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Luggage: A convertible for the converted (well almost)

We are intending to take the "Best of Spain" 14 day tour next year around September (just waiting for the new tour dates to be released sometime next month) This will be our first Rick Steves tour, in fact first of any kind of "guided" tour!
Prior to the tour we will have 3 days in Barcelona, and post trip will cruise the Med for 12 days, so all up from Australia, we will be away 30 days.

I am a chronic over-packer, and I really want to do this trip the best way possible, meaning lighter & less needy for "just in case" events. I am devouring all the information I can glean from here, & other websites, and know I can make it happen, after all I'm not the first person to do this 360 reversal.

We will need to purchase alternate luggage as our large Antler spinners will not cut the mustard. While I completely understand the benefits of carry on luggage, I would like to purchase something that gives flexibility for future travel as well. This convertible hybrid seems to tick several boxes, and I would really appreciate those who have been on Rick's tours to chime in and assist with for and against this luggage, and it's suitability for the trip mentioned above. I realise that you may not have used the exact same one as this (as I think it's only available in Australia & New Zealand) really looking for suitability of features.

This is it... http://www.kathmandu.com.au/packs-and-bags/trolleys/hybrid-trolley-v3-70l-midnight-blue-1.html

Unfortunately, we do not have access to many varieties down under, but if there are any other brands that you may have used, I'd be most grateful to learn more, and I'll make inquiries to see if they can be shipped internationally.

Lara
Many thanks!

Posted by
715 posts

70L is huge that would carry two persons worth of stuff. Not to be impolite but that would not be packing lite if that is the amount you plan to bring for one person.

Posted by
27225 posts

There's no way I'd want something that size on my back for even one minute, so the convertible aspect would be useless to me.

Posted by
2393 posts

70L is huge that would carry two persons worth of stuff. Not to be impolite but that would not be packing lite if that is the amount you plan to bring for one person.

Not to be further impolite but most luggage I have seen from down under will fit two PEOPLE! This really is down sizing - but will not qualify as "carry-on" for any airline but should be fine for your cruise. If you will have everything in one bag I'd advise carrying it on your cruise. It will be reasonably easy to manage for your tour as well.

FYI - I have done 30 days in Europe plus an 11 night cruise in a carry on bag plus a big a$$ purse - DH had carry on bag and a back pack. we also had a small empty nylon duffle - mostly because we carried on 11 bottles of wine!

Two problems with the bag you linked. 1) 70 liter is indeed massive. Find a 40-45 liter bag. 50 liter maximum. 2). Cost. For $300, there are many better choices- even for less money. The longest bag a tall person can comfortably carry is about 22". Shorter people are better with 18-20 inches. I don't know what brands are available to you. Check out Patagonia - black hole series, eagle creek, Osprey, Eddie Bauer, ebags.com. Let us know how you do, or if you need more help.

Posted by
1194 posts

That is one huge bag! I don't take that much for caving/climbing expeditions with all my climbing equipment.
Try as much as possible to limit yourself to 45 L bags. I traveled for 5-1/2 weeks to South America with one 45 L bag. That was a mountain trekking/Amazon jungle/Galápagos cruise. So it's possible to travel lightly for a multi activity trip. In fact, I'm traveling domestically with a 22 L pack for a 10 day trip.
If you can't go carry on then maybe stay around 55 L or less.

Posted by
1194 posts

Not to drift too far off topic - Australia has access to a lot of beautiful merino and bamboo garments that would cost a lot more in the US. It is also home to Sea-to-Summit, which is one of the best ultra light gear manufacturers.
You should also have access to a lot of nice silk garments.
That's your consolation prize for less luggage selection.

Posted by
19116 posts

I would call that bag an overpackers dream.

It might be that, due to the shape, it's only 70 l, but the overall dimensions at 97 l! And 3.65 kg, or 8 lb, is not light weight.

