Trains... how much luggage to take?

Feb 13th, 1999, 09:50 PM
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Trains... how much luggage to take?

I will be traveling by train this March. Paris-Milan-Venice-Florence-Milan. How many pieces and what size should I take??? Can you take all your luggage as 'carry on'? Do you recommend 'checking the luggage in'? Thanks.
Feb 13th, 1999, 10:22 PM
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My advice, don't take much!

On our trip we only had (1) bag each. That's right, one! We travelled very light as far as quantity of bags but I packed it to the gills.

We're going back next month and I will take only one bag again and pack even less. With all the get on and get off and the metros once you're in the city, having more than one piece (2 max) is a royal pain in the butt. My husband has travelled more than I and he swears by the one bag philosophy.

Rule of thumb, after you decide what clothes you want to take, put half of them back in your closet and forget about them. Then, pack extra film and take more money!

Good luck with whatever you decide.
Feb 13th, 1999, 10:28 PM
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Lynn, when you say one bag... do you mean a small suitecase or a large gym/travel bag? Thanks
Feb 13th, 1999, 10:43 PM
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It's one of those "standard" size allowed as a carry-on. Ours are actually backpacks with wheels. Sometimes it's not fun trying to roll it over the cobblestones or up the metro stairs so we like the option of putting it on our back for a little while.

I think they are roughly 22" high, by 14" wide, by 8-10 deep with an extra pocket in front for maps, a few books, etc. I know it doesn't sound like much room but I got real tired of carrying it around and we only moved 3 times on our trip.

If needed, we have also taken an extra "large purse" type bag for water and snacks for the trip over. We usually buy them at garage sales for $1 and then throw them away after we get there. But we always end up with just one bag each.

I just put an older posting to the top for you with several people talking about packing, etc. Hope it's helpful.
Feb 14th, 1999, 06:34 AM
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I've traveled a few times by train in Europe (over probably 5 countries) and have never seen a train where you can check your luggage -- it may be possible on certain trains, but I've never seen it. You should assume you will have to carry all your luggage on with you. It is usually stored over your seats on racks, or if you sit near the doors there are larger vertical racks you can store your luggage on. But take 1-2 bags each maximum! And I agree with the other poster that 1 bag is better (the size of the bag being a standard carry-on bag that would fit in an overhead airplane compartment). On my last trip to Europe we had 2 bags each (4 total) and found it very cumbersome walking around with them going to and from hotels and train stations, etc. We could fit the bags on the trains, but 2 or 3 bags total would have been better. If you're going on a long trip, you may have to go to a laundrymat one day on the trip in order to cut down on what you pack.
Feb 14th, 1999, 07:35 AM
Bob Brown
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A good bit of the decision about how much luggage to take lies in where you are going, how often you will be forced to hoist your luggage around, and your physical ability to do so. Personal preferences play a role also. For example, I don't like to travel by air without enough clothes to tide me over for a couple of days in case the airline sends my gear to China while I am travelling to France. So I always have a carry-on piece and one piece I check.

For train travel, by 2 adults, I plan on carrying no more than 3 bags for 2 people. Of these 3, two are airline carry-ons, which are relatively small, and 1 big one with wheels for the other gear. Because of the surfaces on many streets, the big piece of luggage should be light enough that you can carry it for a short distance without rolling it. Therefore, the lighter the better and your strength determines the size.

On our last trip, because we needed both dress-ups and alpine hiking regalia (boots, heavy socks, backpacks, rain gear, water bottles, hiking poles, warm pullovers, etc) we ended up with 4 pieces of luggage -- 3 small ones and one large piece with wheels.
I knew it would be a minor hassel to tote them about so planning was an issue. In Zurich, because of this forum, I knew we could get a cart to help us get from baggage claim to the train at the airport. We made the only change of trains in Interlaken Ost with no problem because it was a short walk across the platform, and our landlady, by pre-arrangement, met us with a car at our destination. But had we needed to hoist all of them around repeatedly, it would have been a major chore.
To get an idea of what you are facing, load your luggage up with clothes and try walking a half mile with it. (Hopefully the neighbors will not think you have gone off the deep end or been evicted.) Then make your decision.
As a funny aspect of this, when I was a teenager, my dad always had plenty of "stuff" when we travelled. Of course he had a slave to tote it: me. After I left home, he travelled a lot lighter.
Feb 14th, 1999, 02:42 PM
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At the very most, take two pieces, one being a backpack and the other being a daypack for sightseeing. Don't get the top loading packs, they are a pain to find things in and everything gets wrinkled. I have a Jansport World Traveler (or something like that). It is nice because it zips open on 3 sides making everything easily accessed, Eagle Creek has some similar ones that look really nice. To keep things from getting wrinkled, I use Eagle Creek's Pack It 20. You fold your clothes using the plastic board, then you velcro a mesh "evelope" around them and it keeps everything neat and mostly wrinkle free. I've bought them at the Container Store and REI. I always carry my bags on.
Feb 16th, 1999, 01:52 AM
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Hi Gabriela --

Wise posts! Only take 1 bag. It'll be chilly next month, but silk underwear doesn't take up much space (& you'll be wearing your big coat while traveling) . . .

My old travelpack (not sure if REI still makes such a basic big backpack) has shoulderstraps & a hip belt which tucks away, converting it into a normal gray piece of handluggage (still do this when checking into hotels!) -- easy to throw up into overhead train luggage racks. Have fun!
Feb 16th, 1999, 08:49 AM
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Thanks guys!
I will definitely be taking one small suitcase!

Another dilemma I have is booking the railway tickets before I leave the U.S. vs getting them once I'm in Italy.

I have already got the tickets for the first leg Paris - Venice, but I haven't booked the other. The catch is that our plane leaves at 11:40 Sunday morning so we would HAVE to be on the first train to Milan from Venice. Any thoughts???
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