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Packing light for a Big Guy

Normally I check a 22x14x9 rollaboard that clocks in around 25-30 pounds give or take. It's served me well over the years, but this year on a 12 day trip to Southern Germany, Vienna and Prague I decided to go light, carryon only. I'm flying UA over and AA back, so the old rollaboard can still come with, but I want to cut down the weight.

The problem is that I'm a big guy. As in 3XL big. My clothes have significantly more fabric and thus weigh more and take up far more space than those of a petite young lady or a Medium-sized gentleman. My usual travel destinations are Canada, the U.K., and central or northern Europe, so I need both warm and cool weather garments on each trip, plus a nice 3XL-sized windbreaker.

My plan is 2 trousers, 4 long-sleeve or convertible shirts, 2 short sleeve shirts, a sweater, one pair of nicer shoes (I use cheap mocs on the plane), and my venerable Tilley hat, in addition to what I wear onboard, plus the usual socks and undergarments (4 or 5 sets of each to be sink-washed over there), and various accessories, travelectronics, etc. I usually use the bundle packing method for single destinations, but this time that's not really practical since it's 4 days in each location.

So how do my fellow big guys fare while packing light? I'm layering up for the plane trip over (sportcoat, sweater, shirt, T-shirt) and plan to have just the 22" rollaboard and a smaller personal item with my laptop, neck travel pillow, noise-cancelling headset and so on. Suggestions on how to mitigate all that heavy fabric?

Posted by
5046 posts

You're going early in June, right?

I'm not a guy, nor a 3X, but I wonder if you need both a sport jacket and a sweater. Depending on your plans, either one or the other plus a very lightweight rain resistant windbreaker might be sufficient.

Posted by
8210 posts

I am just an XL guy that always intends to carry less on every trip. And I always return with clothes that were never worn--even when traveling 3 weeks.
Carry all you want--as long as it weighs no more than 10 kg. (including the bag.) I wear a size 15 shoe so an extra pair is heavy and bulky. Only carry the shoes on your feet. And will you really wear a sport coat? Only way I would carry one is if I was going by cruise ship. I have often said that I get khaki pants and jeans heavily starched as they look good for a week and seem to shed dirt.
I bet the pickpockets are hesitant to mess with a 3XL guy.

Posted by
1194 posts

I’m not a big guy. That said, I’ve found that a significant part of luggage weight doesn’t come from the clothes but the extra stuff.

Look at your toiletry kit. How large is it? Is it heavy or ultralight? Are you decanting your toiletries and taking just enough for the trip or are you taking full sized items.? You can save 1-2 pounds here.

Look at your electronics. Are you consolidating cords and chargers or are you taking a separate charger for each device? With the exception of Apple, charge cords are micro USB. You can share this between your electronics. You can share Apple fire cords too. Make sure your USB charger has a 3 Amp port and you can use it for any type of phone, tablets, or netbook! Leave the rest of the cords at home.

Can you lighten your packing cubes?

Are you taking paper? Much of this can be scanned, turned into a PDF, and stored on your phone or th cloud.

Check the fabric weight of your clothes. Can you take lighter shirts or pants?

If you are taking a couple of convertible shirts then you can probably leave one short sleeve shirt at home.

Lastly, I want to point out that rolling luggage is lighter than ever. Can you save weight by getting a new bag?

Posted by
57 posts

Look at your toiletry kit. How large is it? Is it heavy or ultralight? Are you decanting your toiletries and taking just enough for the trip or are you taking full sized items.? You can save 1-2 pounds here.

Ultralight. My 3-1-1 will hold everything, liquid/gel and otherwise, with space to spare. Razor, shaving brush, deodorant, aftershave, and a few other odds-and-ends. Meds will take up a bit more space but using pill containers rather than whole bottles.

Look at your electronics. Are you consolidating cords and chargers or are you taking a separate charger for each device? With the exception of Apple, charge cords are micro USB. You can share this between your electronics. You can share Apple fire cords too. Make sure your USB charger has a 3 Amp port and you can use it for any type of phone, tablets, or netbook! Leave the rest of the cords at home.

My phone is the new USB-C standard, and my laptop is ultra-lightweight and has its own charger. I also have a USB charging brick that needs a micro USB cable. I always carry two USB-C cables/wall chargers/adapters since my phone is critical. Might be grabbing a small kindle as well but undecided.

Can you lighten your packing cubes? Are you taking paper? Much of this can be scanned, turned into a PDF, and stored on your phone or the cloud.

Cubes are stuffed tightly. Maybe a dozen sheets of paper, including rail tickets. I don't trust tickets and boarding passes to a phone exclusively. BadThings™ can happen to electronics and a dead-tree backup is a saving grace. My guide books (RS, of course) are the pocket size ones, not the biggies, and I'm taking one paper map for the driving portion of my trip—again, electronics can give out at unexpected times.

Check the fabric weight of your clothes. Can you take lighter shirts or pants?

That's the big question for this forum. Big men's clothes just can't be made littler or lighter. I'm too large for both Tilley and ExOfficio shirts (they both stop at 2X), but for convertibles, I'm using Columbia TPG. They don't look great but they're cool, somewhat comfortable, wrinkle-proof and have fastenable pockets. Wearing jeans on the flights, packing Tilley pants for city touring since they have a secret Velcro-closable pocket for passport/etc. And they never die. And one pair of lightweight slacks; the lightest I can get.

Lastly, I want to point out that rolling luggage is lighter than ever. Can you save weight by getting a new bag?

My wife complains that our basement looks like the lost luggage office at JFK as it is. I'm hesitant to add one more when what I have is superb, albeit heavy. I love my Crew-11 rollaboard. If I could get lighter-weight clothes I think that would probably be the key. I will say I'm jealous of the folks who do these packing videos who can toss in 3 slacks, 10 shirts, extra dress shoes and a ton of undergarments and still have room for souvenirs in a 21.5 European-style roller or an underseat tote!!

Posted by
4574 posts

I am a plus size woman, so get your dilemna, but as Cindy H says, often it is the trinket creep that adds the weight. Minimize what you can for the optional things. Decant Dop bag items i to smaller things and even a zip lock bag works for a dop kit.
I'll take the new, lighter luggage one step further and recommend purchasing slightly smaller than US airline carry on sizes...to be Canadian and European carry on compliant.
I do think, however, we all reach our minimum critical mass for packing and eventually are not comfortable with less than a personal size and weight luggage amount. For some, it is 7.5 kg, others it is 12 kg, while others push the 50 pound limit and never carry on.

Posted by
537 posts

Big men's clothes just can't be made littler or lighter. I'm too large
for both Tilley and ExOfficio shirts (they both stop at 2X)

Just an FYI- ExOfficio's most popular shirt, Air Strip, comes in 3X, both solids and plaids. They recently discontinued their Reef Runner shirt, which was lighter and more casual, however, it fit very generous as it was designed for hot, tropical conditions. You may be able to find them on various websites.

If you're ever in the Seattle-area, their Belltown store has a very large clearance section in the rear and always has a filled rack of very large sized apparel.

Posted by
57 posts

I am a plus size woman, so get your dilemna, but as Cindy H says, often it is the trinket creep that adds the weight. Minimize what you can for the optional things. Decant Dop bag items i to smaller things and even a zip lock bag works for a dop kit.

