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Packing shoes

I am leaving in 3 wks (early June) for Best of Italy in 17 days. I have traveled often but this is my first RS tour. I am trying to comply with the RS request to bring only one 22 inch bag and a carry on. I find my clothes are not the problem. I was planning to wear a pair of shoes (the largest pair) and pack a second. But with toiletries, bathing suit, nightgown, 2 pair of Capris, 6 tops, underwear, socks, RS guidebook, emergency meds (I will carry my daily meds) I may not be able to zip it with the second pair. I would love to wear hiking sandals, but am not sure it will be warm enough for the dolomite's. Do I need warmer shoes for the northern areas of Italy? I believe as we head south to Rome, I would want the sandals.

Posted by
4429 posts

It is amazing what you can get into a 22 inch bag. Sure we talk about using cubes and bags for our clothing, etc, but there is a lot of space inside a shoe for a bathing suit (perhaps in a thin produce bag), socks, and soft odds and ends to utilize space more carefully. Also keep in mind that Rick suggests cutting up his guide books. Cutting up by chapter, stapling and then putting into a zip bag (the papers are thin, so they may tear), spreads the chapters over a thinner space rather than the full cubic space of a book.
some people do wear socks with hiking sandals....just saying ;-)

Posted by
17 posts

I have cut up the book and only taking those parts needed. Thank you for the reminder about the space inside the shoes. Will be trying that.

Posted by
2767 posts

I could easily fit all that in a 22 inch - but I’m a ladies size medium and size 8 shoe. My husband has size 12 men’s feet so shoes are very tough to pack.

I’d do a test pack, shoving socks INSIDE the shoes to save space. If the shoes are squishy then put them tightly together in a ziplock bag (the 2 gallon size), then squeeze the air out. Or squish them to the side of the suitcase. I think it might work.

If not the book go in your personal item? Finally, I think 6 Capri pants is one or two too many - I wear pants 2-3 times before washing but shirts only once. So 6 tops and 3-4 pants is the right ratio for me.

Posted by
158 posts

Could you pack 1 pair of capris and 4 or 5 shirts instead? How many pairs of socks are you bringing? Do you need so many if you will be bringing sandals for part of the trip? Do any of the toiletries come in smaller travel sizes?

I wouldn't bring ONLY sandals for a trip of this length.

Posted by
2527 posts

As an aside, "hiking sandals" seem an utter contradiction and I own a pair so rated by travel writers. There is no ankle support. But hey, if they work well for you, use 'em if you have 'em.

Posted by
489 posts

I have the rolling RS bag and we did carry it on the plane for our first RS tour, it does expand and I did this after arriving in Europe. I took 2 extra shoes ( weighed them and then I do my best to minimize their size) I wear the largest and heaviest shoes on the plane, then take a very comfortable pair of flats that I put in a small bag and use those large rubber bands and rubber band those shoes so they take up so little space. I also take a pair of sandals and will put small items in them, but then also put them in a bag and use the rubber band technique to minimize the size they take up in the luggage.
We just returned from Portugal, N. Spain and S. France (over 4 weeks on our own) and there were many days I wish I had packed the sandals, but did not because I thought April and May would be too cold. If I was going to Italy in June, I definitely would have packed sandals. And I also packed 2 PJs, 6 tops, 1 skirt, 1 capri, 1 swim suit (didn't really need) and 2 leggings pants, plus 6 pr socks and undies. Also the toiletries. That doesn't count what I wore.
Don't worry, the rest of the tour group will expand their luggage and the size of their carry on's will be quite large, too. Just remember you have to haul your own luggage to your room, and possibly up stairs so I found weight more important than bulk. I weighed everything and took only what was workable and light! Have a terrific time!

Posted by
2459 posts

Hi Wesleycl,
I went on this tour in October, 2016. You will love it! In the Dolomites, it snowed overnight and the temps were in the 30's to 50's while we were there; in June, you just don't know how cold it will be. I would say you want warmer shoes for the Northern part of Italy plus 1 pair of longer pants. I think 2 pairs of Capris will work and 6 tops. By Rome, it will be warmer.

Posted by
588 posts

I use a medium-sized backpack as my carry on. It can hold a laptop, pair of shoes, toiletries, cosmetics, and purse and fits under the seat on an airplane. Then I can leave the backpack in the hotel room when I'm out and about for the day.

Another way to make this work would be to use compression bags or zip-lock bags in your suitcase. I put one complete outfit in each bag (top, underwear, socks), squeeze out the air, and there's now room for shoes. It doesn't make the bag weigh any less, though.

Never pack your windbreaker/raincoat (it's a space hog) - always carry that on and stuff it under your seat in case you get cold on the plane.

It won't save much space but you can drop the 6th top and hand-wash one of the others earlier in the trip. You can give up make-up for 17 days. You can use body lotion on your face instead of moisturizer. You can wear the next day's shirt as a nightgown. Don't go crazy with reducing space or you'll find yourself washing clothes every night in the sink because you brought only two outfits!

Posted by
2265 posts

Keep in mind that the main thing isn't the size of the luggage, it's being able to handle it yourself. Because I'm not a small woman, and travel with a CPAP, I check a 22" bag, and use an "International size" wheeled/backpack carry on. When necessary, I can wear the backpack and pull or carry the 22" bag.

