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31" rolling duffle bag too big for train travel?

31" rolling duffle bag too big for train travel?

Feb 26th, 2004, 05:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 80
31" rolling duffle bag too big for train travel?

Hi all,

I just recieved a neat luggage set as a gift and the major suitcase is a 31" duffle rolling bag. We are traveling by train between the major cities and I'd like to ask you experienced travelers if this size is doable?

Livette is offline  
Feb 26th, 2004, 05:49 PM
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Well in a lot of places the train is not level with the platofrm but raised by several steps. Will you be able to easily lift this bag up several steps when it is full? And it sound like it's too big to go on any of the overhead racks in the train. (My large bag is 26" and I find that plenty to deal with when its full.)

IMHO even though a case has wheels, if you want to be ready for all eventualities (unexpected stairs etc.) you need to be able to pick up and carry all of your luggage.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 26th, 2004, 06:09 PM
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I need to ask you one key question.
How much will your duffle bag weigh after you fill it with what you plan to take with you to Europe?

Some of those models in the 31" area can hold 7,500 to 8,000 cubic inches.
Most 28" rolling conventional suitcases hold about 5,500 cubic inches.

Another key factor is how much does it weigh before you put anything in it? I have seen some with rolling mechanisms and handle mechanisms that boosted the weight of the luggage to 11 or 12 pounds empty. Then when you fill it with 7,000 cubic inches of clothes and other items, it can weigh 45 to 50 pounds quite easily, even 55 pounds.

The question then becomes, can you lift it from the train platform up to the floor of the railcar, which is about 38 - 40 vertical inches? It is probably too big to carry it up the train steps, so I think you will need to hoist it up from platform level all the way to the threshold of the door.

I have a regular suitcase that is fairly large and it will not go up the steps with me. It comes close to 40 pounds for a European trip because it has hiking boots and other equipment in it as well as street clothes for 3 plus weeks and varying temperatures.
(Like from sunny Paris to near freezing in Finland.) I can get it up there, but as I get older, it get harder.

If you have a strong companion, then it may not be a problem at all.

Once on the train, you can usually find storage space at the end of the car for oversized luggage. I doubt if the duffle bag will fit on the overhead rack in most coaches, although it may slide between the seats on some trains.

You are also going to be hoisting it around at other places, too, even in airports. So weight is a consideration at all times.

Therefore I suggest a test fill and hoist to see how well you can handle it. A good test would be to try carrying it up a flight of stairs and, if you have a friend with an SUV, try hoisting it from the street or driveway into the rear luggage compartment of the SUV. That would simulate somewhat lifting it onto a train car.

You may have to "bulk up" to tote that baby if you overstuff it. Or have your baggage toter bulk up!!

At times I am glad my wife works out at the gym lifting those air pressure bars around and tugs on those weight machines.
brookwood is offline  
Feb 26th, 2004, 06:10 PM
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Usually there are a couple of steps to get on the train, so be sure you can lift it on your own. I'm sure it won't fit on the upper rack. On some trains, there is space between seat backs to slide a back into. My 24" bag fits really well, but I'm not sure that something so much bigger will fit. That said, there are racks at one of the cars, if there aren't already bags, I'm sure yours will fit there. But, you have to make sure that you go into the door that is on the end with the racks because I think you may have a hard time rolling the bag through the car. Often there isn't a lot of time to do all of this before the train takes off so I think you'd be better to take a smaller bag. I have never left my bag in the rack at the end of car, and I'm sure people will call me paranoid, but I want to be able to see my bag at all times. I think it would be easy for someone to grab it on their way off the train.
cls2paris is offline  
Feb 26th, 2004, 07:29 PM
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Stuff it to the gills. Lift it over your head. Climb stairs.
Can you do it?

If the answer is no, it is too big.
icithecat is offline  
Feb 26th, 2004, 07:37 PM
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In addition to the two steps up onto the trains from the platform you sometimes find a station with a second level, and no escalator or elevator.

The luggage storage areas at the ends of some international train cars now have locks. These cost a euro and are similar to bicycle locks. Loop the plastic covered wire through the handle of your bag. Professional luggage thieves probably carry wire cutters for these locks so keep your eyes on your bag when the train is in a station.

