HELP! How much luggage?

Dec 8th, 2000, 04:07 PM
  #1  
Margo
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HELP! How much luggage?

My husband and I are going to Italy for the first time in July. We want to buy new luggage. Would like recommendations for websites and/or BRAND names of good, sturdy, expandable, wheelable pieces. Also,we are used to cruise vacations, where you take a ton of clothes. Need tips from experienced European travelers as to how many pieces are appropriate for moving from one hotel to another. Thank you
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 04:44 PM
  #2  
Thyra
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Margo... here is advice that will be iterated at least 100 times by fellow Euro travel people! PACK LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT Try to make it with one carry on if possible! I know that sounds insane but trust me. You will be hating life utterly if you pack too many clothes. My mother in law failed to heed my advice and brought one gigantic suitcase with wheels, a gigantic makeup bag and a back pack and after day one... was trying to find ways to ship 50% of her luggage home... it's nearly impossible to cart around.
#1) Cobblestones... even the best wheeled luggage will need to be physically lifted and carried over cobblestones.. in Venice forget about it.
#2) Train stations... just try carrying anything 3 bags around a train station in Milan.. you will want to rip your own flesh after 15 minutes.
#3) Storage, sometimes you can leave your bags in a hotel while you wander around museums etc, but not always, and finding lockers can be difficult with a great many bags.
#4) Even if you rent a car, you are placing yourselves at risk for theft, if you leave all of your bags in the trunk...
#5) A LOT of hotels don't have elevaors, or have really tiny elevators, which are nearly impossible to fit even 2 people and 2 bags, if you bring 3 bags you will have to go up and down several times to get them all up to your room... not to mention the size of the rooms themselves most are smaller then in the US. If your suitcases are huge.. like my Mother in law, there may be no room for YOU.
I have been to Europe 10 times and every trip my suitcase gets smaller and smaller, and I usually travel in winter... oh I almost forgot taxi's often charge you a "per-bag" supliment that will also add to your cab fare.
... Usually I bring one non-wrinking fancy dress.. , a skirt, 3 paris of pants, and tops that I can layer. I roll all of my clothes (took a class in how to pack and this is what it taught) and I always bring clothes that all match colorwise so that every single thing can be worn with everything else... You will have a great time.. now as for luggage, my favorite is an Eagle Creek backpack with wheels... (I only use the backpack straps in say, Venice) it's very durable and expands to fit more items, I am very very happy with this bag and I bring it with my purse and thats all.
If you really buy a bunch of stuff, you can always pick up another bag to carry those things in if you abolutely run out of room.. Another tip, wear your heavy coat, etc on the plane, but you shouldn't have much of a problem in July. Bon Voyage you will love Italy!!!!!
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 05:11 PM
  #3  
Ed
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How much you take should be determined by what you can carry for something like one block plus up a flight of stairs. Unless, of course, the butler or chaffeur takes care of those things for you.

Do remember when you're traveling, as opposed to at work or on cruise, you likely will not see the same people every day and no one will notice, or give a darn, if you wear the same outfit every other day, or every day for that matter. Most people will be more interested in the sights than checking out everyone's wardrobes anyway.

Good site for packing essentials and product recommendations at www.oratory.com

Ed
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 06:10 PM
  #4  
wes fowler
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Margo,
You've taken the train from the airport to the city, carried your luggage up two flights of stairs, stepped out to the street to hail a cab and found all above ground transportation to be on strike. Your hotel is six blocks to your right, (or is it to your left?), you'll have to walk, it's started to rain and two blocks away the street is torn up for water main repairs. So, how much luggage will you enjoy toting? Pack light! Other than hotel desk clerks, you won't see or be seen by anyone two days in a row while in Europe except your spouse who's seen your entire wardrobe in the past. Pack light! Mix and match coordinating colors, preferably on the dark side to underplay any stains. Pack light! If you decide to take four outfits remember to wear one of them so you've only three to pack. Pack light!
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 06:15 PM
  #5  
scigirl
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Margo, I think the answer you will get here is that the right amount of luggage is one piece per person - preferably small enough to be taken as carry-on for the flight (even if you check it). This means paring down your normal cruise packing significantly. A general rule of thumb is to lay out everything that you thing you need for the trip. Remove 10% of it. Take the other 90% and put it back in the closet and pack the 10%. If you do a search you will find old posts on the subject of packing. Lightweight quick drying clothes are best, in colors that can be mixed and matched. One pair of comfortable shoes is best, two if you have to have something slightly 'dressier.' Do not take any shoes that you can't walk/stand for hours in.

