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Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

Edmonton, Alberta...
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Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

We plan to travel Italy for 4 wks, primarily by train and SITA bus. We are terrible terrible packers when it comes to packing lightly, although we will be making efforts to be mindful when doing so.

Keeping our propensity for packing heavier, can anyone provide some suggestions as to what type of luggage has been helpful for their European travels? Backpacks, rolling backpacks, rolling suitcases...sizes. Any thoughts/suggestions would be appreciated.

Australia
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11. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

dijh - I don't have a husband/boyfriend/bloke around to help me - in fact that last trip I was with my young son who needed help as he is marginally shorter than me - so managing on my own is a priority . I wouldn't ask a stranger to help me either - I would rather be independent, hence the light packing. If I desperately need something, I buy it there. I took sandals, boots and the wedges and they covered extremes of temperature (it was cold in Venice and we were swimming and sunbathing in Positano). Mind you, I was happy to get home and wear something else, lol!

As for a weekend at a city hotel - my packing rules are out the window as I am driving and going from the car to the elevator to the room so I'm with you in regards to all the 'just in cases' and 'shoes for the dress' :)

pittsburgh
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12. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

I'm not sure I can see an issue with packing lightly. You'll be in Italy 4 weeks. Pack one weeks worth of clothes and wash as needed. No one is going to know you wore the same outfit more than once except you. If you pack in the same color pallet that gives you more choices.

My family always carries rolling carry-ons. We don't pack shampoos and other toiletries, we buy them in Italy. We also tend to travel in cooler weather so we wear a jacket on the plane so we don't need to pack it. This summer the 4 of us spend two and a half weeks traveling out of carry-ons. My "young adults" had their back packs (small versions they use at college) for all their personal items. They never had any issues.

I think if you try you will find that you can easily pack for this trip in a carry-on each. Set out enough to wear for one week and cut it in half. Put it in the carry on and add or subtract as needed. If not, be prepared for the difficulties you'll have on trains, buses and taxis. On the train, you'll need to leave the bags at the ends of the carriage, not at your seat. The steps are very steep getting on and off with no one top help.

donna

Melbourne, Australia
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13. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

Kathy, my young son is now six and half feet tall at 19 years old, so he is a great help to travel with! I do agree about being independent and I would never ask anyone to help, it was just offered (thank goodness!).

dbabe, we do only pack for a week, but that is still more than we could fit in a carryon. I believe that US citizens can carry much more than the rest of the western world, you certainly can in checked in luggage. For carry on for us on Emirates, who is who we usually fly with, we are only allowed 7kg. If we check in we get 30kg. There is no way I could pack a weeks worth of clothing (and shoes) in a 7kg bag. Would love to but just not going to happen.

Sydney, Australia
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14. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

A 24" suitcase holds 20kg (44lb) when reasonably packed. I pack it at about 17kg and can manage that myself (just)

Pack layers of clothes in colours that go together, from tanks to sweaters, wear a coat onto the plane, take no more than 3 pairs of footware, maybe walking shoes, walking sandals and something dressy.

Melbourne, Australia
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15. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

Lynn, now we are talking. I usually have around 17-18kg when we travel and I can manage it, just, as you said. Would love to pack lighter but just can't.

I don't understand though how we Australians could really pack carry on only. I think I take more that 7kg for a day at work lol.

tucson, az
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16. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

If you want to pack lightly, you really only need 2 pairs of shoes: comfortable supportive walking shoes and dress shoes. Leave all those fancy schmancy appliances like hair dryers and curling irons at home. Pack your bags. Then unpack them and set aside half of the clothes. Honest, no one's going to care that you wore that blouse once a week every week.

Edited: 12 November 2013, 13:48
Seattle, Washington
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17. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

One other thought about throwing in things you "might" need "just in case". Don't do it. They have stores in Italy if needed, which gives you the pleasant opportunity to do some shopping!

