Please sign in to post.

So Rick always says....

That he never hears anyone say that each year they pack more....

I found that person. I was chatting on a cruise board about our upcoming Mediterranean cruise, and mentioned that I am working on taking just a carryon each for the 10 day cruise (and 5 day pre-cruise in Rome) and got this reply...

"2 suitcases and 2 carryons here. Need clothes for all the tours. Ten dresses for evening wear, and dress shirts for my husband. 2 suits and 4 dress paints, one carryon will have just our shoes. Add workout clothes, and swim wear and we hope to be able to fit everything. "

And these folks are planning a pre cruise stay in Venice and Lake Como....I can't imagine wanting to drag all those suitcases around!


Posted by
14249 posts

Oh my word Denise! A different world for sure!

Posted by
16894 posts

I probably do own 10 dresses, but that would be all of them.

Posted by
54 posts

That sounds frightening! My husband and I took two back-to-back cruises out of Barcelona 4 years ago and both packed one large suitcase. He is still complaining to this day about how he didn't wear half of his clothing because of cheap onboard laundry deals. Every trip we pack a little lighter with our main carryons being the RS rollers
I can't imagine dragging large suitcases around anymore!

Posted by
4630 posts

I no longer own any suits. I do own one dress shirt though; bought it for a wedding this October. The idea of a fresh wardrobe for each shore tour is nauseating.

Posted by
5121 posts

OK, I'll confess- I pack heavier for our cruises than land trips, too. But not as heavy as THAT. Our last trip was 35 days, with both hot and cool port visits and pre/post cruise stays, so essentially 2 wardrobes. Between the 2 of us we had 3 suitcases and 2 carryons. We flew BC, so the checked bags cost nothing extra. But since our location changes consisted of a taxi between ship and hotel or hotel and airport, it was no big deal. And you know what? I wore every single outfit multiple times , and still had to do laundry a few times. Even on land trips I pack a 24" plus a day bag. Whatever works for each person and makes them happy...

Posted by
16097 posts

I saw a picture of a dress once.

But seriously, I remember a post on one of the travel forums I belong to where this gal mentioned taking a 50 lb. suitcase on a 2-week trip. "Whoa", said we, "Why so big?" Well gosh, it had to hold the 14 dresses (one for every day) plus the matching shoes and the daily (14) casual-wear outfits + all the accoutrements...

"And I sure don't want to be wearing the same outfits in any of our trip photos!"

Posted by
6373 posts

I do have one dress. I wear it to weddings. That makes twice in the last eight years.

Posted by
11368 posts

We have seen cruise passengers and their luggage at Vancouver and Venice airports. Humungous! I always take a 21-22” bag and always have enough changes of clothing for both day and night events. Doing laundry and/or having it done is the secret!

Posted by
4473 posts

"Whatever works for each person and makes them happy" I agree, as long as they don't expect those of us who packed light to help them with their luggage. I can't imagine us ever doing a cruise, but if I did, I would take one or two dressy long black skirts(two in case one was destroyed by food or tear) ,several tops for it, and one pair of black ballet flats-not a dress for each night.

Posted by
11496 posts

When they are struggling to get around Venice, it should be a show worthy of a bag of popcorn.

Posted by
4 posts

I agree, whatever makes you happy and you are willing to carry around. And I will admit to being the worlds worst overpacker in the past. Having just gone on our 25th cruise, I will say they have gotten more and more casual over the years, and European ones are pretty laid back in general.

I also feel lucky I am in the Seattle area and can pop in to Rick Steves Travel center for refresher courses on packing light!

Posted by
5121 posts

When they are struggling to get around Venice, it should be a show
worthy of a bag of popcorn

Possibly, but they're just heavy packers, not stupid. They would be the ones taking a taxi from the airport to the ship, or their hotel closest to P. Roma; or hiring porters to handle the bags. Gotta thank Cruise Critic for that last one. I didn't know you could hire porters to do that.

Posted by
3961 posts

Oh wow! I have never been on a cruise, and can't imagine changing from my lightweight travelpro-period! ;)

Posted by
8239 posts

Last time we went on a cruise, it ended in Venice. And I remember all those poor husbands in the Venice Airport having to haul two and three 25" suitcases weighing 45 to 50 lbs. each. All I could think of is "those poor guys." Obviously they were not seasoned travelers.
We had been on the ship 2 weeks and had another 10 days in London and Ireland before going home--with just 21" carry on bags.
If my wife can do it, so can anyone. And we didn't even use all our clothes.

