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Spinners and Rolling Bag users-your wisdom requested

Hey, there, packing mavens. I’m doing a six week overseas trip with a spinner and a personal item bag (still to be determined).

Two choices, which are your preferences:

  1. Check the spinner, take only the personal item on the flights.
  2. Carry-on the spinner (and hope it doesn’t get flagged to be gate checked), stow it overhead and personal item goes under the seat.

If you prefer choice #1, how do you pack your personal item bag? Do you put in some necessities (medicines, obviously), small electronics and chargers, change of clothes, snacks?

Choice # 2 is my preference. Though my spinner will meet carry-on requirements, it could sometimes need to be checked. I’m trying to avoid the last minute scramble of shifting things out of it and into the smaller under seat bag, should I be required to check the spinner.

I envision putting necessities into a packing cube I can grab at the last minute from it, and that would also fit into the smaller carry-on, or that could become my overhead bag for the flight . That “packing cube” could be a small self stuffing ultralight backpack.

Edit: I tried packing as described, but it got too confusing trying to divide necessities. My new idea is to pack as normal, but include a self-stuffing featherweight 38L backpack. If my spinner is required to be checked, I will load everything I need into the 38L backpack, check the spinner, and carry on my backpack and my personal item.

So what’s your preference and how do you “roll?”

Posted by
6698 posts

Paselholic, I usually check my spinner, especially if it's a non-stop flight, and then make sure that I have at least one complete clothing change in my personal bag, any medications, tech stuff, devices, and basically anything else it would be difficult to do without for a day or so (just in case, although I have never lost a bag).

If I carry on my larger bag, I still keep all my devices in the personal bag, and other necessities as mentioned above. And I usually have a change of clothing in there, just in case, but I like your idea of a packing cube in your spinner that you could easily transfer to the personal bag.

Last year, I flew to Connecticut for my cousin's wedding. When I left MSP, I was asked to gate check my carry-on. I forgot that my laptop was in there, but didn't worry too much since it was a gate check. Later, however, I found out that it was actually checked with all the other luggage and I had to claim it at baggage claim. Luckily nothing happened to it, but ever since then I've made sure that I keep that and other tech devices on me at all times.

Posted by
9733 posts

Part of your decision may depend on your flight(s) from your home airport to Europe. Do you have a direct flight, or do you need to connect ? If you have a connection, do you have a short timeframe, or do you have a nice generous connection time to allow you (and any checked luggage) to make the connection comfortably? Are there lots of flights from where you're departing from to where you're going ?.(i.e..chances for your bag to get sent on to you if it doesn't make it with you)

(I.always check even though I have a connection, but I don't care about traveling carry-on; others wouldn't dream of checking!)

Posted by
4924 posts

The answer to what you should pack in your personal bag is simple. Listen to Mardee.

"...at least one complete clothing change...medications, tech stuff, devices...anything else it would be difficult to do without for a day or so..."

To avoid a last minute scramble of changing things between bags, simply pack with the assumption that every thing will be checked or gate checked except your personal bag. It can be done as we do it every trip.

Posted by
2814 posts

My choice is your option #2. I don't use a spinner; prefer 2-wheels and use RS Rolling Carry-On. Personal item contains necessities: drugs, 311 and electronics in their own bags, paperwork folder, snacks, change of clothes and purse unless the airline doesn't care if I carry it separately. Suitcase in the overhead so has to be light enough to lift without problem. Personal item goes under the seat. The one I use is long ago discontinued, but it's lightweight nylon, packable and has a trolley strap.

Until my last trip, I carried-on outbound and checked the suitcase inbound so I could expand to pack gifts and souvenirs. But coming home last trip, United decided to delay my checked bag a day. New strategy is carry-on only both directions. Either don't buy so much or if I overbuy, ship things home.

Posted by
330 posts

I always check coming home because I buy liquids and you can’t carry much on and be honest if it’s a day late who cares.

However, the airline can ask you to check your spinner or roller board at any time. And pitching a fit will not help (trust me. I’ve seen that fail).

So your piece that’s going in the overhead should never have electronics, medication’s you actually need to survive, or any valuables in it. Because if it does, and it goes under the plane and electronics or the valuables disappear you’ll just be out of luck, on the medication you could be in trouble.

But electronics do not go in check baggage because if they are taken, you will discover there’s a little statement in your ticket terms and condition that says the airline is not responsible. valuables do not go in your check bags they aren’t going to believe you when you say what 10 dozen dollars in jewelry in my luggage yeah not flying Medication do not ever ever ever go in check bag unless it’s something like Advil that you can buy when you get there

Posted by
4393 posts

It would partially depend on the carryon size you're allowed on your flightws-is it the US size or the smaller European size? How often will you be dragging your luggage through airports? Will you have to carry your carryon bag up and down steps to enter the plane? Are you tall enough to reach the overhead bins on the larger transatlantic planes or traveling with someone who's taller?

