Posted by
2172 posts

Almost my favorite part of the trip, after months of dreaming and planning, is leaving home (usually way too early in the morning) with my backpack bag (usually about 17 lbs.) and my fanny pack on -- and NOTHING in my hands! Liberation is the correct word!

Posted by
524 posts

I just received my 20" RS rolling carryon today. From someone who normally travels with a 30 " suitcase that is close to the 50 lb. Mark.....well let me just say I almost started laughing. I know I can do this.... I'm just shocked at thinking about it though.

Posted by
127 posts

What Janet said!
My next trip (in July) will start with me walking away from the house. Public transit to the airport and on to Ireland! You can't do that if you're toting two rollers and a carry on.

Posted by
1068 posts

Good job going light. I use various carry ons and an under the seat bag for electronics etc. Depending on my mood I use both rolling and backpack type bags, but have been going more and more with rollers as time goes on. It is liberating to travel light.

Posted by
1944 posts

We just returned from 17 days in Paris/Lucerne/Florence/Salerno. It was open-jaw, flying Chicago-->Paris CDG, then Naples-->Munich-->Chicago on the return, and we took trains all the way from Paris to Salerno. We didn't need to each have a carry-on size bag because we checked both through, but the size on our bags that we bought were techinically 'carry-on', a Samsonite spinner for each of us, trying to be in line with the RS credo, 'pack light, pack right'. In addition, wife had a Vera Bradley soft bag to put on top and I had my CPAP machine, which laid on top of my bag.

Both bags were packed almost to the gills, around 27 lbs. apiece. Rolled my clothes military-style when packing, and that method worked great in the RS packing cubes. I found that shoes take up the most room, so I wore my Rockports--never packed them--and had an old pair of Saucony running shoes that I used occasionally and then left there when we left Salerno.

If taking trains, you do not want to pack any more than we did. Because our bags were relatively full, the spinners (4-wheels) worked fantastically well at the stations and down the train aisles, as opposed to dragging them by the two wheels. Made train travel an absolute pleasure.

I will confess--and I stated this on another packing thread--that we utilized our RS 'Don't Tell Rick' tote that I threw in my bag and didn't use until I really started accumulating stuff almost two weeks into the trip, in Florence, leather jackets and the like. It was great to have, believe me. But I knew I'd be checking my big bag through to Munich and then Chicago, so I had that flexibility.

Yes, I could've brought a little less on the trip, a lot less had we traveled in the summer instead of in February and early March. It was 30-60 degrees Fahrenheit during our stay, so we needed more clothes/layers than usual. And we did laundry once, in Florence. But less is liberating, no doubt about it!

Posted by
3696 posts

Once you pack efficiently (and I hate the word efficient when it comes to travel... rather be free-spirited) you will never go back to lugging around a bunch of 'stuff'. You can still look chic and fashionable if you have the right clothes. A black spaghetti strap dress will take you to almost every event you can think of... put a top over it, a t-shirt under it, a scarf, great costume jewelry, a beautiful shawl, a cute cardigan, and I can't imagine any place you would not be appropriately dressed. It is grueling for me to be dragging half of my life withme on a trip... just once I want to pack just my toothbrush (and make up):))

Posted by
93 posts

As you may have noticed that I have changed the subject title as it seems I have inadvertently offended some who have reminded me of the Jonestown incident of 78, which I do remember by the way. I do hear the Kool Aid phrase used quite often, and never thought of it being offensive before. Alas, I was wrong, and apologize to anyone that might be sensitive to it. this is definitely not the forum in which I want to be disruptive, as it should be about things that we love to do!

Posted by
13925 posts

I don't think anyone mentioned this but, one thing you should probably do while it is fresh in your mind is to write down your packing list then make notes on it as to what you could have done without. At the beginning I always thought I would remember, but then did not. I do a packing list on Excel for each trip, starting with my basic list and then changing it to specifics for each trip. I also make notes when I come back as to what I used, didn't use and didn't need as well as what I didn't use but would take again. That includes my toiletries kit as well.

Posted by
93 posts

Pam, you are right. We actually used the RS Packing list when packing. modifying when needed. When we got back I dated them and wrote the trip name on top and put in notes on it! Excellent Advice

Posted by
470 posts

Regarding weight allowances for carry on bags, this is from the Lufthansa website, a partner for United Airlines flights to/from Europe:

"Special baggage rules for travel to/from or across the USA

Under a consumer protection law issued by the US Department of
Transportation, the following baggage rules apply to flights to/from or
across the USA:
Consistent baggage rules must be observed for all parts of a journey to/from or across the USA (e.g. free baggage allowance, dimensions/weight of each bag, carry-on baggage).
The baggage rules set by the airline which is listed first on the ticket are those that usually apply here. If Lufthansa is listed on the first flight segment of your ticket, then Lufthansa’s baggage regulations will apply to your entire journey (outbound and return flight). Rules on carry-on baggage may vary (local laws).
Exception: any airline which is listed as the first carrier on the ticket is at liberty to transfer the baggage rule stipulation to another airline in the itinerary (the ‘Most Significant Carrier’).
Lufthansa therefore cannot guarantee that, for a Lufthansa-issued ticket, the Lufthansa baggage rules will always apply. (Airlines often have differing baggage rules)."

Posted by
524 posts

Great idea, Pam. I have my packing list in excel and am updating all the time from things I read on forums. Never thought of coming back and writing what I did and didn't use. I will definitely do that.

Posted by
4385 posts

Yet another reason to travel small and light, several articles recently have noted that airlines are cramming ever more seats into the same space, which means not only the seats are smaller but so are the aisles. So when you try to pull your bag to your seat it may no longer fit.