Posted by
1601 posts

I pack more for a cruise than for a land trip, but still have amongst the smallest luggage I see at the pier. Or even among my cruising friends.

I recall my first cruise. My friend got us a great deal on her line dancing cruise (true story). It was 7 nights and she took 21 outfits. One for day, one for dance class, and one for evening. Other than the formal nights, when she wore gorgeous dresses, she looked exactly the same every time I saw her. Black exercise capris and a pale tee.

In 2016 my husband insisted on taking two suit jackets on our transatlantic. We had two weeks post-cruise travel by train planned. I pleaded with him not to do it. When it was over he said the magic words... I was right! Ha!

Posted by
4595 posts

Yes you can make a carry on work but sink laundry can't be strewn around the cabin or left on balconies and air doesn't circulate the same. Add tropical humidity and things take longer to dry. Some ships have laundromats most don't. I can't bring myself to pay $50 Cdn to have 20 items laundered....and it has to be at one go. I travel solo and cargo so no free laundry options. So my 12 + days cruises get a 24 inch spinner and hand washing. I will use ical multiple times.
I am in Venice after next cruise but considering a 21 inch and a backpack.....or a hotel right at a vaporetto stop or no bridges.

Posted by
740 posts

Most of my recent travels have been either RS tours in Europe or 7 day cruises in Alaska. I'm shocked when I see how stuff people pack for a cruise. Walking down the halls after people have put their bags out on the last night of a cruise is an eye-opening experience. Multiple, HUGE suitcases seem to be the norm. I will admit that I bring a little more to Alaska (tripod, warmer jacket, etc.) but it all has to fit in a roller bag and my daypack carryon.

Posted by
2499 posts

I've been on 6 RS tours and will go on my 7th in December. I have traveled independently before my time with RS and have gradually learned how to pack lighter and lighter as time goes on.

Well, I went to Israel this spring for a 10 day tour with my church group and my friend and roommate brought a suitcase weighing 49 lbs.! I think it was a 30 incher and it was stuffed. She had a hard time handling it too. I was shocked! And there I was with my 21 inch 4 wheeler and Euroflight bag.

She had purchased the RS Euroflight bag on this website because I use it and highly recommended it. Our tour was not a fancy dress kind of group, it was very much in keeping with RS style. We were touring from early in the morning to 7 pm or so. I think she is rethinking packing because she didn't wear everything she brought.

I've learned so much from this forum!

Posted by
10351 posts

Indeed some cruisers still enjoy playing Lord and Lady Grantham for a week to 30 days while on the sea, but most are going dressy-casual these days. I followed a Cruise Critic "live from" the ship thread recently and only two men wore tuxes on dressy night. Most men were in shirt sleeves, not even jackets. I don't even take a skirt, just the same old black pants. Just this week a newbie asked on our cruise critic roll call if it was practical to do only carry on. Thinking of David and Frank, I said--of course!
There are laundry packages you can buy and there is always a laundry "special" halfway through. I hand wash, just like on land.

On the other hand, Europeans have larger bags when on organized trips. We traveled with a French group in Sicily last year and were the only ones with 21" 2-wheel soft-side. Everyone else had 25"-30" four-wheeled hard-side plus carry-ons. Then in Cuba, we traveled the length of the island with a Road Scholar group of experienced, independent travelers. Everyone had 22" and smaller. However, in the European groups we met, everyone had 25" and larger hard-sided suitcases. We would see the striking difference lined up at the hotels, as we waited to board the buses. Granted, the Europeans had the right to go to the beaches and resorts; we didn't.

I chalk this difference in travel style up to the RS influence.

Posted by
23466 posts

Someday I will admit to how much we took on our first cruise out of Venice in 72. As a hint -- on our last cruise with two sons in 05, the total luggage was about half.

Posted by
4595 posts

"I chalk this difference in travel style up to the RS influence. "
@Bets, some of us have been working at packing lighter since before joining an RS forum. I chock it up to when airlines started to charge for checked baggage😉

Posted by
906 posts

The "I need a new outfit every evening" people make the mistake of thinking anyone else is paying attention or remembering what they wore before. The truth is, as long as it's clean and appropriate nobody cares what you wear.