I don't think there is an airline in the world that will let you carry that on board, so you will really limit your flexibility (that is, you will only have one option - check it).

Posted by
32222 posts

Lara,

That bag in the link you provided is a behemoth. One important point to keep in mind is that on a RS tour, you'll be carrying your own luggage and in some cases the hotels will not have lifts. Would you be comfortable carrying that fully loaded bag up four flights of stairs?

However as you'll be cruising the Med after the tour, you may need a larger bag to accommodate more formal clothing items. You could use the bag in your link on the tour, but leave it in the Bus at any stops that will involve hotels with no lifts. Have a smaller carry-on size bag that you can haul up to the room with toiletries and essentials to last for a night or two.

For smaller sized bags, you could look at.....

  • Tom Bihn (excellent quality - they ship internationally AFAIK but it won't be cheap)
  • Red Oxx (also excellent quality - they also ship internationally but again it won't be cheap)
  • Osprey Packs (they may have dealers in Oz)
  • Eagle Creek (they may also have dealers in Oz)

Good luck!

Posted by
66 posts

Lara,
Our vacation this past May may be similar to your future RS Tour. We did 4 nights in Venice, a 7 night cruise (round trip Venice / Venice, and 4 nights in Rome. We did, in fact, take a number of "extra" items for the cruise, me - sport jacket, sandals, wife - shoes and dresses type items. It all worked out with the luggage mentioned below. All from Rick Steves' store.

The below excerpt is from a trip report I submitted about a month ago. Hope it may be helpful.

I used the Convertible Back Pack with an Eagle Creek garment folder, the Euro Flight Bag and the Veloce Guide Bag for I-pad.

Mary used the current wheeled bag (not Ravena), the Veloce Guide Bag back pack & the Veloce Guide Bag for I-pad.

It all worked for us. The Convertible back pack is not perfect but I’m used to it and it works for distances up to a mile or so.

Be careful with the Euro flight Bag. Great bag but is very easy to overload it. I used it mainly for a couple of guide books, rolled & compressed fleece, rolled Marmot rain jacket.

Our favorite is the Veloce Guide Bag for I-pad. This is our hands down favorite day bag. Good for guide book, maps, water bottle, TP, first aid. It eliminates giant handbags, summit packs, back packs that always seem to tell us to carry more STUFF.

Since we like to “dress for the occasion” on our cruises, we took a few extra garments and shoes. Even so the wheelie bag was at 19# and my convertible backpack was at 25#.
Great trip & not enough time!!!
Enjoy your travels,
Gene & Mary

Posted by
16894 posts

Following on from Ken's note about tours, this itinerary is one that states that you probably will "Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room." Your first group transportation is by train to Madrid, so you'll handle your luggage in the station and on and off the train, which may include stairs and have limited luggage space. You won't have the tour bus with its "deep storage" option until the group departs Madrid.

A pair of nice Aussie ladies joined my Italy tour last year with one huge suitcase each. For the train to Monterosso on the third stop of the tour, they downsized into sharing just one huge suitcase. But that one was still a troublemaker and got tossed down the station stairs as punishment.

Posted by
32222 posts

Laura,

"But that one was still a troublemaker and got tossed down the station stairs as punishment."

LOL! There are quite a few stairs leading down from the platforms in Monterosso. Hopefully the bag survived!

Posted by
824 posts

Halls,

My all-time favorite is the REI 22in Stratocruiser Wheeled Backpack. I fit 3+ days of clothes for a long-ish weekend trip and the pack still fit fine in the (small) overhead of a regional jet. It's light (but not as light as my wife's (formally my) REI Ghost cruiser) and comes with a detachable day-pack. This is now my go-to back for all leisure travel.

BTW - REI ships international for USD20 to USD35 depending on the total of the sale.

