How much luggage?????

Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 08:37 AM
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You have me laughing, Gretchen. Thank God my husband learned better before I did because he had traveled so much more before I had met him.

My poor brother-in-law took awhile to understand.

When my sister and her husband first went to Europe for three weeks, she of the "well-dressed-always" category, packed very lightly. She had laid out everything she wanted to take in a spare bedroom. And every two days, she would scan it, consider how she'd use any item more than once, and she'd edit.

By the end, she was down to a very large purse and a carry-on size roll-on.

BTW--I saw the pictures of the trip--she looked as fabulous as always.

On the other hand, her husband, he of a "not-badly-but-not-so-well-dressed" category, was attempting to pack all his worldly goods.

She begged my husband, whom her husband respects, to talk to him.

My husband in his 20s had traveled throughout Europe and South America for three months at a time, and he had a pretty good grasp of what can hurt your travel experience.

My husband's advice:
a) you are NEVER going to see these people again and knowing you, you won't really be dressed all that well anyway, no matter what you pack and most of all...
b) shoes will be your Achilles heel: they take up space and they are the heaviest items in your packing.

He also stressed that
a) European hotel rooms are not large so it's really hard to find floor space for things and
b) your wife will love you no matter how you look; she will divorce you over your luggage

My sister's husband did not heed.

He insisted that
a) his luggage was roll-on so weight would not be a problem and
b) that they were using a rental car so any hoisting issues were null.

We actually ran into them at the airport and found out that he had packed FIVE pairs of shoes. My husband just shook his head. "He'll learn, but I don't know if she'll be able to stay married to him until he gets the lesson."

A month later, it was time for the return and the "after-trip" dinner.

My husband said, "Well how did the packing go?" My sister said, "I will say nothing" but she glared at her husband.

"I think I may have overpacked," said my brother-in-law.

Their luggage did not fit into the trunk of their rental car. The car parks for several of the hotels were blocks away on cobblestones, so the "roll-on" advantage was certainly gone. Three of their hotels had no elevators. All the hotel rooms were small, so they played hop-scotch over his open luggage.

They are still married, mainly because on their next 3-week European trip, her husband carried a backpack and a carry-on size roll on.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 08:51 AM
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It's rather boring and obvious and nowhere near as entertaining to read as some of the tales above, but here's my 2 cents: trips vary, and people vary. Some people can't hoist anything at all, ever--they always need assistance, no matter how lightly they pack. Some trips require strict control of suitcase size; others let you get away with packing anything and everything.

This thread is valuable because a lot of different strategies are being shared. The OP should read them all, and then use her own judgment.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 09:41 AM
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Last month, our family (wife and I, 4 kids ages 12 - 19) spent 19 days between Edinburgh, London and Munich. We went the carry on approach. Generally, it worked well, but there were a few things that stood out.
First, it was important that all of us could easily handle our luggage. While I did have to help my 12 year old daughter get her 20" carry-on in the overhead bin, she was able to manage nicely the rest of the time. Remember, you very well might spend more time dealing with your bags away from the plane or train that you think. Our holiday rental in London was 'pretty close' to a tube stop, but still a bit of a hike over cobblestone. I was glad to have fairly light and manageable bags for that. Also, we relied on the train/tube to get to and from the airport, so smaller bags helped us take up less space there, too.
Laundry was a bit of a hassle. We were banking on using the laundry machine at our holiday rental in London, but unfortunately, it broke down and it took too long to get it repaired. Next time, I'll use Yelp or Google Maps to research the best drop-off laundry option, just in case. that took about 3 hours of time total to drop off and pick up (BTW - Marshall Laundry in Soho did a great job and had reasonable rates, I recommend them). So, it was a bit of a hassle, but in whole, I'm still glad we packed as we did. In fact, I the main thing I'd change is to do a better job of packing for the weather, and packing for comfort over fashion. I had a few items I never used, but I sure wish I had more shorts
I also think I could have gotten away with a 24" checked bag and small backpack, but that may have been too much for the rest of the family to muscle around. I did see several people at the airport checking multiple bags per person, which had me scratching my head in disbelief.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 10:15 AM
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Well I think the main consideration on most of the above is "How will you handle the luggage once you arrive?"

If you have sherpas on hand, then do whatever the heck you want. It's YOUR vacation. Heck, there are great services that will ship your luggage across continents.

If you do not have those options, well...

