Luggage Advice

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Feb 15th, 2009, 07:57 AM
  #1
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Luggage Advice

My wife and I are going to Italy for the first time to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We will be arriving in Rome and departing out of Milan after 2 weeks. We will be taking train to Assisi, Florence, Venice, and Bellagio.
Would like to keep the luggage to just 1 bag per person, but not sure about size, etc... Also, should I consider the hard case luggage, since these may hold up better(?)
Thanks for the help.
RalphRT is offline  
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Feb 15th, 2009, 08:06 AM
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We were in Italy in October. I only use one small rolling soft sided bag. There is not always a lot of places on the trains to put your luggage so the least amount of luggage the better and the smaller the size the better.

My first trip to Europe meant a larger sized suitcase, a tote and a purse. Now 5 trips to Europe later, I am down to a small rolling suitcase (18 inches) and a healthy bag that is a tote and purse together.

That is what I took for 3 weeks in Europe. Unless you dress up a lot you do not need a lot of clothes to lug around.

I took slacks, extra walking sandals, t-shirts and blouses, a dressy jacket and a sweater plus my black micro-fiber raincoat.

We were in Assisi for 2 nights. Be sure to take good walking shoes as it is very steep walking.

Don't think I would buy hard case luggage but others may have a different opinion. Buy the lightest weight luggage you can.

Rick Steves has a good lightweight rolling suitcase you may want to check out on his web site.
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Feb 15th, 2009, 08:22 AM
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I'd recommend a 21 inch roller bag each plus a small soft sided bag (like a tote) that you can hang off the handle of the roller bag. Any more than that is just too much for getting on and off trains and vaporetti quickly for storing above your seats on the trains and for going up and down stairs in train stations and in Venice. I find the soft sided roller bags hold up fine and are more manageable. I also pack a flat tote bag inside my suitcase in case I buy things that I want to carry home on the plane.

Look for light-weight roller suitcases with in-line wheels, although I think most roller bags have these wheels today. You can pick up some inexpensive luggage at Target or Walmart which should work just fine.
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Feb 15th, 2009, 09:29 AM
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I just spent an hour or so reading about luggage on FlyerTalk. The consensus seems to be that Briggs and Riley are a great brand.

Are you looking for carry on airplane bags?



http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trave...t-luggage.html
ekscrunchy is offline  
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Feb 15th, 2009, 09:50 AM
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I've had the Briggs and Riley 24" expandalbe for 3+ years--my favorite case ever.

I used that and a very small carry-on for 9 weeks in Europe last autumn. Freedom! (Plus room for a few purchases.)
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Feb 15th, 2009, 09:51 AM
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I'd go for soft-sided cases every time: the weight of hard sided is an issue and you can't 'scrunch' it down as well as you can with a soft case.
adania is offline  
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Feb 15th, 2009, 10:27 AM
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Don't even think about a hard sided case:

They weigh too much

They don;t squish into small places

They don;t expand if you need to add more

They're harder to lift into the overhead racks on trains (and usually too big to fit there)

It can be difficult to maneuver up the step, narrow stairs into the trains (as some stations)

Definitely go for soft-sided but be sure the wheels and attachments are very sturdy and you can easily lift the packed bag over your head.
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Feb 15th, 2009, 10:42 AM
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Cath: I am so glad to read this--I am thinking of buying my usual travel partner a gift of a new bag. That is why I was reading the thread about the luggage. Subtext here is that I can use the bag when I travel alone. Briggs seems to garner rave reviews and has an amazing repair policy, or so I read..

Ralph should tell us if he wants a bag small enough for airline carry on. Not sure what size the largest carry on Briggs and Riley would be--24" is too big, unfortunately.. Even 22" might be too big with the wheels..
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Feb 15th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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I don't have Briggs & Riley, but one reason they're considered really good is that they have fabulous warranty...I think it's lifetime, and includes damage caused by the airlines and baggage handlers.
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Feb 15th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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For train travel, a 21" or 22" soft side with wheels and telescoping handle is ideal. I can travel for a month with this and a smaller shoulder tote bag for everyday street neccessities.

You don't need a brand name on it. For less than half the price of a Steves bag or a quarter the price of a Briggs and Riley you can get a no-name three piece set at your local Staples or Office Max. Give away the large bag and use the 21" and the shoulder bag.

I've used my Staples 21" bag for at least 4 trips to Europe, including a 30 day Eurail excursion, plus numerous trips in the USA. She is going strong.

All of these bags look like they came off the same assembly line. Put a distinctive ribbon on the handle or marking on the side so you can recognize your bag at a distance. This makes it much easier at baggage claim.

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Feb 15th, 2009, 12:37 PM
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I agree with Spaarne. In fact, a friend and I were recently discussing the expensive luggage vs. "throwaway" luggage, and even though she can afford absolutely anything she wants, we agreed that expensive luggage isn't worth it -- it all gets dirty, and grease-marks, and broken zippers, etc., regardless of the initial expense. Mine is Delsey that I got at Macy's on a really good sale.
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Feb 15th, 2009, 01:07 PM
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Good advice from the above posters. I take a 22" soft-sided case and pack dark clothes that mix and match. I also had a shoulder bag for blow-dryer, curling iron and odds and ends.

