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Suitcase Advice

Hey everyone,

Ive read through a ton of topics (thanks ken!). I am traveling with my sister for 4 weeks all over Europe. We will not be hiking that much with the backpacks on, however I don't really want to do the convertible suitcase because they seem harder to carry on and I already have a few suitcases so purchasing another one to fit European carry on standards seems wasteful. She is planning on taking her school backpack so I expect I'll have to carry some of her stuff in addition to mine. I have found I like the recommended Osprey Farpoint

Is this a good choice for my needs? What size should I get? It seems some people think that the 70 is far too large and others tell me it wont be big enough. I expect that as my trip progresses, I may have to check my bag due to weight from purchases.

Posted by
10 posts

I have the Farpoint 40 and it is big enough for a 2 week trip (and a laundry stop included). Going back I would have gotten the Farpoint 55 (same as 40+ detachable daypack). However, the you may have trouble getting the Farpoint 70 on as a carry-on. My 40 was pushing it when it was super stuffed in the overhead bins on the european flights. At least with the 55 you could detach the daypack and put that portion under your seat. (if they allow)
Plus I think the 70 would be too much and heavy - depending on how long you walk from train stations to hotels, stand in line in customs, etc. I keep learning over and over - just because there is more room does not necessarily mean that you should pack.

Posted by
10339 posts

I can't advise on the suitcase, but I agree with the comment regarding your sister. Unless she is too young/small or physically challenged in some way she should be responsible for her own "stuff." If her school backpack isn't large enough for her needs she should plan on using something else. Just my opinion of course.

Posted by
450 posts

If you are near an REI store, I would go in and have them load that bag up to see what it feels like. I tried it on a few years ago (loaded with some weight) and didn't find it to be super comfortable, but it has pretty good reviews on the REI website. A 70L pack seems really large to me, but I prefer a lighter pack (mine was around 18-20 pounds max, and is a 45L). If possible, I'd have your sister carry her own gear. A school backpack might not provide enough space, though.

Posted by
19 posts

Haha thanks guys, I will have to let her know. She is a terrible planner. Any thoughts on packing cubes?

Posted by
323 posts

If you don't have packing cubes, I would definitely recommend you get them. We have used them any number of times. And if you stay someplace over 3 or 4 days, which we usually do, they work great to put into dresser drawers. It also seems to make it much easier to pack when you try to get all your stuff back into your suitcase after being in a place a week or two.

Posted by
14174 posts

I love the Eagle Creek sil-nylon packing cubes. They are light and keep me organized in my roller bag. I like the compression ones as they squish things down and I find they wrinkle less. They are not true compression bags which take all the air out, they just have an extra zipper to zip them down about 1/3. If you get them do some practice packing in them so you can decide if you want to roll or fold things flat. In these I like a flat fold better because rolling things makes the cube into a funny shape.

About your sister, have her make a packing list, now. Pack to the list. If she forgets something she needs to deal with it. There are lots of ideas on here for packing lists but if you are young you might want to look at Travel Fashion Girl who is a real light packer. She has a number of youtube videos on packing as well.

Are you the older sis, lol?

Posted by
15573 posts

If you want to do true carry-on, stick to under 50L.

As for packing cubes, look for the ones that are ultra lightweight. Eagle Creek's Specter line has already been mentioned. Lewis N Clark and eBags have their own lines. If you're near a Muji store, they now have a set of packable packing cubes--they fold down into their own pocket. I tired them out on a trip last week and was impressed.

You need to try to minimize where you can and using the lighter packing cubes will help with that but still give the benefit of packing cubes.

The idea of making a packing list will help you to get organized. There are plenty of them online. Use one or two as a guideline to make your own and then add or subtract items you'll need for your trip. Using packing cubes will also help to keep you organized while traveling.

I'm also confused about your convertible carry on comment as the Fairpoint is basically a convertible carry on.

