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Luggage/Covid

We are taking the Best of Scotland 13 day tour in August and it is our first Rick Steves Tour. The website is pretty specific about taking one carry-on size suitcase, size 21" x 14" x 9". Is there a penalty if you go above this size? Can anyone recommend a slightly larger size approximately 23" x 15" x 10"? Most of the luggage jumps to 'medium' size which is around 26" x 17" x 11".

Has Rick Steves Tours or Scotland 'relaxed' their Covid requirements, since the US just recently announced that a Covid pretest is no longer required to get back into the US? jjkc

Posted by
1851 posts

There is no penalty for bringing a larger suitcase. Just be prepared to possibly carry it up multiple flights of stairs and a distance from the tour bus to the hotel. There will be laundry opportunities at some point in the trip so you could take less stuff and just plan on doing some laundry. Some people also do sink washing if there is more than a one night stay. When does your tour start? We are on the tour starting August 13.

Posted by
1851 posts

No, they haven’t relaxed their covid requirements. You will still need to show a negative pretest result before the tour starts. It doesn’t have to be an official test but can be one of the gov’t issued ones. Masking will be required at the very least on the bus. As there are still cases of covid on the tours and tour members who are covid positive cannot continue on the tour, we will be wearing our KN95 masks diligently and that includes on the flight from the US. I hope that helps.

Posted by
255 posts

There is no luggage penalty. It’s just easier to get around with a lighter bag. On my first RSE tour in 2008 I had two suitcases. I was traveling for 6 weeks. With successive trips I learned to pack using just a carryon. My longest trip has been eight weeks in a carryon and a very small personal item. (with no backpack as luggage)

Posted by
8843 posts

You are responsible to get your bag(s) from the bus to your room and back. The driver loads/unloads the bags to/from the bus, but otherwise you are the only one who will be moving them. None of the RS tour hotels I have been to had porter.

Your sweat and back ache is the 'penalty' for having 'big' bags

Posted by
13716 posts

I am sure the tour company wasn't really serious when they created and published the maximum size limitation. Also pretty sure they wont deny your participation because you ...

Anything larger than the size prescribed and odds are you will have to check it on the flights there and back.

Posted by
4592 posts

To the recent response, back in 2003 when we took our first RS tour, it was considered a requirement to stick to that size luggage. At the time when we signed up, they gave us each a RS suitcase. My husband chose the backpack and I chose the roller bag. We wondered how we could ever fit everything! Now this many years later, I’ve never packed anything larger.

Take what works for you, but be sure to at least pack a change of clothes & essentials in a carry on pack in case your luggage is lost.

Posted by
117 posts

“We allow only one carry-on bag. For many, this is a radical concept: 9" × 21" × 14"? That's my cosmetics kit! But they manage, and they're glad they did. After you enjoy that sweet mobility and freedom, you'll never go any other way.” RS June 22 Travel News.

Posted by
5512 posts

My experience is 2 RS tours. No one measured or cared about the luggage except that you had to handle it yourself.

I will say that some of the photos of London Heathrow this week with the thousands of suitcases that had been "lost" or separated from their owners made me rethink my strategy for this summer. It may not be RS tours that inspires me to do carryon only on the way to my tour, but the fear of seeing my suitcase stuck in that picture.......

Posted by
12 posts

We have been on 8 RS tours - first 2 we followed the tour recommendations. Last 6 - we brought a backpack and carryon each and one large hard case bag that contained only a few items. We always buy gifts, souvenirs and mementos when we travel. The large bag allows us to stow that stuff as the tour goes. We usually leave it stored in the bus and take it out a few times to repack and rotate clothing between bags as the trip goes on. Never a problem. It weighs much more by the end of the trip - but gets checked when we fly back home. We pack clothes that we don’t care much about in the checked bag and take the memorable things we want to keep in out carry on for the trip home.

Posted by
13716 posts

Why don't you call or write the RS tour dept and say, I know what the rules say, but I really want to bring more, is that okay? Them publish the response here for everyone to use.

Posted by
117 posts

I guess what I don’t understand anymore is why people sign up for a tour, knowing what the the “rules” of the tour are but choose to ignore those rules because they have decided that those rules shouldn’t apply to them. No, no one is going to stop you from going on the tour or penalize you because your bag is too big but it’s so disrespectful to the tour guide, to the bus driver and to the rest of the tour members that do follow the “rules.”

