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Combining Tour with Independent Travel

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My husband and I are in our 70's...still very active. We are contemplating a trip to China..first time. We have always traveled independently and know we are not the "tour type"...like to do our own thing . The problem that we forsee, is perhaps, travelling with luggage and having to do this ourselves..from place to place..on and off trains etc. We were wondering if anyone has booked a tour and just used their transportation and went off completely on their own? I would rather do it by ourselves if it was not too difficult to manage luggage and purchases etc. We do have mileage we can use and Starwood points for hotels...so it would make more sense in that regard. We are figuring on about 18 days..have not made any definate city choices. Perhaps Beijing, Xian, and maybe Guillan, ending in Shanghai. Very open to all suggestions from the experts out there.
Appreciate all the help and advice we can get.

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