Posted by
8210 posts

There are many great suitcases and rolling bags on the retail market.
But we've switched over to a very popular brand for world traveler--TravelPro--purchased at
Our last two purchases were 21" rolling bags that weighed under 7 lbs., and we could really tell the difference on our last trip to Italy.
Another good source of bags is TJ Maxx--as they carry great brands.

Posted by
19155 posts

If you want to do true carry-on, stick to under 50L.

The maximum carryon size for US airlines is usually 45L (22"x14"x9" = 2772 ci); for European airlines it's usually 44L. A 50L bag (3050 ci) would almost certainly have to be checked.

I've made multiple trips (2 weeks each) with an Essential Carryon, which is 40L. As I've learned to pack lighter, I've gone to an eTech Jr. bag that is only 38½L. Rick sells an Appenzell bag, which is more the size of a "school packpack". It's just under 25L.

And, BTW, a 70L bag is 4270 ci, more than 50% bigger than regulation carryon.

Here's another opinion on luggage and packing cubes. I am just under 5'5". I used the roughly 45liter etech Junior backpack. It was more than sufficient. I could easily carry 6 days worth of Summer Clothes and extras - like a "mom-to-the-rescue" Kit. I did laundry about 1x each week. I find a backpack is easier to handle when jumping on and off trains. In the past, I have successfully lugged 25" suitcases on and off trains. If you need a roller bag - try to limit it to 20-22" for the sake of train travel ease. Limit it to 20" if carrying it on a European airline with tight bin restrictions. I recommend the Ebags value pack cubes with the slimline cubes included or the eagle creek value pack with the folder included. Get bold, easy to see colors. You will be less likely to leave something behind. 70 liter bag is HUGE. Good for cruises, but difficult for train travel.

Posted by
11613 posts

I take a 20" rolling carryon and use packing cubes. Easy to stay organized if you move around a lot, and they help with weight distribution if you pack them correctly.

And yes, your sister needs to carry her own weight.

Posted by
32245 posts


It's difficult to recommend a backpack size, as none of us here have any idea how much gear you're planning on taking. A 70 liter pack is definitely large and if you can get by with a slightly smaller model, I'd recommend that.

I'm not sure it's a good idea for your sister to use her school Backpack, for a couple of reasons.....

  • Unless it's a very high quality brand, the construction may not be that robust and it could fail at some point during the trip. I'm sure it was never intended for heavy duty use. That won't be a pleasant holiday experience!
  • For travel purposes, the pack will likely be loaded fairly heavily and she'll be carrying it for longer distances than at home. It could start to wear on her shoulders a lot, so will not be pleasant to haul around.

How old is your sister? It's time she got organized and started to work on her packing skills. You might remind her that whatever she brings, she will be carrying! You might convince her by loading up her school backpack with about 40 pounds of gear, and do a test hike for an hour in your home neighborhood.

I really like Packing Cubes, and always travel with several, in varying sizes.

Posted by
919 posts


What carriers will you and your sister be flying? You need to pack for the most restrictive one. Go to their websites and lookup their carry on baggage rules. A Fairpoint 70 bag is way to big in IMHO; definitely go with 45L or less bag that is sized at /or less than 22"x14"x9".


Posted by
15573 posts

A 50L soft sided bag, not packed to the gills, will be able to fit into most sizers.

The Farpoint line are soft sided and the dimensions and volume given are not rigid. They are the maximum if the bag is filled. It means you can take UP TO those dimensions. UP TO--not have to.

There will be arguments, by those who just look at numbers. They keep forgetting to take the type of material into account.

My 11 year old daughter carried her own pack and stuff around Italy for two weeks. This included trains, planes, buses, and trekking down long streets to get to our lodging. Unless your sister is injured in some way - she MUST lug her own stuff. If you use a roughly 20" x 9 x 14" backpack - plan on it weighing about 20 lb.s when packed. Mine weighed about 15 lb.s this last trip. Wheeled bags will weigh more - but they are not on your back.