Posted by
524 posts

Ok, I'm sold. I've been looking at my 20" RS rolling carryon for 3 days and just had to see. I have a packing list that is pretty good already. This is what I fit into it, without cubes or using the belts to make things not moved. It came in at 9" and still could be smashed. I wouldnt have believed it if I hadn't done it. I rolled everything. Note, these are summer clothes. It came in at 21 lbs total. I will still buy that veloce shoulder bag. I need places for maps, toiletries and plastic hair rollers. I'll figure it out between the 2 bags. But at least I know I can do this.

2 skirts
1 dress
2 maxi dress
3 sleeveless tanks
2 short sleeve tops
2 tops for evening
1 shrug
1 3" wedges
1 walking sandal
1 flat sandal
1 bathing suit
1 pajama
7 underwear
1 bra
1 scarf
1 hat
1 medium size bagallin purse
1 curling iron
2 wash rags
Stuffed in little bag of jewelry, adapters, makeup

Posted by
13925 posts

Lulu, that is excellent! I also keep notes in my travel journal such as Darnit, why didn't I bring that or What was I thinking??

I don't think anyone has said it on this thread, but no one ~ever~ comes home and says "I wish I had packed heavier"!!

Posted by
32729 posts

1 curling iron

I hope that is a universal voltage curling iron, Lulu. If it is one just made for the US it will explode, probably with plenty of smoke and sparke and if you are especially lucky - flames.

Please be sure that it is equipped for European voltage.

Posted by
32201 posts

Lulu,

What Nigel said. You MUST ensure that the Curling Iron is designed for use on 220 VAC electrical systems, or you'll be in for an unpleasant experience (which may also effect the electrical system of whatever hotel you're staying in).

Posted by
93 posts

if your curling iron is dual voltage, some have a small switch that you must move to change over.. be aware of this and make sure to switch it to the correct position!

Posted by
4407 posts

Yea, Lulu! You go, Girl ;-)

The only way I know to travel lightly AND still attend formal events is to bring ONE formal outfit, and as small of one as possible - the smallest, slinkiest black dress (or top and pants), the smallest but still dressy pair of shoes, nice jewelry, and for colder temps a nice shawl or short dressy jacket. It's a bit trickier for the men, unfortunately...because their dresses usually involve more fabric ;-)

Posted by
524 posts

Thanks everyone...yes it is dual voltage and I have purchased adapters.

Posted by
484 posts

Just would like to suggest eagle creek and Ebags brands for packers. Eagle creek has folders and cubes. Ebags cubes are great also. For ebags brand - large cube for the near or over 6' crowd. Medium size for average or shorter women and kids. Some smaller cubes for socks, undies, loose items. Slim cubes are good. Eagle creek - large folder for the tall / big crowd. Medium folder for average or shorter women crowd. Tube cubes are great for socks and small loose items, not wide items.

Posted by
5835 posts

And you can cut down your pack weight and volume by leaving these things at home:

http://maphappy.org/2015/03/the-most-useless-travel-products-to-pack/

There’s the good, bad and ugly of travel gear. I bristle when I think
about all the gear I’ve purchased thinking I’d “need” it and went
untouched for months.

After fumbling with so-called helpful travel gear trip after trip,
I’ve realized I just don’t need all that crap. The thing is, people
usually need a lot less than what they think they need. Sure, some
travel accessories are totally worth their weight in gold and can make
travel that much easier but sometimes you’ve gotta draw the line at
something, like, travel espresso makers. (Unless you are a coffee snob
of the nth degree.)

Posted by
13925 posts

Interesting article Edgar. I don't think she "gets" that a money belt is deep storage, however I admit to being one of the gray haired seniors leaping off a coach for a tour. No fanny pack though.

Posted by
1068 posts

Read that article this morning..... didn't bother to keep it because I thought it really missed the mark. There are one or two good points and many I disagree with. But that's me, there is no "right" way to travel.

Posted by
2124 posts

No sink washing and no money belt... I don't think so. Some good points in the article, but I don't think the author is a real "back door" traveler.

Yo Pauly -- great job!

Posted by
93 posts

agreed, the money belt while I only use it when strolling around the larger cities (london, paris etc.) definetly is a good place to keep passport, credit cards and larger amounts of cash. and allow me to walk around with my hands out of my pockets then! I don't use the actual belt but the kind you put the belt through and tuck down in pants. Can swing it out and stuff in my pocket when needed. and still have a level of security as its still zipped and attached to me.
As far as sink washing. that is a trip type decision. We usually try to book in where a washer might be available at points during our trip. but being able to clean something up on the fly is important.
Like I said earlier I used the RS checklist as a starting point and modified it as if fit my needs best. His list helped me to question anything not on the list and decide if I really needed to lug it along or not. in most cases Not!

Posted by
117 posts

I purchased cubes for organization of my things, but have started using ziplock bags instead which for me takes less room than the cubes in my suitcase.

Posted by
93 posts

funny thing you mention zip lock bags. When I go fishing in Alaska, I'm not so much going for light, but get as much in my duffle as I can and under 50 lbs. One thing I do when going up there. Ziplock makes vacuum freezer bags with a small plastic hand pump.
I put my items in gallon and quart size bags and pump them down. keeps organized, small and mostly for up there DRY! I bring a marker along to mark dirty in the ones coming home to keep from getting confused! this is probably not something I'd use for going to Europe, but some might find it to their needs.

Posted by
222 posts

Years ago I bought a case of Ziplock gallon size vegetable bags. These bags have tiny pinholes all over about 1/2 inch apart. Put clothes, miscellaneous cosmetics or whatever in the bag, close, and mash on the bag - no air. Works great with no pump. Don't know if they still make them - if they don't they should! (i use them for vegetables too. Keeps broccoli fresh for at least a week.) I ordered them direct from Ziplock.
Barb