2-3 Month Trip in Europe, Carry On Recommendations?
I am planning a 2-3 month trip in Europe, probably traveling with a Eurorail Flex 15 Day Rail Pass. What do you recommend as a good, sturdy, long-lasting suitcase to carry? I'm female but capable of packing light...
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1) Carry-on to get to Europe from somewhere, or just in Europe?
2) Is this carry-on the train, plane or both?
3) Is this to be one bag for the trip or one of many?
4) Wheels or not?
5) Where are you visiting? Long walks from the stations?
I haven't exactly chosen the details of my trip yet! I know I will be traveling to ~10ish places, but I think that is only via the Eurail.
1) Are there restrictions for train carry on / luggage? Assuming not.
2) Both. I carried a larger purse for 2 weeks in Europe before but would like a real rolling luggage this time.
3) One of many hopefully
5) Decent amount of walking, yes.
6) By "light" I mean that I carried a Lululemon gym bag in Europe for two weeks as my only luggage... I'd assume that's light?
That didn't exactly answer the question regarding light. On the one hand you say you did a two week trip with a gym bag. Now that is really great!
On the other hand you say this bag is to be one of many and add a "hopefully". That is pretty contradictory, I'd say.
And it gives another question of how many other bags you want to carry.
You also don't give a real indication of what size suitcase you want, except saying that this is also supposed to be a plane carry-on which limits you to 45 linear inches. This seems hardly enough packing space for such a long trip unless you can wash frequently and buy nothing while there. Moreover it will limit the use of European airlines if you want to carry it on there. Most have a weight restriction of around 8kg. Most wheeled bags weigh 4kg empty. That doesn't leave a lot of room for net weight of packed goods. You could of course check the bag on the Euro airlines. The cheap ones charge a pretty penny for that.
I know women like to remain a bit mysterious but this really doesn't help.
I can tell you one thing. Wheels aren't great for long distances. Say starting at over 1 mile, wheels suck.
Wheels also generally don't make a suitcase more durable but rather more fragile. A suitcase with a broken wheel while traveling is a real hassle.
Hoisting a suitcase from the platform onto the train is also not great starting at around 30% of body weight, less if you are big. Say a 100lbs woman can probably hoist a 30lbs suitcase. But a 200lbs woman will have a hard time with a 60lbs suitcase. But then we aren't packing light anymore anyway.
Short: I recommend a backpack. It will avoid all the pitfalls above. Possibly even a backpack with wheels or one that can be converted into a hand carry or shoulder bag.
Look at Eagle Creek and Tom Bihn first. Also look at the Ebags TLS series of bags.
I'd steer clear of ordinary wheeled suitcases be it two or four wheel models. If only one of those wheels breaks at the beginning of your trip you will curse yourself.
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I think till has just about nailed it. My additional 2c to sum up.
I like wheels. I have wheeled bag for most of my business trips. These do not involve hikes from the station or heavy carry-ons. I sometimes need to check a bag due to weight and zealous gate agents.
Wheels are bad when weight is an issue or you need to pull a bag a long way, especially over quaint, European, streets.
Size is also an issue if you want to carry-on to the plane.
Wheeled bags rarely make best use of the max carry-on space available.
Single shoulder straps are a PITA when carrying a heavy bag over a distance.
Based on the above and tills advice, I would suggest staying away from even a convertible wheeled bag as they would steal both weight and space.
I'm a big Ebags fan and would suggest that you look at the TLS Weekender, which provides space and organisation, and has comfortable, stowable back-pack straps. This is max legal carry-on on most International flights.
I would also pair this with a very lightweight, packable, daysack. Tom Bihn do great packing cubes that convert to shoulder bags or daysacks.
If you're leaving your bag and/or valuables behind anywhere, also have a look at the pacsafe range for securing your stuff. Also very important when sleeping on trains (or even dozing during the day) secure your bag where you can.
NB - Sleepers in Europe can book up, so key reservations ahead of times can be useful. You can cover lots of ground at night for the price of a hostel room.
I kind of like your idea about taking a sleeper to cover long distances. It can be a real plus on some routes. For example I found that the route going from the south of Germany to Rome is not that spectacular once you are in Italy. Italy has gorgeous landscapes but somehow none of them seem to be along train lines.
But for example if you were to travel from the south of Germany to the north and route along the river Rhine, it would be a real shame to sleep through that.
Or imagine you go from England to Scotland and could go through the Lake District (any trains through there? I did that by car.). What a magnificent piece of country! Sleeping through that would be a crime!
Also, depending on the kind of sleeper car it can be really quite expensive and I don't know if that kind of car is even included or possible as an add-on for Eurail customers.
I am not sure if OP's responses were correctly understood. Hopefully she'll come back to clarify but I think she might have meant one trip of many, not one bag of many!
