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Luggage limit on RS tour?

I'm preparing for a 13-day RS tour this summer and am trying to decide on luggage. I know Rick advises to pack light, but I also haven't seen any size restrictions on luggage for a tour. I have a wheeled suitcase that I love, but it isn't carry-on size. Would that be frowned upon by the tour organizers?

Posted by
11297 posts

If you can manage the bag, you can bring it, is the basic ground rule.

The tour hotels do NOT have porters, and some hotels have no elevator. Thus the 'pack light' suggestion.

The tour guide will not 'frown' at you, but he/she isn't going to be your 'helper'.

RS does not have a specified size limit, just this:

Physical Demands

Our tours are physically active! It's an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our (tours) — among other things — you'll need to happily…

Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel, then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/scotland/best-scotland-tour

Posted by
14098 posts

Do you mind sharing which tour? I'm asking because the biggest problem is that you might have to roll that suitcase for 1/2 mile or so to your hotel and it might be over cobbles. The tour hotels don't all have elevators so you'd also need to be able to manage it going a flight to several flights of stairs.

The buses are full sized tour buses so built for 50+ people. There is plenty of room in the luggage bay. Often the bus driver will have one for his own stuff, sometimes including a bike, or in one instance an ironing board to keep his shirts nice (anyone else love Richard the bus driver??).

Posted by
87 posts

Think of it this way: You are the only person who will be handling your luggage. Feel free to bring whatever you can carry/lift/drag/roll with no help from others.
Enjoy Scotland, and the tour!

Posted by
1116 posts

The bus driver will load your suitcase on and off the bus. Otherwise, you will be lugging your own back and forth to your room. Depending on the tour, the bus will drop you off right n front of your hotel which is really really nice. Sometimes the hotel is in a historic district so the bus will drop you off as close as they can so it an be a few blocks. Haven’t been on the Scotland tour so can’t speak for the hotel locations. I have brought the medium size suitcase on a couple of RS tours and was fine. My travel buddy insists on bringing the full size suitcase and a carry on roller. She managed them without any issues but the look on the bus driver’s faces were hilarious when they first set eyes on the huge suitcase🤣

Posted by
14098 posts

The itinerary for the Scotland tour has changed some from when I took it. There was no elevator at the BnBs in Inverness but I can't remember if I was on the 1st or 2nd floor there (European numbering so would be US 1st or 2nd). In Oban I was on the 1st floor. I don't think they are still using the hotel we were in in Edinburgh as I never see anyone mention it and that's good because it was one of my least liked tour hotels.

You'll also want to consider how much floor space you might have in your room. I'm always in a single room and they can be pretty tight.

DO have a waterproof jacket with a hood. This is the only tour I ever wished for waterproof pants as well. When the guide pulled hers out of her pack I thought uh-oh....should have packed mine!

Posted by
674 posts

Pam, Richard is the best! We have a series of photos from our 2014 BOE tour of all his different designer shoes. He is also the most amazing driver we’ve ever encountered. Once my son asked me to name the most extravagant thing I could ever imagine doing if I was granted some outrageous amount of money. Without missing a beat I told him I’d hire Richard and never get behind the wheel again. 🤣

Posted by
8183 posts

I saw my poor father hauling around a huge suitcase full of who knows what for my mother on their worldly trips. She didn't use half what she carried.

Long ago I made our family rule: Don't bring anything you cannot haul yourself.

And as a Rick Steves fan, I have followed his suggested packing instructions. We quickly figured out we can travel indefinitely out of a 21 inch ultra light rolling carry on bag.

And after a lost luggage incident or two, we never check a bag on an airplane either.

Posted by
206 posts

LoKro,
We will be doing the Best of Scotland tour also-early to mid-May! Can’t wait.

I love the ease of mobility that comes with packing light. It’s refreshing to use a carry-on 38 liter backpack only, for monthlong trips overseas, as does my husband. It’s such a relief to carry less after bringing way too much during our first trips.

Being able to reduce decision making about “stuff” while on tour is so helpful. I only bring a few clothes-repeats don’t matter to anyone but you.

Ditto gear: bringing only the necessities makes it easier when moving from hotel to hotel. Less to leave behind in the room, less to cram into the bag, less is more. Easier to move while using public transit.

Like David, I’ve had checked bags go missing. So I always make sure my bag is small enough to fit easily in the overhead. We don’t fly direct, so there’s always a connecting flight. Carry-on is a must for us.