I was in Europe for 9 weeks in 2007 and did just fine with this size. Of course, I had to wash things out in the sink and hit a laundromat a couple of times.
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Feb 15th, 2009, 01:37 PM
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Briggs is expensive, particularly their new lighter weight line which I don't have.

I have several pieces and I've never paid full price--an independent luggage store in Nashua, NH, a chain in NYC and a travel store in a KC suburb all had sales or discounts, although they didn't advertise them.

When I was working I used to fly business class and was able to take the 24" on, at least I think it's 24", am too lazy to go downstairs to measure it!
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Feb 15th, 2009, 02:40 PM
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Just want to clear up one incorrect "truism" mentioned a couple of times here - hard-sided luggage is NOT heavier than soft-sided luggage. Indeed, some of the newer, polycarbonate pieces are about as light as luggage gets. Something like Samsonite X'Lite or Hays xcase are extremely light. The X'Lite is also exceedingly expensive. A 27" case of either brand is around 6# lighter than the 26" Briggs & Riley Baseline. They are around 4# lighter than the 26" Ultralight Briggs & Riley.

Of course, the lightest luggage is a simple duffel, but I don't think anybody is suggesting that. So, one should bear in mind that a lot of premium soft-sided luggage is very heavy, not just the Briggs and Riley mentioned above. All that heavyweight nylon and those rugged frames add up. Some soft pieces will be lighter than some hard-sided pieces, but I hard-sided luggage holds its own in the weight department.

That being said, I don't think that hard-sided luggage is that much more durable. The things that are going to break on any piece of luggage are wheels, handles, etc. Not much reason to think these more or less likely to break on a hard-sided piece.

As to what size, etc. My opinion is that, as long as you are going to check, I don't find much difference between a 21" bag and a 25" bag, and usually go with the larger bag to give myself more room. You are right, however, to try and keep it down to a single bag. In-line vs spinner wheels is personal preference, IMO, as long as they are good quality and well-positioned.
travelgourmet is online now  
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Feb 15th, 2009, 05:00 PM
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There's a big difference in weight between a 21" and 24-26" bag when fully packed. I take my 24" when I'm not moving around a lot but for trains (walking through train stations and lifting the bag onto the train) and vaporetti and all the stairs in Venice the extra weight is important. What the OP's wife can manage and lift will depend on her age and strength or if Ralph will take care of her suitcase as well as his.

I had a 26" which I used once on a business trip and then gave away since I couldn't lift it easily.
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Feb 15th, 2009, 09:12 PM
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Feb 15th, 2009, 09:41 PM
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I use a 22 inch roller soft side bag and day pack. Larger bags are pain to deal with:

Getting on and off the train. Italian trains have narrow steps you have to carry your luggage up and down from the platform level to the car floor level.

Keeping the luggage on train overhead racks. If you cannot do this, you have to leave your luggage at the end of the train, possibly out of your sight.

Going up and down stairs from the train station entrance to the target platforms.

Going up and down stairs at your hotel without elevators. Your room can be on the 3rd floor (equivalent of U.S. 4th floor) and YOU have to carry your luggage up if you cannot wait for someone from the hotel to help you.

Carrying luggage from where the taxi/boat (Venice and Bellagio especially) let you off to the hotel.
greg is offline  
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Mar 19th, 2009, 04:54 AM
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I'd recommend a Briggs & Riley as well. I think 21" is a good size, not too big not too small.

I like the Transcend. Spacious, and it's a snappy color too! http://www.aceluggage.com/menu/produ...y-on-1495.html
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Mar 19th, 2009, 05:15 AM
  #19
 
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Also: Regarding the comment about broken zippers, etc. I have always used pretty good luggage and never had a broken zipper in many years of travel.

And on the very rare occasion that something happened to the bag (wheel hubcap fell off on Andiamo bag in Venice, etc). the company has always fixed for free. I am not sure that you would get that service from a manufacturer of low-end bags. Who wants to take a chance that a crappy bag will give out on a trip?

I am all for discounts! I've purchased a nice Brics bag at Loehmanns of all places! I've not used it yet--can anyone comment on this company's luggage?

http://www.brics.it/




Here is another long-established NYC shop:


http://www.altmanluggage.com/
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Mar 19th, 2009, 05:27 AM
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"as long as you are going to check, I don't find much difference between a 21" bag and a 25" bag," - only true if you're only going to one place, the OP is taking trains, where it makes a huge difference!

I travel with a smallish convertible backpack/suitcase from Eagle Creek, as I use a lot of public transport and it leaves my hands free and is easier on the stairs. I just had to replace my day pack, as the zippers were giving out - after 22 months actual travel use. I needed one with two straps (my chiropractor would kill me if I settled for one) and had trouble finding one small enough! I eventually bought a North Face Borealis, will see how it does on the next trip.
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