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what is the cheapest carry on bag i can buy for 21 day tour?

im going on the 21 day tour.

im literally only going to bring the bare essentials and pack as light as i can.

what is the cheapest carry on bag i can buy for this tour? i saw in another forum that european airlines changed the carry on size limit, so i can't get the original RS carry on, right?

can someone tell me what to buy?

Posted by
7447 posts

Hi, I bought the Eddie Bauer wheeled carry-on after checking out numerous websites for the options to fit both European and domestic dimensions. I'm loving this bag royal blue bag and features! I think the wheeled RS bag will also fit your dimensional needs. I really wanted one with the rugged YKK zippers.

Posted by
47 posts

This is the cheapest I found. Someone metioned it at this forum and looked after that out of curiosity.

Goodhope Convertible Carry-On

I finally bought another bag, so I can't review it. But maybe this can be an option for you. If I would be in an extremely tight budget I'll risk and go with this one.

Have a good travel and enjoy your tour!

Posted by
28 posts

does it matter if the bag is a rolling bag or backpack for the 21 day tour?

Posted by
15666 posts

I have reviewed the Goodhope bag on my website which I can't link to here because it's against the rules.

It's okay but not great.

Let me suggest a different bag that is better made and just a few bucks more:

Campmor Essential Carry-On

The bag is made by Outdoor Products for Campmor. Surprisingly well made and durable. It has no structure so you will need to pack in a way that adds this. Very lightweight at under 2 lbs. $30

Posted by
8234 posts

In shopping for luggage, cheap doesn't necessarily equate to best value. When I'm shopping for luggage, we visit TJ Maxx. They carry a number of high line bags for very good prices.

You can still get the 22" rolling bags on European budget air carriers. The only problem you may have is if that particular airline decides to weigh your bag.

Traveling light is always better than traveling 'heavy'.

Posted by
9110 posts

You could actually do fine with a pillowcase and a bit of twine if you're a real cheapskate.

If that idea doesn't work, take a look at for reliable, comprehensive luggage reviews.

Posted by
19169 posts

The Goodhope bag is a little small at only 1400 ci. It does open like a book for packing and has hideaway straps. Everything I normally take with me to Europe fits, but there is no extra space. I've used it for domestic weekend trips, but I'm a little reluctant to use it for Europe.

On the other hand, the Essential Carryon is just under regulation size and very light (less than 2 lbs). It, too, opens like a book for packing and has hideaway straps. Unless stuffed it should fit in any sizer, international or domestic. My only problem with it is that it's too big and sags.

Posted by
14247 posts

It doesnt matter whether your bag is wheeled or not but what does matter is what the overall weight will be and what you can manage up and down flights of steps.

Most of the people on my BOE tour have wheeled bags. I have a RS convertible backpack that is slightly overpacked and is just barely manageable for me. (Lesson learned BTW)

On the days we had the longest or most complex journeys from the bus to the hotel, I just packed enough for 2 days into a tote bag and left the suitcase secured in the bus. Those destinations were Venice where we took the boat from the bus parking lot then had to walk a distance and Cinque Terre where we had a train from the bus parking lot to the town where we stayed overnight.

The hotel where we have had the most steps was Rome but there was an elevator for bags only. I did backpack mine up the 4 double flights.

The stairs in the Bacharach hotel were pretty steep and narrow circular stairs which was a challenge for the wheelie bags that were heavy.

Choose a bag you can manage.

Posted by
2531 posts

How about a duffle bag? The boxy version might make is easier to retrieve items rather than the tube-shaped model.

Posted by
3821 posts

I just purchased this bag at an Eddie Bauer outlet store. It's a small duffle, which is all I need for my trips. The shoulder strap is an essential feature for me:

It is made of lightweight parachute rip-stop fabric. I prefer a duffel like this, backpack, or messenger bag w/cross-body strap. I am not a fan of wheeled luggage because when you are carrying your bag up several flights of stairs in a hotel or B&B, the wheels just add more weight to the bag.

The price on this bag shown on the website is $30, but I got mine (in black) at the outlet store for $15. The fabric and zippers are strong and this company makes quality products. I have packed it, and it holds everything I would need on a two or three week trip, but I travel light and do laundry on my trip.

