I am trying to decide whether to take a 22 inch suitcase with a small backpack, or to take a large frame backpack and a shoulder bag. I have already paid for a checked bag on all flights (one on Delta, 2 on Aer Lingus). We will take two trains- one is the Eurostar from Paris to London, the other is London to Birmingham, where we will be renting a car. How cumbersome is it to roll a suitcase through the train stations? Thanks!!
Tena, First of all, could you clarify the term "large frame backpack"? Are you referring to pack with a large metal exterior frame? Are you planning to check one bag during air travel, or go with carry-on only? My suggestion would be to use the 22-inch wheelie bag and either the small backpack or a shoulder bag, as that will be the easiest to travel with. Of course, that depends on whether you can fit all your gear into those two items. Keep in mind that you'll need to be able to lift your bags onto the overhead racks at times, so smaller and lighter luggage will be beneficial. Larger luggage items will have to be left on the luggage racks at the end of each coach, and there's a slight risk of them being stolen (as someone described here recently). I don't use wheelie bags (I use backpacks along with a small camera bag), but from what I've observed it's relatively easy to get through train stations with them. The majority of people seem to use that type of luggage. You'll have to lift them up a few steps when boarding trains, but the main problem will be stairs as not all stations have escalators or elevators. Some stations feature a small ramp constructed beside stairways, and I believe that's intended for wheelie bags. Have you already bought the luggage items? If not you could look at: > Eagle Creek - backpacks, wheeled luggage, etc. > Osprey - same as EC > Tom Bihn - exceptional quality small bags that can often be converted to backpacks. > Red Oxx - also exceptional quality, but a bit heavier. Happy travels!
I'd take the 22" roller and a small backpack. You've already paid for it and I didn't find it hard to roll my spinner in the train stations. I wouldn't want to bother with a large frame backpack. I think if you have a small enough suitcase, it's easy to manage. Additionally, you will have a car. Just my opinion though (and I don't like to carry things on my back - prefer to roll).
It's a lightweight, internal frame pack. I had thought about it, as it would leave room to pack souvenirs and such for the trip home. But I am trying to pack as light as possible. 15 days total for the trip.
Do what Nicole said and you'll be fine. The frame pack will drive you nuts.
Gare du Nord has an escalator up to the Eurostar area. I don't remember exactly, but I'm not sure that there is one from the RER platforms up to the station. There are escalators down from the Eurostar platforms at St Pancras. I'm not sure about the entrance into the hotel - it's out of my price range - but I'd be surprised if they don't have a level way in. Not much of the Northern Line is step free. There are even sometimes stairs that you go up so you can go down. Euston train station is all flat, and Euston Underground has some steps before you get to the banks of escalators. Birmingham International (not Birmingham New Street) has an escalator at the south end of the platform, a small lift in the centre and a staircase in the centre. The people mover from the station to the airport is all level, and it is escalators down to the car hire.
One issue with rolling luggage is passing through turnstiles at train/Metro stations. To avoid getting the bag stuck, roll it ahead of you thru the turnstile. Sometimes there is a separate gate for the luggage; you push the luggage thru this gate then pass thru the regular gate yourself. Wheels or backpack, for either take it around your neighborhood a few times before leaving so your body can get used to it. Even the wheeled bag requires using some back, arm, and shoulder muscles in a new way!