Trains and personnal bag size !

Feb 4th, 2007, 08:14 AM
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Trains and personnal bag size !

After reading through many postings and responses, there is mention of "not bringing a big suitcase". Based on your experiences, what would you recommend as an ultimate size for a large bag on wheels. My wife and I plan to take 2 bags each ( suitcase and backpack ). Your thoughts are much appreciated.
PS...I am new here on Fodor's and have spent the last couple of hours going through many postings that will definitely help us plan our trip. Just need to fine tune a few things LOL.
Have a sun filled day.
Swoop is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:24 AM
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Do you want carry on or are you ok with checking your bags. If checking your bags is ok, I just got a 24inch bag that I like a lot. It has enough room to bring back all kinds of stuff. But it is easy to handle and maneuver through Madrid's metro stations.
GBbabe is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:27 AM
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Whatever size you take you need to be able to tote/carry/lift them by yourselves.

I normally use a 21 inch rolling suitcase and a medium sized handbag. Others will recommend larger bags. But I would not go above 24 inches simply because getting larger/heavier bags on/off trains can be a hassle.
janisj is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:34 AM
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You ask a very good question. My rolling suitcase was stuffed so fat that it was a challenge taking the trains in Italy. You won't find many people offering to help you lift your bag, either. I guess they figure you made a stupid mistake and you deal with it! There are lots of stairs at train stations, and it's a major pain.

One one long train ride, we were sitting in a compartment-type arrangement, so there was just one narrow aisle outside the door for passengers to arrive and depart. My bag had to sit in that aisle, because the luggage area was a few cars away and was full anyway. So every stop, I had to get up and move the bag into the compartment to let people get by. My bag was too large to life into the overhead. My seatmates were not pleased, let me tell you! Nor was my travel companion. . .
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:38 AM
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If one knows how to wash clothes, and is willing to wash clothes, and don't shop a lot, there's really no need to bring more than a 21" and a backpack/day-bag for trips of any lengths.

But if you're strong and can easily handle a filled 24" (like lifting it up onto the train, and onto the overhead racks on trains), then you can do it if you want.
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:38 AM
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You didn't memtion your age or athletic ability. Big suitcase cause lots of problems. First, if each of you is carrying a big suitcase and backpack -- you have way too much STUFF. One large suitcase for both you might be OK. Second, unless the train is starting at your location, you don't a lot of time to load and there are a lot of other folks standing around probably with a equal pile of luggage wanting to get on. The entry is narrow (one at a time), three or four steep steps, and a narrow passage way when you get on. Getting four pieces of luggage on, stored, etc., can be a major workout. Third, if the luggage is large it has to go in the end storage if there is room, may have to be lift as high as your chest and the same time others are pushing past you and trying to load their luggage. I could go on but I hope you get the picture. As an absolute maximum --- if you are committed to two pieces each ---- is one rollling carryon size (43-45" total) and your backpack. With nearly 300 days of European travel in the past 12 years or so and with trips ranging upwards to four weeks, we NEVER take more than one carryon size bag each -- the exception is when we do cruises. We do take a third carryon size bag with wheels to hold the few extra clothes we need for the cruise. Really rethin you packing list. Good Luck
fmpden is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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I find that the number of bags you have makes it more difficult on trains and metros. It's a real pain if you have two bags each to get them on and off trains, up and down stairs and escalators.

Using a backpack as one of your bags helps with that situation but keep in mind that once you're on the train you have to find someplace to store each bag or sit with it on your lap.

I like to keep my bags with me (in the overhead or under my seat rather than have to leave it at the front of the carriage in the storage bin area. Keep that in mind when choosing bag size as the larger bags will have to be stored in a common storage area and not at your seat.
vinolover is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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To respond to fmpden:
Forgot to mention, I'm 52, my wife is 49. Both in good excellent health.

My large rolling bag is 27" x 14".
It's definitely big enough for everything I need for a 4 week stay anywhere. Carry on is a small hiking backpack that easily fits under an airplane seat. My wife has a larger "suitcase" with wheels. She may have to re-think packing lighter LOL.

I truly appreciate all your responses.

Swoop is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 08:57 AM
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"She may have to re-think packing lighter LOL"

Don't dump this all on your wife. Yes, she'll need a smaller bag - but yours is way too big as well. And if you are schlepping that 27 incher, how are going to be able to help your wife if she runs into touble??

I have yet to take a 4 week trip (or a 4 month one for that matter) that needs 27, 29, 30 inch suitcases.
janisj is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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27" is very big for a train. You will probably need to lift it overhead onto a rack (and position it so that it won;t fall off onto others). If the train is full your 2 suitcases wil take up part of the space of other travelers and your smaller packs will have to go either under your feet or on your lap.