I spent 6 weeks in Europe in the early spring. I packed 2 pairs of pants, one skirt, 2 pairs of shoes (clogs and sneakers), 2 sweaters, 3 long sleeved shirts, a pair of shorts (never worn), 3 short sleeved shirts (could have done with only 2), underware (3 pairs), socks (3 pairs), a packable jacket. Also shampoo, toothpaste, etc. Try to minimize cosmetics as much as possible. One handy thing I always take is a nylon sholder tote that packs completely flat. I can use it as a day bag to haul around a picnic lunch, purchases, raincoats, etc. (LeSport Sac makes nice tote bags).

The first time I went to Europe I mailed home at least 50% of the stuff I packed. It is a common experience to overpack. It is almost impossible to pack LESS than you need and very easy to pack MORE than you need. If you miss something you can always buy it and consider it a token of your travels.

Enjoy your trip!
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 06:47 PM
  #6  
Dodi
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Two resourses for good travel packing instructions are: Travelite.com and for clothes try Chico's.com. Or there may be a store near you. I have a list of stores if you would like to email me for a store near you. They are very stylish and packdown very well. They are a bit pricey, but endure well.
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 07:21 PM
  #7  
Josh
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We are very happy with our LL Bean roller bags and duffels. The rollers are in-line skate wheels and roll more smoothly than any we've ever had. They are very light, reasonably priced, and very durable. Check llbean.com.
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 07:22 PM
  #8  
M.E.
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Margo: to add to the great tips you've already gotten:

1) We've had good luck sending out our laundry in the nicer hotels in Italy (usually back the next day). Makes it easy to pack light -- hubby and I don't care if we're wearing repeats as long as we're clean! Also, finding a coin laundry is usually easy and gives one some downtime for journals, reading, etc. Plus it's an adventure. I usually don't wash more than undies in the hotel room.

2)On another thread, a poster (Christine?) had a great lead on inexpensive space saver travel bags -- the ones that compress clothing (much like a Zip-Loc). It was www.walgreens.com. We do not have Walgreens in our market, but even with postage they were VERY reasonable.

3) My mother is a seasoned traveler, and likes Ricardo Beverly Hills luggage. I have also read good recommendations for Eagle Creek (mentioned above). We have el-cheapo, plain black carry-ons with wheels that did okay on a LONG cobblestone walk in Venice -- plus we don't worry about anyone wanting to steal/break into such inexpensive bags! Just a thought. I always take a cheap tote that packs completely flat -- put our clothes in that on the return trip, with our treasures in the on-board carry-on.

4) I am now down to only 2 (!) pairs of black shoes no matter how long the trip -- never know when one will need to dry out.

Have a great time!
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 07:49 PM
  #9  
cmt
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It sounds wonderful to be able to take just a carry on but I've never been able to do it. I take hiking boots, and they take up half the carry on. The other half is camera, meds, one change of underwear, drip-dry convertible pants/shorts, one change of fast-drying t-shirt, fleece sweater, rain jacket, and something to read. If you will be doing heavy duty walking in rural areas, but eating dinner like a civilized person, and also maybe going to a beach, you do need a range of footwear, and i think that alone will preclude limiting yourself to just the carry on. But you really can get along with a few simple, fast-drying clothes. For example, for a woman, one black skirt, and just a very few tops that can dry overnight, and a colorful scarf to make the outfit look like more than the skirt and t-shirt that it is, and if you're going hiking in the countryside, fast-drying shorts or pants. So unless you are going to engage in primarily one mid-range type activity (i.e. not hiking, not fancy) in warm weather, I think you need more than a carry-on. Lands' End has good wheeled medium sized check-through luggage.
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 08:14 PM
  #10  
Cara
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Hi Margo,