I recently(yesterday!) completed a 3 1/2 week trip to New Zealand and Australia with only an expanded TravelPro Maxlite European size but expanded and a Berilily backpack. When I flew from LA to East Coast and checked both bags(taking only a purse and small Outlander) on my two two flights, a weight was literally lifted from my shoulders. I was flying in Business Class, where overhead space is less of a problem.

Posted by
14098 posts

I go for option 2 as well.

Last August I was doing carry on although I had to check on a small prop plane going to my final destination. I had my outerwear in a packing cube (Eagle Creek sil-nylon large compression cube) because I knew I needed that along with my electronics. I also had a spare shirt and spare unders (figured my jeans would last for days, hahaha). I also knew that I might have trouble getting a waterproof jacket and waterproof pants locally on Orkney as I am a plus size.

On the International flight related to that I had packed the outerwear cube but had it stashed so I could quickly pull it out if I got tagged for a gate check. I was flying Delta One so didn't think it would be a problem and it was not.

I also agree it depends on your flights and if you have a direct flight or have to change planes. I might consider checking if I had a direct flight but since I always have to change, it will be carry on only for the foreseeable future.

Posted by
206 posts

Thanks for the helpful and detailed responses, all. Much appreciated. Mardee, you nailed it again.

Kim, we always have connecting flights, thus, carry-on choice. Sometimes my checked luggage doesn’t get there with me. So I wouldn’t choose to check the spinner. But I should be ready to do so. Nobody appreciates a mad scrambler delaying the boarding process.

I’m unsure about the personal item, since the one I usually use (Rick Steves Veloce bag, which can be a backpack or a crossbody bag) may not accommodate everything I would need (Mardee’s list is an excellent example). So maybe that’s an argument for using my ultralight G4Free backpack as a packing cube inside the spinner. If required to check the spinner, the G4Free backpack would become my carry-on and would easily fit in the overhead.

Yes, Cala, I am tall enough at 5’5” and can always put my bag in the overhead. I try to keep the bag weight down to about 15 pounds for ease of lifting and managing. All your points are valid.

When I practice pack the spinner, I will try picking it up and see how it feels. No need to hurt my shoulder lifting it. Yes, I will have to carry it up stairs at various hotels.

Horsewoofie, Outbound, it sure is nice to just get through security/customs without having to also pick up a checked bag. Inbound, I don’t buy many souvenirs, but if I do, it might be flat things like postcards, or original watercolor paintings or etchings. Or chocolate bars. That was my downfall on the Germany/Austria/Switzerland tour. Chocolate is so heavy. Thought I was going to split my G4free bag open. I think I’ve learned my lesson?!😄

Carol, I don’t bring jewelry, and my important papers and such are always on my person or in the personal item.

Those of you who do crossbody bags, do you also bring smaller purses? I'm not that much of a purse gal, but I have a small Baggalini that would hold my phone and papers for museum days like Anne Frank House. They say nothing larger than an A4 piece of paper may come with you inside their small museum. I considered making or buying a phone case with a neck cord, but I didn’t like the feel of it dangling. The purse seems better somehow.

I might need several different day bags/purses, depending on the situation over the course of the trip. I recall that when we go to Venice as a group, we stow our main bags in the bus and bring a smaller kit for the few days in Venice, because we approach by boat. That’s why I’m not sure which day bag to bring. Or how many.

Do you bring more than one purse/crossbody bag? I guess it all depends on the kind of trip you are taking. We will be in different places every three days, so a streamlined selection helps.

Pam, I always appreciate the way you reason out your packing decisions. Thanks! There is enough excitement with travel and it’s nice to meet that journey with my head together.

Posted by
15378 posts

I travel full time. My plans are always #2. I always "try" to carry on. Occassionally, due to weight limitations or type of plane (turboprop), I have to check the bag. Not a problem.

For the past five years, it's been a spinner.

My personal item always has my prescriptions, electronics, and anything of value.

My carry on has mostly clothes and misc items that are easily, and inepensively, replaceable.

Posted by
2814 posts

Those of you who do crossbody bags, do you also bring smaller purses?

My crossbody is a very small Travelon purse, only holds minimal stuff including my phone, credit card size power block, daily money, aspirin and hair brush. In town I also carry a tiny packable nylon shopping bag, the kind that’s sold in souvenir stores, for water bottle and shopping.

For day trips, I have a packable Eddie Bauer 20L backpack to hold sweater, etc but I still wear the crossbody purse for daily money and phone. When not in use the backpack is either in my carryon or personal item. I found it takes less room if I store it flat instead wadded up in its pocket.

