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Luggage for 2 weeks in Switz? No rental car


My husband, daughter and I will be in Switzerland for two weeks in July. We will NOT have a car, so will be doing trains and buses etc... We fly into Zurich, then in Lucerne, Wengen, Brienz, Appenzell. We are staying at airbnbs and bed and breakfasts (no hotels).

I need to get new luggage and I'm trying to decide what would be best. I'm thinking a soft sided luggage that I can throw on my back. Or, do people use roller suitcases? Those seem like they'd be a huge pain to get on buses and roll over cobblestone streets. Any insights or suggestions of brands or actual types that worked well for you?

Thank you wise people!


Posted by
4973 posts

Are you doing carry -on only luggage? Are you trying to fit European carry-on measurements? I'm fan of two- wheeled luggage, as the wheels are bigger, so they are easier on cobblestones. Also, two wheels take up less space than four wheels, as two wheels are built more into the frame. However, they are harder to find.
A frequent complaint of suitcase/backpacks are that they lack structure.
The easiest luggage of any style to get on any train or bus is a light suitcase, around 20 lbs.
There's a lot of discussion here, some of it pretty passionate. Good luck making a decision.

Posted by
1937 posts

Best luggage in my opinion is a rolling duffel with two wheels.

- Two fixed wheels. Sturdier than swiveling wheels. You want it to be cobblestone proof. Also that way they stand fixed when standing upright. You want to be able to walk normally while dragging your luggage.
- Usually a big solid skid plate on the back, so that you can drag it up and down stairs, drag it in a train, slide it under a seat etc...
- Better proportions for fitting in overhead luggage racks on trains. I have a 120L, that fits without any problem in the overhead racks you will find on single deck trains.
- Because they are not entirely solid you can usually squeeze them in somewhere.

For example this is something like what I have:
(I have a previous model from that brand, and it has stood up fine. Going on 20 years now).

My wife got one of those when she went to India:
But hers is in Yellow. I borrow it sometimes. Having conspicuous luggage is an advantage.

Posted by
4171 posts

For me the best is a 2-wheeled roller bag that weighs 5 pounds or less empty. All my bags fit that basic description. I can pack one like that with all I need for a trip of any length in any season. Many folks swear by backpacks, but even though I pack light, I found the one I had bulky and cumbersome to put on, take off and wear. If you explore the Packing forum, you'll find lots of pros and cons for backpacks and roller bags. I've found roller bags much easier to manage than a backpack and if you get a good, lightweight one you can always pick it up by the handle on the side (not the expansion one for rolling on the top) and carry it that way if needed.

My trips tend to be 4+ weeks. I've been traveling solo since 2016, so I must be able to manage my "big" bag on my own. I do carry-on almost exclusively and limit to 20 pounds fully packed. I prefer the Eagle Creek and Osprey brands, but there are several others that are equally lightweight and work well.

Both of my Eagle Creeks are expandable, but I've used that feature only once on a flight home from the UK in 2016 because expanding made the bag too big to carry on. The EC bag I used on that trip is US "standard" size, 22x14x9 with a U-shaped handle and a capacity of about 45L when not expanded. It's so old that I'm not sure of the capacity expanded. My other EC bag is called "International" and is 21x14x8 -- about 36L without expansion, or 21x14x9.5 -- about 39L with expansion and has a T-shaped handle. I've never expanded that one. I will say that an advantage of an expandable bag is that you can pack it expanded, then zip up the expansion for a tighter fit.

Neither of my Ospreys is expandable. Both have T-shaped handles. One is 22x14x9 with a capacity of 42L. The other is called "Global." It's 20x16x8 with a capacity of 38L. Notice the difference in shape. On my last trip I chose what I wanted to pack for 5 weeks in both Irelands and Wales. Then I tried all 4 bags in turn to see which worked the best for my compression cubes and other things I wanted to go in my main bag. The shape of the Osprey global bag was the best for packing and that's what I took on my trip.

Fortunately, I was flying British Airways and the size was well within their guidelines. If you plan to carry on, much depends on the airline's rules. Note that all the measurements I've given are in inches and include wheels and handles. Typically those are rounded up from the cm ones. That means that the bags are actually a bit smaller than the inches listed.

With only a 2-week trip, your temptation will be to try to pack so much that you don't have to wash clothes along the way. Resist it. The lodgings you're planning to use should all have laundry facilities in them or close by. Some might even do laundry for you. And of course you can do a bit of sink washing if needed. Contrary to some folks who think doing laundry in a self-service laundromat is a waste of precious tourist time, some of my most enjoyable cultural experiences have been doing laundry. ;-)

Posted by
59 posts

My wife and I have used two medium sized backpacks (like LL Bean) for checked luggage, with mostly inexpensive clothing inside. And we each have a small backpack we carry on. I can wear the bigger backpack and carry the smaller one a long ways, if needed.

Posted by
494 posts

If you all are fit and able to carry your luggage, an Osprey or similar brand hiking backpack + attachable daypack would work for you to be more mobile in the public transportation and walking through towns. We are there for 3 months so we have to do that + roller suitcases because we’re living there with 3 months of stuff, but if I were there for 2 weeks 100% I’d carry all on my back. Use packing cubes to organize/consolidate within.

A version of this is what we use - the front smaller backpack zips off to be used as your daypack or personal item: