Friday, August 19, 2011

Travelling question: suitcases

Martha asks, "Could you please mention what sort of luggage you used, and whether you would recommend it? I'm off for a 12 day trip to London, Paris and Munich in late October, early November, almost all work, but dressy casual work. I need to replace old and heavy luggage. I've been thinking about Eagle Creek Tarmac 28", but am now wondering if a Red Oxx Sky Train would be better, provided I cut down what I take. I'm strong, but am leery of hauling a non-wheeled suitcase from train station to train station. Any thoughts? Thanks!"

I bring three items: a 21" or 24" roller bag, a backpack or full-size tote bag (carry-on), and a purse (pack or carry-on). This will cover me for 5 days to 5 weeks (using the larger suitcase).

I have an inexpensive fabric roller suitcase, 21", with no exterior storage space and an interior-lid net/zip compartment. It also expands 2". This is perfect for travel for 3-10 days, in my opinion. Something like this.

For longer trips, I have a 24" roller, also expandable, with an exterior compartment and an interior-lid compartment. I've used this American Tourister suitcase for anything from 10 days to 6 weeks. It is indestructable.

Personally, I highly recommend a roller suitcase for so many reasons. Europe is filled with hotels & B&Bs without elevators, train stations, bad pavement, busses and subways. I also recommend that you bring nothing more than a 20-24" for 12 days--which will limit your packing--and plan to buy a small suitcase in one of these cities and fill it with souvenirs and memorabilia. Or bring a folding tote in your suitcase. I've done both with great results. Easier and smarter than leaving space in the suitcase you bring: you'll never leave enough space for what you buy. Get the best roller wheels you can buy: meaning smooth and durable. I don't worry about them being all-direction swivel, but simply not cheap.

The fact is that you don't want a heavy, clumsy suitcase and you don't want too many clothes. For instance, you won't need more than one all-weather jacket this time of year. It should be waterproof in case of rain, fold small for your daily carry-bag, and keep out wind.

And on that note: do bring something to use everyday while you are out and about. Like a tote that zips across the top. I sometimes use a backpack, but that doesn't translate well to shopping. A cross-body bag is best, one with zippers and several pockets to stash the wallet, the map, the subway tickets, etc., that won't bother you while you walk.

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