I am going on a Rick Steves guided tour and have the appropriate carry on back pack. Should I also bring a Rick Steves' tote bag to use for purchases? Does that travel bag do well as checked baggage? Or if I check through my carry on pack, would the tot bag be small enough to carry on? Thanks
The tote bag is small enough for carry on but not sure I would want to check it since it is uses light weight material and may not hold up well for checking. On returning we tend to put the dirty clothes, etc., in a bag to be checked and carry on the purchases in our carry on bag. That way those things are not damage and make it home with us.
I'm not sure which tote you're speaking of - the Hide-away Tote goes with me on every trip, domestic and abroad. I may own several...It's very lightweight, can hold lots (more than my standard carry-on!), and can be locked if need be. It's great for those days when you're making several small purchases and need somewhere to consolidate all of those little bags. Some have used it as checked luggage, but I never would - the fabric is too thin for the rough handling. It's also great as soft packing material; you can place it at the bottom of a bag, sack, etc., and protect delicate items from breakage every time you sit your bag down, OR unzip it and slide something into it - it served as a perfect Kindle jacket until I bought something a bit more suitable ;-) The Civita Tote is smaller, but holds a lot. The straps are VERY short, though - do a test drive first...They don't work well over thicker sweaters, etc. Since I refuse to check my travel pack, I always bring a flat-packing duffle bag in the bottom of my carry-on; that's what gets checked on the way home. Get one around 12"x24" (48" linear), so that it's also carry-on-sized, too, just in case. As a carry-on though, don't pack it so that it's stuffed, because then it's too large for carry-on (usually 45") :-( Be sure you can lock it somehow; we use cable ties (and small nail clippers in an unlocked pocket for cutting the ties off). And, bring a sturdy luggage tag for your bag! I have a great bag from WalMart for $15; I also have one from Outdoor Products and another one from REI (that can be a bit pricey) - all of them are very similar in the quality category. Check sporting goods stores, too.
We have a very light weight nylon duffle bag (20" x 12" that is less than the size of a baseball when wadded up. So last trip ended up with 6 bottles of wine/lemoncello to pack into our roller bags which we checked coming home And carried on the duffle (filled with the clothes displaced from the rollers) along with the backpacks. Anything non liquid and breakable was packed in the backpacks. We've brought this lightweight duffle for years, but this is the first we actually had to use it.
If you live near an IKEA (or go by one in Europe), I got an awesome foldable duffle bag for a mere $3.99 US. I plan to load it up with snack food for my kids to carry. As that gets eaten down, it will be used for gift items on the return leg. So nice for the price! Don't even care if it gets trashed after this year as it was so inexpensive:).
You can bring a tote for purchases, but I would rather (and did) buy a great souvenier tote bag while on your travels. Coming home I brought my Rick Steves convertible as carryon and also brought the tote bag on board. (btw if you pack properly, there is still Lots of room in your RS Back pack for souveniers)