This bag may be too small for some people's needs. It holds three nice tee shirts, three pair of pants, rain jacket, all my toiletries, underwear, and either guidebook or notebook with my trip notes.

Posted by
8632 posts

hockmasm, actually I think the RS Classic or Convertible Carryons will work at 21x14x9. That is slightly less than Lufthansa's limit of 55x40x23 cm, for example. Especially if not full, as they scrunch. I think the Classic at $79 is a bargain.

But you said cheapest, so not sure how low you mean.

Posted by
28 posts

by cheapest, i just mean something that is not $150. i plan on using the bag for the 21 day tour and then trashing it or selling it. i dont really need a bag such as this for the long term. i already have a suitcase, but just want something light and feasible for this trip since we will be moving around a lot.

Posted by
4411 posts

You might be interested in looking at eBay; lots of people wanting to get rid of their (often times new or lightly-used) bags. In the past, I've seen some great deals on RS bags.

Remember - a soft-sided backpack can be made to fit any dimensions if it's not stuffed. A 22" long bag can be 18" long if need be ;-)

Posted by
1194 posts

I am going to strongly agree with the Campmor Essential Carry On. I used it for a 2-1/2 week trip to Europe in shoulder season. I beat Lufthansa's carryon weight limit, coming in at 6 kg for the entire bag.
I have also used the bag for trips to the African bush. It really does hold up, even though it is only $30. The manufacturer is reputable.
Here's a review:

What you won't get:
A lifetime warranty (who cares)
A stiff bag - this thing is about as floppy as a shopping bag. No problem if you use packing cubes.
A color choice (any color you want, as long as it is black)
Lots of bells and whistles. It has 2 pockets on the outside, and one mesh pocket in the lid (great for storing towels, belts, day packs, etc.

What you will get
The lightest travel pack on the market (under 2 pounds!)
A convertible travel pack that works as a shoulder bag, a carry bag, or a backpack (get your own shoulder strap - the one that comes with is uncomfortable)
An obnoxious logo

Posted by
3580 posts

I bought a Jansport book bag at Ross for $22. It is light, made of very sturdy nylon, has a few compartments, and is roomy enough for 10-15 pounds of stuff. I plan to use it on my next trip. It has no wheels and no waist-strap, so it wouldn't be comfortable with too much weight in it. I think I can get by with about 10 pounds. I have a couple of wheeled bags that I paid very little for. They might not hold up on cobblestones.

Posted by
19169 posts

"In shopping for luggage, cheap doesn't necessarily equate to best value."

Nor does expensive necessarily equate to the best quality, or value. My Rick Steves convertible served me well for 6 trips. My $30 Essential Carryon has served well for 5 trips (11 weeks) in Germany and doesn't show any signs of failure. A lot of it has to do with how you take care of the luggage. I would like to have better quality zippers, but if it's not overstuffed, the zippers are not overstressed and do fine. The material is lighter weight than most bags, but again, if you don't check them, you can make sure that they are handled with care. More importantly, thinner material means lighter weight, which for me is the most important feature.

Posted by
1194 posts

@Lee - thanks for reminding me about the zippers. I found that they did come unzipped if you put them in the middle of the luggage. That said, I zipped both zippers to the end of the bag and they stayed put there.

Posted by
11613 posts

One of the features I like about the RS rolling carryon is the structured sides/top, The front may sag a bit (less likely with packing cubes). In 12 months of travel it's held up fine on cobblestones and balance well. If you find one on eBay, it may fit your budget.

If your bag constantly tips over, wheels break off, or the strap cuts into your shoulder, it doesn't matter how much money you saved. Buy a good bag and sell it if you don't want to keep it.

Posted by
19169 posts

"thoughts from the group?"

Yeah, 20" x 15" x 10"! US Regulation carryon is 22" x 14" x 9". Most European airlines use 21+" x 15.75" x 7.87". And it looks too rigid to compress much. If you have to put it in a sizer, you'll have to check it.

Also, weight 9.1 # (empty)! What a weight hog. My whole bag, packed, is about 11 #.

I guess the benefit of this bag is you don't have to carry it (usually). Bad news it's too heavy to carry.

Posted by
19169 posts

"i saw in another forum that european airlines changed the carry on size limit, so i can't get the original RS carry on, right?"