Oh, I've un-creeped everything. I'm no novice at this game . I'm going for 12 nights; I don't need a lot of anything. My Dopp kit was big because I never even bothered to thin it our when I was checking the bag. I still could if I wanted to (I get a freebie checked in each direction), but I want to try doing it differently if that's feasible...so I get brutal when I have to do this. I've gone carry-on-only a few times within North America but this is the first time across the pond like this.

I'll take the new, lighter luggage one step further and recommend purchasing slightly smaller than US airline carry on sizes...to be Canadian and European carry on compliant.

I bought one of the 21.5s last year as a second bag (one in the hold, the 21.5 up top with me). Nice little bag but I think it's just a bit too small for two weeks on the road. One week, easily. The first weekend of this excursion is a trade show (and ostensibly the reason I'm going across), so I need to look a little nicer for evening socializing.

I do think, however, we all reach our minimum critical mass for packing and eventually are not comfortable with less than a personal size and weight luggage amount. For some, it is 7.5 kg, others it is 12 kg, while others push the 50 pound limit and never carry on.

My first-ever trip over I went crazy. Took two bags, one at 70 pounds (because it was allowed), one at 45 or so. I was so PO'd when I got back and found I only used about half of what I brought. Next time I went, I brought a professional-grade SLR and lenses but fewer clothes. Regretted that too. Now I use my camera's phone, (and I buy postcards if I really want to remember someplace special). I find the Galaxy S8+ has a good enough camera for me these days. I think I can do well with about 10-12kg in my main bag and another 4 or 5kg in my personal item.

One thing that's really awful about being my size is that backpacks are right out. I did that once and wound up bumping into people (and being bumped into) too many times. I become the pedestrian equivalent of an 18 wheeler with a backpack. Even a daypack is bad. Yes, I suppose I could always go for salads instead of Sacher Tortes, but what fun is that .

Posted by
57 posts

Just an FYI- ExOfficio's most popular shirt, Air Strip, comes in 3X, both solids and plaids. If you're ever in the Seattle-area, their Belltown store has a very large clearance section in the rear and always has a filled rack of very large sized apparel.

I live across the country, alas, but next time I'm out there I'll definitely pop by. Every time I've looked at ExOfficio all I've seen were 2XL. Perhaps they're expanding—like their customers? They're spendy ($90 a pop, and the ones on sale are not available in my size), but well worth it. Before I gained all this tonnage I fit into their Air Strip 2XL shirts and they're still my favourite pieces of clothing of all time. I spent a fortune on Tilley shirts and they just never fit quite right. It's like they sized them up based on a small person's template. It don't work dat way! Big clothing has to be designed differently if it's to fit and look good.

I usually strive to look better when I'm on vacation than I do when I'm just hanging around New York City (I'm retired, and live in the NJ 'burbs), even though I know that nobody I'll ever run into in a café or castle will ever see me again. And by my size, there's absolutely no doubt of my country of origin, so there's no "trying to pass as a local" for me .

That's one of the big problems I have when I travel. Rick and other tour group operators always go by the mantra of "if you need something just buy it over there." Well, good luck with that if you're a 3XL! I've never seen an item of clothing over XL or 2XL in Europe (well there was one place in Helsinki but that's it).

Posted by
985 posts

I've been working with getting brutal with my carry on. From experience I know I only NEED to pack one extra pair pants and three shirts, other than what I am wearing on the plane. However, my pj bottoms are black yoga pants which could serve in a pinch as a pant if one of the other pair were ruined so I can see you packing two pairs for a just in case situation. I can easily do 6 weeks in Europe with those tops/bottoms as long as I have rain/wind and warmth gear. I sink wash underwear daily, merino socks every other day, and shirts when needed depending on temps and messy eating. I also use machines to wash/dry if easily available. I agree with you about shopping in Europe for clothes. On our first trip over I had to find a sweater or sweat shirt because I was freezing. I finally was able to score a sweatshirt in a men's 2XL, which equated to an American XL. I didn't even dare put it into the dryer after washing it or it would have turned into a very tight base layer.

If you are wearing a long sleeve shirt on the plane I might suggest dropping two of the long sleeve shirts and the sport jacket unless you will be visiting places where you need to dress up.

Like someone else mentioned, it is all the other little things that seem to add the most weight to my bag, but I have been guilty in the past of taking too many shirts. No more of that for me, but I will always take something now for warmth.

Maybe experiment at home with a smaller packing list for a week and see if it is doable for you.

Posted by
15568 posts

I'm a bigger guy so I will tell you what I do.

I leave in two weeks for an 11 1/2 week trip and I pack the same as I would for a one week trip. I take similar to you in clothes. My trip will take me from Italy in the south to Norway in the north. I test packed and here's how it goes:

Think of your case lying on it's back, wheels on one side, telescoping handles on the other side.

Bottom Layer--between the handle grooves: Here goes those misc items you take--first aid kit, OTC meds, etc. These are put in Eagle Creek Specter Tech Slim Cubes

Next layer: in a Specter Tech Large Cube--Pants, Jeans, Sweater (1 or 2) made of lightweight wool, gym shorts.

Next layer: toward the wheels are my second pair of shoes stuffed with socks (Smartwool). Kitty corner them like they go in a shoebox to maximize space. On the other side are 4 polo shirts (JCP Foundry) that are blends and dry overnight and a blend t-shirt. These are in a Specter Tech Clean/dirty cube so there is no need for a laundry bag.

In my bag I now go into the lid and here I have my jacket folded up and a Specter Tech Small Compression Cube with my Ex-officio undies. (They only go up to 2x but Under Armour has quick drying 3x boxers.)

My toiletry kit is a RS small toiletry kit and it goes vertical at the top of the bag. (Top meaning towards the telescoping handle.

My bag is 21.6 x 13.8 x 9. With everything it weighs about 18 lbs.

My personal item is a Tom Bihn Pilot. Here I have my prescription meds, electronics and 3-1-1- bag plus a couple of other things I want for my flight.

Posted by
15568 posts

I have a Samsonite Uplite 55. Unfortunately it's not available in the U.S.

My packing system should work on any bag with a thinner lid.

Posted by
57 posts

Next layer: in a Specter Tech Large Cube--Pants, Jeans, Sweater (1 or 2) made of lightweight wool, gym shorts.
Next layer: toward the wheels are my second pair of shoes stuffed with socks (Smartwool). Kitty corner them like they go in a shoebox to maximize space. On the other side are 4 polo shirts (JCP Foundry) that are blends and dry overnight and a blend t-shirt. These are in a Specter Tech Clean/dirty cube so there is no need for a laundry bag.

Good suggestions. Not sure how you handle the shoes and all the other stuff. Your description doesn't paint a clear picture in my mind. My bag is lined so there's no space between the handles...it's fairly smooth. I guess I could ditch the lining for a couple more cubic inches of space. To me, the shoes are a real killer, along with the added fabric of the big sizes. That's why I took that 26" checked bag last year, for a pair of nice lace-up Rockports (stuffed with socks, of course!). Let's just say I prefer walking in my comfy Merrel mocs, but it some situations that Just Won't Do.

I can probably do without the sport coat (I never used it last year in Russia or Finland), but I figured that since I'm going to dinner with my peers for two nights I should look nicer than usual. I was also thinking for concerts in Vienna that may be appropriate dress. That's the only item I'm not sold on.

I should probably take another trip through JCP. I have a couple of Foundry s/s polos...hard to find nice ones with pockets (I wear reading glasses), but one or two usually catch my eye every year. Two of the shirts I kinda have to bring are related to the trade show; they likely won't be worn anywhere else, but are de rigeur in Friedrichshafen's dinners.