A 31" bag is "doable" if you can manage it. Give yourself a one mile walking test with the thing fully loaded, and include a short hill or stairs on your return.

Do all of your hotels have elevators?

hopscotch is offline  
Feb 26th, 2004, 08:03 PM
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When you said "WE", do you mean you and your travel partner are going to share one 31" duffle bag? Or is the bag just for you alone?

If it is for 2 people, the 2 of you should be able to manage.

The one downside is on the train you have to leave it at the storage area at the end of the train cart. Call me paranoid, but I like to be able to watch my luggage, so I always put it up on the luggage rack above me.

Just so you are aware, in a lot of European cities, the sidewalks don't have "handicap ramps" like the US. If you have to walk back and forth between hotels & train stations, you will be doing quite a bit of lifting your luggage up and down sidewalks.
yk is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 03:49 AM
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Our 26 and 27" suitcases have always fit between the back to back seat fine. But if a train was crowded and those spaces were already taken up, then it would be a problem. As others have said, if you're strong enough to lift the suitcase up when it's fully packed, then you'll be fine--you just might have to leave it at the end of the car.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 04:06 AM
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We purchased a sturdy 30" rolling suitcase just before the airlines changed their weight restrictions in 2002. Unfortunately this piece of luggage weighs 67-68+ pounds when fully loaded and we find that we must pay an upcharge fee whenever we fly with it in the states. On the plus side, we can fit everything we need for a two or three week trip into this one case. It also provides a bit additional security in congested areas as we only have one bag to deal with. We have used it on trains in England and Italy successfully, but I know that it will be too heavy to manage in a few years as we continue to age...
Retired_teacher is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 04:55 AM
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Look for a couple of threads from the last couple of days about packing light and luggage choices. Since you got a set of luggage you probably also got a smaller bag - maybe a 22 incher, and a carry on. If so those two pieces are MUCH more convenient than a mammoth 31 inch suitcase.

Even if this large bag is for two of you, you would be better off if you each used 1 small bag instead.

Not only is this bag HEAVY, it is too big to schlepp on buses, trains, metro/tube, and takes up a lot of space in small European hotel rooms -- and there is really no trip that requires a 31 inch bag. Many Fodorites do all their traveling with just a 21 inch suitcase, but even if you can't bring yourself to pack light - a 24 incher would be preferable.
janis is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 05:17 AM
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as said, I recommend two smaller bags over one large and unmanageable one, especially since you indicated you'll be doing a lot of train travel. Getting it down the train car aisles won't be easy either--I tried it once with a 24 or 26" and it was very difficult.
Even if there are two of you, I don't see that two of you can easily carry or manage such a large full bag at the same time, and it still doesn't solve the logistics problems mentioned above. Take two smaller bags, and split your belongings between the two bags,just in case one bag is delayed or lost.
elaine is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 05:55 AM
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Our first time traveling by train we learned the very difficult way that large (and hard cased) luggage is definitely not suitable. Those few narrow steps up to the train can kill one's back. Plus you have all the other passengers getting irritated at you if you don't move quickly. Not to mention how hard it is to store large luggage.
We decided that next time if we travel on the trains we will use the 22" rollers.
So it's best not to carry your 31" duffle bag.
francophile03 is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 07:12 AM
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Many years ago I traveled quite a bit for work (by airplane and/or auto), often with 10-20 cases and boxes of video gear. I quickly discovered it's easier to have two or more lighter pieces than one really heavy one. While traveling in Europe one encounters many "non-rollable" situations like coarse cobblestone streets, stairs with no elevator available, etc. I think anything larger than a 24" bag is pushing it, but that's just my opinion. Happy travels!
-Mark M.
MarkM is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 07:13 AM
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We are hikers and have tried several ways to travel with all our gear (walking sticks, boots etc). We tried the rolling duffel once and never again. Even if you are going to one location for many days, the duffel is a pain in the neck. It's big, bulky and heavy with gear. My husband lifts weights and really hated lifting it on and off of trains. He donated it to charity as soon as we got home.