Posted by
10351 posts

I chock it up to when airlines started to charge for checked baggage😉

That's for sure!
However, except for discount carriers, international flights don't charge for checked bags. So, why have we seen such a big difference in travel style between the Americans we've traveled with and the Europeans? Both groups were very experienced travelers.

We're taking off soon with European family and friends on a private small-van tour of two countries. Again very experienced travelers. I'll see how they pack.

Posted by
3260 posts

I do pack heavier than I did in my younger days. Before I was always missing something I wanted, but packing lists helped me with that. However, my suitcase is still only a 21 inch carryon and weighs < 23 lbs. So Rick’s saying just makes me laugh. Every thing is relative.

Posted by
1194 posts

I chock it up to when airlines started to charge for checked baggage😉

I started carry on travel before the checked baggage fees. There were two main reasons:

  • Lost bags. Over and over and over again. Multiple Christmases in a row! You wait an hour for your bag and then it never comes out. It’s an additional half hour to file a lost bag claim. At the earliest, you don’t get your bag until the next day.
  • Too many emergency flights. There were family emergencies on the other side of the country to work emergencies hundreds of miles away. There was a period of my life where I kept a bag prepacked and ready to go. I didn’t have time to deal with lost luggage.
Posted by
4927 posts

One of the joys of solo travel... nobody cares what I wear or how many times I wear it. I've sworn at myself when I lugged too much. Never have sworn at myself for taking too few "outfits."

Posted by
927 posts

We completed four weeks in Europe in May and June. We started in Spain for a week, followed by a two week cruise starting in Barcelona and ending at the Greenwich Ship Pier in London. From London we migrated from St. Pancras to Amsterdam over the next week, where we flew home. Both my wife and I traveled with TB Aeronaut 45 packs that weighed less than 20 lbs. We both packed for seven days, did laundry in the hotel rooms and on the ship. We either used their laundry facilities or availed ourselves of the two complementary bags of laundry for that voyage. We were continue to scratch our heads as to what people are packing in those +28” suitcases. As I tell people, we are traveling not moving.

Posted by
4174 posts

These kind of topics are always amusing.

While we were doing laundry together, I asked a woman on a RS Best of Scandinavia tour why she had such a large suitcase. Her primary reason was that she couldn't stand to wear anything more than once without washing it. I hadn't heard that one before.

I noticed on my RS tours in June that the people with the largest luggage oddly tended to have a "uniform." They may have changed their shorts or pants or shirts or blouses or tops or shoes regularly, but the articles of clothing were so similar that the changes weren't noticeable. So did they really need multiple versions of the same thing?

The person who had the smallest bag had the most versatile and interesting clothing of anyone. She looked great in everything she wore and I bet she had no more than a total of 7 pieces.

I own neither a skirt nor a dress. I look dumpy in them and showing my legs would scare the kids. So out of vanity and a concern for future generations, I wear pants exclusively. Skirts long enough to cover my legs are invariably heavy and voluminous. Definitely not suited for light packing.

My husband owns no suits. He lives in a blue jeans and T-shirt world. He does have a sport coat and some fairly nice pants. He takes that with him to WA each summer, for the funeral in case another one of his classmates dies while he's there. He has been known to pack more tees than he needs and wear only 1/4 of them. But he never takes more than one pair of shoes.

It seems like a number of comments about the need for packing heavy are related to combining cruises with time on land. I have no experience with that probably never will, even on a river, because he gets seasick, so we'll never have to worry about appropriate clothes for that situation.

I do like to take a 2nd pair of shoes to put on in the evening. I got these and took them on my trip this summer. They fit perfectly when I left Tucson, but just a few days in Lisbon with the very salty food and my feet swole up so much I couldn't put them on. That's 14 oz I drug for 5 weeks and never could wear. After 3 days back home, I could once again see the bones in my feet and ankles. I'm now glad I didn't abandon them.

We all have our quirks. Mine is trying to pack lighter than last time. I think I've reached my downsized limit, unless I magically become a size 8 again.

