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We are leaving next week for Rick Steves' Ireland 14 day tour. Related to his tours, this website states "We allow only one carry-on bag. For many, this is a radical concept: 9" × 21" × 14"? ". There is no way I can pack everything I need into a 21" carryon. I plan to take a 25" suitcase.

Has anyone every taken one of his tours and had a larger suitcase than 21"? If so, was it a problem.

Thank you!

Posted by
1427 posts

I think it will be fine, but you will be expected to carry your own bag at all times.

Posted by
1954 posts

You can take the larger suitcase but remember that you will have to carry it yourself from the bus, possibly up several flights of stairs at a hotel if there isn’t an elevator. We just did 25 days in Egypt and Jordan and each had the 9” x 21 x 14” carry on. It is doable. Four bottoms, 7 tops, all mix and match, 2 pair of shoes (wear the heaviest pair on the plane), underwear, jammies, sweater, rain jacket and a couple scarves to change up the look. Packing this light means you will have to do laundry either in the bathroom sink or at a laundromat along the way. You can wear shirts and pants several times before washing. No one cares or will notice that you have worn the same shirt or pants a few times especially if you mix and match the outfits.

Posted by
1654 posts

Hi d,

I've not taken a tour, and when I travel, it's to one place - one hotel.

I think it is an (encouraged) suggestion about the carry on size. Going up an inch or two is not a big deal; it will need to be checked of course. You can bring a smaller "official sized" carry on or tote with your valuables, an extra set of clothes, some toiletries in case of a delay. It may be good to put a sheet of paper in the luggage (easy to be seen) with your name and the name of your first hotel stop in case of delay.

If you can handle the bigger luggage, then use it. Just remember, a larger suitcase even empty, may add a pound or so.

Posted by
22159 posts

Nothing radical about packing light but it is learned behavior. It is probably too late but you should practice packing. Pack your 25" and see if you easily handle it. There are no porters on the tour. You are expect to completely handle your own luggage and that could include going up stairs. We done six weeks with one carry on -- but, unfortunately, not on our first trip that was a disaster with two 25" bags, a train case, a hanging bag and a couple of shoulder bags. It was a very good thing that we were in our late 30s.

Remember for the airlines you need to keep the 25" under 50 pounds.

Posted by
1654 posts

Added thoughts:

I don't know what the weather will be like in Ireland, but do you wear "vests?" Either a thin, puffy style or a fleece style like Columbia? Even a fleece jacket has a few fashion options.

If you wear one, bring one - in a neutral and maybe a brighter color, you can switch it up with scarves and long sleeve Tee shirts. Will you bring a jacket for rainy or cool weather too?

If you're in to Irish-made sweaters and buy one, that is another fashion option.

Posted by
10674 posts

There is plenty of room under the bus for bigger suitcases but as mentioned you will have to porter it yourself. The longest haul on my Best of Ireland tour in 2014 was in Kinsale. The bus could not get to the hotel so had to park at a supermarket on the edge of town and we had to walk to the lodging. I cant remember if I had to take my bag up stairs in any of the lodging or not which is another concern. Usually there is an elevator but often it's small or it's easier to haul a smaller bag up the stairs.

I believe this is the route our guide took us on. It was not flat. One participant had a huge duffel bag which she was having trouble with but one of her friends pulled it for her. The rest of the time the bus could get near the lodging but our tour ended in Dublin and your will end in Belfast so that will be different.

Posted by
4512 posts

I haven't been to Ireland, but when I've been in Europe, there is a lot of cobblestone and brick streets/walkways. Not a lot of ramps from a street to the sidewalk. There have been stairs in odd places. I've ended up having to carry my rolling suitcase frequently. If you pull your suitcase up and down curbing, etc., you risk breaking your wheels. I'm under 60 and pretty fit and there have been times that I've arrived to a hotel, worn out, even when the walk was on the short side. I would suggest loading up your 25" suitcase and see what its like to carry it up and down stairs and around the house. I'm 5'4", and I've noticed that when I use a larger suitcase, I end up having to carry it with a bent arm to get it off the ground. My husband always can carry his luggage with a straight arm. It makes a huge difference.

Posted by
1654 posts


If interested in another consideration, take a look at

Macy's has an extra 30% discount coupon - off the sale price - so it's a good deal. I have these in two colors. I got them a bit cheaper two years ago, but still, it's a great deal.

They pack a lot - the front pocket is deep and can hold almost another outfit. The rugged wheels are great (I don't care for the little spinner wheels.) It held up very well on my last trip to Rome as a checked.

