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Mn55 Jun 26th, 2013 11:25 PM

Backpack through Italy
I will be in Barcelona for 2 weeks and after those 2 weeks a group of us might head to Italy for a week and backpack through there. I have never traveled to Europe and wanted to know if I could just take a suitcase instead. I know we will be using the trains in Italy but is a small 25"-28" suitcase okay I don't want to buy the backpacking backpacks if I could easily use a suitcase that I already have. I know it is best to travel light but I am a female and I will need to dress formal in Barcelona a couple of times and I don't think I can fit everything in a backpack.

Rubicund Jun 27th, 2013 12:28 AM

My idea of a backpacker is someone who thumbs lifts or does a lot of walking between destinations. If your definition is just travelling across Italy using trains, then a suitcase is no problem.

stevewith Jun 27th, 2013 02:06 AM

There are some parts of Italy (like the Italian Riviera) where a backpack is really an asset, since there are so many stairs.

The question you need to put to your group is whether the time you spend in Italy is going to include days where you have your luggage with you while you do some touristing. The people who are carrying backpacks will have a much easier time walking around, say Lucca, than the people who are dragging a suitcase, even one on wheels.

In towns like Lucca, or the le Cinque Terre villages, there is no place in the train station to store luggage for the day if you haven't got a hotel room.

For a one time trip you should be able to get an el cheapo backpack from Wal Mart or Target or even LL Bean's online sale bins.

I'm curious as to what you are doing in Barcelona that requires you to dress "formal" a couple of times. Throughout most of Barcelona, dress is casual, but even if you need fancy, if you are traveling in summer, you will definitely want lightweight clothing (again, even if it is fancy). Most lightweight dresses take up no room at all in a backpack or suitcase, even 2 of them.

Is anyone in your group going back to the US after Barcelona who might be willing to take your formal wear back with them, and then mail them to you in the US? Seems silly to be dragging high heels around Italy that you aren't going to wear. Also, in lieu of heels, consider a flimsy sandal or flat that is nothing to pack.

adrienne Jun 27th, 2013 02:19 AM

You're not really backpacking; you're traveling for a week in Italy. Backpacking is more than the luggage you use. It's a lifestyle.

Your suitcase is not small; it's huge. A small suitcase is 19". You can take the 25-28" bag on the train but it's probably too large for the overhead rack; you can leave it at the end of the car. The only time you might run into a problem is if you're in a compartment train with no storage rack at the end of the car. You'll have to put your bag in the vestibule and stand next to it.

What size bag are your friends taking? Is your huge suitcase going to be a burden to them? Can you lift it and walk up stairs? Haul it onto the train? Lift it over your head? How much does it weigh when packed? Will you be paying overweight charges on the plane? This is what you have to check before you decide on what suitcase to bring.

stevewith Jun 27th, 2013 02:25 AM

There are many people who go backpacking in Italy for a week. It is a specific thing to do. They use the trains to go walking around the Riviera or get up to the Dolomiti, or to get to Umbria and go walking there and they do it with backpacks on their backs. Or they take the train to cities like Lucca and walk around with their backpacks before moving on to the beach.

It may very well be that the OP's group is not going backpacking, but it might also be that her group is planning on doing just that, in which case having any kind of suitcase will really and literally be a drag.

suze Jun 27th, 2013 09:42 AM

You don't need a backpack but a "25-28 inch" suitcase is WAY too big. For train travel something like "19-22" is what you want to use (on wheels).

suze Jun 27th, 2013 09:43 AM

Also it's not just about size, it's about weight. Pack that 28" full and put it on the bathroom scale. I'm guessing it will come in at 50 lbs. That is too heavy for you to easily manage, doing the trip you propose. Even if you need formal clothes (one outfit is enough), you don't need such a huge bag.

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