I've done 4 RS tours now, and I've never felt like I have more than other people--some may travel lighter, but I definitely see bigger bags, too. It's just not an issue as long as you are not inconveniencing your tourmates.

Posted by
6890 posts

Hi, we went on the RS Best of Italy trip several years ago and absolutely loved the trip! It was the jumpstart of several returns to Italy. Here's what I brought, and it's essentially what I bring on every yearly 3-week trip, except I bring a 2nd dress or skirt to France, instead of 2nd pair of capris & top.

Columbia black raincoat - wear on the plane if I'm cold
Black cardigan sweater - wear on the plane if I'm slightly cold
2 three-quarter sleeve tops - one for the plane ride & wear them in the evenings.
3 summer tops
1 dress or skirt
2 scarves to change-up colors I'm wearing
2 capris
1 long pair of black pants - wear on the plane
4 pair of underwear, 3 bras
swimsuit, if applicable
lightest nightgown
Keen Rose Black Sandals (bring a pair of tights if I'm heading to mountains). I've brought an extra pair of shoes, but I end up only wearing these, so now they're the only ones.
Toiletries - smallest possible
Phone (camera)
chargers & adapters
Moneybelt w/ passport & ATM/credit cards
Small cross-body purse w/ lip balm & mints, pen, reading glasses
RS book sections carefully removed, stapled and placed into ziplock bag. A couple of papers with restaurants, best gelato shops, or fun activities that I've summarize from internet searching.

My purse & everything listed fit into my 21" carry-on roller suitcase, and the small LL Bean "Stowaway Day Pack" with some room to bring home a couple of souvenirs. I bought a beautiful pitcher & matching tiny pitcher from San Gimignano on that RS trip and have them displayed in a glass front kitchen cupboard.

Posted by
17 posts

thank you all for your suggestions. I repacked today and got the shoes in and the suitcase zips. I packed a smaller canvas carry on to take needed items to Cinque Terre and Venice hotels... and in case I want to bring something home...I fit is not shipable. I organized all my papers... now 3 weeks until I leave. This is my first solo trip, glad to be going with RS tours.

Posted by
503 posts

It sounds like you got your shoe problem resolved. Let me just tell you, though, that on the 3 RS tours that I have taken, I've seen all different sizes of luggage. In fact, on one tour, the largest luggage was the one the tour guide used! If you can carry it, I would take the size that you need. It was never a problem and there was always plenty of room in the bus storage area for all of our luggage.

Posted by
2108 posts

Even though you now have fit your shoes in, keep in mind (maybe for the packing on the return trip) that it does not have to be "all or nothing." Rephrased for shoes, "both shoes to not have to go in as a pair." Sometimes if things are tight, we will put one of my husband's shoes in the bottom of our personal-item tote bag (which is a large Orvis one). The shoe acts as a secure bottom for protecting electronics, etc. Other shoe would go in a rollaboard.

And, if even with your shoes in your bag, make sure you are using the space in the non-collapsible part of your shoes.... a toothbrush, a pair of socks or undies, meds, etc. can often be stuffed into the foot area of a shoe (of course in plastic zip locks).

For our personal item, as stated above, we each use a large dark green/black zip-top Orvis bag.....we can stuff in a fleece jacket, electronics, my travel purse, camera stuff, bags of 3 oz toiletries, etc. We have never been stopped because our personal item bag is too large...we usually throw it over our shoulder when boarding....but if stopped, we can roll it up to compress it and then tie it off with the over-the-shoulder straps in a pinch. And, we can also take out the jacket, etc. to wear, if needed.

I've even taken knee-high Muck boots and an extra pair of shoes on a polar expedition, using the same two bags: RS rollaboard and my Orvis tote. I was prepared to wear the Muck boots on board the plane if necessary, but everything amazingly fit. On a previous expedition, when I was able to rent a pair of boots via the expedition ship, but my husband could not (due to calf size), one of his boots went in my bag, and one of his boots went in his bag (with the foot part stuffed and the leg part left unstuffed to lay flat.

You probably figured out, also, to stick your shoes into the bottom ribbed area of the RS rollaboard (where the handle mechanism is housed)...doing that seems to leave more "flat area" for clothing. Sometimes we'll stuff a pair of my ballet flats along the side of the suitcase. It's like a puzzle...slightly different each time.

Unless I am planning beach time, pool time, or on a ship, I only take closed shoes (not sandals). I just feel it is safer on the streets and in crowded cities.....but that's just me. LOTS and LOTS of people travel to Europe with sandals and have no issues.

Posted by
1194 posts

As an aside, "hiking sandals" seem an utter contradiction and I own a pair so rated by travel writers. There is no ankle support. But hey, if they work well for you, use 'em if you have 'em.

This may be a personal preference thing. I love my hiking sandals. But my day pack rarely crosses 10 pounds when I’m wearing them so I don’t need ankle support. I also like to run around barefoot so that may be part of it too (and yes, I like barefoot shoes). Different people have different feet.

Posted by
996 posts

As far as hiking sandals go, most of the ones that other people love don't work for me. I recently found a pair that do. The most important part of any trip is wearing the walking shoes that work for you.