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Packing and luggage help for cruise and land travel

We will be traveling in Italy for a week prior to a 12 day cruise and need some advice on packing and luggage. We each normally travel with our Rick Steves 21" rolling carryon and use the Civita shoulder bag as our under seat personal item for cameras, tablets, meds, etc. We need to pack a couple of dressier outfits for the cruise that we don't think we can get into the rolling carryon so we're looking for a larger underseat bag that won't be too difficult to carry between train stations and hotels. We're considering the Appenzell day pack for an under the seat bag and hope that it will attach to the handle of my rolling bag (my husband can carry his as a backpack). Does this sound like a workable solution? Are there other combinations that would work better? We're flying Lufthansa from the US to Milan and Air Canada on return and I know that their carryon/underseat allowances are more restricitive than some airlines.
Suggestions for packing lightly for a land/cruise combination would also be appreciated. We'll be on the Holland American Koningsdam.
Thanks in advace for your input.

Posted by
192 posts

I have the Appenzel, which I have used as my personal bag for 2 trips to Europe. I was able to have it under the seat on Delta and KLM. It is a good sized bag, so it cuts down on the space for your feet. It doesn't hook to your carry on, but I was able to make it work by wrapping the straps around the handle. It would work much better if you attached a strap or something to it to secure to the handle. I do like the bag, though.

Posted by
21843 posts

We frequent do what you want to do. Our normal, non-cruise travel is two backpack style carry-ons and a couple of very small - big enough for an ipad - shoulder bags. Basically packing two changes of clothing and wearing one. When we do a cruise we add one rolling carry-on size bag - for the extra clothing, shoes, etc. And we adjust our other clothing slight. Normally pack two very casual travel style of clothing plus one change that is somewhat dressier outfit. When we are doing the cruise we upgrade the second casual outfit to something more dressy and a bit more appropriate for the cruise ship. But other than some small changes there is little difference between what we normally take and the additions for the cruises. We normally cruise with Holland America that still maintains some dressy nights for dinner so still taking a sport coat and a long dress.

Posted by
154 posts

In 2016, my wife and I went on a Christmas Rhine River cruise on AMA, which was truly one of the best trips we've ever taken. However, it was our first European trip together, and we were pretty much "newbies" for such a journey. We flew KLM to Amsterdam and had to be rebooked on Swiss from Zurich back to the US due to weather issues. No problems with our carryons not meeting limits either way.

We made the typical overpacking mistakes on this trip, each taking a large checked bag as well as a rolling carryon, and found that even with the cold weather necessitating bulkier clothes, we really overpacked on this one. One of the problems was that we didn't know whether we'd need dressier clothing a la sportcoat and nice dress. We really didn't, as even the chef's table Christmas dinner wasn't that formal. All in all, a learning experience.

Since then, I've struggled with hauling suits and formal wear in a carryon, as I've had a couple of weddings to attend. The best solution I've found if you're taking a man's suit is an Eagle Creek folding garment carrier with a clear plastic drycleaning bag as padding. The hangup in your situation is that a lot of these bags that are designed to fit in a 22" rolling bag (which passes muster for domestic travel) are too large for the smaller European carrier compliant rollers.

The solution is to check out the various YouTube videos on how to fold suits for travel. I've used these and most really work, and I recently "experimented" by folding a suit into a 20" carryon. It survived a flight from Phoenix to Chicago with no wrinkles or pressing needed.

Your cruise ship most likely has laundry service, so I'd take a carrier-compliant roller, fold your dressy stuff as best you can, and if there are wrinkles, just have the items pressed on the ship or use the old "shower mist" method for straightening out minor wrinkling. Since you're taking two different airlines, find the more restrictive limit and choose your bag accordingly.

As for the underseat bag, I'm a huge fan of the RS Veloce shoulder bag/backpack. It fits under airline seats easily, expands when necessary, and holds pretty much anything you'll need to get to on a flight or onshore for a day trip.

Have fun!