Posted by
4408 posts

Lara, if you really want to bring that much stuff (twice what most of us would bring, even if it's a 30-day trip that includes a cruise), I strongly suggest that you instead bring two carry-on sized bags. You'll have the same amount of packing space, but each one will be so much easier to handle than one large and unwieldy bag. I use a 21" tall carry-on sized backpack and it's HEAVY when full! While I can carry this much weight on my back because it's a really good pack with a true hip belt and sternum strap that distributes the weight properly and takes the weight off of my back and shoulders, I can't imagine even getting that 70 L bag off of the ground.

In the video link below, you can either be the woman at the beginning with the pink bag so large she can't even get it up to the first step on the train, or you can be like the people with two rolling bags zipping right past her.

Rick's Packing Light clip

You can check both pieces of luggage, or carry one of them onto the airplane and pay no more than you would have in luggage fees. (I don't know what airlines you'll be flying, but many have very steep overweight bag charges, and the bag you've selected could definitely cost you!) Plus, when on the tour you could even leave one of the bags on the bus if you choose.

Just a few things to consider...but the bag that makes you happy is the bag for you!

Have a great time on your tour!

Posted by
36 posts

Appreciate ALL your responses!

I realise it is a (very) large bag compared to what most of you use to travel with on tours etc. It certainly is not for me who is used to taking a large suitcase, a carry on bag, and small daypack! So, in comparison to that, it certainly is a downsize. After managing with this load of luggage up and down steps around the world, I think the option I was considering may be far more manageable!

I have decided not to make a purchase yet and will look at options some of you have provided.

Thanks again!

Posted by
4162 posts

You might take a look at luggagegear.com.au. I saw 2 of the brands I own listed there, Lipault and Eagle Creek.

I have a Lipault 22" spinner. That is the largest size our US airlines will allow as a carry-on. Lipault also has 22" 2-wheeled bags. That's 55.8 cm. The bag you linked is 79cm tall. That's 31.1 inches and it would have to be checked.

The other thing that bothered me about that bag is the weight. The Lipault weighs about 6 pounds. Your bag weighs a little over 8 pounds before you even put anything in it. It doesn't sound like much until you add it to your back or lug it upstairs.

I keep mine at a total of 20 pounds so I can manage it myself. As already mentioned, you will have to manage your own luggage.

My Eagle Creek Load Warrior is a bit shorter but is classed as a 22" on that website. At the same weight, it is easier to manage because of its shape. By the end of my recent 6-week trip it seemed enormous to me. I decided to check it for the flight back to the US. When I saw it on the carousel, it looked like a little kid's bag compared to the monster bags others had checked.

The problem with any bag for me is that I tend to fill it to capacity. That's why I've set a personal limit of 20 pounds and start pulling things out and leaving them at home when I go over. Either of the 2 bags I have work fine for my 4+ week trips.

Posted by
1216 posts

Sometimes, a big bag is necessary to bring bulky items like snorkelling gear, tennis rackets or other sports equipment. Or for when you need a large variety of clothing for your trip like winter wear for snow or formal wear for special events etc. If you need the cubic inches, just get the big bag.

When my wife and I went on Euro vacation last year, we decided to use one large 25+ inch roller instead of two small carry on rollers. The volume was equivalent but i think it was easier for me to deal with one big bag than have to deal with 2 small bags. If we had to deal with stairs, i just had to haul one big bag instead of having to run up and down to deal with 2 bags. I would not want my wife to have to lift a 20 pound bag up stairs by herself and i know she appreciates not having to do so. We still carried backpacks. Also, sometimes i let my wife pull or watch the big roller while i ran ahead to buy tickets or food. Much easier for her to pull one big bag than two small bags. Checking in also means that we don't have to pull rollers in the plane and fight for overhead space. Plus we bring all our full sized liquids like contact lens solution, shampoo etc.

Posted by
3179 posts

Another thing you might consider (assuming your cruise departs from Barcelona) is packing one large bag with your cruise items and arranging storage in Barcelona. You can have the extras you want shipboard but still have a manageable bag for the BOS.

