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Alpine My Way Packing Help

Hello Forum! I’m about to sign up for the September Alpine My Way Tour, but having serious reservations because of the carryon only mandate. 2 weeks in Europe in different elements and the need for layers, oh and by the way, a woman, seems impossible to pack a carryon. Help! What did you need? How much of what did you bring? Much appreciated!!!

Posted by
6570 posts

Rick Steves has a sample packing list on this website based on his and his family's travel through the years. It fits in a carryon rolling bag, and it works for most people with a few small adjustments.
If my wife can travel indefinitely on this packing list, so can anyone. Her secret is to use just a couple of contrasting colors and mix and match tops. She also carries an oversize purse with her medications and some toiletries.

Posted by
2753 posts

You can do this! I suggest you read the Vivienne Files and Sarah Murdock. Think layers. Don't think outfits, but rather everything matching everything. Use hotel laundry services, which are likely to appear halfway into your tour. Otherwise, do a little hand washing. Use your personal item for packing as well. I will let some women who've been on that particular tour chime in with their details.

Posted by
4652 posts

We haven't been on that tour, but we did do London in February, so ... layers! We love our Land's End silk long underwear. Very light, squeezes down to nothing, but is wonderfully warm.

My usual packing list includes (counting what I wear on the plane) 3 pair of slacks; 4 or 5 tops - a mix of long and short sleeves, varying with the weather; a very light cotton jacket - more of a shrug, really, but with pockets; undies, including the aforementioned silk longies if we're expecting cold weather; socks; 2 pair of shoes; a heavy cardigan; a windbreaker sprayed with waterproofing; and a hat. Sometimes I pack a skirt. All the pants are neutral colors; all the tops go with the pants.

Then minimal toiletries, supplements, paperwork. This past year I also brought a tablet; that's the first time we traveled with electronics, although my DH usually carries a small camera.

I use an Appenzell backpack - 23 liters, if I recall; as well as a small shoulder bag as my "personal item." I also stuff a smaller cross-body bag and a tiny purse in there somewhere. The whole shebang weighs about 20 pounds or less. That's for both bags, the backpack and the personal item.

Posted by
678 posts

Also see herpackinglist.com (on hiatus for several months but valid information)

There is no "carryon-only mandate" that I know of, this is a only very good recommendation: one 40 liter bag and a personal item. the reasons to go carryon-only are many and this discussion usually stirs up a fight around here so just take a few hours and review the Packing sub-forum and follow some fo the links you will get here.

Packing light and lean is not difficult but, if you have been traveling for several years with two or more large bags, it is a difficult concept. All I can tell you is that many folks have adapted their habits and not many have regretted the change in packing systems and clothing needs.

You can do it. But you do not really NEED to. You can take two large bags if you want to. You simply need to understand you are likely to be fully responsible for your luggage at all times. No one is going to schlepp it for you at the little hotels and BnBs you will be using.

Posted by
14409 posts

I took this tour 4 years ago with a 25" suitcase (no, it wasn't full). Don't stress about it, just take whatever suitcase works for you. You will have to wheel your suitcase for a couple blocks in most locations and maybe lift it up 1 or 2 flights of stairs. Your guide can tell you in advance where there may be a long walk or a lot of stairs, and you can then leave the suitcase on the bus and pack a small bag for those days/nights. The only place I remember a long walk was in Hallstatt, but that's no longer on the tour. The only place I remember more than one flight of stairs was Lauterbrunnen. I had a bunch of stuff for my post-tour itinerary that I packed separately and left on the bus for the whole tour.

I took warm gloves, warm hat, scarf, hiking shoes, thick wool socks (worn over regular socks - warm and lots of cushioning), thermal tops and bottoms for the all outdoor days. You'll need good UV protection sunglasses for the high altitudes and good sunscreen too. Hiking poles are a good idea. I wish I'd had them in the Dolomites. Rain poncho or similar - sudden afternoon showers in the mountains are not unusual. A backpack for the hiking days.

Posted by
927 posts

Hi. I have taken this tour and think Chani gives good advice. I was looking for the carryon only mandate language and found this in the tour description under physical demands:

Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel, then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.

The size of luggage is not, as far as I can determine, mandated. You just have to be able to deal with it. On the plane over, you can do as you choose. Depending on my connections, I check my luggage so I do not have to lug it with me in an airport for hours. I travel with a 21" wheelie. I just completed the MSV tour and had two coats, one of which I did not wear. I did not wear other items, as well. The suitcase weighed in at 17 pounds and that includes the 5 pounds of the case itself.

On the My Way I took (July), a fellow traveller did indeed leave her suitcase on the bus for the duration of the trip. On the MSV tour, in Hallstatt, we were assured that bags left on the bus would be safe and secure overnight. By that point of the tour, many of us had accumulated extra totes full of gifts.

I am a fan of 32 degrees outwear or similar lightweight pack-able pufferwear. I like Eileen Fisher pants which wash and wear well. I wear them daily for work and for travel. I really think you can get by with layers: T-s, a light fleece/sweater, a puffer vest or jacket, and a rain jacket. Yes, scarf and gloves are nice to have - consider buying some along the way as a gift to yourself. In case you have not been before, Salzburg is a pricey but fun place to shop. Shoes: I recall I took two pair of hiking sandals, one from Keen and one from Merrell.