Posted by
4595 posts

I was on a Cunard cruise over Christmas. They tend to be fancy so there was some pressure to look nice. I elected for some fancy trousers and a few tops with fancy chiffon drapey things. They cost me pennies to make and weight next to nothing. Alternately, some stunning hand made jewelry and no one cared I had on pants every night. A few had stunning ballgowns that would require a 24 inch suitcase each. They were pretty memorable, but I was glad to note they wore the same ones more than once.
Bless the octegenarians and their bad feet. Had long gowns or tuxs, but as long as their Crocs or deck shoes were black or matched their dresses, foot comfort was carried off with aplob.
Reading some cruise critic forums there are still some die hards that want to keep in the formal world and use a cruise to do so. I get it. I miss my formal social activities and will never grow tired of a chance to dress up and see the glitz and glamour. It just makes it more of a fun challenge to do it with less luggage.
But not everyone is interested in doing that and that's okay too.

Posted by
5697 posts

It may have been the esteemed Ed from Pensacola who said not to worry about any problem that could be solved by throwing money at it. Evidently the heavy packers have figured out how to do that so it's not a problem for them. Taxis and porters take the sting out of heavy bags.
Not my style, but it's not my trip.

Posted by
2349 posts

hey hey
i'm hoping you had your popcorn buttered! 2 years ago i was sitting across train station at a restaurant on grand canal with prosecco and tiramisu watching the show of tourists with their excess and heavy baggage. what a sight to see with lots of laughs and giggles!

Posted by
492 posts

I sometimes wonder if the initial luggage purchase is the main reason behind this approach to packing.

Someone may only want or be able to justify buying one set/piece of luggage.

They want that luggage to be able to fit as much as possible, so they’ll be able to use it as much as possible and for as many different trips/uses (even if it’s just drives to visit family) and would rather have too much space than risk having too little.

With that big piece of luggage, they figure ya might as well use it!

I know years and years ago when I bought a set of luggage I looked at what the common airline restrictions were, and got the biggest piece of luggage I could within that - in essence, I’m paying for that luggage allowance in my ticket so why not use it? So long as the suitcase is within the necessary size limits, I can cram as much in to it until hitting that weight restriction. If I’d pack less, it was often because I mainly wanted to leave space for things I bought on the trip. Heck, I’d even occasionally travel with a smaller, nearly empty carryon roller bag because I knew I’d buy some souvenirs and would rather travel with extra capacity than not enough.

It was only until my preferred traveling style changed that my approach to packing really did - more trains or low fare intra-Europe flights meant the generous luggage allowance on the transatlantic flight was irrelevant. Whereas I’d once travel to a single city and spend a week to 10 days there, I’d later find myself more often visiting a few different towns and cities on a trip and so having to cart my luggage around more often.

Posted by
7450 posts

Denise, as I read through your post, I was thinking, "Uh oh. Hope she doesn't mention Venice as a destination!"

My husband & my favorite European city is Venice (with many others close behind). My husband was talking to another realtor who came back from a trip a few years ago, and she was complaining about her utterly horrible time in Venice. As she was talking, it became clear to him that she & her husband were attempting to lug way too much luggage across the quaint Venice bridges and were lost in the process. They were catching a cruise ship in Venice, too.

Posted by
32265 posts


They'll probably be regretting their luggage choices during the visits to Venice and Lake Como, especially as they'll likely be travelling by train between them. They're probably not worried about the cruise portion of their trip as they know the hired help will be handling their heavy bags, so all they have to do is walk up the gang plank.

Posted by
15682 posts

I know this may come as a shock to some of you so I want to give you warning.....

Not everyone travels the "Rick Steves Way". Not everyone drags their luggage through the streets of Venice. It's possible to hire a water taxi to take them from the cruise ship to their hotel and the hotel may offer bellman service to meet them at the taxi and carry the luggage to their room.

The same for Lake Como. Higher prices hotels will offer services to help with luggage.

You can get almost anything if you are willing to pay for it.

Posted by
2482 posts

I don’t worry about worry about packing heavy. I check the bag at the airport so I don’t have to fuss with it. The only time I have had late luggage was my bicycle once in Frankfurt. I don’t think I could have taken it carry-on !

Unless I am revisiting a hotel or i know it is near the train station, I take a cab. Crossing the bridges in Venice - not fun but no big deal.

