Luggage counseling needed

Sep 5th, 2006, 08:17 PM
Posts: n/a
Luggage counseling needed

I envy the people who don't need to bring any liquids or gels on trips but I am not one of them and it can't be helped. There are things I need that can't be purchased in Europe or may be too difficult to find. So... I am checking two bags for an almost 3 week trip to Italy and will have one small tote for reading material for the plane. How I will manage without eyedrops and other favorite liquid items, as well as make-up, while flying from the Southwest U.S. to Rome is not yet clear.

One bag is a 27" Vertical drop bottom duffle (very tapered and not boxey) and one is a 20" pilot case. My DH will have a 22"roller bag and a soft sided samonsite. We are taking a train to Florence, one to Venice and one to Rome including Vaporettos. Is there too much luggage here? I will be doing some shopping so naturally there needs to be room in the luggage for finds. And, it will be mid to late October so I need clothing options as the weather can vary quite a bit.

Is there another way? The idea of schlepping all this.. stuff... up and down bridges and over cobblestones and through train stations overwhelms me at my age. Not so young any more. I've done this sort of schlepping quite a bit and I end up just hating myself for bringing bags that are too large. And there's the exhaustion. I need some luggage counseling. Any kind thoughts on the matter?
Sep 5th, 2006, 08:50 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 474
Having too much luggage can really ruin a trip, so if you can go with less you should. We try to go with one rolling bag and one carry-on per person so that we can each manage without straining (no matter how far we have to drag/how fast we have to run for train...). Pack a soft duffel (folded) in your checked bag that you can take out and fill with purchases (just be sure that one of your rolling bags has a strap so that you can attach the duffel and pull it on your wheeled bag).

Bring fewer clothes and do laundry along the way -- you will be much happier with less luggage.
WinterTravel is offline  
Sep 5th, 2006, 08:53 PM
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4 suitcases plus small carry ons ia a LOT of luggage. But since you don't say what you plan on taking it is hard to tell you where to cut/edit. Just me personally - I take a 21" or a 19" rollaboard and a hand bag -- and that's it.

You don't need to think in terms of garments for every eventuality. You need to pack/dress in layers. Then you are ready for everything. Also don't think of it being Three Weeks - that makes it seem like you need nearly a month's worth of clothing. I take basically the same things if I am traveling for 5 days or 5 weeks.

Especially w/ all the train travel, the fewer pieces you schlepp the better off you are.
janisj is online now  
Sep 5th, 2006, 08:54 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Jane, if you go to the website you will see the list of items that are allowed in a carryon bag.

Personally I would not have that much luggage, well at least not the 27inch if travelling by train. I would not have anything over 24inches.

Regarding clothes. I have found when travelling during seasons that will have various weather patterns that packing some shirts and a few sweaters work well. If it is warm you can wear the shirts and if it gets chilly you can put the sweater over the shirt. That way your sweater stays clean. Carry your jacket or whatever outwearing you are bringing onto the plane with you. Make sure all your clothes match..stick to one basic color for your neutral etc. And don't overpack.

Do check out the TSA website. Best regards.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 5th, 2006, 09:55 PM
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I have to bring fragrance-free liquids, so have lots of practice. I prefer not to pack liquids with clothing, so pack a medium bag for clothing/shoes and a small tote for electronics/toiletries (mine has three sections so the toiletries are separated). The tote has a strap which slides over the handle of the bag, and they balance nicely and don't tip over. I find that a medium bag and reasonable tote, along with the smallest shoulder bag large enough to handle in-flight/daily necessities manageable by myself. No way I could get by with a 21-22" bag, and 24-25" is not that much larger or difficult to manage, but hold considerably more "stuff".

Keep in mind that you will have to get yourselves and your bags onto the train very quickly, and may be required to hoist them overhead, or otherwise be able to stash them conveniently within view.

For packing toiletries, there are many resources for travel size bottles/containers, such as and

You probably know that you do not need to bring full sized bottles of toiletries. Fill a 4-ounce (but only 2/3 full) bottle of shampoo, for example, at home, and see how long that lasts. Also, a couple of squirts, versus a handful, will probably do the job just as well and take less time to rinse out.

