Please sign in to post.

On RS Tours do you see more backpacks or rolling main bags?

I am going on the Scandinavian Tour in June. This will be my first RS tour. I am trying to decide between the RS rolling carry on and the Convertible Backpack. I own both.

For folks who have been on RS Tours, do you see more people taking rolling luggage or backpacks?

Posted by
9815 posts

I've taken one tour. Only one person, the youngest on the tour, had a non-wheeled bag.

Posted by
61 posts

On my 2 RS tours, people universally used rollers.

Posted by
3480 posts

Took two tours last year and almost everyone used a roller bag.

Posted by
3465 posts

Over the past 11 years on the many RS tours I have taken, the shift has been toward bags with wheels. Never have been many with backpacks exclusively. A large number still have bags without wheels, including me. The wheels do have problems in many places in Europe like small old towns with cobblestone streets or Venice with the multitude of bridge crossings where the bridges have steps up and down.

Take the one that works for you.

Posted by
5980 posts

Three tours. Rolling bags dominated: hear the rumble as we head for the bus! But then, most people don't own both. You know the advantages/disadvantages of each.

Posted by
1616 posts

Hi dclayer, I've done 7 RS tours and I use a 21" RS rolling carry on. When the bags are lined up next to the bus, it looks like most people have rolling suitcases, mostly 21", a few 24". Maybe 3 out of 26 people use backpacks. It's really a matter of choice. If you prefer a backpack, use it! Have fun on your first RS tour!

Posted by
63 posts

In terms of electronics, what tends to work well? I was thinking of an iPad and a small camera that will fit in my day bag.

Posted by
217 posts

On the tours I've taken, roller bags have been the majority, but I think that might have a lot to do with the general age demographic. I have a backpack and greatly prefer it because I don't have to worry about cobblestones, steps, etc., plus I can have both hands free. You mentioned a day bag; what kind of bag is it? If it's also a backpack, you probably want to go with the roller bag, because there will be days when you have to carry both. Sure you can carry the smaller bag in front on your chest, but that has always struck me as very uncomfortable.

Caroline

Posted by
1068 posts

Rolling bags predominate on all of the tours I have taken both those by RS and other tour companies. My personal preference is also for a roller.

Posted by
4603 posts

Most people have roller bags, but on the last RS tour we took there were at least 6 of us, including my DH and I, who used backpacks. We find backpacks easy to carry, easier to handle on cobblestones and stairs, and much less noisy.

On narrow walkways you'll spend a lot of time dodging the ankle-bangers folks are dragging behind them. But I will say that those of us who use backpacks also need to remember that we're taking up more room than we think, as well.

BTW, I don't think there was an age correlation. The oldest person on the tour (80-something female) carried a backpack. I think the age range of the rest of us was mid-50s to 70.

Posted by
63 posts

Caroline:

You're right. I would not carry two backpacks. If I go the backpack route I will take a Civita and just put it in the convertable and just use the Civita on the bus.

Posted by
333 posts

On my tour most people had both. They used the roller bags for most of their things and a small backpack for daily use and extras. I'll take both for my next tour (as my carry on has a detachable daypack/backpack).
Lisa

Posted by
654 posts

I prefer a roller bag, a regular back pack, with a Civita thrown in to my roller bag.

If I didn't take my larger camera, I could probably do without the regular backpack.

Posted by
2525 posts

"For folks who have been on RS Tours, do you see more people taking rolling luggage or backpacks?" I don't care what others use (whether on a tour or not) unless a better bag has been developed. For years and now, I am happy with a RS's Convertible Carry-On.

Posted by
11450 posts

One Rs tour " Family Tour" so ages seemed to range between 8-55( so not all old people at all!!) .

All had roller bags .

Posted by
489 posts

My husband had the convert BP and I had the Roller on our first RS tour. The roller can easily be packed too heavy and that can be more than you need when hauling it up stairs (if your hotel has a lift at all, the chances are it is extremely small).
The second bag you take may determine what your main bag will be.

Look at the number of hills you may have to maneuver your bags and how you are getting to the start and leaving the tour or if you are extending and where that would be..
You'll get the details of the hotels you will be staying in closer to the tour and then tripadvisor them and see what that will entail to get in and out, otherwise your luggage is in the bus hold.