Posted by
14054 posts

Good for you for starting this process a year ahead! You have time to work not only on finding a right-sized bag but on what you are going to put in it.

You've got good suggestions on brands or sizes to look at so I'm going to suggest you also start from the other direction, which is what you'll take. Many of us have traveled for 30 to 60 to almost 90 days and have modified our wardrobes down to fit 20"-22" or smaller bags. Start first with a packing list. The very best advice I picked up when I first started reading this board was to pack on paper first. I think it was Frank or Lee from Colorado who advised that. For 30 days you are going to pack the same as for a week but I guess you will have to add some for your cruise.

You'll want a carefully curated wardrobe, limiting your colors to 2 neutrals and 2 or 3 colors. Everything needs to match everything else. Figure out how many pants/skirts and how many tops.

Here's how I broke down my packing for an 8 week trip with a 22" carryon with some Rick Steves tours and some time on my own.

pants (or do you call them trousers?) - 2
jeans - 1
crop pants (because I was spending some time in Italy in Sept) - 1
Short sleeve shirts - 5
Long sleeve shirt (because I was spending a couple of days in Switzerland) - 1
Cardigans - 3 (really only needed 2 but I thought I might get bored with my options)
Waterproof/windproof jacket - 1
Polarfleece vest (again for Switzerland) - 1
Shoes - 2 pr

I don't wear skirts or dresses but you might prefer that to what I packed. Still, you get the idea of what you can manage with for a long time.

(Here is a link to my Trip Report if that is of interest to you. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/21-day-best-of-europe-8-26-14 )

Here is a link to Sarah Murdoch's blog. She is a Rick Steves tour guide and has a terrific section on weighing her clothing so she has the lightest things she can take. Look at the May 22 entry.

http://adventureswithsarah.net/

Another blog I love for getting wardrobe ideas is The Vivienne Files. Many of her ideas are too formal (and too expensive sometimes!) for my very informal Idaho lifestyle but I can always use some of her ideas. She has terrific color combinations and I love when she uses a scarf or a painting as a basis for her wardrobe. Since you are starting ahead you can enjoy looking back at her posts!

http://www.theviviennefiles.com/

I would encourage you to spend some time now putting a packing list together. Edit it carefully and pull things out of your closet. You can see the bag size you will need for a minimal wardrobe!

Here is a link to some travel talks from Rick and Sarah and others. Scroll down to get the link to Sarah's packing demo, it is very good.

https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/video/travel-talks

You are going to have a fun time figuring this out AND on the tour!

PS Editing to add - You will want to do some trial packs. Really. Get out everything you have on your list and pack them in your new bag several times. You will see how things fit and how the space works. I also use Eagle Creek sil-nylon packing cubes to help organize myself. Rick's tours are quick paced so you will want some packing aids to help you stay organized so you can pack quickly on your departure days.

Posted by
6338 posts

Lara, go back and read Pam's post again. She has this down to a science. My packing list is similar to hers, although I take only one cardigan, 4 shirts, and a windbreaker. For cooler climes, I take silk long underwear. I can get everything I need into an Appenzell backpack. On our latest trip, which lasted 22 days, my bag weighed only 13.5 pounds.

Have you looked at the various bags for sale in the Shop Online section of this website? There are a number of choices that should work well for you. I don't know what S & H cost to Australia, but your $100 credit can be used toward S & H. At least, it worked that way for us this year.

Edit: most years, but not this past one, I pack a wonderful skirt that I've had for many years. It's an ankle length, casual print that can be dressed up a bit with a nice top and jewelry or scarf. It's some unknown-to-nature fabric that compresses into a tiny wad, and the wrinkles just shake right out. Handy for those occasions when a bit of dressing up is called for.

Posted by
36 posts

Such helpful people; thanks to each of you who took the time to pass on words of wisdom.
I think I can glean something applicable in each reply!

Lara :)