So long as you're not flying via the UK, eyedrops (less than 4 ounces) on the plane should not be a problem.

As for make-up, just bring the minimum, that which you use every single day. Leave home the "might need/want" and "special occasion" stuff (since this is usually required only at night when the dim lighting does the job anyway). No one but you will notice (or care about) the color of your shadows/liner/blush. Bring just the ones most flattering.

We're planning to do Italy by train one of these days, and I am determined to get down to one bag, including the toiletries.

For packing toiletries with clothing, best is probably to fill travel size bottles only 2/3 full, squeeze out the air, top with plastic wrap, then screw on the cap, then place in zip-lock freezer bags. Some even advise wrapping duct tape around the top. This is all probably overkill. The only time I had anything leak (and it was in a zip-lock freezer bag) was a bottle filled too full. Still, nothing worse than shower gel all over your clothes when you open your bag upon arrival.

As for clothing, you just have to figure out the uniquitous "layers". Though it's helpful to check the 10/15 day forecast at and, you must still plan for warmer/cooler because the weather is just so unpredictable, and it could be quite chilly at night and/or on those open air boat rides.

I pack only black slacks, along with white tees (long sleeved for October), and several sweaters in various colors and weights. Thin, medium, heavy cotton cardigan, along with a cashmere cardigan (cashmere provides lots of warmth with minimum weight), in my favorite (and most flattering) colors. Black slacks, a white tee, gorgeous sweater, with a nice belt, black shoes, a bit of jewelry, will take you anywhere. Add a colorful scarf and you'll be "tres chic".

Black slacks are just so practical. I just love the LLBean Baysider Twills (for home and for travel) available in several styles and fabrics. They have very deep front pockets (I carry a bit of cash in one and my ATM or a credit card in the other), fit like a dream, and drip dry overnight with no pressing/ironing required. And, they stay "fresh" for several days.

To all that I add a polartec jacket with hood (which fits nicely over a sweater and under the raincoat) and a windproof/waterproof raincoat with hood (to preclude the need for dragging and umbrella all about every day).

Silk long underwear or Cuddlduds are a terrific "extra layer" should you have really chilly weather. They double nicely as pj's, and dry overnight.

One way I've found to pare things down is to pile in everything I think I'll need, then remove everything I "might" need (except for outerwear). Another way I "trick" myself is to figure out what to wear on the plane in case my bags never show up, then pack similar items accordingly.

For three weeks, with train travel, I would recommend packing clothing, exlusive of outerwear, for only five days with items that can be easily laundered (in the sink to dry overnight). BUT, be sure to toss in a couple of plastic hangers, one for tops and another with clips for slacks.
djkbooks is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 12:40 AM
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I bet that anything you need or want in toiletries is available anyplace in Western Europe. I also bet that eye drops are for sale over the counter in drug stores.
GSteed is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 01:27 AM
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On how to "bulk down" clothes, I heavily rely on thin-gauge cashmere and a large-ish wool scarf. They are rather thin far less bulky than cotton or wool pullovers, don't wrinkle, can look dressy and layerable.
I wear a pair of tennis shoes (more bulky), with ONE dressy pair of flat (less dressy) in my luggage. You won't need any more shoes than this. I also stuff rolled up socks inside the shoes to keep their shape.
W9London is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 02:40 AM
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I assume the amount of luggage one takes depends on the amount of clothing.

What nobody ever mentions in these "packing" questions is:

are you planning to do laundry?

if you are, how often and how much?

If the answer is "no" then I guess one is forced to take enough clothing/changes they are comfortable with

If the answer is yes then it would seem easier to plan there anyone who hasn't heard about "layering" clothing?
Dukey is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 03:00 AM
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I find it's not clothing that's the problem - it's the pills & potions, shoes, books & the like that take up the space
alanRow is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 03:22 AM
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Doing laundry is a 'cultural' experience, a great way to meet locals.

Italy will probably be fairly warm in October. I travel with a couple of sweater sets in my favorite colors plus white and black t-shirts. Bulky sweaters take up too much room but a cashmere cardigan packs a lot of warmth in less space.

Check out this website for travel-sized items. They don't have everything but more than I have seen elsewhere.