(This year I’m thinking of trying a 38 L spinner on our 6-week trip, but I’d prefer not to. My aging body may require it…)

But if this minimal method isn’t your cup of tea, many tour members roll large bags and wrestle them upstairs and over cobbles. Most people on our last tours rolled bags or spinners. Some of us wore backpacks only, so you will fit in no matter what.

Bon voyage!

Posted by
15378 posts

You can bring any size bag you want. You could even bring a steamer trunk. As long as you can lug it, you can bring it.

Of course, the driver might not be happy having to load and unload a steamer trunk onto and off the coach.

Posted by
454 posts

This is the language about luggage in the RS "Tour Member Expectations:"

"Bring one main piece of luggage (we strongly recommend carry-on size 21" x 14" x 9"), plus one smaller day pack or shoulder bag, all of which you will have to carry yourself, no matter how tired you are.
Carry or roll your luggage for up to 15 minutes from the bus to the hotel (not applicable on 7-day tours), then haul it up several flights of stairs to get to your room."

Posted by
225 posts

Definitely agree that you can bring whatever size you want as long as you can manage it yourself. Also wanted to say that in our experience, the tours and dinners were casual. People didn’t get “dressed” for dinner, so I found I didn’t need to bring a lot of extra changes of clothes, or any truly dressy clothes. Maybe a sundress or one nicer top would probably suffice (it did for me). It seemed like most people (including us) did laundry along the way, either in the hotel room sink or at a laundromat. That made it possible to travel with a smaller bag. But certainly nobody’s going to care what size suitcase you bring.

Posted by
729 posts

It's not just distance to and from hotels or possible lack of elevators. It can be rather difficult toting large pieces of luggage onto trains, trams and buses/coaches. We boarded so many different types of vehicles in our 6 weeks across 5 countries in 2023. Sometimes even our usually manageable Delta/KLM size/weight compliant carry ons became onerous.

Posted by
848 posts

IMO, the RS “suggestions” are to make the trip more comfortable and manageable for you. After 10 1/2 tours, we have had to get our luggage up a steep hill in Murren, roll it a good half a mile plus in Matera and then down a good number of stone stairs, get it onto and off a small boat in Venice, another small boat in Selerno, get it up 4 flights of stairs in Colmar. I could go on but I think the point is there are places you go where the more manageable the more enjoyable. Someone at some point suggested that you load up your luggage with a weight comparable to your packing weight and find 4 flights of stairs to climb.

Posted by
2711 posts

I'm asking because the biggest problem is that you might have to roll that suitcase for 1/2 mile or so to your hotel and it might be over cobbles

Nope, that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is if that is all your clothing, etc and the airline losses or delays it you are in trouble. We had a woman like that on our Greece tour. The bag caught up with her on about day 5 but until then she had her toiletries and nothing else. Same clothes every day including hand washed worn damp underwear!

Posted by
7365 posts

For your length trip, think of it as wearing everything four times, so you can plan your sink-washing or laundry. That leaves empty room in your suitcase for some fun souvenirs.

Have a great time!

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks to everyone for the replies! Great information that will really help my planning. Heading to REI this weekend to see what's available.

Posted by
11297 posts

Rule 8---Do not ...... invade privacy. ............... Do not post private information about others.

The biggest problem is if that is all your clothing, etc and the airline losses or delays it you are in trouble. We had a woman like that on our Greece tour. The bag caught up with her on about day 5 but until then she had her toiletries and nothing else. Same clothes every day including hand washed worn damp underwear!

Alan seems dangerously close to being 'out of bounds'. :-)

(Please, no one ask how Alan came to have this info)

Posted by
4 posts

I've been on 2 tours, and on both tours I carried a large suitcase. I like to shop, and I know that I need the room to bring my items back. My bag is pretty light in the beginning, as I have empty space in my suitcase for the items I want to bring back. I love shopping for skincare, and I stock up on Nespresso pods since they are half the price in Europe. I go knowing that I'm responsible for carrying my luggage, and I know how much I can and can't carry. So just do what works best for you.

Posted by
5609 posts

Nope, that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is if that is all your clothing, etc and the airline losses or delays it you are in trouble. We had a woman like that on our Greece tour. The bag caught up with her on about day 5 but until then she had her toiletries and nothing else. Same clothes every day including hand washed worn damp underwear!

This can easily be mitigated even if you check your bag. I always check my bag. I carry on a daypack with an extra pair of slacks, 2 shirts, 3 pairs of socks and underwear. My 3-1-1 bag and electonics also fit in the daypack. If my checked bag were lost, there would be no need to wear damp underwear or the same thing everyday.