I did a test-pack with 2 pants, 5 shirts (2 dress shirts folded up by the drycleaners, 3 loose), shoes, socks, underwear, the TechnoBaggie, and misc stuff and it fit in the 22" but without a whole lot of room to spare. I didn't need to expand it, but it was pretty full. I don't see how I could get all that down to a European carryon and still have room for souvenirs. I usually come back with a small payload of stuff after going somewhere awesome. Again, yes, I could expand the bag and stick it down below but that's the easy way out. I really want to learn how to pack all those Omar The Tent Maker sized things and still have room for the goodies (and the inevitable bottle of hooch and box of cigars at the duty free...not that I expect much to be available at 6am at PRG).

Posted by
57 posts

All this reminds me, what I really don't "get" are the new style of suitcases that open in two equal halves, rather than a single deep void and a thin lid. For bundle packing it's absolutely horrible.

Posted by
1194 posts

I really want to learn how to pack all those Omar The Tent Maker sized things and still have room for the goodies (and the inevitable bottle of hooch and box of cigars at the duty free...

You realize that many of us just get tiny souvenirs or ship the larger ones home?

You’re trying to get your bag to do it all.

Posted by
1194 posts

Have you considered taking a zippered cardigan instead of a sport jacket?

Posted by
5364 posts

It all sounds like way too much faffing about for me. Just chuck it all in a suitcase and check it in!

Posted by
15997 posts

Voting with JC here. Neither of us are big/tall people but trying to cram everything into a carryon would stress us out more than just going with little bigger bags and checking them. So we do. It doesn't need to be HUGE (ours aren't) and you can still practice packing lighter than heavier (we do that too) but as long as you can manage it yourself, then go for it. Yup, I get it that just an extra pair of size 15 shoes could take up serious room/weight in a carryon, even if you stuff them with other items!

I would re-consider the sportcoat and "nice" shoes, though. Unless you plan on eating at fancy restaurants which require a coat, you don't really need it or the shoes. We restrict our shoes to two pairs (wear one, pack one) that can be walked in all day as that's what occupies the lion's share of our travel time.

Posted by
4574 posts

Well, you've done a good job on stripping down what you can control for weight. I would be willing to accept that 25-30 was my 'minimum critical mass' and move on with more interesting stuff, but no reason to not keep one's eyes open for thinner fabrics that work.

You've stated you feel you need your dress shoes and a sport jacket for trips to Expos, so maybe you just need to accept that.
Another thought, you could invest in tailor made clothing of thinner fabrics, or at least lighter weight fabrics, or a lighter weight sport coat. Custom fitting and the wider range of fabrics available to tailors or the sewing trade may allow you to carve off 5 pounds of clothing weight, but it would be expensive. You most likely would look and feel better, though, so cost might not matter.

Posted by
15568 posts

There is just so much you can put in a carry on bag. You are already filling it to the brim and then expect to add souvenirs, a bottle of hootch and a box of cigars?

If those are your priorities then why rack your brain trying to do something that would technically go against the laws of physics. There is just so much you can fit in a confined space. Check in your bag and be done with it.

By the way, what carry on bag do you have?

What airlines are you flying?

Posted by
23 posts

As a fellow big guy, I would add, having had the good fortune to travel, I discovered that they sell toothpaste, deodorant, and a whole host of items in Europe. There was a time when I would pack all these items, now I minimize these things and buy them when I arrive at my destination. I cannot tell you how many times I have hauled a second pair of shoes around only to never put them on my feet. If for some reason, my shoes get destroyed, word has it they sell shoes in Europe. Also, experience tells me that I over pack on the shirts, jackets, and sweaters. Like you, I tend to layer up on the flight over. It is amazing just how little you really require. I try to note the items I bring that I can leave home the next time round, i.e. at the Euro store - they sell a small travel first aid kit, a sewing kit, and more items than you could possible ever want or need. In addition, we have purchased compression bags - they zip lock and you roll the air out of them, absolutely amazing how much space you save when you squeeze the air out of these packages. Hope this helps, have a grand trip. Bill

Posted by
57 posts

If those are your priorities then why rack your brain trying to do something that would technically go against the laws of physics. There is just so much you can fit in a confined space. Check in your bag and be done with it.

Just trying to see if there are any improvements I can make or if very large people who fly frequently have a method that I simply haven't found yet. This is a thought experiment mostly. Yes, I can just check a bag as I've always done and be on my way. The point of the exercise is more for the future, though. What if I can snag a nice $200 off-season fare to someplace interesting on WOW Air or Norwegian Air Shuttle, where I'm limited to that smaller bag.

The more I think on this the more I think I'll leave the sport coat at home, but I'll check the weather forecasts for my primary destination a few days out and that will help me make my final determination. Last week of May by Lake Constance, Germany might still have cold nights.

By the way, what carry on bag do you have?

My primary for this trip is my venerable and well-traveled Travelpro Crew 5 rollaboard 22". I've had this since forever and it's a fantastic bag. Just too big for the Low Cost Carriers these days.
https://europeforvisitors.com/europe/articles/travelpro-crew5-review.htm
It's a nice two-wheel roller with enough pockets and zippers for anything. My "personal item" so far looks like a TravelPro Platinum 3 or 4 series overnight tote bag that my wife bought me about 15 years ago. It's just a tad too small for my 13" laptop in its sleeve, though, so I might be in the market for something just an inch or two larger. The big thing on a personal item for me is the back strap that lets me slide it over the handle of my rolling bag, since invariably my flights end up at the furthest gate from security (it's one of my traveling super powers). Heathrow T3 gate 22 to the main terminal is a 20 minute hike!

My LCC bag (which I'm not taking on this trip) is a Travelpro Crew 11 spinner. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HD1ZREM/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Decent bag, very well built but I think just a tad too small for more than 4 or 5 days in a mixed-weather environment. Perfect for going to the Caribbean or Florida or even maybe the Mediterranean for 10 days, but not to places where it's regularly in the 50s (°F) at night or cooler, or rains a lot, or with daytime temps in the 65F/18C range.

What airlines are you flying?

UA metal over from EWR, non-stop. An AA itinerary, flying BA aircraft from PRG to LHR, then AA metal from LHR to JFK.

I discovered that they sell toothpaste, deodorant, and a whole host of items in Europe. There was a time when I would pack all these items, now I minimize these things and buy them when I arrive at my destination. I cannot tell you how many times I have hauled a second pair of shoes around only to never put them on my feet. If for some reason, my shoes get destroyed, word has it they sell shoes in Europe.

Well, good luck trying to find a 5E width in Europe, which is what I wear. It takes me weeks of shopping here in NYC/NJ for a pair that fits me comfortably. As for toiletries, I bring small sizes of everything. My only real "comfort item" that I won't travel without is my favourite toothpaste, good, old-fashioned 60-year-old formula original Crest. And I just bring a couple of travel-size tubes in my 3-1-1; I use one a week, roughly. Ditto original Scope mouthwash. Anything else and I'm good with buying whatever the local chemist's has on the shelf. But I figure why buy something I already own, likely for more money plus 20-odd per cent VAT tacked on. Since I have a 3-1-1 bag already, use it!

I generally agree with Rick's premise of buying what you need that you forgot to bring with you, however when you're my size that's simply impossible.

Posted by
3521 posts

I am large (6'3" 300 to 350 lbs). I have no issues living out of a single carry on bag on my European trips no matter the length of the trip if it is not for work. I always plan on doing laundry if the trip is over 8 days.