I just checked the website of 6 major European airlines (LHA, BA, AF, SAS, KLM, Swiss). If anything, they have added to the dimensions a little. A couple have gone from 15.75"W to 13.8", but they've increased the depth to 9.1" from less than 8", which increases the x-sect area. All the airlines seemed to have increased the x-sect area and the volume a little. However, all but BA hold to the 21-5/8" long restriction.

The Classic Back Door bag (is that what you mean by original, meets the requirements of all six airlines).

Again, as long as it is a soft sided (ie, non-wheeled bag) and not stuffed, it should conform to almost any sizer.

Posted by
5697 posts

For cheap, see what thrift stores in your area are selling -- take along a measuring tape to check dimensions versus airline restrictions and pick up suitcases to check the weight. I've seen bags with wheels and softsided bags with shoulder straps at $10 or less.
But this can't beat Ed's pillowcase option.

Posted by
1081 posts

I would take a different approach, your paying thousands of dollars for a trip of a lifetime and your skimping on your carry-on bag??? I would find a sturdy carry-on that is the correct size and one that you could use for years to come. Every person on this forum has their favorite bag because it is one of the most important parts of your gear! I have traveled with the Rick Steves Rolling Backpack for multiple trips to Europe and it still will be able to go for many more! I am a bargin hunter just like everyone else here but I would get a good travel bag and consider it an investment in my Backdoor experience.

Posted by
28 posts

I was asking this question too because Rick says to pack light. So, I figured I would only bring the bare essentials to get by. A couple of shirts, two pants, two shoes, a light coat, washable underclothes, etc.

Given that, I was thinking, do I really need an expensive bag? AND, does it have to have wheels or not? Rick on his DVD and website says to pack light so you can carry your gear. Which made me think whatever i bring i should only be able to carry on my back.

I am traveling with my wife (who will want to pack a lot more LOL!) so i figured we would have at least one roller bag for her.

Should I, as a man, buy a RS Convertible Carry-On backpack and for my wife an RS Rolling Carry-On? Or should we both just get the rolling kind? I'll probably end up carrying both up any stairs :) But i work out often so am not too worried about that!

Posted by
8632 posts

rolling vs backpack: its your call. Each has pros and cons. Roller easier in airport/train station, on smooth sidewalks, but downside is the frame and wheels take up internal space and add weight. Backpack frees up your hands, more internal space, but downside is weight on your back. Personal preference.

Posted by
3696 posts

If you want lightweight roller bag look for the IT bags. I got mine at Tjmaxx....plenty of top quality bags there. I bought a travel pro bag there a few years ago for half of retail

Posted by
19169 posts

The words "lightweight" and "roller" do not belong in the same sentence.

After reviewing the product offerings at TJ Maxx, I have to say that if you plan on checking you're OK.

If you want a carryon, be careful. A lot of their bags are too high (over 22 inch). Those that fit the height requirement sometimes exceed one of the other two dimensions, and a lot are hard shell, which won't deform to fit the sizer. And they are all weight hogs.

Posted by
2081 posts


Dont go cheap on the one most item you WILL need.

If there us an REI store near you, check them out. You dont have to buy, but look/feel/test/try whats offered.

Then see what you like and go from there.

Hapoy trails.

Posted by
123 posts

All of our Rick Steves bags are designed to fit the European carry-on standards, even with the recent changes. They may not be the cheapest out there, but they are certainly among the lightest for the size. At only 6.5 pounds, that's about as light as it can be for a bag with wheels. Since it's soft-sided in the front, it's more likely to squish into the overheads. And since some airlines go by weight, you've got more to work with than if you had a 10-pound bag to begin with. I've traveled with this the last two years for six weeks at a time and really loved it:

Posted by
19169 posts

I don't believe that blindly spending more necessarily gets you the best, or even an adequate value. In 2000 I bought a classic RS convertible, and it served me well for 6 or 7 trips. Now I use a lighter Essential Carryon. It didn't cost a lot, but it has held up for 3 or 4 trips to Europe and numerous domestic trips. The important thing is to pack light so you never have to check it, and don't over-stuff it and stress the zippers. Do that, and it will probably last forever.

Posted by
2478 posts

I picked up two roller carry ons at our local Habitat for Humanity thrift store. $15 total. I've used mine on two European and a dozen domestic trips and they are still in good condition. If you want cheap, check the thrifts.