Baggage Woes

Nov 11th, 2015, 09:33 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2015
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Baggage Woes


Next year I am travelling to Europe. I am doing university exchange for 5 months (Jan-May) and will be travelling for almost 5 weeks afterwards, planning to visit Italy, Austria, UK, France and Netherlands.

My brain is hurting from going back and forth with baggage plans.

I need to accomodate for more luggage for my living in Spain portion, but want to travel light for backpacking. The main thing I need for Spain that I don't need for travelling is winter clothing, shoes, and Uni stuff (laptop/books).

My thinking is taking my hybrid backpack (60L), and a carry on suitcase. Then I was thinking I could mail my unneeded stuff home after exchange in the carry on suitcase. BUT this is looking like it's gonna cost me $250-300 that I'd rather spend on a good time travelling.

So my question is (I have 0 experience) how bad would it be to cart my carry on with unneeded stuff in it around Europe with me? If I can squeeze the extras into the hybrid (maybe vacuum seal and/or throw some out), I'd be happy to leave the carry on behind, but how much do you think an extra weight load would hinder me?

Any advice would be great!
ashleywilsnach is offline  
Nov 11th, 2015, 09:35 PM
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Few extra details. My exchange is in Spain. I will be travelling using mostly train, but twice flying.
ashleywilsnach is offline  
Nov 11th, 2015, 10:31 PM
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First, comment on your ideal case. Looks like you are hoping to travel with the 60L backpack? That is a lot of luggage. Yes, I have seen college age kids do it, but that does not mean you have to copy others. The longest I have traveled in Europe is 4 weeks. I took a 35L carry on luggage. You don't have to carry 5 week worth of clothes. You really don't want to do this. It is difficult to ride trains and city public transits with luggage this big. Big lockers are also always in short supply. Your pack will also stink. You can wash them as you go if you have thought about what to take. If all you have are cotton and wool things, then, yes, it would be difficult.

How not to travel with all the things you brought to Spain? It is a learning for you. If you want certainty, you pay. However, you don't have to commit to the mailing solution. You can keep it as a fall back position if you fail to identify cheaper alternatives. Here, if you take risks, you might not have to invoke the fall back expensive plan.

What are other possibilities? You would probably find alternatives as you spend time in Spain, if you are paying attention. Here are just some things I can imagine.

If you can keep you stuff in Spain, you can come back to Spain before you head home. Look at itinerary options for this possibility.

Is there someone else in the same program heading the same way home but immediately after the program? You might not this until you get there. Excess luggage charge might be less than mailing it back. You must remember that in order to answer the security question "Did you pack your luggage?" that person must pack your luggage.

Will you be making new friends during the program that can provide a storage place better than your program location?

Upside possibilities are endless.

My daughter did a term in Spain. She originally though she would be traveling after the program and hence thought of sending a large luggage home. She ended up taking many mini trips on long weekends and decided to come home right after the program. She did not have to use the fall back expensive solution. Why did she come home immediately? Peer pressure!
greg is offline  
Nov 11th, 2015, 11:01 PM
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Maybe you could host a friend from home in Spain just before you leave, and ask her to bring your bag home as checked luggage. If she can manage to arrive with carry-on only, it wouldn't cost anything.

Otherwise, I agree that once you're there, other possibilities may suggest themselves.
bvlenci is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 12:55 AM
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Where in Spain is your university?
Sassafrass is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 01:43 AM
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take less, give stuff away

there is even ebay in Spain...

I went to university with a big bag and left with a big bag (plus a load of books) after 3 years. Looking back I should have sold the books at the book shop.

imagine all the stuff you want to take. Lay it out in your mind. Put the stuff you will only use every 2 weeks on one side. Now push those things out of your list. What is left? Go through what remains and work out do you need all of it or just some of it. 7 pairs of socks, 7 pants etc.

Don't confuse having "more stuff" with being "more comfortable"
bilboburgler is online now  
Nov 12th, 2015, 01:57 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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Primark is a popular and very cheap shop for clothes. Buy and then toss or put in the Recycling bin.

Have fun!
kleeblatt is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 03:16 AM
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Carrying around that much stuff will be a nightmare. You will be walking with your luggage far more than you think. You will have to get your gear to the train station, walk around to find your track, load it, fret about it while on the train, unload it, then figure out how to get it to the hostel or hotel in your new town. Rinse and repeat for the number of times you change towns.

If you end your 5-week trip in your university town, then there may be some storage options there for you.

If not, then trust me, you will gladly pay the $300 to ship it home.
Edward2005 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 03:46 AM
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No - you should not try to haul everything around with you - and even the backpack you are talking about is way too big.

Where will you be in Spain - do you even need winter clothes? (Many places in Spain don't get very cold in the winter).

I would pack a human size back pack with minimal light summer clothing - assume that is when you will finish your term. and I would just bite the bullet and send whatever else home. Check with the school to see if they have info on alternatives for sending things home that is less expensive (if you don't need stuff right away can you ship by sea for mush less?)
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 04:18 AM
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Since you have 0 experience, I'm going to give you some strong advice: If you have to carry around heavy luggage on a trip like this, you are NOT going to have a good time. Period.

I witness so many young, back-packing travelers struggling with their luggage. They can't really do a lot because they have the size of a human body strapped to their backs. They always look miserable, exhausted, and forlorn.

When you eventually see what it's like to travel in Europe with heavy luggage, believe me, you will wish you had planned for shipping costs in your budget.

