Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Carry on luggage only with a family travelling to Europe?

Carry on luggage only with a family travelling to Europe?

Jan 27th, 2014, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 6,628
The bags with four wheels are fine in airports and train stations, but on city streets, a bag with two sturdy wheels is much better. The least little uneven surface, and a four-wheeled bag wants to go in every direction but forward. You can tilt them and drag them, of course, but their wheels tend to be small and not very robust. Four-wheeled bags also tend to roll away on a slope; I've had to run after mine more than once.

I used to carry a backpack (or actually a travel pack) but now I much prefer rolling bags. It's difficult to sit down with a backpack on, so I found myself constantly taking it off and putting it back on. They are also very inconvenient in crowded places, unless you remove them and carry them in front of you, because if you turn at all, you hit someone in the face. Carrying a backpack over your arm gets old pretty quick.

My favorite pair is a very small, somewhat cube-shaped rolling bag, on top of which I perch a small duffle bag, with a band that slips over the handle of the bag. Both are small enough and light enough that I can carry one in each hand when walking down the aisle of a plane or train. I can easily lift either one over my head.
bvlenci is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 11:34 AM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 33,572
We are not a big family (only two adults) and when we go to Europe it is often for three weeks or more. When we do the carry-on only thing we try to remember to

wear the heaviest items
be prepared to DO laundry while we are there
Dukey1 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 11:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,125

It's not about the bag, it's how much you pack into it. Since you need wheels then there is a certain amount of weight your suitcase will weigh even empty (like 4-7 lbs because of the handle/frame/wheels).
suze is online now  
Jan 27th, 2014, 11:49 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 208
I bought the Rick Steves bags (from his website) that you fill with clothing, then roll and force the air out as you zip the top closed. Actually, you could just buy the XXL size Ziploc bags (found at Target)- I used both and they both worked great for me. Easily got a weeks worth of clothes in one carry-on. Also, we wore lightweight waterproof jackets with layers underneath when the weather required it, instead of heavier coats.
dorfan2 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 11:49 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,601
The six pictures show the carry-ons we usually travel with (excepting the purple bag in the first picture). They fit as carry-ons when crossing the Atlantic, but would not be acceptable with many low-cost airlines such as Ryanair. We usually have at least one in the hold anyway because I carry a picnic knife that cannot be taken into a plane cabin.
Michael is online now  
Jan 27th, 2014, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 367
On our last trip to Europe a couple years ago our two kids - then aged 9 and 14 - packed as we parents did - in carry-on only. It was perfect. Each child had a small roller carry-on and a small backpack as their 'personal item". They either wore the backpack in transit or hung it over the handle of the roller. And we traveled over the Christmas holidays - with heavy coats, boots and such (including dressy things for Mass on Christmas Eve). We just wore the hefty items onto the plane.

We basically packed enough clothing for 4 days and did laundry where we were staying, in the sink or tub or at the local laundry facility - one time I met the most interesting person at a laundry facility! If you wash in room, just get a portable drying line. Easy. We certainly wore things more than once as well. We were gone for a total of 16 days.

It was so nice to have each person responsible for their own bag.I was sick and tired of always having to keep track of everyone else's stuff! Since each bag was small it was easily managed by even my youngest. It's also a good lesson in responsibility to have your kids take care of their own things - if they want to bring it - they have to haul it.

Do it - you won't be sorry.
jujubean is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 05:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 86

You guys are amazing thank you!

We will be travelling in summer (mid june to mid july) so won't need winter coats just a light cardigan and some layers for night time i assume. I have just watched several videos on you tube about packing light and am now ready to try it. We are going on a short domestic trip in a few months so will try it out. I haven't bought any bags yet but am leaning towards roller bags now. I do have packing cubes and envelopes which should help.

Surfmom i like your post and will use it as a guide for packing. Was only going to pack 3 tops and 3 bottoms etc. We will be staying in an apartment in london and half way through we will be with family in malta which will also help.
emmamarie is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 06:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 86
We are flying qantas/emirates and have noticed that emirates only allow one bag each as carry on so i am assuming no handbag either. With souvenirs etc i am happy to use the expanders on the cases for flying home and check luggage in.
emmamarie is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 7,668
We also try to do carry on and usually have one rolling suitcase (not large) and a small backpack each.
KTtravel is online now  
Jan 27th, 2014, 09:08 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 5,734
We also have taken collapsible duffel. We fill it with all the dirty clothes and check it on the way home, so we have room in our carryons for fragile gifts and last minute duty-free purchases.
sarge56 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 09:11 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 5,734
There's an old saying about traveling. You lay everything out on the bed that you want to take with you, and the money you plan on taking. Then pack half as much clothes and take twice as much money!
sarge56 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 09:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
Backpacks do not have to be loaded with heavy items which are easier to haul in a bag with wheels. They are handy for extra clothing, shoes, etc., that don't fit in the suitcase. And, they're also handy for necessaries while out and about, during the train rides, etc. Obviously, you can swap things around depending on what you're doing/how you're traveling/where you're going.

