Please sign in to post.

Luggage Limitations

Does the 1 carry-on size piece of luggage for the tours provide enough room, especially for women? Do you need to carry/pull your luggage very often? or is it just when you are changing hotels?

Posted by
22611 posts

My wife gets by very well with one carry on at about 18lbs.

Posted by
558 posts


It can be hard to do, but it's worth it to get all your stuff into one bag (plus a purse/day again). I've done it on four tours so far! And each time, I've been happy to only have a little bit to carry.

Are you looking at a particular tour right now? Different tours may have different amounts of luggage-carrying. For instance, on some stops in the Cinque Terre on some Italy tours, after walking 3-5 minutes, you may need to climb about 55 stairs to get to the main entrance of the hotel, plus getting to your room. :) On city tours, you only have to carry it to the hotel and back to the airport. If you are looking at a few different tours and we can try to help you with more specifics. :)

Posted by
1038 posts

Yes, you can live for a month out of a carry on that is 21 x 14 x 9 inches. I'm going to Ireland in May for 2 wks and I will only take my Patagonia MLC wheelie with me and I will have everything I need. If you enjoy traveling light and like to spend most of your time seeing Europe then this is the way to travel, if you like sleeping till 10:00 am and spending most of your time in a Ritz Carlton while in Paris then it doesn't matter. I would recommend you try it one time, I was a doubter till my first trip, now I would not travel any other way!

Posted by
337 posts

I have used one carry-on for RS tours (plus my purse and empty daypack), and also for a 7-week tour of Europe. Did I miss the extras? -- curling iron; second pair of shoes; more clothes? Kinda, but weighed against the simplicity and ease of carrying just ONE bag? It was no contest. The people you meet on your travels will never know that you've worn the same shirt 12 times. :)

Posted by
7761 posts

rsa look at the link on this page that says Travel Tips, and then follow the one that says Packing Light. If you can't do it, no one will throw you off the bus - take what you need. But you need to know that you are expected to load and unload your luggage, carry it up three flights up to your room, and back down again. Your fellow travelers don't always feel obligated to help and don't like to wait when the bus is getting ready to go. One carryon is recommended, but people do bring more or larger, and most people accumulate at least a bag of souvenirs.

Posted by
2 posts

We are looking at the 10 day Venice Tour in the summer. What kind of additional bag do you who have done this tour find helpful? A daypack type of backpack or something else?

Posted by
11919 posts

I am wondering if you mean the 10 day Venice, Florence, Rome tour? You would have to manage your bags on each change...from the airport to the hotel in Venice, back from the hotel probably to where you will meet the coach for the ride to Florence, in to and out of that hotel, and in to the hotel in Rome then to the airport to get back home.

I did 8 weeks last Fall with one bag (Rick's 22 inch carry on) and actually wound up with too much stuff. It is a matter of working a wardrobe so everything goes with everything else and limiting the number of things you take. I am a sink washer (actually I take a 2 gal ziplock bag to wash in) altho many here scoff at the idea that you can actually get clothes clean in a hand wash it works for me.

There are a number of websites that can show you some ideas. Several of us on this forum enjoy She has some wonderful ideas for capsule wardrobes altho her clothing choices do not match my lifestyle or pocketbook. I can take her ideas and work them with clothing that suits me from Land's End or LLBean! I love her ideas for capsule wardrobe colors based on paintings and other things. Really fun to look at!

Posted by
782 posts

I have been on 4 RS tours. I start out with the max carryon, one rollaboard and a small tote that fits under the seat. My rolling bag expands, which works for me as I check it when returning home and have another small bag, a very light backpack, similar to the RS backpack with my under the seat bag. I like to have a small day bag for my raincoat, tourbook, etc. That works for me. I can haul my own bags up stairs and roll/carry them to the bus. Some hotels will have elevators.

You cart the bags only when you change hotels/towns.

Hope that helps.

Posted by
2788 posts

My wife and I have taken 12 RS tours, one each year, while spending about a month in Europe. Both my wife and I have managed just fine each taking one RS roller-bag carry on. We take limited clothing and do sink laundry every third day as necessary. If you think you might need something, you can always buy it in Europe if it becomes absolutely necessary. We have only had to move our suitcases when changing hotels/ B&Bs. Be sure to check out RS Packing Light information elsewhere on this web site.

