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luggage italy 'grand tour' 2020

hello all,
i have been posting to a thread about my plan in general: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/grand-tour-2020-june-august.

here i have a couple of luggage specific questions. i want to travel only with a carry-on. i am considering a small rolling duffel with shoulder strap and carrying handles for max mobility. surprisingly hard to find (for me so far). here's two that i would like your opinion on:
https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/121987?page=mountain-classic-cordura-rolling-duffle-small&bc=50-516673-904&feat=904-GN3&csp=f&attrValue_0=Black&gnrefine=1*RLLNG_WHL_STYL*Traditional%20(Two%20Wheels)
and
https://www.amazon.com/Travelpro-Luggage-Maxlite-Lightweight-Suitcase/dp/B07BKKJRCD/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
if you have other suggestions please post!

Posted by
16568 posts

I'm surprised folks haven't noticed this thread yet. Maybe it will help if you edit the title to read, "Luggage for solo summer trip to Italy".

Posted by
2388 posts

I like both of these bags. I have one bag with a shoulder strap and loved it, but it no longer fits my requirements. You are correct that shoulder straps are so hard to find and so handy as I used to wear it crossbody on occasion when necessary. My suggestion would to just make sure the measurements fit all your airlines. Otherwise, pick the one that calls to you most. Sigh, I wish more bags with wheels had shoulder straps.

I would pick the lightest one.

Posted by
7603 posts

I'm not sure what the advantage of a duffel is to a regular carry on suitcase as it seems like it would be harder to pack/access to me. However, I just switched to a TravelPro 2-wheeler from a RS 2-wheeler and was impressed with the sturdiness in general of the case and zippers. Of these 2 I'd go with the TravelPro for that reason and that it is .6# lighter than the LLBean one.

If you decide to use it with a shoulder strap, I'd suggest you get a good strap from an company called OpTech - which started with camera straps. Theirs are excellent and way more comfortable than any shoulder strap that I've had with a suitcase/convertible backpack/duffel.

Posted by
151 posts

How important are the wheels? Although also a recipient of AARP unsolicited mail, I opted for an Eddie Bauer duffel with shoulder strap because of Norwegian Airlines weight restrictions last summer, also flew Finland Air. It wasn't the size (so long as it will squash loosely loaded into the sizer) as the really restrictive weight limits- so be sure to check into those requirements. Norwegian included the very small personal item in the total weight. The bag itself was just under 2 lbs. I ended up buying a luggage scale, too, to pull it off!
They have wheeled options, too and apparently a current sale! It was a "beast", and now I am still using it to haul books or random heavy things. A couple of times it was definitely heavy to carry, towards the end ( I checked it on the way home, also suggest a roll-into-itself lightweight duffel if you plan on purchases).
https://www.eddiebauer.com/p/82300193/maximus-20-duffel---45l?sp=1&rrec=true&size=ONESZE

Posted by
6536 posts

I hate to think I'd have to lug around those two bags for weeks on end. The duffel looks as if towing it around would require someone to stoop over. At least with regular carry on rolling luggage, you can tow it and walk straight up.
As for hauling a non-rolling suitcase like the TravelPro above, it's not for me.
With a 21" TravelPro ultra light swivel wheel carry on suitcase and a small backpack, I can travel indefinitely.
I sometimes use a Amazon Basics 22" backpack suitcase if I've got to help my wife with her bag. She got spoiled using taxi cabs to and from airports rather than using the Metro--on her last trip without me. At least she's no longer in a wheelchair after a knee replacement.
My goal from trip to trip is to carry less clothes. I'm under 10 kg. most of the time today. And I always return with clothes I never used. One trick to traveling lighter is to stay at some apartments with washing machines.

Posted by
46 posts

great insights everyone! thank you!
my thinking about having all three carrying method is; wheels on flat surfaces like terminals and lobbys; handles for short distances and quick access; and strap for longer distances - shoulder or cross body. i am leaning towards the travel pro because it's not only a little lighter but significantly cheaper than the ll bean. i have 2 business trips coming up and i figure those would be good trial runs for the big one. as for the 'towing' handle. the ad says max 42.5 inches which would be enough for my stride. i could always return it, after the short trips, and look for something else. i'll keep you posted!

Posted by
8485 posts

The Travelpro is slightly wider than most airlines allow--10". Unless you are not packing it full and can squish an inch or two, you might have a problem if put into a sizer.

European airlines are stricter when it comes to size and weight than European airlines.

Posted by
447 posts

My husband looked at some rolling duffle bags but most all would not stand up vertically so if you had to let go of the handle you then had to bend over to pick upright again. Decided to stick with his old roller bag and a small backpack with a trolly strap.

Posted by
3314 posts

Hi, I really like my Eddie Bauer Medium Expedition that has two wheels and multiple handles. I also pack a small LL Bean daypack that can either go inside the EB, or I wear it on my back or front.

There’s no right luggage that covers everyone, but I have used this method for several years - last two years solo travel, and it works very well for carry on, only.

Considerations for your luggage: 1.). Do you need extra protection for fragile, liquid or breakable items? I like that the EB bottom half is more rigid to protect items that need it. 2.). Does one of your choices make it easier to stay organized during the trip? 3.). Will one handle cobblestones and uneven surfaces better than the other? And this is probably the best question: 4.). If you were running to catch a train you might miss, which one would you rather have with you?

Posted by
46 posts

@jean: thanks for breaking it down!