Here are my two cents:
1. I like wheels too and I'll be using my Rimowa IATA Salsa Air as my only luggage on my next trip to France but if I were taking trains in Europe I wouldn't bother with wheels - just too much hassle with stairs, uneven surfaces and all that lifting. If OP is on airlines with strict weight limits I agree wheels are a big negative and soak up too much of the weight allowance to make the limited benefits they provide worthwhile.
2. I am a 5'6 female who is fit and active, and I personally find the "10% of bodyweight" rule of thumb really takes me to the limit of what I can comfortably carry over extended distances. This means a bag the size of, say, the Tom Bihn Aeronaut is generally too big for me because it is so easy to pack it heavily. On the other hand, a single compartment convertible bag of those dimensions would otherwise be perfect, I'd say, for the sort of trip OP is planning.
3. I would go for a slightly smaller convertible bag. It sounds as if the OP would be able to do this if she is a light packer. It's no secret that I like Tom Bihn , so I would probably see if I could manage with my Western Flyer plus a large-ish personal item (day pack or handbag for use at destination). I would pack a folding tote, say Bric's or Longchamp, to handle the inevitable shopping and check the other bag on the way home. But for a trip of this length the TriStar would probably be a better size than the Western Flyer, and it can hold as much as most MLC wheeled bags.
I've traveled with just a backpack many times, including my most recent trip of 3 months with one carry-on sized backpack (with a zip-off additional backpack that fits under the airplane seat and is great to use as a day-pack which you'll need anyway). There are so very many reasons you don't want to get a hard/roller bag but here are a few that I can think of at 2AM:
1) Cobblestones (and there WILL be cobblestones) + wheels = broken wheels
2) Wheeled luggage is not as maneuverable or secure from theft as a backpack
3) Hard/Wheeled luggage is heavier than a backpack (much heavier) and therefore is going to be a pain to carry around
I've never met anyone who carried a backpack who wished they'd brought wheeled luggage. Many sites out there provide packing tips, such as lonelyplanet.
I like wheels. The wheeled bags I have do cobblestones and pavements without problem most of the time. I often use Briggs & Riley. On long trips I carry a set of spare wheels which are now available very cheaply on their website - as my trip may be too long to wait to get the free repair by B & R when I get around to returning. But none of my Briggs & Riley wheels has ever broken and they do lots of cobblestone and bumpy pavement duty. If I walk over a broken up pavement near some building work, or some other exceptionally rough or dirty bit of road or pavement, I just pick the bag up and carry it.
But most of the time if you are mostly hitting cities and towns, wheels score with all the long city distances we do nowadays - to and from hotels and stations, and especially in airports.
I also have excellent rucksacks however I often travel adjacent to business trips, and in some countries a rucksack does not always give the right impression. I think it's OK to carry a rucksack if the type of holiday is such that I'm also carrying a tent.
Most European cities may be cities but they have crazy cobblestones.
I have a back problem and was on the verge of buying a rolling luggage just a month ago, but I just can't do it. Ridiculous now that I look at it, because it is just so much easier to carry a backpack. Every time I take a train (I love taking trains in Europe) and just hop on/off, I pity those struggling to get their wheelies on/off because some train platforms are quite low so there's a height (while others are of the same level).
And the stairs, especially in subways! I was absolutely annoyed standing behind people carrying wheelies when going around on the Tube because they would stop in the middle of peak period in front of stairs just so they could navigate their bags.
Anyway, I'm female and your height. I have a Mei Voyageur because Tom Bihn was a little pricey and manly-looking. I love my backpack because it opens up like a regular luggage bag (3-side zip) unlike those nasty top-loaders, and the padded belt really helped to balance the weight of the bag when needed. It is brown and quiet, and I added a neon coloured velcro scrap so I can pick it out easily.
I have checked my bag a couple of times (only for direct flights because I have control issues), and it's less than a minute once you're used to it to hide all the backpack straps in the assigned compartment so it doesn't snag on any weird hooks that might come its way.
It has held up incredibly well since I bought it in Dec 2010. I know it has only been 1.5 years but I do abuse it: I always throw it on the floor everywhere and anywhere I need to wait, use my feet to kick and push it ahead of a queue instead of carrying it, use it to prop my feet when I'm sitting at the train station and airport, and just collapse with and onto it when I reach a bed.
I have checked it in as a 6.9kg baggage but it fits waaayyy more (like 12kg when it is a shopping trip). It probably is quite filthy but it looks brand new. The brown is chosen well, but I really should go clean it before I put my face to it again.
Highly recommended, wish I were making money but nope, just an independent review. My female friend (who is shorter and skinnier) has the green one and she loves it as well.
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2-3 months is going to require washing, no matter how efficient you are. I can easily get 2 weeks with no washing out of an Air Boss. I would think that would be a target. One good thing is that women's clothes are generally lighter than men's - especially if you like wearing dresses at least part of the time.
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