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luggage advice for international/train travel

luggage advice for international/train travel

Jul 20th, 2019, 05:13 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2013
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luggage advice for international/train travel

We are planning 3 wks in Italy in September. Flying AA to London to Milan. Then train travel in Italy, no car rental. We are committed to taking one carry on bag each, plus some sort of under-seat bag or pack. I am seeking opinions about luggage wheel design. 4 wheel style or 2 wheel style? Is one better than the other for overhead storage? How about navigating train stations and side walks in Italy? We are 2 seniors who really want to enjoy this trip. Don't want to be bogged down with too much luggage, but need the best packing space and function from whatever we do take. Thank you!
flriitaly is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 05:57 PM
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>>I am seeking opinions about luggage wheel design. 4 wheel style or 2 wheel style?<<

Some prefer 2 and some prefer 4 wheelers. (I have several of each -- I teach packing classes so have LOTS of luggage )

There are pros and cons to each. 4 wheelers roll/spin very easily, and for instance walking down a narrow airplane aisle you can turn it and roll narrow side down the aisle. But they also move VERY easily on any sort of slope - you have to keep them in hand or you are likely to have yo chase one every now and then

2 wheelers tend to be a little lighter, and will stay put and not roll away from you, but they don't spin and are slightly more ungainly.

6 of 1 / half dozen of the other really.
janisj is online now  
Jul 20th, 2019, 08:25 PM
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It depends on where you are heading to. If you need to schlep your luggage over streets like this, https://goo.gl/maps/L8LkvTDqMXQPsmSM7, the ones with larger wheels = 2 wheel style, do better than ones with smaller wheels = 4 wheels style. Notice that side walks don't exist in smaller medieval cities like this. If you are willing to take a taxi from trains stations to your accommodations, it does not matter as long as your accommodations are accessible by a car. However, you cannot assume that all accommodations are directly accessible by a car. The accommodation may be located in a place where it is never accessible by a car to the door. There can be a road work, event, too many tourists blocking streets, etc, and the taxi driver would suddenly stop some distance away and might tell you to walk to your accommodation.

Also, in medieval buildings converted to hotels or apartments, there are internal stairs even after taking an elevator, if any. In this case, luggage you can hoist easily over stairs have advantage if you don't want to rely on a helper, if one exists at all. The accommodation might tell you that all you have to do is to make a call and someone would come down to fetch your luggage up steps, may be many many steps. However, such person may not materialize when you arrive.

Last edited by greg; Jul 20th, 2019 at 08:30 PM.
greg is online now  
Jul 20th, 2019, 08:36 PM
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>> In this case, luggage you can hoist easily over stairs have advantage if you don't want to rely on a helper, if one exists at all.<<

Since we are talking about small/carry on sized bags that would not bean issue here. A 2 wheeler or a 4 wheeler can just as easily be carried by either the top or side handles.
janisj is online now  
Jul 20th, 2019, 08:45 PM
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Personally, I prefer “slightly” larger luggage and pack it only about 2/3 full, so I can put my under seat bag or whatever inside the larger one to pull around, get on trains, etc. One piece is better then two or three smaller things. If not that, then I make sure the two smaller pieces will fasten together securely.
Sassafrass is online now  
Jul 20th, 2019, 08:56 PM
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The overheads on the trains aren't huge. At most you'll fit an EU low cost airline bag up there. That's your first limit. Fill it up and try and lift it overhead. If you can you're fine with everything else. If you can't you need either to pack lighter or to think about using the luggage storage area and not the overhead.

For the second bag look for something that can fit over the handles.

Two wheelers are designed to be tilted. IMHO they work better on rough pavement.

Four wheelers aren't really intended to be tilted. Problem is if the pavement is rough they no longer glide like a dream. Four wheelers are great inside the airport. They become more challenging the moment you step outside.

I'd lean towards a two wheeler personally. But if you're really packing light something with a good shoulder strap that you can wear when needed is even more flexible. Roll when possible. Wear when you can't.

Train stations often require stairs. Even if there is an elevator. The trains have steps. Whatever you buy test it out full at home . Can you manage the steps with a full bag?
Traveler_Nick is online now  
Jul 20th, 2019, 08:57 PM
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I only have 2-wheel luggage, and I sometimes watch with envy as someone strolls through the airport with spinner luggage at his/her side, like a well-behaved dog on a leash. But then I watch them walk down narrow sidewalks, cross cobblestone streets and piazzas, and the envy fades. Lots of sidewalks in Italian towns are too narrow and crowded to walk with luggage at your side. Cobblestones and uneven surfaces (which can include sidewalks) make the spinner bags bounce around and will slow you down. Going up or down inclined streets would be a challenge (as janisj noted). I suppose you could pull most spinners on 2 wheels when necessary (like going up and down curbs/stairs, Venetian bridges), but that's something you should check when examining luggage. Spinners on luggage racks in trains and buses will move if not placed on their sides.

The spinners generally weigh more and also have just a little less interior space. Spinner wheels are supposedly less durable and being smaller have a greater tendency to get hung up on things like elevator threshold gaps.