I love my TravelPro luggage...it was recommended to me by friends who are pilots and flight attendants. It's very durable and has good wheels. I purchased mine off of ebags.com and found that they had the best price at the time. I travel with a small suitcase that can fit into the overhead bins as well as the matching tote bag that slides over the suitcase handle. Two pairs of shoes are sufficient for any trip and just pack black knits. I have a few travel pieces from NormThompson.com that I've been very happy with. They wash up very nicely and don't require ironing when you unroll them. I also have found that packing a backpack in my suitcase is handy for bringing back souvenirs. On the trip back home, I can just slide the backpack on and still have my hands free to pull the luggage. Have a great trip!
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 09:24 PM
  #11  
Art
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I love reading all of the comments about packing light. However if you wear size 15 shoes, just taking one extra pair requires a small suitcase. Also being tall my clothes take more space than most. I always must have 2 bags, one of them on wheels and the other that I can strap on to the other. I also carry 2 cameras and a vidio. The reason for 2 cameras is one with a fast film for indoors. One of them straps on to my belt and the other is an old Cannon A1 with several lens. I know I'm unusual in this but everyone that sees my photo albums raves about them and I relive my trips through them.
 
Dec 8th, 2000, 10:19 PM
  #12  
laura
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It really depends what you'll be doing. If hiking on rough terrain, you MUST have hiking boots. Sneakers or casual flats just won't do it. Having only one pair of shoes for EVERYTHING else, like sightseeing, nice dinners, theater, wading into the water on a rocky beach, is really limiting. Also black knits would be awfully hot for hiking in a hot place. Cameras, eyeglasses, binoculars, all take up space and need to be packed carefully. What about medicines for emergencies, deodorant, toothpaste and this is assuming that you use the hotel soap and shampoo so don't take those? A plastic container (tupperwarelike) to pack any breakables you might buy, pages from guidebooks. Most people can't limit to a carry bag for a 2-3 week trip. But you don't need to change clothes just for looks, just if yesterday's clothes aren't dry yet or the weather is very different or you're doing something today requiring different kind of clothing, like horseback riding rather than attending the opera, or shopping in a sphisticated city rather than climbing a volcano
 
Dec 9th, 2000, 07:52 AM
  #13  
Bob Brown
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How much luggage you take is a function of who is carrying it and how.
On a practical basis I find that when we go to Europe we need a wide range of clothes and equipment because of our activities. They range from going to the opera to hiking in the Alps.
Hiking gear takes up the most space because we need boots, socks, hiking poles, back packs, water bottles, and clothing appropriate for the activity.
My wife has two pieces of luggage, each with wheels and long handles, one of which is of carry-on size. She manages with those two.
I have a wheeled suitcase, with a strap rather than the long handle, and a shoulder type bag. For jumping on and off trains, we find that any more would be impossible to manage reasonably.
Therefore if it will not fit in out luggage, we don't take it. So far we have managed with a little room to spare. You will find that the very large wheeled suitcases with long handles can get heavy, which makes them awkward in situations where you have to lift them.
I think a good test is to load up like you were going on a trip and see if you can walk comfortably about 500 yards with your luggage.
I refer you to Consumer Reports for an analysis of luggage.

 
Dec 9th, 2000, 07:54 AM
  #14  
rlk
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--- Excellent thread on this topic!

Margo - at the risk of repeating the refrain, "pack light" should be your mantra. As you're going during July, you have the advantage of summertime temps, and so lightweight clothes need to be carefully chosen with an eye on versatility (stick w/simple color palette) and their "washability" --- Makes life easier to have several items (both outerwear & underwear) that can be washed in your hotel sink & hung up to dry.

As for a brand name of luggage, I've schlepped my 22" Hartman together with matching 'over the shoulder' carry-on to Europe on my past three trips. Since I often travel solo or meet up with my friend who lives in Italy, I need to be able to manage my own luggage --- that's another important factor. If you can't cart your own luggage, then it's either too big or you're carrying too much.

ALSO, if you think you will be bringing more stuff back (and how can you not when going to Italy & exchange rate is good!!) --- then consider packing a lightweight flexible piece inside your luggage (like a heavy duty plastic shopping bag)--- and this can be used to carry home those extra goodies. On my flight back home, I check the "carry-on" piece of luggage (don't forget to bring a lock for it) and then the shopping bag (or gym bag) becomes my carry on item.

Buon Viaggio!
 
Dec 9th, 2000, 10:03 AM
  #15  
Beth Anderson
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from Rick Steves:

you cannot travel heavy, happy, and cheap. pick two.

truer words were never spoken.