I have a lot of quick dry polo shirts XLT sized that I choose a selection from to take with me. They are lightweight and I roll them up tightly so they take minimum space. One pair of jeans I wear, another in the bag plus a couple pair of lightweight khakis also rolled tightly with rubber bands around so the space occupied is minimal. Socks and underwear as needed (I usually take old worn ones I leave in the trash when I am done wearing them -- frees up space for small trinkets and souvenirs!) A 2XL rain jacket. Umbrella. Coat in the winter. Toiletries and medicines. Phone charger. Printouts of important tickets and reservations just in case.

Never found a need for a sport jacket on my trips, even when we went to the Vienna opera. No extra shoes (also never needed). No laptop or kindle as my cell phone does everything electronic I need.

After 50 trips to Europe in the last 15 years, I have discovered that that is really all I ever need.

I avoid travelling in the coldest part of the year (unless work forces me to) so no need for warmer clothes which would probably push me to a checked bag due to the bulk and weight. But even a week at Christmas Market time in Germany I needed nothing more that my standard bag full. I didn't spend that much time outside and indoors it always felt like it was 80 degrees. (The warm winter beverages helped.)

Posted by
3521 posts

On the topic of not being able to find larger sized clothing in Europe -- it has to exist somewhere!

I have seen plenty of large men in the various European countries. They were all wearing clothes (except for a few in Germany but that is a different topic completely). They had to get them somewhere. But since I have never shopped for clothes in Europe I would have zero idea what stores would have the larger sizes. I did buy a fleece jacket in Munich at the Hoffbrauhaus (worst $100 I ever spent) because I desperately needed something warm and they had sizes up to 5X.

Shoes are another issue. Even here in the US I have difficulty finding shoes large enough and usually have to have them special ordered.

Posted by
57 posts

I am large (6'3" 300 to 350 lbs). I have no issues living out of a single carry on bag on my European trips no matter the length of the trip if it is not for work. I have a lot of quick dry polo shirts XLT sized that I choose a selection from to take with me. They are lightweight and I roll them up tightly so they take minimum space. One pair of jeans I wear, another in the bag plus a couple pair of lightweight khakis also rolled tightly with rubber bands around so the space occupied is minimal. Socks and underwear as needed (I usually take old worn ones I leave in the trash when I am done wearing them -- frees up space for small trinkets and souvenirs!) A 2XL rain jacket. Umbrella. Coat in the winter. Toiletries and medicines. Phone charger. Printouts of important tickets and reservations just in case. Never found a need for a sport jacket on my trips, even when we went to the Vienna opera. No extra shoes (also never needed). No laptop or kindle as my cell phone does everything electronic I need.

OK, you're actually bigger than me, and it sounds like you've got it down to an art. Do you usually roll everything or flat-pack some things and roll others? As I said up-thread, when I'm going to one destination I'll bundle pack, which is tremendously efficient, but a real pain in the backside for multiple destinations, especially a day-here/two-nights there kind of thing.

On the topic of not being able to find larger sized clothing in Europe -- it has to exist somewhere! I have seen plenty of large men in the various European countries.

I'm sure it must be available, but on a 10 day trip, who wants to try and find it? Plus I'm sure it's only available in the biggest cities, not at local shops that cater to more average sized people. I did see one place in Helsinki across from our hotel but that's the only one. And in certain countries where you'd have to be wealthy to afford the food needed to get that extra layer or three of padding, I doubt there are many oversized residents.

I did buy a fleece jacket in Munich at the Hoffbrauhaus (worst $100 I ever spent) because I desperately needed something warm and they had sizes up to 5X

I've carefully avoided the Hoffbrauhaus on each of my trips to Munich, but I've decided to bite the bullet (and the bratwürst) and have a go this time. I prefer the Augisinter-Keller on Arnulfstraße. Not quite the number of American dude-bros that the HB Haus is known for, or so I'm told. And personally, I prefer a klein instead of a Maß. But when in Munich .

That situation is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. A cold night, no jacket. I don't like the idea of packing a thick/heavy piece of clothing only to find it's not needed at night, but I think I'm off to Omar's to look for something for this trip that'll fill the bill.

Posted by
1194 posts

It sounds like you’re trying to take it to the next level. That means weighing everything and challenging everything that goes in your suitcase. Do you have a kitchen scale? That’s how you get it to the next level.

Based on that, I’ll give you my own benchmarks. How much does each weigh?:

Electronics bag (minus phone) - 23 oz. This includes a power brick and my hair tool. I don’t take a laptop but do everything on my phone. I suspect that your laptop is for work. Otherwise, see if you can leave it at home.

Toiletry kit - 23 oz. I have allergies so I bring my own solid toiletries. Can you convert any toiletries to solid? That saves water weight. And again, have you decanted everything to a smaller size?

311 bag - 10 oz. Toothpaste, sunscreen, hairspray, contact solution, moisturizer, CC cream.

Multiple USB 3.0 chargers need to go. USB 3.0 is backward compatible to USB 2.0 ports. If you are only using it for charging then it doesn’t matter if it is 3.0 or 2.0. USB 3.0 only kicks in for faster data transfer.

Guidebooks: many of Ricks books are available in electronic format. I personally am not impressed with them as guidebooks don’t read like regular books. It would be better if they were an app like Lonely Planet. But it’s one way to lighten up.

And since you’ve turned this into a partly theoretical exercise, I’m going to challenge your roller bag. If it is over 5 pounds it could go lighter.

And just to make sure: did you know about Hitchcock Wide Shoes?

Posted by
4171 posts

I'm a packing cube nut. I have a variety of sizes and colors. I even have 3 kinds of compression cubes.

My favorites are Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter Compression Cubes. I got 2 sets in hard-to-leave-behind red and blue. They hold all the soft clothes I pack. They compress the air out but allow the clothes to breathe. The sizes fit well in carry-on bags and they weigh 1.5 - 2 oz depending on size. Keep in mind that the air is out, but the weight of the clothes is not.

I am not a short or thin person and I wear plus sizes.
In some brand's jackets (like Patagonia and Marmot) I have to buy a men's because the women's largest size is still way too small. With my sizes, folding works better than rolling for the cubes.

Note that there are many other brands out there. An Amazon search for "compression cubes for travel" produces tons of listings, but not all are compression. I've noticed none as light weight as the ones linked above.

Since my husband is also a big guy, I did a search for 3XL travel clothes for men. I did not dig very deeply, but noticed that the largest waist size for most travel pants was a 44. He needs a 46. Bummer.

Posted by
4574 posts

Cubes or folding packs do not reduce weight - just space - but it is my choice. I fold tops (including T-shirts) and pants, roll and stuff 'smalls'. 2 folding packs most of my clothing and keep them wrinkle free.
It might give you the room you want for hooch or cigars, however.

Posted by
57 posts

Multiple USB 3.0 chargers need to go. USB 3.0 is backward compatible to USB 2.0 ports. If you are only using it for charging then it doesn’t matter if it is 3.0 or 2.0. USB 3.0 only kicks in for faster data transfer.

In my case it's USB-C not USB 3.0. USB-C is the new standard whose plug is reversible. My phone takes that, but the charging pack (which I carry around if I'm out for 12 hours and need some juice late in the day) charges up with micro-USB. So I need both cable styles. I also put a fast-charger and USB-C in every bag I carry. They're light and in case I leave one behind I'm not completely screwed. I use my phone for almost everything, but its difficult to do photo stuff on a phone, so I bring along a 2.5# ultrabook for that and more conventional web surfing and email in my down time, plus answer clients' emails, etc. While I can do it on a phone, I'd rather not. But that said, last year for 2 weeks I brought my laptop but only turned it on 4 or 5 times total. I could have probably done without it.