Traveling light is a game. Do you want to play?
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 03:34 AM
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JaneRebecca...DH and I have done the exact trip you are planning. Rome, Florence, Venice via trains and vaporettos. I read and researched a lot on this board prior to our trip and decided to pack light and be practical. I had one medium size roller bag and a large messenger bag.

Hubby refused to listen and packed (or should I say overpacked) a large roller bag, a medium leather duffle (which had shoes and a blower dryer in it and was very heavy), and a messenger bag. Let's just say we are still joking in this family about the need for 20 pairs of underwear for a 2 week trip and the fact that his suitcase seams ripped from overpacking! And I don't think I need to tell anyone that you never need to bring a blowdryer on a trip. They are almost always provided.

I found doing without was easier than I had thought it would be and I had room to bring home what I bought. Hubby on the other hand was miserable. He had trouble getting on and off the train and vaporettoes, and I'm not even going to go into the scene he made while trying to make our way up and down the stairs to the hotel in Venice. You would have thought he was 6.

It was a shame because it took a lot away from the trip as one of us was very mobile and light and one was heavily burdened with too much to carry and too much weight.

I say the old rule of packing your things and then taking half of everything out is correct. You really won't miss it and you will have a much better trip!

I am leaving today for a trip to Europe with my mom and she has listened to the pack light rule. We both agree not to laugh at each other when we see the same outfit again and again. We are just going to smile and say, "You look lovely today!" Should make for a very pleasant trip.
Dejais is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 04:14 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I just came back from Italy. I was traveling with a 26" and a small tote bag. I took the Eurostar from Firenze to Venezia and getting the luggage in the train was a nightmare. There was a mob of people trying to board the train and the scene wasn't pretty!There was no space in the racks betweeen cars as it was already taken by passengers that had boarded the train in Rome.

I had to lean on the kindness of strangers to hoist the suitcase for me on the overhead rack and also get it down for me when we arrived in Venice.

I get palpitations just thinking about the whole experience! LOL! When I arrived in Venezia I said the heck with vaporettos/ public transport and climbing over bridges to get to my hotel. So I splurged and took a water taxi. The best decision I made! There is no way I could have "navigated" the 2 bridges that were between my hotel and the nearest vaporetto stop. Not worth getting a heart attack to save 50 euros !

Please rethink your packing. I was away for 5 weeks and like you, I carry a lot of liquid/ gels that on the return( my outbound to Europe was before the new security measures) I had to pack in my main suitcase and somehow I was able to fit everything in. But , of course, I had very little space to buy anything over there. So it's a tradeoff. But just be aware that the train/ Venezia logistics are going to be very tough! Unless your hotel in Venezia is right by the vaporetto stop.

Good luck!

cruiseluv is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 04:44 AM
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You need only about 3 drops of moisturizer to cover your entire face. That being the case, you can fit 3 weeks supply into a bottle only slightly larger than a couple of film or Rx medicine-sized cannisters. You can buy plastic bottles with tightly fitting screw tops in about this size. Dispense from your larger bottles into these travel bottles, in amounts to suit.

By the way, said duo-film-cannister sized bottle holds less than the 4 fluid ounce maximum allowed in carry on luggage by most airlines on international routes.

A bottle of artificial tears (I have dry eyes) that would last 3 weeks is all of 15 mls, or about 1/2 a fluid ounce. This bottle is about the size of my two thumbs put together.

50 mls - about 2 fluid ounces - will be enough shampoo for 10 applications. So, two of these bottles will do you for three weeks, especially since most hotels supply shampoo and soap.

In short, unless you are a makeup artist for a film production company, you can fit the works into a typical sized toiletry bag.

Re: cool temperatures: In London, in March, with the daffodils just opening and the leaves not yet out, I wore: short-sleeved shirt, cotton vest, zip-up cotton cardigan, light windbreaker with hood, gloves, and waterproof sun hat. I was toasty warm.

Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 04:59 AM
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I have to ask; what liquids MUST you have?? Decide that...and then remember you can buy toothpaste, moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, mousse, etc. THERE...
Do you and your DH share these things or each of you must have your own shampoo, toothpaste, etc?
Perhaps, you won't enjoy your trip quite as much unless you pare down. Cut down the bottles, Or, cut down on clothing.
As to clothing. No one except your DH is going to see you in the same outfits.
I'm going on my honeymoon in the middle of October - I've got my eyes, fingers, knees, ankles, all crossed that the indian summer continues! <GRIN>
SuzieC is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 05:21 AM
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the exact size of your bag isn't all that important - while I use a 19 inch or sometimes a 21 incher and always have more than enough outfits for 3 or 4 weeks, a 24 would be almost as easy. But by the time you get up to 26", and multiple bags at that - then it gets to be a problem. Especially for the trains and in Venice.

A way to see how it will be -- pack stuff in all the bags/carry-ons you plan on taking. Don't cheat, make them about as heavy as they will be on the trip. Then walk around the block once or twice w/ everything. Maybe even trot/run part of the way like you might have to catch a train. Then lift the bags up on a closet shelf and back down. If both of you can manage w/o help then you are OK. But otherwise - re-think how much stuff you "need" to take.

And - re-read Dejais' and cruiseluv's descriptions of getting around Venice
janisj is online now  
Sep 6th, 2006, 09:38 AM
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These responses are superb. I can't thank you all enough. Counseling like this gives me a sense of a support system and well-being that all good counseling and therapy should give.

I will respond further after work today, but just wanted to get some thanks in her for the help.

Also, someone asked what gel must I have that I couldn't find in Western Europe: No doubt I could find hormone cream there; possibly even better than what I use, but in the mean time I would be without it. If you use it you will understand why. It is not a cosmetic product. Also, thanks to reading the TSA web site info, I see now that I can have 4 oz. of eye drops; which is more than enough for probably a year!

I will be returning the 27" bag today and looking for something much smaller; thanks to you all.
Sep 6th, 2006, 10:06 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 11,781
I was in Europe for nine weeks this summer with only a 22" and a smaller tote bag for my essential electronics. Granted, I am not a fashion icon, but I'd never take more than that unless I'm staying for six months.

I've traveled with too much luggage but never traveled with too little luggage. Think about it--who's going to notice if you alternate the same three or four pairs of pants.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 10:11 AM
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Glad you're finding the responses to be helpful.

I would, however, point out that the suggestion to buy stuff after arrival doesn't eliminate the need to find space to pack these bought goods if one plans to tour, i.e. move from place to place, after arrival. In the instance that one is touring, it makes sense to estimate the quantities needed as I suggested and pack them before departure into small tightly capped bottles which in turn are packed into bags.

Whether one takes a common supply to share with one's partner(s) or packs independently, the principle still applies: careful estimates (with a little extra to allow for wastage) saves packing space.

The brand of reuseable plastic bottle that I use is called 'Nalgene' - and the caps screw on tightly. You can find them online at

- I bought ours at a local outdoor/camping/sports store.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 10:37 AM
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Since there are two of you traveling you can use the buddy system to lift your bags on the train or a bus or up some stairs. Of course it is better to pack lightly but if you add a few things along the way the bags will get heavier. Half the fun is buying things in my opinon so leave some room in a slighter larger case, maybe a 24-25".
SeaUrchin is offline  
Sep 6th, 2006, 11:16 AM
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I'm not understanding the problem, or how things are any different just because you have to check some items rather than have them in carryon. You will still have them, so why are you concerned about buying things there. Also, whether you had them in carryon or in checked, the volume when moving around while on tour would be the same as before, so nothing has changed in that regard (you talk about the shlepping around bridges and cobblestones, etc.). I've never had to shlep my luggage over a bridge (and rarely cobblestones). I get in a taxi and go to a hotel. Sometimes I walk a block or two from a transportation stop, but those areas where I've been have never had cobblestones, just modern streets.

Anyway, what's the deal with not knowing how you can manage a few hours on a plane without makeup? I don't understand this, why couldn't you. You say you are going to check bags, so it will be in there, it's not like you won't have any and need to buy it when you get there. I always have put almost all of my cosmetics and toiletries in my checked bags for years now. The only thing I have in my carryon or purse is usually a toothbrush and toothpaste and lip gloss.
Christina is online now  

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