Make sure you know American's limits for carryon pieces, both number allowed and dimensions.
Jean is online now  
Jul 20th, 2019, 10:06 PM
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I use a two wheeled bag, my wife uses a spinner. On rough pavements, two wheels seem to work better.
Peter_S_Aus is online now  
Jul 20th, 2019, 10:50 PM
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Another vote for only two wheels. Much, much better on any sort of rough or uneven surface and wheels tend to be larger and recessed into the bag more than four wheel bags making them more durable. I'm at a complete loss as to why there are more four wheeled bags in the shops as the only place they are good is on that marbled airport or hotel lobby floor. I'm definitely a fan of splitting the weight across two smaller bags and prefer that my second bag is a day pack, leaving my hands free and my back happy. If you can travel super light, then I'd opt for a single 40-50litre back pack. One of the things I really dislike about rolling cases is the noise they make in the street.
dreamon is offline  
Jul 20th, 2019, 11:17 PM
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Hi flriitaly,

I am a 64-year-old small woman who lives in Germany and travels predominantly alone by train. I have 4-wheel luggage and love it. Yes, it may offer less space for packing, but one can (I do) compensate by using some kind of compression bag/cube to pack more in. Where I live and travel there are lots of cobbly/uneven roads and hills and walkways, and I've never had any trouble -- though mind you I do not race around. I just love how easily they slip along with you, and sometimes yes I do use them as 2-wheelers when necessary.

To me, though, the best part is going down a train aisle. A 2-wheel bag has to go down the aisle forward or backward, and they can be the same width as the train aisle. You will (believe me!) either bang or nudge seated passengers' knees, belongings, or children -- or you will go very slowly, warning and apologizing as you go. With 4- wheeled luggage, you just go down the aisle sideways... voila! Everyone is safe and happy. I would not take 2-wheel luggage on a train any more.

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is online now  
Jul 21st, 2019, 12:18 AM
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flriitaly, it's very clear that this is very much a personal preference, with some people preferring 2 wheels and others 4. I will tell you though of an experience I had a few years back. My friend and I travelled together through Europe for about 4 weeks, using mostly trains. We both had roughly the same bag capacity and same weight (about 14kg) but she had one rolling case and I had a much smaller rolling case and a day pack. We're both similar age and strength. Her luggage was a giant pain, as she couldn't easily lift it, and it drove us both nuts. Ever since, I've travelled with two small bags and so has she. Our next trip together was soooo much easier. You're doing the right thing with two smaller bags, in my view.
dreamon is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 03:15 AM
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I've tried both and have opted to stick with the 2 wheels. We do many, many train trips all over Europe, so manageable luggage is very important for us. I'm small and short and lightweight, and I really don't like for my DH to have to "manage" my luggage for me. I travel with a very lightweight (Aerolite- bought it at a market in Southampton, England) 2-wheel rollaboard that I can lift up into the overhead compartments on trains and drag around uneven, bumpy streets all over Europe. I've never had a problem going down the aisle of a train with a 2-wheeler. You just have to be careful.

I do see the advantages of the 4-wheelers, but one of those would definitely get away from me in a moment of distraction on a slope, and I don't need that.
StCirq is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 04:36 AM
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I went back to a two-wheeler. My lipault has a nice handle on the side which helps when climbing steps on train platforms. It is a 20 inch and I can fit it above the seat on a train. I have seen the four-wheel suitcases roll down many an aisle on trains and buses. It is comical till it hits someone. Cobble stones are hard on the four wheels. Only reason I have not bought the AWAY suitcase.
Macross is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 05:28 AM
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Janisj wrote:
"But they also move VERY easily on any sort of slope - you have to keep them in hand or you are likely to have yo chase one every now and then." and for StCirq as well
There are spinners now with brakes. So they won't take off on their own down ramps or other sloped surfaces. We have this luggage in three sizes and the brakes work fine: https://shop.delsey.com/product/chat...5-7a3754dee3c7
WeisserTee is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 06:21 AM
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The bag in WeisserTee's link weighs 9.3 pounds when empty. Yikes! That's pretty heavy for an empty carryon bag.
Holly_uncasdewar is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 07:00 AM
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My Aerolite 2-wheeler, 55 cm X 40 cm X 20 cm, weighs 3 lbs. It probably doesn't even weigh 9.3 lbs. when it's packed (at least on the outgoing leg of a trip).
StCirq is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 07:26 AM
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I have been using a spinner 21" carryon for the past few trips and it does roll beautifully on smooth flooring. During the last two trips, though, I have noticed that there is a lot of carpeting in some of the airports we've been in and it does not handle very well on carpeting, even when tilted. I'm seriously thinking of going back to my older 2-wheeler for future European trips, although it is heavier.
MaineGG is online now  
Jul 21st, 2019, 07:31 AM
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I would shop for luggage in person. I like to handle it, wheel it around the store. Either 2 wheels or 4 wheels is OK. Mostly I look for something light-weight when empty.

And you'll have to decide just how small you want to go. Can you make do with 18-19" only? Or do you want 21-22"? You want small but also need to be realistic about how much you plan to pack. And whatever you choose for a 2nd bag (pocketbook, purse, tote bag, small backpack) just make sure it's not too much, and that you can easily handle the two items at the same time.
suze is offline  
Jul 21st, 2019, 07:44 AM
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If considering a 22" bag, note that the wheels usually extend beyond 22". A couple of airlines, including American, have a strict 22" length limit for carryons. I usually am able to get my 22" on board, but the airline can invoke their rule if they want to.

Jean is online now  
Jul 21st, 2019, 08:16 AM
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Make sure you don’t block the train aisles. We have seen problems on trains caused by Americans with large auitcases.
HappyTrvlr is offline  

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