Posted by
63 posts

Thanks for all the helpful responses. I am learning to be a "one bag" traveler. Since I have both the RS Convertible Backpack and the RS 21" Roller I think for my next trip (which I hope will come before my RS Scandinavia Tour is to pack and try the RS Convertible Backpack and see how much it weighs packed and more importantly how it feels when I carry it. My preference is to use the backpack. I have taken short trips with the roller bag. It's fine but it's pretty heavy even empty. Empty the RS Convertible Backpack is light.

My achilles heel is electronics. If I limit myself to an iPad mini and a small camera the RS Convertible Backpack and a daypack should work fine I think. When I travel with a laptop and a serious camera my kit gets much heavier. I am pretty good at this point keeping my clothing to reasonable levels. I am not accustomed to washing in the hotel room and I have fast drying clothing.

I really appreciate all the feedback.

Posted by
308 posts

On the two RS tours I've been on, my husband and I were the only ones with backpacks as our main bags. I carry a small messenger bag as my day bag.

I would take whichever bag you are more comfortable with since you have both.

Posted by
5654 posts

Rather than what others are carrying, consider what fits your needs and just do it. Rick Steves notes that each option has its advantages and disadvantages:

Rick Steves: Tips for Choosing the Best Travel Bag

By Rick Steves

A fundamental packing question is your choice of luggage.

  • a carry-on-size soft backpack, an internal-frame backpack,
  • a carry-on-size soft-sided bag with wheels,
  • a carry-on-size hard-sided bag with wheels, or
  • a carry-on-size rolling backpack.

Each of these options has its advantages and drawbacks. Before you
decide, consider these factors:

External dimensions: Is it small enough to work as a carry-on? (If
not, are you willing to put up with the likely delays and extra fees
that come with checking your bag?)

Weight: The lighter the better (even rolling bags need to be carried
from time to time)

Comfort/Ease of carrying/Mobility: Consider not just airport terminals
but uneven surfaces (cobblestones, gravel) and stairs, and the
advantages of carrying your bag while still having both hands free…as
well as how easily you can carry 20–25 lbs on your back

Efficiency of space: Look for the most (usable) capacity within the
external dimensions

Expandability: A nice option, especially for the trip home

Quality of materials: Go with a well-established and/or well-reviewed
brand

Cost: Worth considering, but not at the expense of decent quality

Frankly, no one bag is ideal all the time for every traveler. When
weighing your choice of bags, think about which of the...factors
matter most to you. Go with the bag that meets your most important
needs, and make sure its downsides are ones you can live with.

Posted by
63 posts

Thank you Edgar. I guess I have been looking for the perfect bag, which does not exist :).

Posted by
2788 posts

I have taken 14 RS tours and have found that a vast majority of the tour members have 2 wheel roller bags as do I.

Posted by
290 posts

On our first RS tour, I had a rolling backpack and my husband took the RS backpack. After 2 trips, my husband switched to the RS rolling bag. I am still using my rolling backpack as a roller. I have never used it as a backpack. The reason my husband switched was that it is difficult taking the backpack on and off. A lot of time he would scrape his arm with the straps going on and off. His bag got heavier as the trip progressed and it would be harder to swing it up on his back without scraping his arms. He did like the ability to have his hands free with the backpack, but he now prefers the roller bag. My bag is smaller than his, which is good for me. It keeps me from overpacking.

Posted by
14329 posts

You will generally have less need to carry/roll your luggage on a tour than with independent travel since the bus takes you more or less door-to-door. There are some stops on some tours that require a hike from the bus, but in most (all?) cases, you'll know that in advance and be able to pack a lighter bag for the 1-2 nights there.

If you are happy with the limitations of a small camera that's fine. However, if you are an avid picture-taker (I hesitate to write photographer since that sounds like a professional) you may miss having the versatility/range of a good camera. Remember, you are investing a great deal of money and effort in this trip and the biggest, best souvenir you'll take home with you is your photos.

Posted by
524 posts

I have always carried a roller bag, be it small duffel bag(19 in) or a carry on. I have even used a spinner. All are light enough for me to pick up and carry up stairs.

You asked about Ipad. I take my Ipad mini, it fits in my day bag and isn't to heavy. I take along my Sony camera, point and shoot. Some people now only take their smartphones for photos. I have not switched, yet.