On a related note: my wife packs an empty nylon duffel bag at the bottom of her suitcase, and shops her way through Italy, especially for our Milan visits. When we go home, she checks the shopping-duffel and takes the rest as carry-on. :)

-K

Le Marche, Italy
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18. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

I regularly travel for two weeks with a small suitcase that's well under the limit of a carry-on bag, even on the strictest airlines. Once I backpacked all over Europe for four weeks with my daughter, from sweltering Rome to chilly England, with only a medium sized travel bag and a large purse. (That time I did laundry half way through.) My current favorite bag is like this, only an older model, and it's red:

http://tinyurl.com/qxb4hse

The middle compartment on mine seems to be a bit larger, but opens only at the top. Even though the bag is small enough to fit under the airline seat, I often check it in, just to be free of it in the airport. Along with it, I carry either a small duffle bag that sits on top of it, or a small backpack (really a daypack).

If I were traveling for four weeks, I would do laundry once, but on a two week trip, I don't even do laundry, other than maybe a little hand washing of underwear or socks. I don't carry anything dressy. I've been traveling for years and have never found it necessary to get dressed up for dinner. If I do change my clothes, I change into whatever I'll be wearing the next day. If I ever get invited to dinner at the embassy, I'll throw in a pair of satin slacks, some ballerinas, and a silk shirt.

I carry the bare minimum of toiletries, and absolutely no personal care devices. My husband takes an old-fashioned razor when we travel.

The first thing you should do is get a good easy-care haircut. Even if it's not quite wash-and-wear, you'll be able to manage it with the hotel hair dryer. Then choose a color scheme and make sure you stick to it. You might decide on a brown scheme, and make sure all your slacks are brown, tan, or olive green, and that all your tops will match those colors. I don't ever buy clothing for a trip, although I do have some clothing that I bought originally with the idea that it would be ideal for traveling. I once had my dressmaker make several mid-season outfits that could be mixed and matched.

The key to packing light is to wear everything multiple times, and I don't mean just once a week, as someone mentioned above. Do whatever you need to do to keep the clothing fresh and clean. That means deodorant, panty liners, and spot cleaning each evening when you return to the hotel. In the summer, a lightweight tank top worn under a light cotton shirt (perhaps worn open) keeps the shirt from getting sweaty; the tank top can be rinsed out in the sink if necessary. Hang whatever you wear, even t-shirts, on a hanger in the closet to air out between wearings. Don't wear white or other colors that are so light that they'll show light soil. I never take jeans on a trip, because they take up too much space, and, if they should get wet, they take forever to dry. They're not even very warm in winter. Likewise, I don't take shorts in the summer, as capris are just as cool and much more versatile. I prefer cotton or linen slacks or capris in the summer and wool in the winter.

For two weeks, I take three or four pairs of slacks, counting the pair I'm wearing, and five or six tops. In the summer, I take one or two more of each, but since they'll be lighter weight, the amount of space is the same. I always carry a cardigan, lightweight cotton or silk in the summer; in the winter I take two wool sweaters, one light and one heavy (which I wear on the plane). These also have to match everything else. I take at least two pairs of comfortable walking shoes or sandals, counting the pair I wear. I never bring dressy shoes on a trip, unless I have to go to a wedding or something. I always take a wind-and-rain-resistant jacket, preferably with a hood; in the summer, it's an unlined lightweight jacket, and in the winter a heavier one that can be layered with a sweater. Any other outerwear, such as scarf, hat, mittens will be worn, not packed.

My only electronics are either my 10-inch netbook or my 7-inch Android tablet. I usually carry a small (but very good) camera. On rare occasions I take my DSLR and one extra lens. For city trips, I find a wide angle lens more useful than a telephoto lens.

My actual packing strategy is as follows: Start with the slacks. Lay the first pair in the suitcase, folded along the crease, with the waistband at one end and the legs hanging out the other end. The lay the next pair in the opposite direction. Then, if I have any shirts that have to be folded. I fold them to the exact size of the suitcase and put them on top of the slacks. Then I put the sweater folded on top of that. Then I fold and roll the knit tops and put them on top of the sweater. Finally, I fold the legs of the slacks over everything else. If you've placed them carefully in the bag, they won't get wrinkled. I put the pair of shoes I'm not wearing either in the other compartment of my favorite bag, or, if I'm taking a different suitcase, I put them in my other carry-on. I stuff socks in the shoes, to save space and also to keep their shape. You can stuff socks and underwear around the edges of the main compartment, and put the rest in a different compartment (the central one in my favorite bag). If I'm bringing any gifts, I also put them in the central compartment. If I plan to carry on two bags, I need to put my purse in there, too.