Just rethink.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 10:51 AM
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We each take a 21" roll aboard and a smaller bag that sits on top of it while walking. Carry all on 95% of the time and when we check, like clockwork, they're "delayed" . We always need to change planes at least once which heightens of risk of luggage not arriving with us. We pack the same for two weeks or six weeks. There are laundries all over the world that you can use for wash, dry , fold service. And once you land, it's so much easier to navigate with less baggage.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 11:55 AM
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AlessandraZoe's post reminded me of a couple we know. A few years ago, we offered to give them a lift to the airport. It was their first 'big' trip together as a couple, and they were going to 4 (or was it 5?) big cities in barely 2 weeks. Whew. That was my first surprise. The second was when we saw their luggage! They were taking 3 big bags each!! It's a good thing we picked them up in our SUV, because all that cr@p would not have fit in a regular car trunk. I got a chuckle when they got back and told us that several times they had to wait for taxis big enough to hold them and all that luggage and one time train personnel chewed them out for taking so long to board. They still travel like someone is chasing them, but they have downsized the luggage... a bit.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 11:58 AM
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It really is just personal preference, but for me it is always carry on. That include a 2 week combination work/fun trip where I had a computer and work clothes in addition to hiking boots and clothes. THat was a challenge, but I was very happy to be just have one carry on size bag to lug around. For me part of the fun of travel is the feeling of being unencumbered and free to move around easily.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 12:20 PM
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Thank you Shar and Odin. I always feel like such a failure and a freak that I cannot fit everything into a carry on and a back-pack. In fact, I once had to BUY a carry on at the airport (to redistribute what I had packed) because my regular suitcase was overweight.. I really am not high maintenance!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 12:41 PM
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I'm a light packer, myself, but I know that's not everyone's style. I learned the hard way, realizing on my early trips that I never used half the stuff I had brought along, and that lugging it all around was torture. Now I know what I really need and how to pack it.

The only insight I can offer is this: I live in Italy and fairly often old friends and relatives from the US come to visit me, usually after they've visited other places. You'd be amazed at the amount of stuff they've abandoned at my house just because they were sick of carrying it. Not only clothing, but whole bags, including a garment bag and a fair-sized backpack. Maybe you should pack your bags, take them downtown or to a mall, and wander around with them for a while. Carry them up a flight of steps. Then decide whether you'd get tired of that after a day or two.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 12:42 PM
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I believe you, DianeGermaine! Does anyone else think that "travel clothes" are a big reason people who pack very lightly manage as well as they do? Surely having those lightweight, quick dry performance pieces makes a difference, versus, say, jeans and lots of cottons?
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 01:38 PM
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In fact, I once had to BUY a carry on at the airport (to redistribute what I had packed) because my regular suitcase was overweight..>>

I am having trouble understanding that unless it was a 30 inch suitcase. As I said, I often use a lightweight 24" one, and it is packed full enough (including a few books/magazines, and shoes), and never once have I been overweight, which is about 45 pounds. So something is going on that I don't understand here. Of course I don't pack full sizes of toiletries, those can be very heavy.

I don't own "travel clothes" and find polyester generally ugly and uncomfortable. I do have a few synthetic lightweight pieces for hiking/camping (things that are lightweight and easy to wash, zip off legs, etc), but I don't take them unless going hiking.

I think one big thing is that some people really don't want very many pairs of shoes, those add up. A variety of shoes is very very important to me to feel good and to be comfortable. I take at least four pair, for example (one heavy duty walking, one walking sandal, one kind of everyday shoe that is comfortable and can be worn with slacks but not with skirts, probably some sandals that are not ugly walking sandals, at least). And sometimes 5 pair. I also like to dress up at night, I won't go out to concerts or restaurants wearing stuff I'd walk around in during the day. If I never went to nice places, I could probably get rid of that stuff.

SOmetimes I read what people pack in a bag they say is 21 inches and I know I could not do it, so it's a real disconnect. I do have bags that size and have used them, so I don't get it. There was a woman on here called Therese who talked about this a lot, entire threads, and she did very well at it but her lists seemed like a lot of stuff --- then I think once she mentioned she was only a size 0 or 2 or something. Well, that does make a difference, your clothes are a lot smaller. Also, she didn't mind doing stuff I would never ever do (like wear boots a lot, including on the plane). I find boots generally uncomfortable for long wear inside.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 03:14 PM
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Choice of material is important even if you are not checking luggage.

Jeans and sweatshirts are two articles that have not made it into our luggage--or onto the plane--in the last two decades. If jeans get wet, if a sweatshirt gets wet, they don't dry. They just get heavier and take up MORE room.

Ironically, I DO take wools, often in summer. Merino "smartwools" compress well, aren't heavy, don't wrinkle, don't keep odors and breathe. In fact, since we cycle in our Keen Newport H2s, then our socks of choice, even in 90 degrees, is Smartwool.