Don’t forget your money belt or neck wallet for deep secure storage.

Posted by
9733 posts

Yes, traveling with the bags you need for all the situations on your trip is one of the pains ! I absolutely take more than one cross-body purse with me because sometimes I need something substantial, and sometimes I don't want to be weighed down. And I travel with extra "carry-on" AND usually a more day-type backpack too!!

In other words, I am a nightmare packer who can't do without the bag I want at any given time.

So everyone, just LOOK AWAY from my post !!

Posted by
14580 posts

Choice # 1.....The spinner is always checked in. Given the these 2 choices , my vote is # 1.

Last summer's trip of 9 weeks I carried a medium size spinner, worked out rather well. I don't use a cross-over bag or any sort of day bag or day pack.

Posted by
344 posts

I prefer Choice 2, but also plan for Choice 1. I use a spinner and a small-ish Adidas backpack as my personal item. Small crossbody bag, one change of shirt/underwear/socks, maybe a light jacket or sweater if I'm not wearing one, toiletry kit w necessary meds, electronics, wallet, passport, snacks, water bottle all go in the backpack and it fits under the seat. Spinner in the overhead unless it gets gate-checked for some reason. And I have noticed two things more often these days: 1. more proactive gate-checking of bags, either asking for volunteers, or stopping folks at boarding (and sometimes agents actually going through the waiting area and tagging bags), and 2. that gate-checked bags end up at baggage claim, not the jetway.

So no matter what happens, I can deal with a few days without my suitcase if necessary.

Posted by
206 posts

Frank II, it’s great you figured out a system that works, and that’s basically what I want to do.

Yes, Horsewoofie, excellent point! I always have the travel wallet around my waist and hidden, from the time after we get through security until we reach our first hotel room. Inside that is my passport, money and credit cards and other ID, written prescriptions, etc.
I agree about the self-stuffing pack, it fits better not to stuff it in its pocket, packing it flat goes better.

So the crossbody bag has my water bottle, rain gear, snacks and papers or maps, and often has my phone. But I prefer to carry the phone on my person, in an inside pocket, and not in a bag. I’m very good at leaving a purse on the back of a chair, so I try not to carry them. 🙄
Sometimes you need a bag, though, especially in warm weather…the smallest ones can just stay on and it tucks under the napkin in the restaurant.

Kim, I empathize! Hard to leave out a favorite. I will be mulling these decisions and seeing what fits in the spinner.

Fred, do you rent a car or otherwise have your gear somewhere nearby? I’m wondering if you ever need a rain jacket or something you don’t have at hand.

Posted by
250 posts

Posted by Pastelholic OP

I’m unsure about the personal item, since the one I usually use (Rick
Steves Veloce bag, which can be a backpack or a crossbody bag) may not
accommodate everything I would need (Mardee’s list is an excellent
example). So maybe that’s an argument for using my ultralight G4Free
backpack as a packing cube inside the spinner. If required to check
the spinner, the G4Free backpack would become my carry-on and would
easily fit in the overhead.

I think this is probably your answer. On another blog, the recommendation is to have a small cross-body purse which will fit inside a packable day-pack (backpack) along with a change of clothes, necessary toiletries, medications, etc. (Mardee's list). Then the day-pack with all that stuff becomes a "packing cube" which goes inside the main carry-on bag.

If you can carry all 3 separately, go for it, but you can also consolidate when you want or need to. And if you are consolidated for boarding and suddenly get picked for gate-check, just take out your already packed day-pack. On-board you can take the purse out to keep with you and put the day-pack overhead if you don't want it underfoot.

I'm a checked spinner bag person with a personal item going on board with me with Mardee's list of necessities and enough room to put my "purse" in there too and neck pillow and jacket.

But I'm still practicing all this stuff.

Posted by
2814 posts

But I'm still practicing all this stuff.

Khansen, ain’t that the truth! If we had the perfect packing plan, we wouldn’t flock to packing posts.

Posted by
3217 posts

Interesting post. As soon as I say I do one thing, I'm sure I'll change. In the past I have just about always checked my carryon two wheeled bag. I say 'just about' because I can't recall when I haven't on international flights, but I'm sure I did once or so over the last decades. I have never had an issue with my checked bag other than the little notes that have been left for me by the people searching my bag. Who knew canned cranberry sauce would be an issue. LOL. I digress. Might I? Sure, but I like just having a small personal item around the airport. If I never received my suitcase, unless I'm on a weird trip, I could replace everything in my suitcase, but likely wouldn't because I could manage fine with one change of clothes and PJs. I learned this walking the Camino.