Our method now is to take one rolling bag each - either carry on size or slightly larger. We only use sticks that can collapse to fit. We bring one extra bag for our shoes (they're dirty anyway so it is nice to have them separate. We have much less trouble switching off taking care of the separate bag than one person killing themselves with the duffel.

They all fit in the overhead on a train and you can keep your eye on them. Every year we go lighter. Make sure we get an apt with a washing maching and only take a few clothes.

An added benefit - when we return from a trip hiking outside of the US, they always want to treat your hiking shoes - all of them. So you just have to open the one bag.
janebell is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 08:40 AM
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I thank god everyday while traveling now for RyanAir and the 15 Kilo limit. It has changed my travel life completely. We always do at least one train leg too and the light packed 22' is our maximum.
StephenG is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 09:00 AM
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Well, it would be way too big for me! At least on the train routes I travel, it's not at all uncommon to have to get off the train, walk down a long flight of stairs, then back up another, to get to a connecting train track. One experience like that with a 31" duffel can convert you to a lightly packed 22" forever.

I've also been on plenty of trains that were so crowded there was hardly any luggage space left and people had to cram their bags into their seat space. Can you and the duffel fit in a seat if need be?
StCirq is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 04:42 PM
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Okay, I get the picture here . Thank you all for your expert advice. I guess I need to go shopping. My next venture is finding wrinkle free attire for the trip.

To those who asked if I was using this bag for more than one person, the answer is no. It was just for my belongings. I'm a very heavy packer so this is going to take great effort.

Thanks again,
Livette is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 04:48 PM
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Before you even think about packing, read this thread first! On "Packing light":

yk is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 06:06 PM
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You don't need your six-ton hairdryer, leave that at home.

Your don't need your five-ton haircurler, leave that at home.

You don't need your fourth, fifth, sixth pairs of shoes, leave those at home.

Your don't need your favorite two-ton box of cosmetics, leave that at home.

Your don't need your Easter bonnet or any other fancy hat, leave that at home.

Get everything you want to take with you and lay it all out on your bed. Then toss half of everything back in the closet and drawers. Keep doing this, until you are down to an absolute minimum.

Then pack what you have and carry it around with you all day.

Have fun!
easytraveler is offline  
Feb 27th, 2004, 07:10 PM
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I have a friend who's a heavy packer (I'm a medium packer and always have everything I need plus in a 25" case) and perhaps some of the things I convinced her not to bring will help guide you.

Do not take a bathrobe - you will not freeze between the shower and getting dressed - especially in the summer. if you need some sort of cover-up use a long t-shirt.

Unless this is your honeymoonn you don;t need the Dior peignoir set either - a couple of basic nighties is plenty.

Do not bring maribou high-heeled slippers - or slippers of any sort except the tiny foldable stretch terry kind - if you must.

If its the summer you don;t need a leather jacket, a raincoat, or 6 different blazers. Wear a light jacket on the plane and put a thin shawl or evening sweater in your bag.

You do not need different shoes for every outfit. You need 2 pairs of good walking shoe/sandal things, one of which you wear on the plane. Also 1 pair of lightweight nice shoes for the evening. Not a single shoe more. (I usually take flats or nearly flats because of the cobblestones.)

You do not need a special bra for every outfit. Take 3 basic ones (including what you wear) and a tiny bottle of woolite - which is also good for pantyhose.

If you have undies that are close to being reired take them with you and discard as you go - making room in the suitcse for things that you buy.

Unless you know you are going to attend a formal ball or cocktail party you don;t need evening clothes. A couple of pretty light dresses or silk pant suits will work well for any restaurant/event.

You do not need an evening bag, nor 14 sets of jewelry. Wear a toy watch, rings if you usually wear any, and take a couple of pair or earrings you don't care if you lose.

Oh, and don;t bring any appliances with you - cut your hair - or do a simple style you can wash and wear - no hair dryer, curlers, curling iron, manicure kit or foot baths, etc - you are going to look at things - not have people look at you. If you need a manicure go to a local shop.

Hope this list helps - if you're not sure about taking certain things ask this board and find out what people take or do without.

nytraveler is offline  

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