Posted by
1851 posts

@Carol now retired “I will say that some of the photos of London Heathrow this week with the thousands of suitcases that had been "lost" or separated from their owners made me rethink my strategy for this summer. It may not be RS tours that inspires me to do carryon only on the way to my tour, but the fear of seeing my suitcase stuck in that picture.......”

Somewhere on our travels this spring, we saw someone’s brightly flowered luggage sitting on the airport tarmac. It had apparently fallen off a transfer truck. I watched from the airplane window as multiple vehicles went past it without giving it a second glance. Finally a truck came by and retrieved it and hopefully got it to its destination. A good case for packing carry on this summer.

Posted by
12 posts

From the info received after signing up for a tour “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.”

‘‘Advised” is different from “required” - if you bring it, you must be capable of rolling or carrying it. I have never had an issue navigating a tour with the bag or bags I’ve brought on a Rick Steves tour…. My advice is make sure you can do the same, be capable of wheeling or carrying what ever you bring and don’t expect help from others….. Not hard to understand for me, but apparently for others.

Aside from great guides and experiences that RS tours offer, what especially appeals to me is his “no grumps” policy….

Posted by
11441 posts

While I can't comment on what the RS rules are, I was in Scotland last week and there are no more Covid rules with a few exceptions like visiting health facilities.

Masks are no longer required but suggested. No testing rules.

Posted by
74 posts

jjkc - Your first Rick Steves tour, I expect you will have such a fabulous time! We have done 6 tours and Scotland was one of our favorites. We have seen all sorts of luggage sizes on tours, and no one will be measuring. To echo the comments above, just make sure you can handle your own stuff. Happy travels!

Posted by
5704 posts

You have paid a lot of money for your tour and you will be travelling on a coach with far more capacity than the number of tour participants, so fitting a larger bag on board isn’t going to be an issue.

I always take a much bigger checked bag on holiday and as it has wheels, I have never had backache manoeuvring it around.

Posted by
8843 posts

I always take a much bigger checked bag on holiday and as it has wheels, I have never had backache manoeuvring it around.

The issue is that some of the hotels that the RS tours use do not have elevators, ( and I have not seen any bellman or porters at any of the tour hotels)

Posted by
1381 posts

Luggage
I just returned from my 7th Rick Steves tour. There are often a few people who use suitcases larger than recommended, but they are able to handle it themselves, which is the only thing that really matters. Never thought it was rude.

Covid restrictions
It might be helpful to read the weekly tour report to see why it is still important.
https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/on-the-road-reports

Re: Scotland tour
My recent tour was Southern England, and there were more hotels that were older and lacked elevators that other continental Europe tours I have done. I suspect hotels in Scotland might be similar.

Posted by
2145 posts

Kevin,
Great idea for keeping your larger checked bag in the bay of the bus filled with things you don’t often need. I hope to do the Southern England tour next year which apparently has a few hotels with no elevators. If I have only my carryon with me, I will be able to navigate the stairs more easily.

Posted by
6788 posts

Sometimes on the tours, due to access reasons, the bus has had to stop and unload a few blocks from the hotel. So there's a parade of folks dragging their bags over the curbs and bumping along. But its being late fro the bus loading and departure that is the real sin. A person with unmanageable baggage becomes more likely to take too long, if they aren't with the program.

I think one of the values of the carryon only policy is that it is supposed to screen out people who are going to be high maintenance.

Posted by
2927 posts

I have taken one RS tour so far. On this tour the guide apologized for not packing ala Rick, but indicated she doesn’t want to waste her free time washing clothes or limited in what to wear. I can’t give you the dimensions, but her suitcase was not just slightly over carryon size…it seemed huge to me. She was a petite woman who managed this large bag up cobbled hills, etc. It was hard sided and at one hotel she just yanked it up the entry stairs on its side. Of course, being the guide she knew there were elevators on the tour.

So do what you want as long as you realize you are responsible for handling it.

Posted by
11441 posts

I was on a RS tour where the assistant guide had two check in size backpacks. She wore one in the front and one in the back.

She also shopped more than anyone else on the tour.