Posted by
4512 posts

@Girasole, that looks like a fantastic bag. Is your bag handy? I have a broken wheel in an almost new suitcase and vowed that I wouldn't buy a suitcase that has the wheels attached with grommets vs. screws. Screws allow one to switch out the wheels without professional repair. I can't tell from the photo, how the wheels are attached.

Here's another option. Get the smaller 21" bag. Then, supplement it with a 20-24 liter backpack that you wear or a smaller bag with a trolley sleeve that can fit underseat on an airplane. The backpack can then serve as your day bag at your destination and flight (underseat)bag. An option is the Patagonia light-weight tote/backpack straps. (Find it on sale at Eagle Creek wayfinder 20 liter backpack. Packing cubes help a lot to maximize space also.
There is no sin in taking a 25 incher though. I have been there and done that. It works.

Posted by
7201 posts

See Rick Steves' Packing List. It works just fine for 100's of thousands of travelers.
It even works for my wife so well that we can travel indefinitely with just a few adjustments to that list. She carries a large zippered over the shoulder purse with her toiletries and medicines as a take on bag. After 2 weeks and 3 weekends, we come back with clothes that were never worn even.
And so can you travel light..

Posted by
3723 posts

I've taken many tours to Europe and have stayed upwards of a month. I have an older version of the TravelPro 22" expandable that I check. In addition I have a carry-on light weight Hedgren tote with a trolley sleeve. I have taken a couple packing classes (RS and another in the area). Very helpful. I also use Rick's packing list to meet my needs. Over the years I have observed most tour suitcases are 21-22."

Posted by
2613 posts

You can pack what you need in a 21” carry on and a smaller bag for toiletries etc. Now, the difference is between what you want and what you need. Even so, a 21” bag can hold a lot of clothes. See this video: My wife and I are leaving for three weeks in Italy this week. We both have TravelPro 21” spinners and a smaller TravelPro bag for toiletries, etc.

Posted by
1980 posts

On the off chance you have to carry a 25-inch suitcase up three flights of stairs (and if that is too much for you to comfortably do), my GUESS is that if you stand there with a $20 bill in hand, you will likely (MAYBE) have a few people who would be glad to take it upstairs and then earn another $20 to take it back downstairs the morning the tour pulls out. Or, they may just be kind souls and refuse to take your money (in which case you can purchase a drink or lunch (or whatever) for them later as a thank you. Or someone from the hotel might be delighted to do it for $5 :)

Likely all of your rooms would not be up several flights of stairs......and there is a good chance none will be.

The stand-there-with-money will be my fall-back plan if I ever travel by myself in the future, since it is hard for me to lift my Rick Steves rollaboard into the overhead now. Just as my husband has offered to help others, there is always hope in humanity that someone would be as kind.......but good to have a fall-back plan (and some cash handy).

The new RS rollaboard is smaller than what we can deal with....we like the old model (from about 15-years ago....a bit bigger).

P.S. It is not illegal to take a larger suitcase on an RS tour....they are glad to have paying guests with larger suitcases.

Posted by
314 posts

I'm not sure why the Rick Steves website says that they only "allow" one carry-on bag. I have now been on five tours and, while most people have a smaller bag, there have been others with HUGE suitcases. The tour guide will not make this an issue. They certainly "allow" whatever people bring!

But it is important to remember that you really DO have to carry your own bag and that, because some hotels are on small streets in the older part of town, you might have to pull/carry the bag for several blocks. On the five trips I have taken, I think only two hotels did not have an elevator. I was only one floor up, so carrying my suitcase up was not a big deal. But others were assigned to rooms much higher up.

You might be surprised that, with a little planning, you can fit what you need in a 21" suitcase. I generally use this size (although I still check it on the airplane because I hate dragging it around airports and lifting it over my head). I also take a fairly large bag onto the airplane with one change of clothes, medications, electronics, etc. I launder some small items in the sink, but am not adverse to using the hotel laundry services for larger items. Some feel this is too expensive, but after paying thousands for a trip, a few more dollars for the convenience of someone else dealing with my laundry doesn't seem so extravagant.

But if you really feel you need the 25" case, do what some have suggested. Fill it up and walk a few blocks (preferably over some bumpy areas) and try carrying it up some stairs. Then see how you feel.

Posted by
280 posts

We took this tour last year and as I remember, there was only one town where we had to roll our bags a bit. But it wasn't far at all, maybe a 3 minute walk. And really no stairs that I can remember. You'll be fine.

