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RS requesting futher downsizing of luggage

My husband and I just got our final information from RS for our 17 day Tour of Italy. In the memo it requests that we downsize our luggage to a small duffle or tote when staying in Venice and Cinque Terre due to traveling on boat and train to get to the hotel. The tour had previously suggested we pack light since we will be responsible for carrying our luggage between the bus and hotel. We purchased the convertible backpack thinking this would fit the bill. I am hoping this request may be meant for people bringing large luggage as opposed to the backpack. For those of you who have taken this tour, what did you use for luggage in this situation?

Posted by
610 posts

We went on that tour on 2016, and our information didn't request that we downsize, but just recommended that we might prefer to do so in Venice due to the long walk to the hotel over bridges and tight streets from the boat. We packed our toiletries and 2 days worth of clothes in our carry on backpack and that worked fine. In the Cinque Terre we brought our suitcases, but our guide arranged a little truck to carry them up to our hotel for us. I don't know if that is typical, I got the feeling it was just a little extra thing he did, but I'm not sure.

Posted by
16894 posts

The suggestion to bring a smaller bag, such as a collapsible tote, allows you to leave some heavier or unneeded items under the coach during the couple of nights that you stay in those two locations. Whether you carry the small bag or the lightened-up carry-on-sized bag, at least you'll be a little more mobile. Larger-than-carry-on luggage should for sure be left under the bus (or at home). This is for your benefit, since the train and boat rides can be quite crowded and both destinations require stairs in the train station or to reach the hotel.

FYI, guides have been suggesting for years that tour members downsize what they carry to these destinations, but now it's not a surprise on the road.

Posted by
1205 posts

This is not unusual that they are requesting or suggesting you take a small duffle bag. What it means is, yes, you take your small suitcase but bring along a small duffle bag just on the nights that you will be in Venice and Cinque Terre and you leave your suitcase locked in the bus ( there is as you are aware, storage underneath the bus where all the suitcases go). It is just easier for you to take the duffle bag with just the items you need for that stay in Venice and the Cinque Terre as it is really hard to travel ( walk with) with a suitcase. We were told to do that on the 14 day Europe tour when we were in Venice and believe me it was the way to go!

I bring a fold up bag that I stuff in my outside pocket of my suitcase and I put all my stuff for the two night stay in it for the nights we were in Venice. Venice has lots of little bridges with steps on either side, go up the two, three steps, platform, go down two or three steps and you keep doing that for a while as you are walking to your hotel. Draging a suitcase is difficult, plus you take the suitcase or duffle bag from the bus to the boat and take the boat to where you get off and then walk to your hotel.

You need to take the duffle bag or suitcase on and off the boat going to Venice and then leaving Venice. Remember, the bus leaves you at the boat stop for you to take the boat to your hotel. Then depending on what hotel you are staying in and there are many hotels like this, you must climb lots of stairs to your room in the hotel. Most hotels have no elevator in Venice.

They just want you to put your stuff in a smaller bag for the two short stays in Venice and Cinque Terre so that you won't be stuggling to take your suitcase to the hotel and back to the bus.

I have not been to the Cinque Terre but am sure it would be worth packing just a few things just for that stay.

I hope this explains why they are requesting you bring a small duffle bag.

Have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
14288 posts

Yes, I did the same as Tamara and her DH. I used a LeSportsac Medium tote for my bus bag. On travel days I had my kindle, rain jacket, snacks, water, guidebook, etc in the bus bag. For the Venice and CT days I put clothes/pjs and limited toiletries in a packing cube and popped it in the bus bag. SO much easier to take off and on the vaporettos and on/off the train in the CT.

You ~can~ take your luggage with you to the hotel in Venice but it's a pain. The bridges you see the pictures of are actually steps so you have to carry roller bags up and over Every. Flippin. One!! I think only a couple of us downsized for Venice and the rest regretted it. That was in 2014 so the office must have decided it was better to give a warning.

Posted by
594 posts

When we took the BOI in 2016, we also had our luggage transported in a tiny pickup at Cinque Terre, so that isn't so much an issue, altho you will be carrying it up a set of stairs at the train station. In Venice, we opted not to downsize our suitcases, so were indeed hauling them up and down the stairs and bridges. It was not terrible since we did pack light and used Rick's rolling carryon, and since you have the convertible backpack, it will be easier for you.

Posted by
796 posts

I have not done this tour but on the aparis and the Heart of France which includes a night on Mont St Michele, the same was suggested. We just had 1night there and we were asked to only take a small tote or backpack only. It was quite a walk up to our rooms and stairs only on the isle.

Posted by
11533 posts

It just a suggestion to make your life easier.