I have a summerweight wool jacket that is perfect for cooling evenings.

My cottons are few and far between, though. I did buy cotton T-shirts this year that were wonderful and so they made it into the suitcase. Beautiful gauzy type things, these were so comfy and cool, and they washed and dried in secs. If I can find them again, I'll stock up.

But otherwise, cotton doesn't cut it. On cycling/hiking trips, it's actually dangerous once it gets wet because it can't retain body heat then. A hot afternoon can quickly become a cold afternoon after a downpour.

There are many high tech synthetic fabrics out there that are breathable and beautiful, so it's not accurate to associate them with the disco polyesters of old.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 03:39 PM
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AZ--now you have me laughing.
I may have had my baptism when 30 years ago we took our 3 children to Europe for 3 weeks. I told each of them (DD as the youngest at 14) everyone had to handle their own luggage on planes, trains and automobiles.
It worked out.
I first went to Europe and had to pack in a bag (provided by the tour) that fit on the back of my bicycle, when we were doing that part of the trip. It was not large!! I travel a little better now. Oh, that trip was 6 weeks. GREAT experience.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 04:35 PM
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Refreshing to hear from some heavier packers. I thought I was the only one.

I travel lighter as time goes on but I'm still no where near the lightness of many others. The way I see it, traveling is an excuse to wear my favorite clothes over & over But I don't like wearing the same clothes out in the evenings that I've worn running around all day in. Thankfully I don't mind doing laundry a couple times either so long as I have a washer in my apartment or the hotel can handle the service for me.

I did a practice pack yesterday for our 19 night Italy trip next month. I used a 21" bag and everything fit just fine, no sitting on the bag to get it zipped, but it was a tad heavy. I plan to get a backpack to lighten it, check the weather closer to departure, another round of editing & hopefully I'll be good to go.

I am definitely taking 4 pairs of shoes, I don't know how not to. Maybe even 5, if I can sneak a stowaway in my husbands bag.

Being small/wearing small clothing makes a huge difference as someone pointed out above. I traveled a few times with a very tiny girlfriend & she'd unload twice the number of garments & shoes as me & but the volume of it seemed like it could be wrapped up in a bandana tied to the end of a stick.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 04:56 PM
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Different people have different travel styles and needs.

I would never tell anyone not to do a 3 month trip with just a gym bag if that's how they like to travel and they don't mind doing laundry constantly.

But out vacation time in limited - esp what we can coordinate at the same time. We like to go out to dinner at nice places. We like to have enough changes of clothes (not 2 outfits per day - but enough not to keep wearing the same thing) and I am NOT washing anything in a sink (except perhaps rinse out a couple of bras that will dry in 3 or 4 hours) or doing laundry in my limited vacation time.

That said we have learned to pack what we want/need in one moderate size checked bag each.

I see no benefit to keeping all of ones luggage to 6 lbs or whatever - unless you are doing a lot of flying on airlines that require it. (We rarely fly within europe - mostly drive - or train if just 2 cities.)
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 05:22 PM
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No one has mentioned this but I usually go to a self-service laundromat about mid-trip. We have met wonderful people...other travelers and locals, too. The time flies by when you are having nice conversations with others while you wait for the washer/dryer to finish.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2014, 05:56 PM
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TAW, one of the nicest mornings I spent was at a Laundromat in Normandy. I got there at seven am and watched the village come alive. It was nice to see the shop keepers sweeping the sidewalks and everyone coming for their fresh bread in the am. It was all totally computerized from one wall and very clean.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2014, 04:09 AM
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I travel with a 21 inch roller and never check it. A computer bag holds all my digital stuff. I absolutely hate hanging around an airport once I've landed and my bag would always be the last to appear on the carrousel in years past. So no more.

I have run short a couple of times when I've skipped a laundromat or 2... a trip to a dollar store type place has yielded extra socks and underwear that were cheap enough to just discard once worn. I really like the compression bags (like large ziplocs)... get the real things because they are stronger, have double closures and a special valve to release the air when you scrunch them up. Yes, they wrinkle some things but it doesn't bother me.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2014, 04:47 AM
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Sorry - would never consider going to a launderette at home (or doing laundry at all except in some sort of emergency - this is why there are cleaners and laundries) and certainly would not spend any vacation time on this.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2014, 07:20 AM
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I would go to a launderette, but only on a quite long trip; 2 weeks or less, well, I guess I don't travel enough to be willing to spend precious time that way. I have availed myself of hotel laundry services, infrequently, but of course that costs no time.
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