Don't worry about packing. Read and watch the links offered. This was one of my favorite tours. I will probably repeat it. You can do this!

Posted by
6065 posts

I think there is a more direct statement regarding carryon luggage in the agreement that you sign later in the registration process. You cant get to it unless you're signing up, so maybe someone that is signing up for a tour can verify.

Posted by
89 posts

Great advice on packing light from the above posters. There is no mandate for carry on only, Use what you are comfortable with and can handle yourself. No valets on RS tours. My husband and I have been on 4 RS tours and have used slightly larger than "carry on" rolling suitcases. We manage them ourselves with no problems. On every tour we have been on, most people use carry on bags, but there are always a few people (including us) with a slightly larger bag. Nobody cares. Nobody says anything. We don't overfill them, but we do like some extra space for items we might purchase. Yes, we check our bags with the airlines, and we're okay with that. As long as you can handle the bag with its weight, you're fine. I have found that I am packing lighter and lighter on each trip. I just haven't made it to the carry on stage yet. Maybe someday. Keep in mind if you don't pack something, and need it, you can always purchase it on the trip. Makes a good souvenir.

You can store whatever you want under the bus. Many people do this with all kinds of things... extra tote bags, luggage, you name it. No problem and it is safe.

Do what works for you and have a great trip.

Posted by
567 posts

We did this tour in September a few years ago. It was very warm at the start in Salzburg, and very cold at Aguille du Midi, as it snowed at the top the day before we arrived. And layers was the key. We had light weight rain jackets, and wore layers underneath. But I do not recall having any heavy layer--my sister wore her thin long underwear a lot. A hat over the ears was key too. It was a fabulous trip! Remember, you can buy something along the way if necessary.

Posted by
927 posts

From the tour conditions agreement - similar wording to that in the tour description:

Carry or roll your own luggage for up to 15 minutes over uneven pavement from the bus to the hotel (not applicable on 7-day city tours), then haul it up as many as five flights of stairs to reach your room.

A call to the tour department can always help if you feel you do not have all the info. You have lots of time to figure out the wardrobe specifics and can read and learn so much in the meantime to help you. I may have missed it in subsequent comments, but which specific dates are you targeting? The beginning of September may be a bit different from the very last week.

Go into the alumni scrapbooks to check out what folks wore. That can be helpful.

Posted by
8413 posts

I've not done this trip either BUT I so agree that there is no mandate on just using carry on. As indicated, you do have to manage your luggage yourself. On the Germany, Austria and Switzerland tour which stays in Muerren you have to manage your luggage onto the first gondola from where the bus parks in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, then transfer to another gondola to get to Muerren. There were some uphill pulls from the gondola station to the hotel in that town. I suspect it is similar with the Switzerland tour.

Now, as to packing into a carry-on, you can do it if you decide you want to. This is not for everyone, so you'll have to make decisions based on what's best for you. I pack in a 21 or 22" rollaboard. I usually check it over and back just because I don't want to have to lift it overhead but I could if I had to. Some of the best advice I got on this forum was to pack on paper first. Yes, write out a packing list. I've got mine on EXCEL. Here is a link to a TR from a trip to Paris, Belgium and Holland in March and April. This is exactly what I would have taken to Switzerland in September.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/trip-report-rs-belgium-holland-4-6-4-16-2019-plus-time-in-paris

I actually found it chillier in March in Paris than I did in September in Switzerland but of course weather differs in different years. I might also be more cold tolerant than you are. Your profile doesn't reveal where you are from so you might need another base layer. In any event, a selection of short and long sleeve tees, 3 pair of bottoms, a longsleeve pullover or sweater, a base layer, a puffy vest (or jacket if you are very cold natured) and a waterproof jacket would work for Switzerland in September. You'd probably want glove liners (I like Smartwool liners but they are expensive and you could get by with cheaper ones if you don't live where you need these daily in winter) and a hat or headband. I'd go with 2 pairs of shoes - wear one, pack one. You likely won't need boots but can probably manage with some kind of trail shoe. That's what I wear for regular touring in Europe anyway.

Someone upthread mentioned Vivienne Files - which I love. She has wonderful color ideas for capsule wardrobes. Some of her suggestions are too dressy for my retired lifestyle in rural Idaho and they are WAY too expensive. She does use Lands End and LLBean for basics and you can find less expensive versions of many of the things she suggests. You'll want every shirt to match every pair of pants to match every topper. 5 shirts X 3 pr of pants = 15 outfits.

Have a fun time working on your packing plan!

Posted by
14409 posts

To echo what Debbie said, look at the scrapbooks from tour alums, I found a ton of useful info and advice before my tour. One even had a link to the author who was kind enough to answer a lot of my questions.

As for outfits - one of the women on my tour only wore black. No one ever knew (or cared) how many tops and pants she had. She was backpacking so my guess is she had a minimum and did a lot of hand laundry. She always looked great.