For Venice dragging along everything on/off boats and up/down all the bridges with stairs is quite cumbersome which is why the suggestion is made to reduce to just what you needed for the 2 nights. Watching other folks with their 26" and larger bags struggle up and down the stairs was entertaining.

Do not remember doing it for CT; perhaps the hotel used now will not have a truck at the train station? When we went (2010) the hotel had a small truck take all the rolling bags to the hotel and everyone walked and carried their "backpack/day bag" to the hotel from the train station. You had to get the baggage from the station to the road where the truck parked.

Posted by
14288 posts

Different RS tours use different hotels in the CT. On Heart of Italy we were in Albergo Pasquale/Villa Steno and they had a small pick up but on the 21Best of Europe we stayed closer to the Monterosso Train Station instead of the Old Town and managed our own bags on the train and to the hotel.

Posted by
3521 posts

You can aways bring whatever size baggage you want on the tour and to and from the hotel and bus at every stop -- as long as you can handle it all by yourself.

The suggestion is apparently not that clearly worded, but is meant to suggest you split out just what you need for the couple days you spend at those destinations and take that leaving the bulk of your luggage in the bus storage to eliminate the hassle of dragging things over the somewhat difficult terrain. I used small day pack to carry my necessary medications, a change of clothes, and the minimum other items I could not live without on the stops where this was suggested.

I am a bit confused over this as a suggestion for Cinque Terra as this was the laundry stop when I took the tour and we were not instructed to pair down there. The hotel washed, dried and folded all the dirty laundry you could fit into their provided bag for a very low cost. If you are leaving the majority of your stuff on the bus here, where is the laundry stop now?

Posted by
39 posts

Thanks for your responses. I do understand why they are suggesting we downsize on these particular stops. However, that's why, at the suggestion of RS, we purchased the backpacks and paired down on our clothes and accessories. I think we will stick with just the backpacks for now. If we feel different once we are in Italy (and have schlepped the packs around for a few days) I'm sure we can purchase a duffle, shopping tote or sherpa .

Posted by
5697 posts

If there's an IKEA near you, they have light, cheap ($4 ?) nylon duffles that can squish up in your suitcase -- easier than looking for a luggage store when you want to sightsee. Are you carrying a Civita? Or maybe a laundry bag ?

Posted by
2349 posts

Lee from Colorado has been petitioning Rick to reduce luggage size. Pretty soon all that will be allowed is one shirt and a half bar of soap. ;D

Posted by
3521 posts

As long as they allow at least one pair of jeans or other trousers, I'm all for it! Probably don't want to see me without! ;-)

Posted by
408 posts

My husband and I took this tour last fall. We had carry-on sized Osprey backpacks and did not downsize for either location and we were fine. It really is the walk they are thinking of in both locations. It was quite a walk up and down bridges in Venice from the vaporetto dock to the hotel. Monterosso wasn't bad even if you were in the upper hotel because your luggage was transported by a truck both ways. In fact, I was glad I had a full bag with me in Monterosso since the hotel had a laundry service and I had just about everything except my hiking clothes washed while we were there. You should be fine with the convertible backpacks.

Posted by
210 posts

Not specific to Venice, but I always leave my "big" bag on the bus when we have a one night stay. Sometimes those hotels require a longer trek. I just pack the essentials in my day bag. It confuses the bus drivers at times as to when my bag goes or stays.....but never an issue.

Posted by
2529 posts

As others have suggested, you will probably be fine with your convertible backpacks. I had similar experience in Cinque Terre (luggage transported to hotel) and Venice (I didn't downsize but I had a convertible backpack). But I'd still suggest that you pack a small lightweight tote bag (something like this or this) that you can: 1) keep things handy on the bus (water, camera, snacks) so you don't have to bug the driver to access your main bag; 2) off load a few unnecessary things to leave on the bus when you go CT or Venice (to lighten up your main bag); and 3) use to store souvenirs (I put one bag in "deep storage" about half way through trip). I'd recommend that whatever you pick has a zippered top to keep things from escaping.

Posted by
39 posts

Thanks CL for the information. I especially think the suggestion on making sure the tote zips is very smart. Keeps all your souvenirs and belongings from flying around on the bus.

Posted by
37 posts

I did the RS 21 Day Best of Europe last year. As recommended by our tour guide, I downsized for our stay in Venice. The boat to Venice was very crowded with wall-to-wall people and their suitcases. Once there, we walked a distance and crossed a couple of bridges through crowds of people to get to the hotel. There were many stairs and no elevator to our room. Everyone took their suitcases when we stayed in Cinque Terre as this was a good place to do laundry. It was a bit challenging getting our suitcases up and down the steep stairs at the train station and through crowds on the train. My advice - follow the recommendations given by RS staff. They have perfected European travel. Enjoy!