Have I packed light in the past? Yes. Bicycling we took 2 changes of clothes for the 2 weeks. One trip with a friend to Ireland, I took older clothes that I threw away as we went along. i think my final backpack weight 5 pounds. But my friend was buying books and his duffel weighted about 50!

Posted by
4 posts

I really wasn't criticizing anyone's packing methods, just poking at Rick a little!

I think we all "pay" for our packing practices in one way or another....heavy packers may pay airline fees, taxis, or inconvenience. Light packers may pay in cash for laundry services or in time to do laundry. It's where your particular pain point is on any given trip.

I do plan to bring FOUR pairs of shoes for this trip and have a dress, scarves and jewelry for fancy night.

Posted by
1321 posts

So for our Italian friends that would be LIGHT packing. And for my sister who thinks 50 pounds per suitcase is just a guideline.
We too pack more for cruises .... but still only one bag each we just go from our carry - on to our 24 inch suitcases. last trip in May I wish I had brought a few more clothes as the weather was pretty chilly and I could have used a few layers. I am not in the "less is better " club but I am in the "I need to be able to manage the suitcase I pack" club

Posted by
16097 posts

We'll give up our 12 year-old, 2-wheel, much-abused 24" TravelPro bags when pried from our cold, dead hands.
Best. Bags. Ever.

Posted by
713 posts

We'll give up our 12 year-old, 2-wheel, much-abused 24" TravelPro bags
when pried from our cold, dead hands. Best. Bags. Ever.

I hear ya, Kathy. I feel that way about my 12 year old Eagle Creek Tarmac 25" 2-wheel roller bag and the matching little carry-on size soft duffel. Much used, have taken much abuse, and still going strong! I don't often travel by air with the 25" bag these days, preferring to go carry-on only or to check a 22" bag. But TBH the 25" Eagle Creek roller is easier to roll and handle than smaller but cheap and shoddy roller bags (don't ask me how I know, lol). I just got a new Travelpro carry-on sized 2 wheel roller. I hope it's as good as your Travelpro bags!

Posted by
2765 posts

If you ever want a laugh (and a reason why you should pack light) Venice is the place to do it.

We got to the train station early and sat there giggling at people struggling to get their massive suitcases into the station (breaking news we didn't see a single porter and I am sure these people would have paid! ) Then we get on the train and i have NEVER seen luggage like that. It was a nightmare. Luggage EVERYWHERE!

With all the cruise ships in and out of Venice you get to see the Bad Packers of the World meeting there in mass! Most of them are sweating and cursing like sailors LOL!

Posted by
713 posts

I own neither a skirt nor a dress. I look dumpy in them and showing my
legs would scare the kids. So out of vanity and a concern for future
generations, I wear pants exclusively.

Lo, you cracked me up with this! I may have one dress somewhere in my closet, but I'm not sure. I also don't show my legs, but in my case it's vanity. Now that you've said it, I will also claim concern for future generations. Thanks! :-)

I asked a woman . . . why she had such a large suitcase. Her primary reason
was that she couldn't stand to wear anything more than once without
washing it. I hadn't heard that one before.

I have, not while traveling but from a woman I worked with long ago. If she changed clothes during the day for any reason, she couldn't again put on the clothes she'd worn for just a few hours.

They may have changed their shorts or pants or shirts or blouses or
tops or shoes regularly, but the articles of clothing were so similar
that the changes weren't noticeable. So did they really need multiple
versions of the same thing?

That's interesting. Maybe they also don't want to wear anything more than once? I mean, I like feeling clean and fresh but generally you can manage a "travel" version of clean and fresh, and still get at least a couple of days' wear out of a top before it needs washing, and more days' worth out of trousers.

The person who had the smallest bag had the most versatile and
interesting clothing of anyone. She looked great in everything she
wore and I bet she had no more than a total of 7 pieces.

Wow. Good for her! I admire people like that. Sadly, left to my own efforts, my fashion look is basic and plain. What the daughter of a friend once called "prison warden," lol. Some of my glitzier friends help me shop occasionally. At least when I'm traveling, I don't care about being stylish, and nobody cares what I look like as long as I don't, as noted, scare the children.

Posted by
2497 posts

We have done to river cruises with an Australian company so mainly Australians on board. Those ladies pack far fancier clothes than me. Although we had people to portage our luggage on these trips, we still packed light (carry on size) and we may have converted some of the Aussies to this style of packing.