Posted by
1878 posts

I am still working up to traveling with a bag that small myself, and I am a guy. Normally I travel with a 25" bag which has about 80 liters of capacity. A 22" in the same line has a little more than half that capacity. I have never been on a Rick Steves tour, but I always travel with his books as my guide. The thing that makes me want to move to a smaller bag is the fact that rental car trunks have gotten smaller over the years. It really depends upon the individual, for me I am very fastidious about mouthwash and fluoride rinse (which I don't want to buy overseas where I cannot read the labels), plus my electric toothbrush. Plus I would have to spend a week figuring out what to put into such a small bag. A good middle ground might be to take a carry on sized bag and check it, giving you room for a real carry on in addition.

Posted by
170 posts

RS tours suggest using one bag as you have to carry it. On our first tour there were all types and sizes of bags. One lady had a huge suitcase because she bought souvenirs, only a few of us had one bag. We use the RS convertible bag and a day bag. Even our tour guide couldn't believe that was all we carried. It is very liberating to have one bag. We had to walk 1/2 mile to our bus from the hotel in Praque. We also like to carry this bag on and not have to check it due to getting lost or delayed. You will do a lot of walking with your bags as the hotels are centrally located. Always better to pack light as you do not know how close the bus or train gets you to your hotel.

Posted by
1068 posts

I have taken 5 RS tours and several from other companies without the luggage restriction. One difference is that RS tours require you to move your own luggage so ask yourself how comfortable are you doing that? I take a RS roller (in the past used his Classic Back Door Bag) and a bag which contains mostly electronics/cameras which fits under the seat. While I do it on occasion, I am not much of a sink washer. As a result, I take some extra clothes and get them done at a hotel once a week or so. I've had no trouble packing for a month or more abroad. If I didn't take some extra camera gear, I'd only need the RS roller. (I do think a separate carry on is a good idea though--some of the smaller planes will gate check your bags and it is usually not good for electronics to be depressurized etc.) Some additional tips on packing light can be found here (a website recommended by RS in the past.) Once people get used to packing light, most people like it.

Posted by
1107 posts


We are looking at the 10 day Venice Tour in the summer. What kind of additional bag do you who have done this tour find helpful? A daypack type of backpack or something else?

I have taken this tour twice. Once, we stayed in a hotel with an elevator which was fairly easy to navigate - near the Zattere. The second time the hotel was near Rialto and up a few flights with no elevator. I travel with one carry-one and one tote. Within those pieces, I usually tuck a small pocketbook. Over the years, I have really refined and slimmed down the extras that I carry. Of course, back in the day, we did not have the electronics available today, so it was natural to carry the tour book, camera, etc.

In Venice especially, the bulkier or more backpack like your tote is, the greater chance you will be asked to check it when entering museums or St. Marks. So, while you may wish to have a backpack or day pack, keep in mind that a more minimalist alternative may be preferable on some days. Think also of having to accommodate those bags when the entire group eats together. The under-the-table space can get kind of crowded.

Of course, Venice is bound to be challenging to wheelies, although with planning, I was easily able to reach the two hotels I stayed in without too much bother. Both times I arrived via vaporetto, and it worked out. One time, the tour guide needed to shift the entire group to the bus loading area, and we could not all make the same vaporetto. It was a bit of a scramble. We certainly all ended up at the right spot together in the end, but the less luggage you have to manage, the better.

Over the course of a tour, on bus days, I find that my tote becomes the bearer of bottles of wine and water, as well as snacks, the extra pair of shoes I think I might need during the day, in case of rain, etc. These times also call for a smaller alternative for when we hop off the bus for lunch or to see a local sight. You will probably have one of these between Florence and Rome. At the end of the tour, with most wine and water and snacks consumed, the tote often becomes the repository of souvenirs and whatever else I need on the plane.

This is a fabulous tour. Enjoy.

Debbie in Narberth

Posted by
16890 posts

I have traveled for months with a carry-on sized bag. It can hold more than you need and/or more than you can carry. I might only bring one sweater, but to reduce sink washing or Laundromat visits, one thing I don't skimp on is underpants.

Posted by
5707 posts

My husband and I each carry one medium-sized backpack, and one "personal item." For me it's a small travel bag with handy pockets; for him it's a laptop case - sans laptop. And each of us packs an empty daybag in his or her larger bag. Every year we realize we could have packed less. The trip we just returned home from was four weeks, and I packed several items I never even wore (weather issues.) The post above that suggested you check out the Travelling Light thread was right. You'll be surprised at how little you really need, and you'll be glad when you are crossing yet another bridge in Venice or climbing another four flights of stairs to your hotel room. Have a great trip!

Posted by
112 posts

Quick question, how many stairs is a flight of stairs? Is a flight 8, 10 or 12 feet high?

Posted by
3878 posts

Stair dimensions and the number of them before you reach a landing will vary by the building.