In the front compartment of my favorite bag, I put the netbook or tablet, any guidebooks, rechargers, and the small camera.

In my duffle bag or daypack, I put at least one clean shirt (rolled up) and a change of underwear, pajamas or night shirt, plus all the things I absolutely need, such as medicine, and my ziploc bag with small containers of liquids. This way, if my luggage goes astray, I have what I need for the next day. In the ziploc bag, I carry a saline nasal spray (to combat the dry air on the plane), a hand sanitizer, travel size deodorant and toothpaste, and a light hand cream, which serves for both hands and face cream on the trip. I throw in a travel sized toothbrush, even though it's not liquid, just so I have it all together. I don't carry any detergent for handwashing, as I use the hotel shampoo for that. On many trips, I have no other toiletries at all.

I can lift all of this over my head to put it in an overhead compartment, and I can carry it up steps with no problem. I could walk a mile easily with my luggage. When I was a novice traveler, I several times took too much stuff on trips, and once nearly ruined my vacation with the hassle of the luggage. Now I know better; I've never once felt that I hadn't brought along enough stuff. If it ever happens, I'll just buy something.

Edited: 12 November 2013, 17:49
Le Marche, Italy
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19. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

As I've mentioned several times before on these forums, I live in Italy and often have family and friends visiting from the US. You wouldn't believe the amount of stuff they've abandoned here, just because they couldn't bear to carry it any further. Jackets, handbags, a garment bag, a backpack, skirts, shirts, sweaters, and electronic gadgets. It's like the films of American pioneers discarding furniture along the Oregon Trail. So if you don't have a sister in Italy, just leave that excess baggage at home!

Chicago, Illinois
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20. Re: Best luggage for 4wks in Italy-heavy packers.

For me the key is building everything around my black jeans -- they are styled so they don't look like jeans and are very dark black. I can literally wear that every day in moderate to cold weather. Silk long johns go underneath if it is cold. So I will have two pair of pants -- the black jeans and a dark pair of cords. With basic black pants, you can throw in something that dresses it up for a nice dinner out or the opera. I have a pretty gold necklace that goes particularly well with a black turtleneck -- I bought the necklace at the Vanves flea market in Paris. With the necklace and an attractive evening sweater/wrap, I am as dressed up as I need to be. In cool or cold weather, I wear a cotton turtle with the black pants -- if it is very cold then a silk turtle goes under that and a sweater or polartek on top. I travel with a couple of the turtlenecks, one black and one in a brighter color. Add a raincoat/trench on top and two pair of good walking shoes one of which is waterproof leather boots and underwear and I am set.

In hot weather, I use linen pants in black or dark brown instead and throw in a cotton wrap skirt. A travel shirt (those shirts with the hidden pockets that have roll up sleeves) over a fitted T-shirt (black) acts as a light jacket.

In bridge seasons, throwing in the skirt or linen pants and a few T shirts and a travel shirt adds little weight but is there if there is an unseasonably hot day or week.

I used to throw lots of stuff in ' just in case' and noticed that much of this never got worn. I have reduced it now to things I know have high wearability, don't show dirt and are versatile. It is critical to have footwear that will see you through miles on tough pavement day in and day out. I sometimes carry two pair of shoes and a pair of sandals in warmer weather. In any case, I always have two very comfortable pairs of shoes/boots.

My husband is the king of underpackers. One year we had both a burst of cold weather and then hot weather in a couple months spent in Paris and Burgundy. He ended up buying a jacket, a sweater, shorts, a couple of lightweight shirts and a pair of jeans in Paris. We donated most of it to a local charity in Burgundy before heading back. Not ideal, but anything you find you must have will be easy to pick up in France. I still wear an inexpensive cashmere turtleneck I bought at C&A during one cold snap and a turtleneck I got for only 6 Euro at Tati in Paris -- I think it is made out of knit dioxin or reprocessed milk bottles or something, but it actually looks good and it hangs in my closet here in Chicago now.