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Luggage on Tour?

I have seen lots of discussions on luggage carry on sizes etc for airlines, I can check that out. But what are the limits on the tour. Doing Hearts of France this coming fall.

Posted by
2249 posts

I have seen everything from backpacks to what look like “steamer trunks” on tours. The tour information sent out to participants is carryon size only but there seems to be a lot of leeway in that definition. You will be expected to carry all your own stuff over cobblestones and uneven walkways, up and down flights of stairs, uphill/downhill, some distances, etc.

Posted by
5936 posts

Carry on would be easier, if you can do it. Actually, you can bring whatever you want, but you must be able to carry it yourself. You may be in a hotel with no elevator (or very tiny elevators,) and it's possible the bus will not be able to drop you off right in front of the hotel.

I don't remember about this tour, but we've been on tours where we had to walk several blocks with luggage to get to and from the hotel.

This is a great tour, by the way.

Posted by
1065 posts

I've been on 8 Rick Steves tours and you can bring whatever you can carry on the tour. , But, the reason they recommend the carry-on style of packing is because it makes life much easier when traveling, I'm 72 and my wife is 68 and we still just use backpacks because it is so easy in airports and trains, etc.

You should watch the RS packing video on this site and on you tube and you will understand the principle of "packing light".

Warning: Not everyone on the forum is a "believer" in packing light so you will get a variety of opinions!

Posted by
2335 posts

On last year’s RS tour suitcase size ranged from huge 30” to tiny under the seat size. Most had carry-on 21” to 22” plus personal item. If you bring it, you carry it. Some hotels were a 1/4 mile+ hike up or down hill.

Posted by
7573 posts

The secret is that you have to be able to manage your own luggage. I did Paris and the Heart of France several years ago (loved it!) so some hotels may have changed. I would suggest a carryon sized roller bag and a roomy personal item/day bag.

You will be leaving your suitcase under the bus overnight at Mont Sant-Michel and taking just what you need for an overnight in your personal item/day bag. Keep this in mind when planning.

Posted by
91 posts

What ever you take will be your responsibility to move. I've seen enormous cases. Granted the lady had very nice different outfits with matching jewelry every day but.... The size 'limits' are strong suggestions as to what will work on most flights and will be easier handling on the tour. I think it's a balance of what is most important to you.

Posted by
348 posts

This discussion seems to come up continually and RS Tours is very frank about what is expected on their tours. We’ve done nine tours now. We’ve seen people in tears because they’ve had to haul their luggage up 4 flights of stairs and others angry that the bus didn’t drop them off closer to our hotel. Please, please just read what is sent when you sign up for a tour. It’s not an exaggeration when they say you need to be able to handle your own luggage up multiple flights of stair and over cobblestones for blocks. If you aren’t capable of or willing to pack light, there are other tours such as Tauck that are more accommodating.

Posted by
10338 posts

Our tours are physically active! It's an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Paris & the Heart of France in 11 Days tour — 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.

Actually, you can bring whatever you want, but you must be able to carry it yourself.

Jane nailed it.

Posted by
161 posts

What everyone else has said here. We did the RS Portugal tour in spring 2022. I'm trying to remember how many hotels the bus actually pulled right up to - I think maybe one? You will have to transport whatever you are carrying anywhere from across the street to several blocks, uphill, over cobblestones (walled towns in particular do not allow buses usually). Our overall experience with hotels (not just on a RS tour) is that elevators will range from modern & spacious, or tiny 2-person jobs, or luggage-only lifts, or no elevators. And my experience is - don't get too fussed about re-wearing outfits. We were on a tour in the fall for almost 3 weeks - no one remembers what you had on 2 days ago lol (ex. I took 2 scarves, and got lots of "is that new? did you buy that today?" everytime I wore one).

Posted by
174 posts

The first Rick Steves tour I went on with my husband we had only a backpack each. Since then I've upgraded to a 21 inch roller bag and still use carry on only but my husband still prefers traveling with a backpack. We weigh everything to make sure we fall within the airlines weight requirements for carry on. On that first trip the other participants kept asking us where the rest of our luggage was. We thought more people would have only backpacks like us. Someone said, "I like to look nice, so I don't travel with only a backpack." But of course makeup and stylish black jeans fit into a backpack. People on the tours have many different ideas of what they need or don't need and all is accepted so do what is comfortable for you. In the smaller towns the bus was too big to get into the center of town near the hotel so we walked 1/4 mile with our luggage to the hotel. That was a fun experience and it made me glad that I packed light.

Posted by
13855 posts

On one RS tour, I think it was in Penzance, our hotel was up a very steep hill. Luckily, the hotel took pity on us and sent a vehicle down to collect our luggage and bring it up to the hotel. We still had to convey ourselves.

On the same tour, one person had a large, serious backpacking type backpack. In a few days, she started wearing a second, similar one on her front. As the tour progressed, that second backpack got thicket and thicker. She bought more souvenirs than anyone else so by the end of the tour it was bigger than the one carrying her clothes.

And she was an assistant guide. I guess she didn't read Rick's suggestion on packing light.

So, while they recommend a carry on size bag for convenience and ease, you can bring whatever you want as long as you can handle it by yourself.

Posted by
1259 posts

Carryon-only is not a religion; no dogma. One simply puts fewer things into a smaller container.

Posted by
41 posts

patriciaakaiser - Hope you enjoy the tour as much as we did last April. Lots of good info above. I’ll add a couple of points about my experience.

Because there are six different hotels, three with one night only, packing light made it easy to keep up with my stuff and minimize unpacking/repacking hassles. Also, we had reasonably priced laundry service at a couple of hotels on our tour.