Posted by
397 posts

Been on 5 tours and almost every one has had a few people using bigger than carry-on size. Don’t worry about anyone fussing, other than you when you must schlep it everywhere.

Posted by
94 posts

My husband and I have been on 3 Rick Steves tours. One of the bags we used was about 25", the other slightly smaller.. Take what you want and can handle. No one gave us any difficulty about them. Just keep in mind you WILL have to carry it yourself. The bus driver takes the luggage on and off the bus. You take it to and from the bus. Sometimes you might walk several blocks to the hotel, sometimes the bus can get right up to the hotel's front door. You may walk down cobblestone streets, sidewalks, curbs and (more than likely) up flights of stairs to your room. We have not done the Ireland tour, so I don't know what the circumstances will be. Expect the worse. I would say about 3/4 of our hotels had elevators, best to assume they won't. If your good with all that, take whatever you want. No one will care. We can handle everything we take and have never asked for any help. We prefer a little bigger bag so we have some extra room, if we make any purchases.

Having said all that, with each tour, I have learned to take less and less because I realize a lot of stuff really is not needed. I sink wash and sometimes use 2 gallon ziploc bags to wash in. Also there is usually a stop along the way that has a laundromat where some folks will take time to do laundry. We try to take more lightweight clothing, that will dry quickly, and not make the suitcase too heavy. Many items of clothing can be worn more than once, twice, three times... whatever, before needing to be washed. There are lots of good ideas on this forum for packing light and doing laundry as you travel.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
1654 posts

Jules, sorry I missed your inquiry until I happened to scroll.

The Travelpro I have are the ones with over sized, thick tread rubber, in line skate wheels. I don't like spinners.

The "travel pro close out" model is very nice and sturdy - material and handle. Starts out at just about 6 pounds. But it doesn't feel that heavy when empty. I have the blue and purple - very pretty. It comes in black too.

Even though Macy's states it's a close out, they've had this model on their website for almost two years. Very good price point with sale and coupon. I got mine for even less. But the current sale is very good and won't last long.

If you buy it and don't like it, you can return it to your nearest Macy's for immediate refund. Otherwise, they give you a pre paid label to ship back to warehouse. They also have a 180 day return policy on most merch. I don't believe they have changed that.

P.S. they are ball-bearing in line wheels.

Posted by
1124 posts

Packing light for extended travel is something you only worry about once. After that, you wonder the fuss was all about. And then you wonder why questions like this show up at all.

Try to relax.

  1. Everything you can possibly need for an enjoyable trip, everything that will keep you dry, warm, and comfortable, will easily fit into a carry-on-legal 40 liter bag. You can check this bag if you want to but the whole point is to reduce your load so you can carry it on, have it with you, and speed through arrival processing without waiting for baggage claim.
  2. Wear or carry your bulkiest items onto the plane (boots, down coat. &c).
  3. Use your personal item backpack to hold your toiletries, meds, spare underwear, anything you want to have with you at all times.
  4. It’s easy. Just takes a leap of faith the first time.

You’re going to have a wonderful trip. But, when you return from this, your way overpacked adventure, make two piles: stuff you used and stuff you didn’t use or could have done without. Never pack that stuff again.

Posted by
4512 posts

Girasole, thanks for the additional info! What I was asking is if the wheels need to be replaced are they attached with grommets (needs professional replacement) or screws? It's a fantastic deal!

Posted by
1122 posts

There is absolutely a way you can pack everything into a 21" carry-on. My sister and MIL have both said to me they can't do it, but they did it and when the trip was over they told me they were so glad I helped them pare down their luggage and had an easy time getting their luggage on and off trains/buses/planes/boats. You can take larger but you have to lug it around and frankly, I really don't think you need it. You might also then have to check it. So you have to decide if it is worth the hassle of checking it for your flight and then having to retrieve it before going on your way.

Posted by
1654 posts

if wheels need to be replaced are they attached with grommets (needs professional replacement) or screws? It's a fantastic deal!

Hi Jules,

Oops. I wrote the response very late last night. lol

I checked the bottom of my 2-wheeler. The hard bottom base has the "Phillips head" screws. But not on the wheel casings. I presume when they are unscrewed, the wheels and rod will come out.

The spinner on the Travel Pro also has the "Phillips head" screws on each wheel casing. Click on and enlarge the pics to see the wheels closeup

Posted by
1124 posts

If you have some time, see how women been reducing their loads to carry-on specs, drop by:

Might be a bit extreme for you this trip but I think you’ll get some good advice.