Guidebooks: many of Ricks books are available in electronic format. I personally am not impressed with them as guidebooks don’t read like regular books. It would be better if they were an app like Lonely Planet. But it’s one way to lighten up.

I use the RS "pocket" series of guidebooks not the big bricks. Very lightweight and give me a good starting point. Maybe if I was going to a city for a few weeks the bigger book would help. I'm going more to get the big picture--major sights and quieter neighbourhoods alike--than going to study every monument and museum in-depth.

And since you’ve turned this into a partly theoretical exercise, I’m going to challenge your roller bag. If it is over 5 pounds it could go lighter.

The bag alone is 11 pounds. No way I can go with only 5 pounds of clothing and necessities for 2 weeks. Again, remember my clothes are physically bigger, and weigh more than most people's. I think if I restricted myself to 5 or 6 pounds of clothing I'd be repeating myself too much. I could do it, but would rather have a bit more variety. Luckily in both Vienna and Prague, I will have a washer in my flat so I can do some laundry when I get home and hopefully it will be dry the next morning or the next evening. Only hotel stay will be 1 night in Munich and 3 nights in Friedrichshafen, plus a long day to Vienna.

And just to make sure: did you know about Hitchcock Wide Shoes?

I'll check these out. I'm a Rockport fan generally but I'll see about these; maybe for next year's trip to Ireland. I think I'm good for 2018, though.

Posted by
3521 posts

I roll everything I can except for my coat. That packs better flat.

Posted by
1194 posts

The bag alone is 11 pounds. No way I can go with only 5 pounds of clothing and necessities for 2 weeks.

I think we’re talking past each other. Your roller bag is 11 pounds empty. New roller bags are 5 pounds empty. That’s a potential for 6 pounds savings. That’s a lot!

And just to make sure: did you know about Hitchcock Wide Shoes?

Just an FYI. Hitchcock is an online retailer of wide shoes. They sell Rockport, Merrill, New Balance, etc. I large and wide widths.

Posted by
4171 posts

This explains a lot: "The bag alone is 11 pounds. No way I can go with only 5 pounds of clothing and necessities for 2 weeks."

I think Cindy meant to get a lighter weight bag. I agree that you need to do your best to replace that 11-pound bag with one closer to 5 pounds as she suggested.

There's at least one for sale right here that weighs 5.6 pounds.

I'm sure many will contribute their favorites. These are mine.

Lipault spinner. 4.9 lbs. Available from other online sources, perhaps at a cheaper price.

Eagle Creek Load Warrior. 5 lbs, 13 oz. This may no longer be available except with a T-shaped handle. 4.8 lbs.

This Carry-on Duffel might work. 5.7 lbs. Luggagepros.com is having a sale.

Posted by
15568 posts

Remember, to pack light you have to make some compromises...

--lighter bags, (You can find a decent lightweight bag for under $200.
--less clothes means doing laundry more often,
--less shopping unless you don't mind checking your bag on the way back. (Bring a packable bag along as well.)
--making sure everything you bring is going to be used. No "what if packing." Try to find items that will do double duty.
--make sure all of your clothes mix and match.
--don't try to pack superlight like some of the people here your first time out.
--the carriers you're flying on this trip are not super strict so use this trip as test. Start by cutting out some items and see how you do. Keep notes on what you use and don't use. Then the next time you can try to pack lighter.
--packing light is an ongoing process. You will continue to learn and do better.

Posted by
57 posts

--lighter bags, (You can find a decent lightweight bag for under $200.

That will be an option if I ever do a more complex itinerary or think I'll find myself well off the beaten path. I do have a very lightweight European low-cost-carrier-approved bag

--less clothes means doing laundry more often,
--less shopping unless you don't mind checking your bag on the way back. (Bring a packable bag along as well.)
--making sure everything you bring is going to be used. No "what if packing." Try to find items that will do double duty.
--make sure all of your clothes mix and match.
--don't try to pack superlight like some of the people here your first time out.

Definitely not my first rodeo (I think this is my 10th or 11th trans-Atlantic vacation), but I agree, there's always room to cut back. Last summer there were only 3 garments I didn't wear, and we had everything there from mid-80s in Finland to a raw evening in SPb. We packed for the expected/forcasted mid-70s, but it got hot and humid, and didn't stop the whole time we were there. So one long-sleeve shirt, one sweater and the sportcoat were never worn.

I'm fine with the Woolite-in-a-sink laundy service, and I have a good combination of matching slacks and tops. It's just a question of how to fit it all in. I've done cubes before with limited success but that was years ago. I'll do a test pack with them later on this week and see how much room I can make. The fact I'm going in cool-day/chilly-night/maybe-wet season might limit my flexibility with smaller bags.

Buying yet another piece of luggage for this trip is Right Out, though. Plus I like my ol' Crew 5, darnit!

--the carriers you're flying on this trip are not super strict so use this trip as test. Start by cutting out some items and see how you do. Keep notes on what you use and don't use. Then the next time you can try to pack lighter. Packing light is an ongoing process. You will continue to learn and do better.

If I was going on a LCC then my strategy would be much different. This isn't "because I have to," it's because I want to see how little this big guy can get away with for 13 nights and not be bogged down on trains or airports, and can I find creative ways to pack everything I will use without needing Bagzilla™ or Son-Of-Bagzilla™.

Posted by
15568 posts

Many of us have tried to give you suggestions and all you seem to do is argue each one.

Good luck.

Posted by
57 posts

Don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to be argumentative. I'm just trying to think a bit differently about ways to accomplish something inherently difficult for bigger folks. Short of replacing the bag, I think I've been doing mostly the right things, but until someone says "Hey, I do x, and it's made a big difference" then the old ways always seem to be the right ways.

For example, I rolled everything except my dress shirts for most of my adult life when I traveled on business domestically. Dress shirts got boxed by the dry cleaner and stacked. I always considered this the "right" way, until I discovered bundle packing, which completely rewired my thought processes on the subject, and I did that for years, until it became too burdensome for multi-destination trips.

I guess what I was looking for was a similar revelation from someone who's "been there and done" that already. Either that or a combination of reaffirming my best-practices, or outright shooting down things I mention that their experiences have proven to be clearly the wrong way. Like I said, this isn't a "help I need to do this in 10 weeks" post, but more of a generic "How could I be doing this better" situation. And I'd say I've found a number of good things to try (weighing each item, vacuum cubes, etc). I look at this like solving a difficult puzzle, but a puzzle with many right answers.

So no, I'm not trying to be disagreeable, I just like to hear different people's ways to accomplish a difficult task, then I pick the best practices and go from there.

Posted by
1662 posts

Hi pj,

Packing can be a stressful thing to an otherwise happy occasion. Obviously, you will get different suggestions. So, I will add mine, lol! I'm not tall nor a large person. So, I get it - smaller clothes can fit better in a small space. Regardless, women's clothes are still different than a man's.

I realize you shared the fact that you are a big guy and your clothes and shoes reflect that. Okay. You stated you usually take a 22" case that you check but are exploring options and opinions.

Everyone is different, we know this. What works for one, two or three will still be very different from four, five and six..