Posted by
75 posts

We took a RS tour in June 14. It seemed like most people had a 20-24 inch rolling suitcase - plus one other smaller bag or backpack for day-tours and hikes. We also brought an empty canvas bag for dirty clothes which we had laundered in Salzburg about half way through. Hope this helps and I'm sure you will love the tour. DC formerly of DC.

Posted by
266 posts

Luggage is always a great topic of conversation! I use wheeled luggage when traveling domestic and a backpack when traveling international. I like my hands free for documents and whatnot when in new places. It's really more of a feeling of being in control in a place where I may not speak the language or I am I am unsure of my surroundings and next steps. I don't like having to worry about keeping an eye on my bag. When it's on my back it's easy to keep track of.

As for electronics-take whatever works for you and you think you'll use. My husband takes his Canon DSLR with lenses when he travels. He uses a cross-body camera bag (Lowepro) that doubles as his daily bag. It fits nicely by his hip even when he has his travel backpack on. He carries his camera, lenses, iPad, and folded (wadded) up jacket. He only fills it fully on travel days. On sightseeing days he leaves some stuff out, to lighten the load.

Posted by
31294 posts

I use a Backpack but on the eight tours I've taken, the vast majority of tour members have used wheelie bags.

Posted by
16 posts

Did two weeks in Switzerland . The BP was very comfortable . BP had lots of pockets, which made organization easy.
BP did not have frames, so were very easy to toss onto train luggage racks. We are both mid 60s and not in "excellent " shape but had no problems . We loved the freedom of two hands and a lite weight on back .

Posted by
68 posts

I can echo Ken's comment. I think I was the only one with a backpack on my last tour. I like that I am hands free with a backpack when I need to hoof it from airport to train station to city center, but I also see the attraction of the wheelie bag and occasionally use that instead depending on my plans for a particular trip.

Posted by
63 posts

Thanks for the helpful responses. For the three recent backpackers, I would love to know what your backpack weighed.

Posted by
878 posts

I am a 51 year old female and am planning on taking a no more than 18 pound Osprey backpack on my RS Scandinavian tour. And a cross body purse. 18 pounds because that is the limit for my Bergen to Copenhagen flight for carry on. I am also taking a don't tell Rick bag in case I need extra on the way back. I too am interested to know how much your backpacks weighed packed.

Posted by
308 posts

My backpack + personal item (messenger bag) weighed a little less than 26 pounds. We flew on KLM within Europe and their baggage limit for both items in coach is 26 pounds so I weighed my bags before leaving. Of course, at no time did anyone weigh my carry-on bags!

At one point on my last RS tour (Best of Scandinavia), a fellow tour member asked my husband and I where the rest of our luggage was. It was satisfying to answer that we didn't have any more luggage!

Posted by
1068 posts

Although I use a roller, it is gratifying to be asked where the rest of your luggage is..... or..... someone says, Wow, you pack really light.

Posted by
4603 posts

Last year my backpack, for 3+ weeks in England, weighed about 14 pounds. I didn't weigh my "personal item," but I'm guessing about 5 pounds. DH carries the guidebook(s), and we don't take electronics.

Edit: Actually, the more I think about it, the more I remember that on the trip over to Europe, my pack weighed about 11 lbs. On the way back it was heavier, because DH carried the gifts, so I took some of his clothes and other items.

Posted by
129 posts

I loved RS backpack and used it for 3 weeks in 2015 - I also purchased one of his day bags and got by just great. Most people had rolling luggage, but at 54 I wanted the "backpack" experience before arthritis sets in! It was wonderful. I carried about 14 - 16 lbs. Also carried a small laptop, camera and cords. Will try to go lighter on next trip. Have fun!

Posted by
31294 posts

I can't remember what the weight of my Backpack was. My Backpack has a detachable Daypack, and the two packs together are probably about 40 lbs. While that's not exactly "packing light", I follow the philosophy that if I packed it, I'll carry it. I don't expect any help. I'm still working on my packing methods, so hopefully I'll get the weight down eventually.

Posted by
101 posts

I have used both the convertible backpack and a rolling suitcase. For me, the backpack was a total mistake. What was comfortable to begin with, got heavier as the tour wore on. A rolling suitcase is easier to pack and unpack and is kept under the bus during tours. The only disadvantage of a rolling suitcase is if you do any train traveling or metro riding. Hauling a rolling suitcase up and down stairwells is NOT fun or comfortable.
In any case, you need a small bag to keep with you on a bus tour. A money belt is always the safest way to keep money and your passport.