The first time I've carried on my bag, that I remember, was to Atlanta this year, because Delta wanted me to pay for checked luggage and I didn't need to do so. It was OK, but I prefer just a small PI around the airport.

Always in my PI are all electronics, all meds, a complete change of clothes, entertainment and a few items I might want on the plane. It's usually a Sherpani Sojourn(?), but sometimes a travelon small backpack or a medium purse. I have a small crossbody travelon that just holds all my finances and passport, emergency info and my prescription pills.

The bottom line it doesn't matter whether you pick #1 or #2, just pack your PI correctly.

@Kim, I, too, pack extra bags as sometimes I want a larger purse, etc. But then I have been known to buy another one, too. I have a bag problem. LOL

Posted by
250 posts

Posted by Wray @Kim, I, too, pack extra bags as sometimes I want a
larger purse, etc. But then I have been known to buy another one, too.
I have a bag problem. LOL

Reading this forum doesn't help with "bag problems" does it?

Who knew how many configurations of bags, brands of bags, styles of bags were possible? Not to mention the colors!

Hard to look and not think, "I need, I need, I need."

Must be strong.

I want. I want. I want. Not "I need. I need. I need."

Sigh. . . .

Posted by
4393 posts

I travel with a cross-body Travelon purse and a New Outlander backpack. Those seem to meet my needs(I used them as my carryon and personal item when I checked my bags on the way home) since I'm not concerned with having a stylish purse.

Posted by
2814 posts

Thanks Kim and Wray for giving me the idea to take my medium size purse for days I need more room but not enough for a backpack. After a few days it hurts my neck so it can’t replace my XS Travelon. It’ll work fine as a packing cube in the personal item. Dilemma solved.

Posted by
206 posts

TheOrdinaryRebecca said:

And I have noticed two things more often these days: 1. more proactive gate-checking of bags, either asking for volunteers, or stopping folks at boarding (and sometimes agents actually going through the waiting area and tagging bags), and 2. that gate-checked bags end up at baggage claim, not the jetway.
So no matter what happens, I can deal with a few days without my suitcase if necessary.

Agreed-I’ve noticed that too-domestic flights since I’ve not been overseas since 2019.

Khansen said:

Who knew how many configurations of bags, brands of bags, styles of bags were possible? Not to mention the colors!
Hard to look and not think, "I need, I need, I need."
Must be strong.

I want. I want. I want. Not "I need. I need. I need."
Sigh. . . .

😂🤣😆So true. I counted: I’m up to SIX bags. Most will be in the spinner.

Wray,

As soon as I say I do one thing, I'm sure I'll change.

Yes!!!! And what you wrote about not needing much after your experience walking the Camino is admirable. How incredible that must have been! I bet you have some cool stories.

Thanks for the great ideas, inspiration, humor and encouragement.

Posted by
19 posts

We like spinners because they are usually easier to wheel about but that comes at the price of less storage space.

I encourage watching the videos here on packing tips and avoid checking any bags. Also, make sure your bags fit within the size limits set by the airline you're flying.

I have not checked a bag in nearly 20 years.

Posted by
14580 posts

@ Pastelholic.....No, I don't rent a car. The rental car is not an option.

I go over in the summer and , of course, I have been caught in the rain, especially in North Germany but not drenched. I wear a summer jacket, if the weather is not too hot, otherwise, I basically carry it around. just in case. When the weather is a broiler, then obviously no jacket. I don't pack any other rain gear either, so to speak. I used to carry an umbrella, the fold up short type, not any more.

Other than the checked in spinner, my carry-on is that of a shoulder sack, a variation of a duffel bag, which never has been questioned as to its weight , size or any such thing when I board.

Posted by
1420 posts

Kim, the caution to just look away

Is the funniest thing I've read all day!!!

Posted by
18302 posts

Choice # 2 is my preference. Though my spinner will meet carry-on
requirements, it could sometimes need to be checked. I’m trying to
avoid the last minute scramble of shifting things out of it and into
the smaller under seat bag, should I be required to check the spinner.

In the last 250 flights I have not yet had to check my carryon. 95% of those flights were Economy tickets and I was generally in the next to last or the last boarding group. I have been measured or weighed or both twice that I can remember. But my bag is on the smaller size compared to most that I see. So maybe I get overlooked by the gate crew. I put all the heavy stuff in the personal item which works for most but not all airline carryon weight requirements. Fortunately the heavy stuff is also the stuff I really need if there is a lost bag.

But someone wins the lottery every time. And everyones odds of winning the lottery are the same. So you could get gate checked on your first flight. I also see some bags being measured or weighed on about 10, maybe 20% of my flights.

Posted by
206 posts

Mr É,
Do you roll or spin one of your bags (not like a circus performer😎), or do you prefer backpacks or duffels?