Hang your neck pillow from your luggage - decreases space in your carry on. Some come with snaps already for that purpose. Many people do that. If your pillow does not have a snap, put the pillow in a thin grocery bag or similar and tie it around the luggage handle or whatever. The gate agent should be able to see it is your pillow.

Try a couple of different ways to fold your clothes. I'm not sure if you tried packing cubes - the soft-sided ones without the wired borders. Because they are soft nylon (with zippers), even filled they can be smooshed up against the wall of your luggage. The largest one has a two-compartment feature - same size. There is a medium sized and a small one.

If you have a windbreaker for rain or for days you tour a city but a sport coat is too much to wear out and about, take that too. Of course, that would pack thin, and your sweater or a sweater vest can layer underneath.

If you're in to ties, or your trade show calls for it, you have an accessory to change up an outfit. Similar to a woman who brings along a couple of scarves or so to change an outfit.

If you still plan on the 22" as your carry on, AA allows a personal item of 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm).

Some soft-sided laptop bags with the above dimensions can fit not only the laptop, chargers and other accessories, but maybe a polo, a day's undergarments and your 3-1-1.

United Airlines has smaller measurements for a personal item. So since you are flying both, I guess the larger personal item is not an option. UA personal item dimensions are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm).

Packing is a lot of trial and error. Do some mock packing and dressing.

P.S. I know you prefer to carry on the 22" but, eh, don't stress. Check it. And carry another one similar - a 20" especially since you are planning to get souvenirs for your return.

Posted by
2215 posts

My husband is a big guy, too. He needs two pair of shoes because he has tried to buy size 15 in Europe without any luck - not sure where those people shop. So, 2 pair of shoes and he wears the heaviest - which of yours is heaviest? Then, he would pull out 2 or 3 of those shirts. If you count the shirt you wear on the plane, then 3 other shirts means you're only wearing each shirt 3 times over the 12 days. If you're going to feel more comfortable with a sportscoat, can you wear that and the windbreaker on the plane?

Posted by
57 posts

Hi MM, some great tips for sure.

Hang your neck pillow from your luggage - decreases space in your carry on. Some come with snaps already for that purpose.

I've got a fantastic neck pillow by Caveau, made from memory foam that rolls up into about a third of its size, and fits inside my personal item. It gets really warm, which is its downside (they've subsequently made a "cooler" version). I've seen many folks with their pillows tied as you suggest, and if I wasn't going with a personal item that's what I'd do for sure.

Try a couple of different ways to fold your clothes. I'm not sure if you tried packing cubes.

Yup. I'm an Eagle Creek fan and I have about a half dozen that I've used in the past, but they've sat unused for many years now since I learned bundle packing. Now that I'm learning to pack really light, I think it's time to take them out of storage and do a serious test-pack with them and see if they help.

If you have a windbreaker for rain or for days you tour a city but a sport coat is too much to wear out and about, take that too. Of course, that would pack thin, and your sweater or a sweater vest can layer underneath.

I'm going to look for a nice, stylish windbreaker that can add warmth this week and consider leaving the sport coat at home as many here have suggested.

If you still plan on the 22" as your carry on, AA allows a personal item of 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm). Some soft-sided laptop bags with the above dimensions can fit not only the laptop, chargers and other accessories, but maybe a polo, a day's undergarments and your 3-1-1.

Normally that's what I bring on airplanes. My 22" (usually in the hold or gate-checked) and a leather briefcase/messenger bag. It fits the personal item rack at the gate, expands nicely and I can stuff everything into it. I just find it's a bit heavy, and it doesn't fit my new, smaller/lighter laptop as well as it did my old 15". Plus it hurts my shoulders after a while when I have to drag it around airports and trains. The ideal bag will slide over the telescoping main bag handle. The tote I have does this and I love it (plus it makes a usable day bag in a pinch), but it doesn't fit the laptop, so I'm still searching for the perfect bag. I might just throw the laptop into the 22" (it has a compartment for that) and use the tote. That's "Plan A."

United Airlines has smaller measurements for a personal item. So since you are flying both, I guess the larger personal item is not an option. UA personal item dimensions are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm).

Mine is 15 x 9 x 9 if fully stuffed, which it probably won't be. Its main use will be for the pillow, my folding cane, Bose QC-15 noise cancelling headset, sunglasses and spare eyeglasses, 3-1-1 bag, medications, maybe a few snacks, an umbrella, USB charging cable and post-security water bottle. I also use it to throw my pocket contents into before TSA screening (phone, wallet, keys, etc). Its main use will be for everything I need from the moment my wife drops me off at EWR until the door closes behind me at my hotel in Munich, and the reverse trip, from my Prague AirBnB to getting picked up in NJ (including a 6-hour layover at Heathrow). I'm used to doing it this way since the 22 is usually in the hold, and this method has worked very well in the past, albeit using my leather briefcase instead of the tote.

Packing is a lot of trial and error. Do some mock packing and dressing.

That's the plan, for sure. I'm comfortable living out of a suitcase, only it's usually a much bigger and more heavily-stuffed suitcase.

Posted by
57 posts

My husband is a big guy, too. He needs two pair of shoes because he has tried to buy size 15 in Europe without any luck - not sure where those people shop. So, 2 pair of shoes and he wears the heaviest - which of yours is heaviest? Then, he would pull out 2 or 3 of those shirts. If you count the shirt you wear on the plane, then 3 other shirts means you're only wearing each shirt 3 times over the 12 days. If you're going to feel more comfortable with a sportscoat, can you wear that and the windbreaker on the plane?

I think it'll be either the windbreaker or sportcoat now. Not both, but I gotta find a stylish one I like that's not overly expensive. For me, I get antsy wearing the same shirt too often, even if it's clean. Twice between washings is usually where I draw the line. Plus I feel better wearing a different combination of slacks and shirt every day that I'm in a city. I'm probably going to go with 5 packed plus the one I wear over; a combination of polos and button-down. The problem is short vs long sleeves, so I might have one extra. That'll be a game-day decision when I check the long-range weather forecast before going to the airport. I have a couple of convertible shirts that really help, and I might buy another one from Ex Officio before going.

As for shoes, that's really the aspect that drives me nuts. I really need to wear slip-on comfortable moccasins when going through airports as opposed to something that needs to be laced up. Those same mocs don't offer a lot of support or comfort when I'm walking around for 12 hours a day, however, and something that can be tightened or loosened up a bit is a huge help. They just take me a bit of time to get into due to physical limitations. Trust me, if I found the perfect pair of shoes for touring and flying that would be a huge relief.

Posted by
57 posts

Kohls and JCP are my go-tos, and DestinationXL often has what I want off the rack, rather than catalogue ordering, which I really dislike. Macy's is ridiculously overpriced and they never have anything bigger than XL or at most XXL on the rack int he store near me. It's a challenge, for sure. I've got a sale coupon from DXL so I'm going there tomorrow to see what they have. LL Bean never seems to have any style I like in my size.

Posted by
1420 posts

My favorite shoes for airports are 'll bean "all weather mocs", keens and merrell make something similar. In women's style they make a zipped model. I used to own them in 5 colors (one was definitely a summer version) and they have wonderful arch support

Posted by
57 posts

My favorite shoes for airports are 'll bean "all weather mocs", keens and merrell make something similar.

I wear the Merrells and generally love 'em, but I find they're not comfortable on long walking days. Great for airports and airplanes, plus they're weatherproof. Not particularly good for business meetings or going to the theater/concerts, though. I've beat my current pair like a rented mule and they're still going strong.