Typical risers are about 6" high and typical treads are about 10" deep. Those measurements will be similar in Europe only in centimeters instead of inches.

So if the ceilings are 10' high and allowing 2' for floor and ceiling structure, you could have 24 steps from one floor to the next, maybe with a landing in the middle or at a turn or maybe not.

With older buildings anywhere, and with Holland, there is no typical. The treads can be narrower and the risers taller. There may be no landings at all, only curved stairs where they turn or sometimes a straight, long run of stairs.

We have experienced all the permutations you can imagine. The apartment where I lived in Nuremberg had 99 steps up to it, according to my mother who counted them. I was on the 4th European floor.

Apartments we have rented or hotels where we have stayed that had no elevators were similar. We were on upper floors with lots of stairs to climb.

It's not uncommon for there to be more stairs from the ground floor to the 1st floor than between the upper floors.

And don't forget the stairs outside the building that you might have to go up to get to it. The dimensions, number of flights and number of stairs are even more varied.

Posted by
80 posts

I traveled for 6 months using only a carry on size bag and a small day pack. It is easily doable, just make sure everything is complementary so you can mix and match. I was with an RS tour for part of that time, and more than one person asked how I always had a new outfit when I had such a small bag but with about 5 tops and 3 bottoms, you have 15 outfits. Add a sweater and a scarf and you will be even more fashionable. Some of the ladies who had more clothes ended up wearing repeats anyway, because they liked two or three things better. And don't forget, you will probably want to buy a little something in Italy! Needing another shirt is a great excuse to acquire some Italian fashion.

I also recommend on planning to carry your bag a LOT so if you don't have to, then you will be pleasantly surprised, which is much better than being dismayed by how heavy your gosh darn, stupid, grumble grumble bag is.

Posted by
384 posts

Personally, I think we men have a harder time traveling with one light weight bag. As a rule (obviously there are exceptions) we have bigger and heavier shoes, clothing, etc. And if one needs a warm jacket, that can really take up space!

Take the warning about carrying your bag up five flights of stairs seriously. Nothing is more annoying to the guides and the other tour members than somebody complaining about having to carry their own bag up the stairs, while loudly telling everybody that "I called RS and they said every hotel had an elevator." (Well, actually, waiting for somebody who stopped to shop is more annoying.)

Sometimes the elevators are not working. Sometimes, your room - with the view the rest of us would die for - is not served by an elevator. Sometimes the elevator is no bigger than a water heater closet.

Posted by
552 posts

I guess you have answers to your questions. If it's your 1st time you'll do it. The 2nd time will be better and so on.
Pack 5-6 tops/ 2-3 bottoms /1-2 2nd layers/neck scarf/costume jewelry-silver necklace, wrist bracelet, your watch, a ring or two, a few pairs of earrings; Minimal makeup; minimal toiletries (fun to buy things wherever you are); 2 pr shoes; lingerie; socks; light underlayer or leggings; Pjs; waterproof jacket with hood/jacket with umbrella; light weight gloves; a hat; sunglasses!~~~Lay out the tops & bottoms on the bed and make up outfits; add in the accessories and you'll see how your wardrobe grows.

You carry/pull your bag any moving day out to wherever the bus is, then you do the same thing checking into the hotel. The driver lifts the bag into and out of the bus for you. I additionally use either the RS fold away tote, my Baggallini or another tote bag I have and place on top. My goal is to always have room in my 2nd bag for my every day across shoulder bag to fit into, and leave space in my luggage.

When souvenoirs and gift purchases pile up I find the post office and spend the money to mail it home. Last tour it just never happened and I lugged around more than I should have. I ended leaving it in what is called deep storage where the driver puts it until you want it out.

It's important to be able to lift your bag over head into the bin, and up and down a few flight of stairs for hotels or encountering broken escalators. It's all practice and it does get easier the more you do it. Enjoy!

Posted by
17 posts

Yes! Learn to travel light! You can always buy clothing you wish you had on the trip! I use a 22" carry-on with wheels and get by quite nicely! Wear your heaviest shoes and clothes, and I roll everything in those packing cubes (Rick Steves' or Eagle Creek). It makes it SO easy. Look up his packing list and follow it! You will be surprised at how easy you get by!

Posted by
16890 posts

Regarding Cinque Terre visits that Gretchen mentioned in her post from March, groups staying in any of the five towns will also take their luggage onto the local train from Levanto, which requires stairs in both train stations, both ways, and steps up to board each train during its brief stop in the station. Your guide may suggest "downsizing" and leaving unneeded items under the bus for these couple of nights; be sure to confirm the plan with the guide or driver. A small, collapsible bag can help you to have this flexibility.