We've booked our first Rick Steves' tour (have traveled in Europe before). My husband has size 14 shoes, so a small carry-on is half taken up with an extra pair of shoes for him. How picky are the tour people about a smallish checked suitcase? If we have a checked bag that is 24x17x12 is that OK?
After nine RS Tours my experience has been that no one cares how large your bag(s) are as long as you are able to handle it yourself. At the end of the tour you WILL be thinking "we need to pack less next time"!
Thanks, that's just what I wanted to know. We do pack light, but his shoes are HUGE!
Another tour veteran.
As long as you can handle your luggage yourself, you will be fine.
As far as the tours go, your luggage is your own problem (or, more to the point, it's your concern, not theirs, as you will be the one wrestling with it).
Bags on your flights are a whole separate issue, which is worth paying attention to.
My experience is as the others and will add that if you are on a tour with a bus component, it will be a full-sized bus for 50+ people with just the 24-28 of the tour on it. The luggage bays are huge so there is plenty of room for bigger luggage - it's just what you can handle yourself to/from the various hotels. As long as you can pull or carry the 24-incher a half a mile or so you'll be fine.
Often the driver will have a big cardboard box for "deep storage" things that people purchase along the way and don't want to bring in to the hotel for overnights. They will also let you leave a suitcase on there if, for instance, you are heading in for a couple of nights in Venice and just want to take in a small overnight bag which is easier to handle on/off the vaporettos and over the bridges.
One driver had half of one of the 2 luggage bays set up as a closet for himself, lol. Gosh, he was a sharp dresser and had his ironed shirts hanging up, along with a bike and who knows what else, lol! Probably an ironing board, too...hahaha.
So, don't keep us in suspense. What tour have you signed up for?
Then don't take an extra pair of shoes. I know the problem. I am a 13 to 13.5 - 48 European - and I only take one pair. However, I take a second pair of insoles and change each day. At night pull the insoles out so that entire shoe and insole can dry. In the morning the second insole goes in and the insole from the previous to air out. Never had a problem.
I bring a pair of Birkenstock sandals (the open-toed "Arizona" model that flattens when packed), very light and compact for the bag, and OK for wearing around the hotel or nearby. Not great in cold weather or rain though. If your husband can find something like that in his size it would be lighter and less bulky than regular shoes. Birkenstocks take getting used to, but there might be others like them.
A good strategy for packing light is to have a pair of stout and well-loved walking shoes and another pair for lounging and light duty. Many ultralight shoes are available in large sizes: Lems, Allbirds, Altra, Hoka, Sketchers, &c. Some of these will roll up or squish into compact bundles.
You can easily buy a second pair of shoes when you arrive in country and then ship them home in your checked luggage. If you have one or two brands you prefer, just search for shops before you leave home. Be sure you know the Euro size. You will have plenty of time to walk or taxi to a shoe store on the first day or two.
For myself, I would HATE to spend my vacation time shoe shopping and then wearing brand new shoes around!!!!
I think you have gotten good advice here — the RS Tour people aren’t trying to keep you from checking a bag — they are seeking to ensure that you can handle what you bring.
Thanks everyone, we're going to Portugal at the end of October so sandals are not an option, and he does have fabric shoes that are light. I was mostly wondering if the RS people policed suitcase size if we bring one check in. He's well able to hoist a 24" suitcase.