Posted by
2467 posts

See if Duluth Tradng Co has anything you can use. You have a Tilley hat - That’s the most important item 😀😀

Posted by
57 posts

See if Duluth Trading Co has anything you can use. You have a Tilley hat - That’s the most important item 😀😀

Oh, absolutely. I've got a number of Tilley products, in fact and they're all first-rate. They got bought out a few years ago and the new company has now stopped doing custom orders or produce anything for people of size, unfortunately. I've owned several pairs of their travel pants and they're virtually indestructible (the washing instructions are, and I quote, "give 'em hell"). They have a secret passport-sized pocket that's sealed off with a 1" x 4" strip of heavy Velcro, two cargo pockets sealed thus, and the two back pockets as well. If someone tries to pick those, you'll now about it! I strongly recommend these for everybody; they only go up to size 46 now. I bought 3 pair of custom-size 48 in the mid-1990s and had them let out, and still today 22 or 23 years later, they're still in great shape. If they would still do custom, I'd gladly pay 50% over MSRP for a new pair of these in the next few months.

Duluth Trading has some good looking things, and I'll probably grab some for next year's trip to Ireland. My budget's almost busted for this year's trip now. I'm good for tops, but pants are always tricky.

Posted by
19 posts

I have a similar but different problem. I am 6'9" (250 lb) which adds to the difficulty of trying to buy any clothes overseas. I know that there are tall people in Europe and they must buy there clothes somewhere but when you are on vacation you don't want to spend a valuable day searching. It's hard enough to find 38" inseam pants or size 14 shoes or XXL Tall shirts in my hometown and I know where to look. So, when we head out in May for 17 days in Spain, Morocco and Portugal I will bring an extra pair of pants and shoes that I otherwise might not if I felt comfortable with the prospect of replacing them if there is a problem. Also, Morocco (during Ramadan) seems like a wild card when it comes to buying replacement clothing if something happens during that part of the trip.

I have my pack weight at 15 pounds now plus the weight of the RS convertible backpack. My REI pants weigh 11.2 ounces versus my jeans which are 29.6 ounces. So, I will take the REI pants. I'm just making weight decisions on all my items individually and they seem to add up enough to allow me weight capacity for the backups. The items that I am on the fence about actually needing are: rain jacket, a pair of shorts, bathing suit, flip flops (we will have some beach days) and a hat. Some of those decisions I will make right before the trip when I have a better idea what the weather should be.

I took a sports coat on our two trips last year (Christmas markets in Germany, Prague and Budapest and a trip to Argentina) and I think I wore it once each trip. And, although it was nice to have I don't think I will take it again due to the weight / benefit analysis.

Good luck. I agree, it is definitely difficult to pack light as a "big guy".

Posted by
57 posts

Your experiences and plans are similar to my own. The headaches that get induced when traveling at a time when weather is likely to be unpredictable mean you have to compromise, and hope you've packed wisely. Sweaters and rain jackets eat up a ton of real estate in a carry-on, which is fine if you're going to Scotland or Iceland and you know there's a real chance you'll need them, even in summer.

But for example, in Helsinki and St. Petersburg, where the weather in mid-August is known to be showery at times, usually partly cloudy, and cool by NA standards, with a high in the low-70s Fahrenheit, we packed accordingly. Fewer short-sleeve shirts, jackets, 2 sweaters, etc. And of course, we got there with the best weather either city has had in over a decade. Sunny and warm-to-hot, only rained twice the whole time, and the few short-sleeve lightweight shirts we packed were reused far more often than either of us wanted. AND our luggage was unnecessarily heavy. But it's better than what would have happened if we'd gone the other way, and had to scramble for cool clothing. Not a big deal for my wife, but a problem for me, for sure.

I face the same dilemma this year, going between 29 May and 11 June.

Posted by
15568 posts

FYI--if you really have a problem while traveling, you could take a quick hop to London where there is a Rochester Big and Tall store across the street from Harrods.

Posted by
57 posts

I honestly don't know whether I'd consider that a good thing or bad. Even here at home I can't afford Rochester's prices. I shudder to think what that $200 dress shirt or $800 blazer would cost in Knightsbridge! The same company has a more affordable version called Destination XL in the U.S. and they're who I usually buy from. Yet another reason to be careful with one's suitcase when traveling!

Posted by
57 posts

Yup. That makes a tremendous amount of sense. Just not something you can do spur of the moment or if you need that sweater or jacket, etc, faster than they can deliver. I'm guessing that or other online retailers are how larger residents deal with the issue.

Incidentally, I've done a couple of test-packs and I'm mostly good for space, and the weight's not too bad either. Also, since I'm dealing with a 6 hour layover on the way back, I'll probably just go ahead and check the bag on the way back. It's free anyways. One less thing to worry about at Heathrow. I also test-packed a 20.5" carry-on with Eagle Creek cubes, and if I had to, I could pack for about 10-12 days in that plus a personal item, but there'd be no luxuries and no room for any souvenirs. No laptop either. Good to know, if I can ever snag one of those miracle fares in the off-season.

Posted by
9429 posts

pj, you wrote:

“What if I can snag a nice $200 off-season fare to someplace interesting on WOW Air or Norwegian Air Shuttle, where I'm limited to that smaller bag.”

You’re not. Norwegian charges $45 to check a bag up to 20kg (44 something lbs). Same with WOW, I can’t remember how much they charge but it’s not a lot (we did it last year).

Posted by
57 posts

You’re not. Norwegian charges $45 to check a bag up to 20kg (44 something lbs). Same with WOW, I can’t remember how much they charge but it’s not a lot (we did it last year).

No, what I meant was if I got one of those "low" fares (don't get me going on that definition of "low"), I'd need to be able to carry on everything I need in that smaller-than-US-carriers-allow bag and not need to pay the $45 each way to stow it. Or do they charge that sum for any first piece of baggage, carry-on or checked? I never bothered to look.

Posted by
9429 posts

Norwegian and WOW allow one free carry-on bag up to 10 kg.

Ok, if you want to save $45 and figure out how to do carry-on with all the issues you’ve talked about... up to you.

I’d start with a lighter suitcase.

Posted by
57 posts

Norwegian and WOW allow one free carry-on bag up to 10 kg.
Ok, if you want to save $45 and figure out how to do carry-on with all the issues you’ve talked about... up to you. I’d start with a lighter suitcase.

I could do a week or 10 days with the lightweight 20.5" TravelPro (5.5 pounds), but it would be tight as hell, and no room to bring anything back. Easier if someplace warm, though, so less fabric to bring. Just wish we had fares in this country as low as the European carriers have. I'd be crossing 5 times a year if we did. I have zero interest in traveling within the USA, but I'd give body parts to see that super-low European fare model take hold here for Atlantic crossings. Norwegian had $69 introductory fares (eastbound) but I couldn't get away at the time. Plus their westbound fares started at $270 before any add-ons.

Posted by
9429 posts

As others have said, I pack exactly the same for 2 wks (won’t go for less than 2 wks and even that is too short for me) as I do for 3 mos in Europe.

I either mail purchases home or I bring or buy a duffle bag and check it on the way back. $45 is a low price to pay for a duffle bag full of fun new purchases.

Posted by
57 posts

Following up after a few months since originally posting the thread back in March.

I'd like to publicly call out and thank member @Stephen a few posts up for suggesting Duluth Trading Company.

