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Packing - 21 Day Europe - June 18th, 2023


Very excited to leave on our 21-day Europe trip on June 18th. We understand this is a very active tour and that is AWESOME. We are two very active young guys and love that this is going to be fast-paced! One question I had is even though we will have smaller suitcases for this trip, what were some creative ways you all packed souvenirs from all the places you ventured to? We usually cruise or backpack areas and have plenty of room to pack smaller trinkets, calendars, etc. For those of you who have been on this trip or others like it, are you able to bring what you wanted home and what are your strategies?

Thanks so much to everyone!


Posted by
6158 posts

Hi Nate, i bring a 2-wheel carry on roller suitcase and the small LLBean Stowaway Pack. The Stowaway pack has some food items - individual packs of nuts, protein bars, coffee sticks, mints in a gallon Ziploc bag. It’s about half full. As I’m traveling those disappear which gives me some extra room. And I don’t pack my suitcase full, so there’s plenty of room for a nice ceramic rectangular plate or small pitcher, or a nice calendar as you mentioned. Last year I wanted to bring two of the large box home proctored Covid tests because I traveled while we had to test negative to return into the US. They took up a lot of room, but thankfully no weight.

I bring four outfits, plus what I wear on the plane and extra underwear and wash items in the sink with either the hotel shampoo or Earth Breeze detergent sheets. The sheets look like a dryer sheet but are detergent that dissolves; thin pieces.

Posted by
1138 posts

I bring a packable 30 liter nylon duffel to accommodate the “expanded” packing list.

Posted by
3648 posts

I usually plan to dispose of some clothing, and at least one pair of shoes, while I travel. I set things aside all year that I'm tiring of, and designate these as disposable travel clothes. I try to time my athletic shoes to have one trip left in them . I have been criticized here on the Forum for this practice, but I think the comments are uncalled for. What's the difference between disposing of unwanted clothes at home vs abroad ?
I also plan just enough toiletries and meds so that the containers can be thrown away.
Hope this helps, and have a great trip.

Posted by
172 posts

We took the 14 Day Best of Europe a few years ago and loved it! No doubt the 21 Day will be also wonderful.
On our tour, if people made purchases that they didn’t want to carry from place to place, they could store them under the bus in the luggage area because we had the same bus the entire time. A few from our tour did that. We took a foldable, packable tote (the zip up one from Ricks travel store), which is lightweight and takes up next to no space in a suitcase. We figured it could handle overflow stuff if needed for the flight back if we needed to check a suitcase due to shopping. We didn’t end up needing to do that, but the tote came in handy for trips to the laundromat. A good backup to have along:)

Posted by
1921 posts

My husband and I took this tour a few years ago. Three days before we went, my 30 year old son decided to join us. When we picked him up to head to the airport, he only had a medium sized backpack. I couldn’t believe it. Somehow he had enough undies, socks, two pairs of jeans (wore one on plane) and another lighter pair of slacks, and tees.
Hubby and I took carryon and did laundry at two different hotels, and sink laundry if we needed. It worked well.

Take travel sized liquids or buy those toiletries when you get there.
It’s a great tour.

Posted by
1972 posts

I always travel with a foldable duffle, similar to this one: Arxus Travel Lightweight Waterproof Foldable Storage Carry Luggage Duffle Tote Bag

On the way home, you can put your clothes in the duffle and your souvenirs (fragile items) in your suitcase.

Posted by
2322 posts

I haven’t taken your tour. But in June I will take my third RS tour plus independent travel.

Outbound: I use RS Rolling Carry-on and a lightweight tote that has a trolley strap. Packing cubes are your friend to keep things organized, plus an assortment of small bags for electrical cords, plug adaptors, drugs & misc, some go in the suitcase, some in to the tote. A packable backpack stays in my suitcase until I need it as a day bag.

This answers your question….Homeward bound: expand to fit in soft souvenirs and check the suitcase. Fill tote and backpack with souvenirs and carry those on. If carrying breakables, like Christmas ornaments, I ask the store to wrap them in bubble wrap, then I carry them in the tote. Lace bookmarks from Venice or silk scarves make good, easy to pack gifts, as do t-shirts and jewelry.

If all else fails and you end up buying a lot of fragile things, ask the store to ship it for you. My sister-in-law shipped home Christmas ornaments. Store in Rome charged her about €35 (in 2019) and they got home before she did.