Posted by
21283 posts

I haven't cruised and don't pretend to know what mode of dress will be appropriate for your trip, but could you get by with a sleek-lined, inconspicuous casual outfit (usable for day-to-day sightseeing) covered with a dressy but lightweight over-shirt? I have a see-through red blouse that is virtually weightless and really dresses up an all-black outfit.

Posted by
87 posts

Holland America has really relaxed its dress code policies. I would check to see whether you really need a suit jacket and long dress anymore. It's been a few years since I travelled with them, but I can recall seeing a wide range of dress on what used to be called Formal Night. They used to have formal wear rental, too. I don't know if they have that anymore. My point is to ask whether you really need a different wardrobe for the cruise. Maybe you can up your game during the rest of the trip be dropping the more casual clothes.

Posted by
3789 posts

A little black dress, filmy over top and some statement jewelry can mix and match a number of more formal nights. - with flats and a cardigan, can be day wear. (depending on the season).
Have you considered a knit blazer? These will pack well.
Sold by Brooks Brothers, Old Navy, Eddy Bauer....lots of choices.

Posted by
210 posts

Thanks to everyone for your comments and suggestions. I have had travel pants and tops that all coordinate and have taken them on previous trips to Europe but am in the process of losing weight and will need to buy all new clothes for this trip - poor me ;-) so I will look for things that might be dressy enough for formal nights that I could also wear during the day. My husband always takes a sport coat to wear for cool mornings and evenings and to dinner, and that will have to suffice for his dress up nights on the ship. I watched Rick's Mediterranean cruise video and he said that works for him!

Yesterday I checked Lufthansa limits for the personal item to put under the seat and the only bags close to the limits are the Veloce Shoulder Bag and the Euro flight bag, although even the latter is large in one dimension. It's 12" X 14" X 7" and Lufthansa's limits are 11.8" X 15.7" X 3.9". We have flown Lufthansa before and they were strict about luggage so we don't want to risk having to check one of our carryons. Does anyone know whether the Euro flight bag has a rigid bottom or can it be "squished" to fit the Lufthansa limits if I don't pack it full? (I plan to post this question separately, too, to try to pick up new comments from Eurobag users.) The Veloce shoulder bag doesn't appear to be shaped for easy packing and unpacking but the photos don't shown it opened up.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

Posted by
11432 posts

Are you only willing to buy RS branded bags or are you open to other ones?

Posted by
528 posts

We just finished a 19 day cruise from Dubai to Singapore on Azamara with additional 4 days in both Dubai and Singapore. We both carried on our luggage for all flights. Just don't go crazy with a lot of extra clothes and shoes and make use of their laundry facilities which will vary by ship. HAL like most cruise lines is more business casual at their dinners, no need for formal wear.

Posted by
210 posts


Are you only willing to buy RS branded bags or are you open to other

I am open to other brands but have had great success with RS bags and they're on sale right now! What suggestions do you have?

Posted by
72 posts

A sport coat will be fine for the Gala Nights. That is what hubby wore in the Nieuw Amsterdam this year. I wore slacks and a dressy top, and was glad I had those pants. I froze everywhere on the ship except the Lido Market area.

If the sport coat will take up too much space, you don't have to eat in the main dining room. The Lido is open for dinner, too.

There is laundry service on the ship. A bit pricey, no DIY, and free if you are in a Neptune Suite.

Posted by
8491 posts

We were on the Koningsdam last January. I wore black Chico’s Travelers No-tummy Pants for all dinners, including formal night and some sort of private fancy dinner. I just have a fancy top or two and a beautiful shawl and wear black flats and simple or fake jewelry on trips. Since I pack 3 pairs of these pants on all trips, they also go to cities, hiking, the opera, etc. It all rolls up into the suitcase.

My husband wore a sports jacket, and he wears it onto the plane and whenever in transit if one comes along on a trip. Some men were jacketless in the MDR on formal nights—not a problem, at least in the Caribbean and if you don’t feel self-conscious. Really no one noticed much or cared if someone was in a tux or shirtsleeves. BTW food was excellent.

Posted by
11432 posts

I would suggest going to eBags and search for personal items that may fit your dimensions better. You could also see what is available for your larger bags.

EBags own brand are very well made and good value.