As someone mentioned, how much weight you stuff into bags is more significant than the size of the bag(s).

If you haven't yet purchased bags for your trip, you have to evaluate the benefits of various types of bags.

I was dubious about the spinners, and didn't buy one until last trip, but love, love, love, mine and totally disagree that it's more difficult to manage on two wheels. (One may presume that because the wheels are smaller, but that has NOT been my experience.) Nearly all the time, it's WAY easier to push rather than pull, especially on smooth surfaces in airports and train stations. And, when pulling is required, that works just fine as well.
djkbooks is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 08:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,125

That's a great idea.

As far as 3 pants & 3 tops, I'd go with 2 pants & 4 tops instead. Takes up less space. And you can easily wear slacks/jeans/pants for a couple weeks without washing them. Tops you probably want to rinse out more often.
suze is online now  
Jan 28th, 2014, 08:36 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 12,533
We basically pack for a week and then do laundry along the way. Small stuff we can easily wash out ourselves, bigger stuff gets sent out or we take it to a laundry mat. It works out well.

For toiletries - yes, it can be a challenge to get them down to size, but if you put them in small containers, you can do it. I too am "addicted" to lotions and creams. LOL. Basically, I don't want itchy, dry, flakey skin since that is so attractive and all. And I am not about to rely on whatever shampoo and conditioner the hotel provides. So I bring my toiletries. Deciding what you really need and putting them in small containers is the key.
november_moon is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 08:53 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,315
Then again, there are so many people (women) who rave about the lotions and creams that are available in Europe that perhaps the best thing that could happen to you would be to forget everything at home and have to buy new stuff upon arrival. ;-)
kerouac is online now  
Jan 28th, 2014, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 633
The other thing to have in the back of you mind is to coordinate colours if you can. We deal with dark bottoms and then shades of blue or green for the top layers.. Then you end up with only 1 load of homogeneous colour if you go to the laundromat. You don't have to worry about yellow running into red, etc. We went to Italy and France for a month. We did laundry three times. Once the laundromat did it for us (while we drank wine) and twice we did our own, only taking about a hour and meeting people at the same time. We just planned it into our itinerary.
jane1144 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 10:03 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 367
Kerouac, you are spot on. those lotions and stuff are great and it's so much fun to explore!

A really good alternative to the usual bottles of shampoo and conditioner is bar shampoo and conditioner. My family gets our stuff here: http://www.lushusa.com/Shampoos/liqu...,en_US,sc.html they have solid 'bar' shampoo and conditioner. They also sell little metal 'shampoo tins' for their shampoo. Using it is as easy as soap, and for travel, it works like a charm - since it isn't liquid, we have no worries about airport security. The disks last quite a while too - certainly enough for 2-3 weeks as long as you don't let it sit in water. My kids use the shampoo bars at home too because they're such good quality.They are so small they easily fit into the palm of my hand.

Then if you need lotions or creams, get it at your destination - there are some amazing face creams out there and it's so much fun checking out european pharmacies.
jujubean is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 230
It broke my heart when I used the last of the hairspray I purchased in Paris. Great hold even in the rain but did not make my hair stiff.
lateinlifetraveler is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,315
Ha ha -- that is the other facet of discovering the European products. A lot of people find great items to use when they come to Europe and when they run out of them, they are devastated if they are not available at home or cost a fortune.
kerouac is online now  
Jan 28th, 2014, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 5,734
One note of caution here about buying "new" products when you get there.

In my opinion, the time to try new shampoo, facial crèmes and lotions is NOT while on vacation. (A friend's scalp broke out in hives from a shampoo she picked up while on vacation. [She didn't want to pack any.])

While I agree with the "buy them when you get there" theory, do see if you can test something before buying. And/or stick with products familiar to you. Especially if you tend to have sensitive skin.

I want to also second the motion for the 4-wheelers. I found them no harder to drag on two wheels than my old 2-wheeler. And, indeed, found them incredibly easy to push through the airport. My arms were not tired at all, unlike having to carry that weight when dragging on 2 wheels.

Love, love, love the 4-wheelers I now own. (Samsonite light weight. They are great.)
sarge56 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:28 AM.