Or - if you can fit your bags into the luggage area at the end of one or more cars you will either have to lock it to the rack or go and stand by it each time the train stops to make sure it doesn;t disappear.

Also - getting all that luggage onto the train - with others waiting to board - won;t be easy. We made the mistake of doing this once (big luggage belonged to my B and SIL). We had to make a chain to get luggage up and out of people's way (my beau stood on platform and lifted each bag up to 3 steps to my B who took it and pushed it back to me who pushed it back to my SIL. We just made it (dealing with 8 bags) since it was only a 5 minute stop - then had to trek down to our compartment. We were going First and luckily no one else took the other 2 seats - so we had room for all our bags - using overhead, underseat and extra seats. If all 6 sets had been take we would have been in trouble.

For train travel reco nothing more than a 22/23" each plus a small shoulder bag.

(We do travel with more luggage routinely - but almost always do road trips - which solves the luggage issue.)
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 10:00 AM
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<<<"She may have to re-think packing lighter>>>>

It has to be way beyond may. Seriously, I am with janisi. You both need to rethink the packing issue. Reread MaureenB's posting. Classic example of overpacking and first hand problems. For us -- the length of the trip has NO bearing on the amount of clothes that we take -- three days, three weeks, three months -- it is EXACTLY the same. Assuming that this may be your first trip. Experience is always a good teacher. If reluctant to follow our collective advice, then be prepared for more problems. We are 65, 63 and have traveled to Europe every second to third year since our early 50s. Other than the first trip which had lots of problems because of too much luggage, we run on carryon size bags only.
We have very friends who are experienced travelers (3 trips) but laughed a little at our "over" emphasis on one bag. Their luggage load was similar to yours. On their fourth trip, in the Paris train station. they were mugged and lost everything. Later admitted that handling the excess luggage was the big distraction that got them mugged. There is absolutely no reason to have lots of luggage -- unless of course -- you are traveling with your servants. Unfortunately we cannot always take ours with us.
fmpden is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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I'll just nod in agreement - you can't begin to imagine what a PITA it is getting luggage on and off trains, up and down stairs, etc. Pack light!
StCirq is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 10:04 AM
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Hi S,

You need no more stuff in your suitcase for 4 weeks than you do for 2 weeks.

My wife and I have never taken more than 1 26" and one 22".

If both you and your wife have such large suitcases, you will have a good deal of trouble getting on and off trains.

ira is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 10:22 AM
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Don't think of a 4 week trip... think of a 1-2 week trip that you will wash clothes along the way. Stretch your wardrobe by wearing outer pieces more times between washings than you might at home.

I say a 24" roller is the max. for train travel. Plus a large tote or handbag or small daypack.

That said, if you truly can't pare it down, use a larger suitcase. A well-packed 26" on wheels will handle better than a 24" with it's expandable feature being used and stuffed to the brim (over-stuffed suitcases tend to get off-balance, tip over off their wheels, and be hard to handle).
suze is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 10:25 AM
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Now I'm curious... how big is your wife's suitcase anyways?
suze is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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I am leaving for my trip from SFO to Heathrow in just a few minutes. I will be gone for 11 days and I will pack everything I need in a gym bag with a total weight of 14 pounds. As a senior solo traveler, I have learned a lot about packing light. You are in for a lot of grief and a lot of stress if you take too much to handle with ease.
rogerdodger is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 10:33 AM
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Safe travels, Rogerdodger & excellent advice!

Good point about the weight of a suitcase, really more important than size.

Swoop, take that 27"-er pack it full and put it on the bathroom scale to get an idea of the weight you're talking about. Same for your nice wife.

My 24" normally weighs in packed between 25-32 lbs. For me that's way plenty!
suze is online now  
Feb 4th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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1)Take that 27", fill it,

2)Walk up & down stairs with it.

3)Have coffee / tea / whisky while you recover

4)Remove stuff from luggage

5)Go to 2)

alanRow is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Suze, and everyone else who has responded, thank you.

We are planning to head straight to our lodging destinations with our bags and travel daily with only one or two small backpacks. I guess I need to know if our "larger bags" can be stored elsewhere in trains for "the next step". Like cargo! If not, then I will certainly follow all your instructions and go with smaller bags.
We both travelled much, but never on a trip where we plan to fly to one country and fly out of another using trains and the odd rental car when needed.
I'm listening, and thank you for responding.
Swoop is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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Left luggage (stored) in train stations is hit and miss. Prior to 911 every train station had selflock lockers or attendant storage. Most lockable locker have been removed and the attendant storage varies greatly. You cannot count on it.
fmpden is online now  

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