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Moving to Europe: Best way to move clothes: 3 large suitcases or one HUGE suitcase

I am moving to Europe in the coming weeks, and not moving anything as we will rent a furnished apartment. Getting that out of the way, the main thing we need to move is our clothes. I have read/told to purchase as large as checked bags as I can find, and to check three of them packed full with clothes. This obviosly will cost probably $100/bag, equalling $300ish.

Is this my best scenario for moving via checked bags? I have seen other people bring oversized cases/luggage to the airport, and I'm wondering if this might be a more feasible/better way to move all my clothes?

Posted by
16883 posts

The fees depend on the airline, so check the specifics for your flight(s).

From your shorter-term travel experience, you know that you don't really need "all your clothes." Moving is always a good time to purge things you don't much use or care about. Which items you need will vary depending on whether you are moving for a job or for retirement and whether the move is for months or years.

Posted by
920 posts

I would say that the answer really depends on several factors. Do you have status with any airline? I am Gold with US Airways and I can check 3 bags per person on the same reservation at no cost. If you don't have status, you can get an airline credit card which usually comes with at least one free checked bag. Be careful about the size/weight of the bags. Anything over 50 lbs incurs an overweight bag fee in addition to the checked bag fee. You might consider leaving your summer clothes here for now and having them shipped to you in a few months. If you look into shipping via UPS/FedEx/DHL, make sure you find out the cost AND when delivery will be made. You would hate to ship the clothes only to find out they won't arrive when you need them!

Posted by
16941 posts

I'd at least get a shipping quote to send them over separately. Also, this might be an excuse to fly Business Class, which has a bigger luggage allowance.

Posted by
206 posts

You did not say where you are moving to. That would depend on how I would handle it. If you are able to fly into the city you plan to live, maybe I would try to take all bags. If you have to get from the city you land in to another area, trying to handle several large bags on trains or a small car would be a nightmare. In that case, I would take one large bag each and maybe another small bag. Box all the other clothes up and have someone mail your summer and fall clothes after you have arrived and gotten settled. If you have someone meeting you there to help you, it might not be as bad as having to manage several large bags alone. Good Luck.

Posted by
134 posts

I would take two suitcases (one medium - 15-20 kgs) and a smaller one (less than 10 kgs) because on most European airlines, specially the low cost 1 cabin suitcase per person is free, whereas you have to pay extra for the bigger suitcase.
Also a small cabin suitcase give you the opportunity of having things with you (a fruit, something to eat, toiletries, medicines..)
Enjoy your holiday and take as little as possible, if you stay in an apartment, choose it with a washing machine and a dryer.

Posted by
134 posts

Oh! You are coming to live in Europe. You are not saying where.
In Northern Italy you would need sth different for all seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.
In Southern Italy, you hardly need real winter clothes
In Scotland, two seasons: winter and spring
In Germany: Summer, Autumn, Winter.
So depending where you are going, there might be things you will not use any more where you are going to. See also the fashion might be different.
Do take your American sweatshirts, they are very trendy in Europe.

Posted by
3651 posts

Don't mean to rain on your parade, but if you decide to use one "HUGE" suitcase and something happens to it in transit.......... Luggage does get misplaced, lost, stolen, and damaged. Call me old fashioned, but I just don't like to put all my eggs in one basket. TC

Posted by
8168 posts

You don't have a location listed where you are flying from or where you are going to. I was going to say if you have the chance to fly Icelandic Air, they let you check 2 suitcases. So if there are 2 of you, that would be 4 suitcases total, plus your carry-ons.

Why are you bringing so many clothes? Cut it back, see what you really don't need to have, then roll your clothing to see how much more you can get in that suitcase then you thought. Wear your heaviest items, winter coat, boots, sweaters.

Posted by
21844 posts

Two suitcases of any size is the max that one person can handle. So three large suitcases would be out. You might get by with two rolling cases and a backpack style carryon size that that is it. And I would not want to go very far with that much luggage. Look like a pack mule and every pickpocket in town would be wanting to assist you. Other people may be bring oversized cases to the airport but they also are paying a premium for oversize and overweight. Two suitcases with a limit of 50 lb is a lot of clothes. Why so much?