I bit the bullet and bought a pair of their dry-on-the-fly DuluthFlex cargo pants. I've found my travel clothing! These are just perfect slacks for long flights/bus/train rides and all-day wear; lightweight, stretchy, and perfectly reinforced for this big guy.

They're billed as work pants but they're absolutely ideal for travel. Many deep pockets, four of them Velcro sealed, two cellphone sized pockets, and two vertically-zippered pockets (behind the cargo pockets on the legs) that are accessible when seated. PERFECT for passports, wallets, earbuds, etc. They're ultra lightweight, moisture-wicking, they dry in a couple of hours, and look pretty good. Super comfortable for LONG days. I can't think you enough for making that suggestion. A little pricier than I'd like, but they have frequent sales and free shipping.

If you're reading this and you're a 2XL or 3XL sized person, and, like me, you believe in traveling light, grab a couple of these and you'll be happier than a clam. For as much as I love Tilley travel clothing, Duluth is about a third of the price and the quality is top-notch—and unlike Tilley, Duluth makes things for bigger-sizen men and women. They also sell ultra-lightweight fast-drying underwear that's supposedly top-notch, and I'm going to try these on my next trip over in a couple of weeks and see how they perform under duress.

Posted by
82 posts

I have a pair of Duluth's Dry-on-the-fly pants for women, and they have similar pockets as the men's version. I like them. I really love their Breeze-shooter pants for a dresser look and the breeze-shooter pants also have good pockets. My husband does not have any of their pants yet, but he has 3 pair of their Breeze shooter shorts that he loves. He is also a bigger guy and I have a hard time getting these shorts to the washer because he wears them so much during the warm months of the year. So you might want to try the Breeze Shooters from Duluth if you want something a bit more polished looking.

Posted by
5697 posts

And as a way to reduce your packing on the next trip -- I make a list of all my packed clothes on One-Note, with check boxes, and then check off each item as it needs to be worn (trying to keep the checked-off list as small as possible) then after the trip look at all the unused items ( and maybe weigh the pile.) EDIT: After our 5-week April-May trip, I weighed the not-worn and not-used stuff -- 10 pounds!!

Thanks for the recommendation of Duluth Trading Company!

Posted by
13 posts

I recently found Duluth Trading Co. also and have found just about all of their clothes to be well made and with a generous fit. Their underwear is great for travel!. I've tried both their Armachillo and 'Buck Naked' undershirts and found them to be very high quality, comfortable, and easy to clean. They have lasted much longer than another "ex" brand at about 1/3rd the price. Their underwear is similar quality and fit.

Posted by
2467 posts

We are lucky enough to have a Duluth Trading store in the Denver area so I picked up 2 pair of the dry on the fly pants and love them. I also finally got my Tilley adventure cloth pants hemmed ( hey, I only bought them in 2002!). They both have been great on my latest trip. I also got great use our of my Duluth shirts with a 'Napoleon' pocket and a Duluth vest with several inside pockets.

Posted by
5697 posts

@stephen, I am impressed -- you got your pants hemmed! I'm sitting here in travel pants just rolled up ... but it has only been two years.

Posted by
57 posts

So I just got back yesterday, and with regards to packing, here's how it all went down. I violated every single good packing convention, and found out the hard way what happens when you do. Let this be another cautionary tale. Here goes:

I faced two conundrums the day before I packed. Thunderstorms and cool temps were predicted for my first destination in Germany, but warmer and sunnier for the second (Vienna), and too far out for Prague. Cool and rain meant a sweater for nights, a light rain jacket and a couple of long-sleeved shirts. The second issue was shoes. I take a wide size 10 and wanted to be able to change out between comfortable sneakers for those miles-of-walking days, and my comfy slip-on moccasins for casual use. This second pair of shoes meant I'd be using my 24" checked luggage instead of my venerable 22" rollaboard carryon that I use on domestic trips. In the end, I stuffed a combination of warm and cool weather clothing into a four wheel spinner from Eagle Creek, which topped out at roughly 35 pounds.

I got my first inkling how much I'd overpacked at Newark airport, With my smaller totebag carryon containing my laptop and other toys, it was a bit tricky to push around. But I was (and should have been) committed.

Once I got to Germany and I realized that the weather forecasts were woefully wrong. Hot, humid with a chance of a quick afternoon thunderstorm each day. That's what we got for the entire two weeks in Europe. Not a single rain day. Fine if I'd packed for it, but I'm lugging a sweater, a jacket and 2 unneeded long-sleeve shirts, and short a lot of hot-weather gear.

The trade show in Germany went off without a hitch, and other than it being stiflingly humid in Vienna, so did that portion of the trip. The real hell (insofar as packing and choice of clothing) was my time Prague. The lack-of-packing-light first hit when I stepped off the train, and the down escalators were out of service (no lift either). So I'm lugging a heavy 35-pound suitcase and a shoulder totebag down several flights of stairs, in high heat/humidity. Then down another 2 flights of stairs into the Metro.

Now listen up all you newbies cuz this is important. You know how they talk about spinner luggage on cobblestones? YEAH. IT'S A THING. A VERY VERY NASTY THING. Prague's old town is 100% cobblestoned streets and sidewalks. My AirBnB was a 5 minute walk from a Metro station, but with that damned suitcase it was closer to 15. And then a five-story walkup to the flat because their lift was out of service. That trip from the train station to my AirBnB was misery in 85-90°F weather, in a city that doesn't really use air conditioning very much.

I was wholly unprepared for the hot and very humid conditions that awaited me over the next 5 days. Even nice cotton short-sleeve shirts that work well for me in a typical New Jersey late-spring/early-summer heat were too heavy. And, because of the initial forecast, I only had one pair of shorts (and two regular slacks that I would have sweated to death in). I really could have used a second pair of shorts and some lightweight moisture-wicking shirts. I still don't have a source for these that I like. I've tried Columbia and Duluth, but the Columbias fit terribly and stain permanently if you look at them funny, and Duluth hasn't figured out how to cut shirts properly for 3X people (sleeves covered my fingertips).

So what would I change? ULTRA-lightweight luggage that's easy to carry as either a backpack or a conventional-wheeler to begin with. Find one pair of VERY comfortable shoes and just bring those. One long-sleeve shirt unless the long-term forecast is for "significantly colder than usual," and a second pair of shorts. That main bag shouldn't have been more than 20 pounds all-in!

Posted by
553 posts

Wow! I'm impressed with your "tale of discovery". It will be helpful to others, who can learn from it. Thank you for coming back!

Posted by
1420 posts

Pj, I m sure you've thot of this, but some one could shorten those pesky long sleeves for you.....

Posted by
57 posts

They are convertible sleeves (with a button and flap halfway up). The issue is weight and suitability for hot weather. Those shirts are intended for generally cool days that have a warm period in the afternoon sun. In what's going on in Europe right now, anything with long sleeves is too heavy/too hot. Based on average temps I researched online,I had been expecting high-70s in the late afternoon, not mid-80s, and high-50s or low-60s early in the morning when I'd first venture forth to sightsee. It did hit that on a few days, but the humidity was stifling, and by 10am it was oppressive.

I could have easily done this trip with my 22" rollaboard. 2 pants, 2 shorts, 3 lightweight shirts, 2 or 3 T-shirts, and 5 each underwear sock pairs (including what's worn on the plane over), and had plenty of room to spare. I didn't need the space-occupying neck pillow either, thanks to American's new Premium Economy cabin configuration on their 777-300 trans-Atlantic fleet. Those seats were so comfortable, and well worth $150 extra each way!