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gad Jan 21st, 2000 07:24 AM

luggage for euro-travel
We are planning a family trip (two adults, two boys 11 and 13) to Europe and need some advice on luggage. We are planning to use trains extensively and probably to stay in small (think London) inexpensive hotels. When I first traveled to Europe 20 years ago, the external-frame backpack was my packing tool. It wasn't a good one. Do the wheeled suitcases used in the USA by most folks work on Euro-trains and hotels? Or should we opt for the new travel packs?

pam Jan 21st, 2000 08:13 AM

Search this forum for "luggage"--there have been many good comments. As you may recall, trains have a couple of steps up into each car, and some stations have under-track passageways (i.e., stairs). Hotels have lots of stairs and occasionally tiny elevators. Less expensive probably = less likely to have a lift. Last summer my 10-yr-old son did fine with his school backpack (15 day trip). I took my soft briefcase which converts to a backpack (mini-travelpack style), and my husband took a "tote" bag/carry on w/ shoulder strap. (I tried to engage him in a discussion about getting a travelpack but no success--he was not happy after all was said & done with the shoulder-carry he ended up with, but it was a bag we already owned, and lacking any input from him I wasn't going to drop $75-100 on a new bag.) Santa brought an Eagle Creek switchback compact--wheels and hideaway backpack straps, for next time. HIghly recommend Eagle Creek. For trains I recommend a cable & small padlock for securing your bags to the overhead racks--less vigilance then required on your part. When I went to Europe the first time, my traveling companion had a regular-style suitcase that fit perfectly in train-station lockers--but that was before travelpacks had been invented.

Bob Brown Jan 21st, 2000 08:29 AM

This subject is one that crops up every so often on the forum. You will probably get a wide range of comments from several people. <BR> <BR>I have two recommendations: the boys should have to manage their own luggage and all of you should travel light. <BR>At 11 and 13 they should be large enough, and strong enough to "tote their own." <BR>When we fly to Europe or Canada, my wife and I take two pieces of luggage each. <BR>One piece is small enough for carry-on so that we have our essential clothes and medicines under our control. Each of our other pieces of luggage has wheels. We roll them around airports, train stations, and even sidewalks. <BR> <BR>My wife uses one of those suitcases that has an extendible handle. I use one that has a pull strap and wheels. I think the pull handle works a little better than the strap because you can hoist the suitcase up when the rolling gets rough. Also, it is not as prone to tip over if you don't pull it right. However, the pull handle must be long enough for you to use it effectively. On some of the smaller ones, I have to lean over to keep the wheels in contactd with the surface. I used one one of those rolling pieces once where the handle was so short that I ended up carrying it. Fortunately it was packed lightly. <BR> <BR>I have seen people with backpacks; and at one stage of my life, I did backpacking in the Colorado mountains and the North Georgia mountains. But I never considered 4,000 cubic inch backpacks for air and train travel. They might be fully satisfactory. At least you have your hands free. <BR>You will find that on some trains, that the overhead rack is too small for a large suitcase. But, there are usually storage bays at the end of the car for large pieces. That was the case last year when we went from Gare de Lyon to Lausanne on the TGV. We put the carry-on pieces overhead, and the big ones had to ride in the rear.

kim Jan 21st, 2000 01:11 PM

Another vote for eagle creek switchback. Loved the versatility - wheels, backpack straps, and suitcase handles. Also the one I have has a zipoff daypack and when it is off the suitcase is carryon size. But they are very expensive ($230 I think), and you probably won't be going out and buying 4 of them. I would think the kids would do well with backpacks, most kids are used to carrying them anyway. I found that I relied more on the wheels than the backpack part of the suitcase, just because I wasn't used to carrying a backpack. I used both, but if I had to choose, I would miss the wheels more. It meant I had to pick up the suitcase for stairs (especially the trains) but it wasn't a problem since the suitcase was small. I guess that is the bottom line - no matter what the suitcase, if you keep it small and light it will be much more manageable!

Janice Jan 21st, 2000 01:54 PM

I've packed for 10 days in northern Italy in the winter in a bicycle messenger bag - the advice to pack light is something you absolutely have to heed - it makes all the difference in the quality of your trip. <BR>I also agree with the advice that your sons be responsible for their own luggage - either of them would have been more than able to carry my bag anywhere you will want to go. I a bag that size I was able to pack 2 pair of shoes, socks, underwear, 3 sweaters, a pair of pants, a skirt, and 6 cotton turtlenecks, as well as all of my toiletries, jewelry and reading material. Should be enough stuff for any teenage boy! <BR>Enjoy!!!

Al Jan 21st, 2000 02:49 PM

Here's another vote for packing light...and making kids tote their own stuff. The worst example of pampering kids was a sight we saw in France. The parents let their boy--and these were Americans (we listened to them)--bring along a skateboard. While they struggled with heavy suitcases, their son made a complete jerk of himself on the station platform in Paris until a guard collared him and made him carry the darned thing.

bb Jan 21st, 2000 02:55 PM

Try for discounted Eagle Creek.

Lindsay Jan 21st, 2000 08:10 PM

Greetings! <BR>My husband, myself & two kids(11 & 8) travelled by Eurail in May/June '99. We had one medium and one small upright suitcase on wheels between the four of us and a daypack each. I saw many travellers really struggle with large suitcases as hoisting them overhead was difficult. Even these cases were difficult in some stations as not all have elevators so you have to lug them up flights of steps. The Paris Metro was very difficult for this reason when arriving and leaving Paris. Buy something hardy as train travel can be tough on the cases.

MarkJ Jan 22nd, 2000 04:00 AM

I have been searhing for a new bag myself, and have finally setteled on the new EagleCreek Lattitude 22' Expandable (no backpack conversion though that option is available for about $40 more). I'm also going to use 2 of there 18' packing folders. My theory is that I should be able to get 5 - 7 days worth of cloths in this bag carry it on and rarely ever have to deal wchecked luggage again. Hope my theory is correct. So far I have only found the Lattitude Collection at <BR> <BR>

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