Beth
 
Dec 9th, 2000, 10:17 AM
  #16  
nancy
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Art,
I can understand completely what you are talking about.
My husband is 6'4" and wears size 14 shoes.
Even his socks (he favors a thick one) can take up half a travelbag!
Add an additional pr of shoes!!
Nancy
 
Dec 9th, 2000, 12:05 PM
  #17  
jan
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Margo, What and how you pack simply depends on the type of trip you are planning. I hate to see everyone get so hung up on packing LIGHT. I think it is better to pack REASONABLY.
1 - We went on a 2 1/2 week trip to Italy last fall. In preparation for the trip we decided to buy new luggage. We bought 2 new 30" bags on wheels. Travel pro (we already have some smaller pieces of this and really like it) and a 30" Pathfinder. The store didn't have two of the same kind. I opted for the pathfinder because it has a zip out hang up bag - I knew I wouldn't need it for this trip but knew I would like it later. My goal was for each of us to be able to handle our own luggage...thru airports, trains, hotels, etc. without having to rely on finding porters. I carried on my Eagle Creek backpack with a small purse inside (large enough for passports, credit cards, money and small notebook.) My husband carried his small camera size tote. Although I am about 5'3" and not a sumo wrestler I was able to take care of loading & unloading my own bag (even tho'the airline attached a "Heavy" sticker to it).
2 - We were going to be at cooking school for 1 week and then traveling around for the remaining time. I purchased Eagle Creek packing folders for both of us. I felt that these were a lifesaver for us. Our clothes were easy to get to and stayed neat.
3 - I wear mostly black but I still don't like to wear the same clothes day after day. I don't mind washing out a few under garments but I don't like to do major laundry while on vacation. Plus when you are moving around it doesn't get dry. We usually like to come in from the day's activities, shower and change into fresh clothes for dinner.
4 - I purchased a few things from Travel Smith and Chico's - almost wrinkle free.
5 - Here is a list of what I took:
1 pr each.black & White Capri Pants
matching black jacket
2 sundresses (black, gray)
2 pr slacks (black, gray)
4 colored t shirts
3 tank camisole tops
2 cotton sweaters (rose, green)
rain coat
umbrella
2 dresses
1 3 pc. black silk pants with 2 tank tops
4 pairs of shoes - black dress sandles, two casual sandles, hiking shoes,rubber shower thongs
bathing suit and coverup (I don't like to use my raincoat or robe as a beach coverup)
3 bras and 6 panties
sleep shirt
jewelry
At the last minute I took the raincoat and umbrella out. We were going in Sept and probably wouldn't need it. Guess what I had to buy when we got to Como.
Other than that I wouldn't change a thing. In fact we are on our way to Paris and I am taking almost the same wardrobe - only in winter style.
Have a great time. Italy was wonderful! jwg
 
Dec 9th, 2000, 02:53 PM
  #18  
margo
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THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
Wow I can't believe how helpful all your info is. Having several pieces of Samsonite hard luggage and never having been to Italy, I feel like such a novice. Your replies are saving me some huge mistakes. I am going to look up Eagle Creek, Lands End and Atlantic luggage. If anyone has any other Brands to recommend, please do. Also, any other packing tips would be appreciated. I brought 11 pairs of shoes on my last cruise. It was The voyager of the Seas, megaship and I was changing 3 times a day. Don't want that kind of a trip in Italy. Keep em coming!
 
Dec 9th, 2000, 06:04 PM
  #19  
Danna
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Margo,

We packed what we thought was light. 3 shirts and 3 pants, 2 pairs shoes each. BUT we packed into one rolling bag. Big mistake. 2 small bags. I'd go with 2 pants, 2 maybe three shirts and definately 2 pairs of shoes each. Take plastic bags for shoes as one is bound to get wet and stinky. Also, don't drag your souveniers (brochures and other finds) along, mail them along the way. It's fun to get those packages weeks after your return home.

Have fun!
 
Dec 9th, 2000, 06:35 PM
  #20  
Mark
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Check out www.campmor.com
They have a carry-on sized Pangea soft suitcase that has two handles, a detachable wheeled cart system, and hidden backpack straps. (Pangea is made by Kelty, a BIG name in backpacks.) It weights only 5.5lb. and is on sale at Campmor for $109US. I just bought one, but haven't yet used it. Appears to be as well made as its Eagle Creek equivalent (and I love Eagle Creek gear).
No, I don't work for either Campmor or Kelty/Pangea. Just a gear freak and a "travel light" convert.
 

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