Posted by
8491 posts

Whenever we've gone overseas to live for 6 months or more as a family with children, lugging large cases with clothes, work equipment, musical instruments, etc. we would use a porter at the airport in the US and a luggage trolly(trollies) to the taxi in Paris. No problem handling the load. You can get a porter at your destination, too, if really necessary. It's an exceptional situation, not one you do often. We used to use large bags for this, and carry on the most valuable stuff. If I went overweight--luggage that is-- on the way back, I'd just pay.

Posted by
94 posts

problem with a huge suitcase is manhandling it through the terminals, into a cab (might not fit), etc.
my recommendations are: go through your clothes for the season coming up, eliminate any item you haven't worn in a year, pare it down to what you can fit into two suitcases, maybe a carryon backpack.
make arrangements, if you can, to have the next batch of clothes shipped. Many moving companies store for a minimal cost, and they could probably arrange to ship as well.

Posted by
13037 posts

Throw everything away except for the most essential clothes that fit in 1 or 2 mid-size suitcases and buy new clothes there.

The extra fee for the second suitcase is likely around $100 (if you don't have privileged status with the airline or if you don't have an airline credit card). So if your belongings are worth less than that, you might as well buy new stuff with that $100.

When I moved to the US I brought 2 large suitcases, but at that time they didn't charge extra for the second suitcase and the weight limit was high. Everything else came by ship and arrived a few weeks later. It's really cheap to ship via surface.

Posted by
4736 posts

Do you have any friends or family who will be visiting you and can bring a bag over?

Posted by
1805 posts

My daughter moved to Europe 3 times - always took 2 big ones ( what ever the size is that is bigger than 24"). The third time she hired a car service from the airport to destination. Keep in mind how much storage space you'll have in your new location - not too many walk-in closets in Europe. She found it was cheaper to bring what she could and then buy there-euro exchange rate is better right now. She had a hard time collecting things that were shipped-delivery options were not easy as they weren't always open when she was available. We generally used her relocation as an excuse to travel and bring stuff home.

Posted by
7 posts

I was deployed to Iraq for a year and here is how we did it: In our airplane luggage we packed a week or two worth of clothes and essentials, toiletries, etc. One to two weeks BEFORE we left for deployment, we mailed a large container with the rest of our clothes and anything else we wanted/needed (extra shoes, uniforms, sandals, hats, books, etc.). By the time we arrived in country, the large container was already there waiting. This way there is no lugging large, heavy bags around the airport and costly fees. We usually used a Gorilla box or other large tote. The regular post office will take it no problem or you can go FedEx or UPS. Get tracking and insurance on everything and you will need a customs form. When I came back from deployment I only had a carry-on, a small checked bag and my gun case. That is plenty to drag around an airport! Us military folks never pack light so it was a much better option to mail the majority and carry only what was needed to get to the destination.

Posted by
108 posts

I've moved overseas a few times, both as a student, and then as an employee being transferred overseas.

I've typically taken two checked suitcases, fairly well stuffed, and a carry on. I'd think about what you'll need in your first 72-hours or so and make sure to include those things in your carry-on. That might include clothes for your first 2-3 days, medicines, medical records, valuables, etc.

Are you shipping other belongings or are the suitcases it? If you're shipping stuff and going to a furnished apartment, then two suitcases could likely be plenty to tide you over.

If you're not shipping other things, you may want to take an extra suitcase or make arrangements to ship some belongings. Moving companies should be able to ship those for you at a much more reasonable cost than mailing them. It may take several weeks for your shipment to reach you, but you'd have what's in your suitcases to tide you over.

Everyone's a little different as to what they need when they move overseas. Some people are happy with just what they can bring in their suitcases and will be willing to live simply and/or buy what they need once they get there, others prefer more touches of home or don't want to shell out to buy things they already have at home. It may also depend on how long you intend to live there (is it a temporary appointment or will you be living there indefinitely, for example.). If it's just for a year, you might not want to ship a ton of stuff from home, but if it's indefinitely, you might want to ship things rather than re-buying.

And, as others have said, it may depend on your situation when you arrive. If you're going to have to take a train/bus to your destination, then less luggage (and maybe shipping stuff if there's still stuff you want to bring from home) is probably better, but if you're flying in to your destination city or have someone picking you up, then you can handle more luggage. There will almost certainly be taxis that can handle several pieces of luggage or large or odd shaped pieces at the airport if you're flying in to your final destination.