  1. no, no fragile items just basic clothes, toiletries, and meds.
  2. um, i don't think organization is an issue for me.
  3. i believe rick when he says wheels and cobblestone don't go well together. in those situations, i'll rely on the strap and/or handle.
  4. the lighter one.

i plan on packing very light. if i absolutely need something i will buy while there. i will also have a messenger bag that i always use here - it's very light and waterproof, as a daypack. i prefer to 'appear' as a business traveller rather than a tourist - just a quirk i have!

Eaglecreek.com
Eagle creek: expanse convertible international carry-on.
(This bag needs a shorter, easier name.)
Patagonia.com - black hole collection. Only problem - you either get wheels or a shoulder strap - not both.
Eagle creek migrate: Problem - either wheels or straps - not both.

The LLBean bag you referenced stated that it is 31 liters. That's a bit small. I think you would be happier with 40 liters. Don't go over 45 liters.
Use packing cubes!
You would need to be a true minimalist packer for the 31 liter bag. That means only underwear, a couple of shirts (sink washing or wearing the same unwashed clothing for several days), some toiletries (311 bag), no extra shoes. Wear hiking type sandals.
It can be done.
My current bag is about 37 - 40 liters. I would not want to go any smaller. It is 19.5" x 14" x 9."
Packed bags are best worn on the back or wheeled. Packed bags take on a "boxy" shape that is uncomfortable to shoulder carry.

Posted by
432 posts

Highly recommended from personal experience: Patagonia MLC45, Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45, REI Big Haul 40 duffle, and any of several Osprey models.

Luggage discussions come up around here often. Literally dozens of brands and models are reviewed and recommended for all types of traveling styes. (Personally, I'm a carry-on-ony backpack guy.) Budget and exterior finish often control purchase decisions. Other factors include brand loyalty, two or four wheels, quality of construction, capacity, checked or carry-on, color preferences, and interior organization features.

Before you commit, you might want to visit all of your local luggage outlets including department stores, REI, luggage shops, and discount outlets like TJMaxx. Here in Boise, Idaho, the luggage store at the mall, Macy's, Nordstrom Rack, and Dillard's recently had huge selections of travel gear marked way down to deep discounts.

Posted by
2388 posts

alomaker,

RE: Rick's saying that cobblestones and wheels don't go together. I've NEVER found that to be true. I've pulled my bags over everything for all but 2 years of my decades of traveling...I do lift at most raised curbs however so as not to ruin the handle, but otherwise I roll 99% of the time.

I've had American Tourister (yep, a loooonnnngggg time ago), sampsonite, Hartmann, Delsey, Rick's wheelie, Ricardo (?) and many times my daughters Briggs and Reilly truck with no problems. So don't let Rick dissuade you, if you want to go that route. Again, I agree that the shoulder strap will come in handy...usually when getting on buses and trains and wanting one hand on the ticket and one hand on the hand rail. My experience. YMMV

Also, I don't know the volume of bags. However, the measurements of both those bags would allow me to pack for 7 days including at least 5 tops, one outer layer, two slacks, yoga pants and PJs, flip flops, toiletries, etc. So the size looks good to me as well.

So again, figure out what you will feel best doing.

I totally agree with Wray. Don't worry about "cobblestones." I am not nice to my luggage. I can wheel a bag all around Italy, Scotland, anywhere with a two wheeled bag. I have used different brands and have not had luggage failure yet. I have had minor luggage damage at airports with checked bags. I have not experienced wheel failure yet.
Solid brands are eagle creek, Eddie Bauer, Patagonia, delsey, samsonite, Rick Steves. There are many.
I wish to reiterate my above statement that a 40 liter bag or so is going to be difficult to shoulder carry due to the "boxiness" of it - unless you are a really tall guy. Backpack style carry or wheeled is best to manage this size of bag.

Trust the luggage industry here. There's a reason why you can't easily find shoulder-carry bags with wheels. Most shoulder carry bags are smaller and don't have wheels. Wheels can be heavy as well.

Posted by
46 posts

hello all!
sorry about the delayed reply on this thread. i was wrapped up in finding and booking my trip to and from italy. that's done now!
regarding the bag. i went ahead and purchased the travelpro 20" rolling duffel. i'll see if it was the right decision on a trip to chicago in a couple of weeks. i plan to pack very light and i like having the option of rolling, hand-carrying, and shoulder slinging. i will do a report after the 'trial-run'. thanks!

Posted by
6 posts

Alomaker -- yay on Travelpro! I bought an Ebags backpack for my RS 3-week trip around Italy. I left the shoulder strap home -- it was awkward (think in/out buses, crowds, on/off train steps and oh, those vaporattos!). I also found the weight on one shoulder to be uncomfortable -- tho backpacking it was well-balanced. I have just ordered a 2-wheel Travelpro for RS 3 weeks in France. I will carry by top or side handle if needed. Have fun!

Posted by
46 posts

hi joan, my travel pro rolling duffel arrived a few days ago. i am really impressed by much room is on the inside. also, it seems to be very well made. the chicago trip will be the test though. i'll report back. enjoy your trip.

Posted by
13 posts

My husband and I both used the Eddie Bauer Medium Exposition that Jean talked about for our RS three week tour last summer in Italy. They were the best suitcases we have ever used, period. (and we have tried quite a few) Not only do they not tip over (ever), have a hard bottom for protecting delicate things, wheels that are strong and smooth over cobble stones , and fit more than I could imagine, they fit into the overhead storage in the airplane! We will be using them once again for our RS trip to Ireland this August. We love them so much that I just ordered the larger version cases to replace our other/larger cases that we have accumulated over the years and use for trips requiring more luggage than just a carry on.