The other secret I can share: figure out a way to look good by wearing the same garments 7 days in a row. I never thought I could do it, but on certain trips, it's been a life-saver. Good luck.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 04:29 AM
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NYCF makes a good point, do you have a colour pallette where everything matches. Then you get lots of combos out of every piece.

There used to be a half day course you could go on (with fizzy wine) but I guess there is a book for it too or an app.
bilboburgler is online now  
Nov 12th, 2015, 07:15 AM
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I also agree that lugging around all that stuff you don't need on your trip will be simply horrible (text books?).

YOu don't say where you are coming from, so hard to advise specifically, and you don't ask for advice on this -- but I would look into whether you can find a way to ship that stuff home for less than $200-300. YOu won't need it, so no need for quick service, after all. And if this is stuff you are even contemplating carrying around with you all over Europe, it can't be that much. It doesn't really sound like that much in volume, books, a laptop (you might want that with you, actually, and maybe try to get one of the real small ones), winter clothing and shoes/boots. Can it really cost $300 to ship that home cheapest method?

Here's a Spanish Shipping service, Amazon uses them, have you checked?

BUt I have heard it is very expensive to ship from Spain in particular by any method, but much cheaper from France (or even UK , don't know bout Italy). Could you make France your first stop and do it there? Might look into that. Then you'd just have to lug this stuff to France.
Christina is online now  
Nov 12th, 2015, 07:54 AM
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I had a similar plan when I studied abroad in university - "I don't camp, so why buy a backpack for traveling after? I'll just take my luggage on the train."

After one weekend trip during the semester, I realized how terrible an idea that was. Yes, it is expensive to ship things home... but trust me, it will be worth every penny. When you're doing that style of travel, packing as light as possible is KEY.

Christina - Can it really cost $300 to ship that home cheapest method? Yes. Yes it can.
jent103 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 08:39 AM
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Consider whether the stuff you are shipping home is worth the money to ship it. If it cost $300 to ship it, could you replace it for $300? Unless you are taking some really fine, expensive clothing, you probably could.

Books are heavy. Will you actually ever need them again?

You probably won't need winter clothes for long.
Why don't you hit up a couple of good thrift shops? For under a $100.00 you can get a wardrobe. Pick up a nice winter coat ($15-20) and a few sweaters ($5-10) or light jackets. Even nice designer jeans at thrift shops will be $5-10. Two or three pairs of jeans should do for the semester. Pick up five or six t-shirts. You are set. You can wear the coat going over so you don't have to pack it. Ditch all that stuff before you come home. A lot cheaper than shipping.
Sassafrass is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 09:08 AM
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While it's a good idea not to pack too much, I have daughters who have done exchanges and there's no way they would have packed a carry-on for a stay of several months.

Someone else suggested to leave some stuff in Spain and come back through Spain before flying home. After 5 months in Spain you will surely have met someone willing to store a suitcase for you for a few weeks. And getting a round-trip flight to Spain may be the best option anyway.
Plan your itinerary as a loop; France to Italy to Austria to the Netherlands to the UK and a cheap flight on Ryanair or Easyjet to Spain before flying home.

Don't take all your stuff with you, you'll be miserable! Travel with handluggage only.
Tulips is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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And another factor may be a change in season. Our daughter was in Siena for the winter, then traveled in Europe for several weeks post program in the spring. Besides her books, she had a winter coat and boots to send home. Lucky for her we timed our visit to coincide with the of her studies and brought her suitcase home with us.
Do not try to travel with a back pack and a suitcase full of stuff you no longer need. It will be miserable. Explore ways to ship things home, figure out somewhere in the budget.
socaltraveler is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 01:16 PM
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Posts: 12,492
If you are flying out of Spain on return to US just pick up the bag and pay the $75 or whatever to put it on the plane, as wisely mentioned.

Worse comes to worse you can store it at bus station or avenida de americas bus station lockers and pick it up there on way back to Madrid airport.

If NOT coming back to Spain you can send it on a bus to your final destination and they will hold it for you at their depot for quite a long time. Check that out ( Eurolines is one to check). Or if they won't send it anymore ( possible terrorism) then send it with yourself on a bus to a destination and pick it up later when you are leaving. Bus stations have long term storage for bags in MOST cases.

You can find all this out on the web when searching.

Good luck.

realize you only need a few outfits to survive. Good advice t not bring your best things and donate when finished with winter gear, for example.
lincasanova is offline  
Nov 12th, 2015, 10:28 PM
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Wow! Wasn't expecting so much wonderful advice. Thanks everyone

I think I'm gonna pack super light, and then aim to throw stuff out. If I still have a bit much, I'm thinking I might either change the location of my return flight to Spain so I can leave it, or look into shipping by sea OR shipping to the location of my currently scheduled departure.

Thanks again
ashleywilsnach is offline  
Nov 13th, 2015, 08:47 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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I will be very surprised if after a 5 month stay you will not have some treasures from Spain that you will want to ship home. Also, as I re read your OP you will be needing winter clothing for your study months, and then will be traveling in the summer. And don't sell yourself short on clothing; you are not traveling, you are living somewhere for 5 months and unless you have the kind of access to laundry facilities that most American college students have, you may not be washing clothes that frequently. Also, if you are seriously considering tossing as you go, remember that is a wardrobe that will have to replaced at home at some point. Shipping costs are probably less than that in the long run.
socaltraveler is offline  
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