Posted by
281 posts

Nate, we each have a wheeled carryon and a 22L backpack, usually checking our carryons on our way home. One of us packs a lightweight collapsible tote/duffel so we have options for bringing home items that we want to pack in the bags/check or carry gently onto the plane lol. You should be able to deep stash purchases in a designated spot in the baggage area of the bus. Have fun!

Posted by
2009 posts

I'm not a devotee of the "carry on only" religion (though there are times that I don't check).

On a fast pace trip like this, I actually use a suitcase larger than I need, that has extra space when I set out. Clearly, this gives room to carry stuff home. But crucially, it means I do not have to pack as carefully when I'm hopping from hotel to bus to hotel. Without having to be super efficient with space, which can be a stressor for me—I can just toss, zip, and go.

Posted by
6780 posts

If you’re wearing of pair of shoes and packing at least one more, things can get stuffed inside that other pair. Assuming they’re not sweaty or too funky, and especially if you wrap the items in a bag or clean socks before inserting them, the shoes can provide a protective stash place.

Posted by
12589 posts

I vote for a spare fold-up tote to put in the "deep storage" section of the bus bay. Some drivers have something like a big appliance box that all the deep storage stuff goes in. On my 21 day tour one couple bought a cuckoo clock in St Goar but they had it shipped home.

I'd also go with suitcase no larger than 22". There will be times when you'll have to walk some to get to your hotel as the bus can't get near it. I do agree with using a suitcase that is expandable and checking it on the way home. I second the suggestion to use packing cubes to keep yourselves organized. One of the hardest things about this tour is moving every other night.

Also...for Venice you will want to plan ahead and maybe not bring in your suitcase for those 2 nights. I usually use a packing cube and take in clean unders, pjs, a clean shirt and socks in the piece I use for my personal item on the plane (fits under the seat). The vaporettos you will board in the bus parking lot area to go to your hotel are crowded (unless your guide springs for private water taxis as ours did on the Best of Italy last Fall!) and you may also have some stepped bridges between your vaporetto dock and your hotel. At your age,no problem physically just a PIA to maneuver bigger bags on and off.

I'm not a big shopper so no other advice than that ALTHOUGH on this tour (plus I did 2 more back to back with this one, lol!!) I somehow wound up with 8 scarves so my suitcase was so heavy I could not lift it. That was the last time I took a backpack style suitcase - converted to a wheelie after that!

Have a wonderful time on this trip! It's truly an awesome sampler of countries and sights. So much fun!

Posted by
10078 posts

I always stick a small duffle in my suitcase to use for the return trip home. Not a shopper but sometimes do see something I want go buy.

Posted by
8030 posts

But key chains, shot glasses or scarves as souvenirs. They take up very little room. Same with postcards. Or take a great pic and frame it when u get home and give as gift. Or retain as a keep sake.

Posted by
1259 posts

But [sic] key chains, shot glasses or scarves as souvenirs.

My mom used to buy handsful of those cute little spoons with cities' coats of arms glued on. She quickly figured out that no one really wanted any more junk, erm, interesting things.

Posted by
12589 posts

"She quickly figured out that no one really wanted any more junk, erm, interesting things."

Oh out my parent's home after they left this mortal coil is what did it for me on shopping. They traveled a LOT and even though I've been to some of the places I often did not want what they purchased as souvenirs.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks everyone for your wonderful responses.

For those of you posting opinions on souvenirs, everyone is different. We do not have children. We enjoy reliving our memories and will if we are lucky to get older and will cherish these memories together. I dont care if the people tasked with cleaning out our home when we age choose to throw everything out, we collect because we are doing this for US. Whatever your opinions may be, it is sad that you would be choosing to this for others rather than you. I collect and keep memories for us - not anyone else? LOL

Posted by
2156 posts

Like Pat from San Diego, I often take some clothes/shoes that have reached the end of their useful life and dispose of them along the way. One year I ended up with only 1 set of clothes ( plus what I was wearing ) at the end. Good thing I did. My travel companion purchased a lot of hard back books and his duffel was HEAVY. Fortunately the airlines weighed both bags at the same time and we made it under the limit.

Posted by
1416 posts

We buy small items that we can use as Christmas tree ornaments, and, every year when we decorate our tree, we enjoy the memories they bring us.

Posted by
1602 posts

I pack carry on only, but have an expandable suitcase, that gets expanded at the end of the trip to accommodate all the souvenirs and special items we have purchased and then check it in on the way home.