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luggage...what to do, what to do

As I mentioned earlier, my main obsession this year so far has been luggage. I have always tried to pack light but have never succeeded. It sure would make my life a little easier if I could get a little better at packing lighter this year.

First a little history...

During my past couple of trips, I have taken my Expandable 24" Eagle Creek wheeled bag as my check in bag.
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Info on this bag: 8 pounds, 16 X 24 X 9 in, 3500 cu inches, 3800 cu inches when expanded.

The good thing about this bag is that it can hold a lot of stuff. It can get heavy though when fully packed, but I have never gone over the 50 lb. airline limit. The bad thing about this bag is that it is a taller bag and can be thick if expanded, which makes it difficult to sometimes fit on the overhead train racks or between the seats on the Eurostar trains. I usually cannot lift it that high and worry about taking it down on my own (not wanting it to go flying and injuring another passenger). I don't always have offers to help me lift it and at times I have sat with it squished in front of me during the train ride. This bag also can be a challenge when having to carry it up and down the train underpass stairs.


For my main carry on bag, I have taken my Eagle Creek Subcontinental Journey backpack.
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Info on this bag: 3 pounds, 14 X 22 X 9 in, 2400 cu inches.

I have used this bag so that I would only have one wheeled bag to make it easier to walk down a narrow street and up & down the train stairs. I usually pack this bag heavy during my flight because I don't trust the airline getting my other bag there after the airline lost one of my bags a few years ago. The bag was officially declared missing/lost. I declared it stolen. Once I arrive at my destination, I transfer the heavy stuff into my wheeled bag for the duration of my trip until I again head to the airport. This bag fits easily in the overhead compartment and also is easy to lift and fit on the overhead train racks or between the seats on the Eurostar trains.

BUT, I am getting too old to have a bag on my back. I curse and say never again every year while spending my 5-6 hours in the Newark airport waiting for my second plane to depart for Italy. Each year, I go into the Newark Airport travel store and eye the foldable metal wheeled luggage carrier. I am sure by now, the guy working there knows me and probably has a bet on if I will finally make that purchase or walk out of the store empty handed once again. Each year, I have him open it up and I try it out with my backpack. Hey, I have 5-6 hours to kill. This takes up a good 30 minutes of that time. So far I have always decided against it because of the hassle of carrying it around all over Italy.

Years ago, I purchased a smaller Eagle Creek 18" wheeled luggage bag which had a a zip away backpack attached to the back of the bag. I loved this little bag. I would be perfect today for my current needs. The fabric started to stick together. I called Eagle Creek and they honored the warranty and fix or replace the bag free of charge (after I paid the shipping to send the damaged bag to them). They were not able to replace the bag and instead offered me a new similar bag. I chose the with Eagle Creek Crossroads 22 wheeled luggage bag which also has a zip away backpack attached to the back of the bag. This does give me the option to carry it if necessary, although that is not really part of my plan.

Eagle Creek Cross Roads 22
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Info on this bag: 7 pounds 9 oz, 16 X 24 X 9 in, 3060 cu inches, 3900 cu inches when expanded.

I almost took this bag with me last summer instead of my 24" wheeled bag but in the end went with the 24" bag for the extra space. Now that I look at the specs, it seems that the expanded size is very similar although the bag would probably be much fatter since it is shorter.

I now have 2 choices for my check in bag this summer; my 24" bag or my new 22" bag. I am leaning towards my new 22" bag. It is expandable and is a little shorter. The weight of the bags is not that much different but the size would be a little more manageable. I did momentarily consider taking both bags, using the 22" bag as my carry on bag, but the size of the 22" bag when not expanded is right at the carry on limit. I would be too nervous that I could be forced to check the bag at some point, especially on my way back from Italy where they may be a little more picky on the size of carry on bags.

Finally, here is my dilemma.
I have decided to purchase a new carry on bag, instead of using the large backpack. I would like a carry on bag with wheels. So, now I need to decide which bag will give me the most space and also be reasonable as a second bag (not counting my "purse") to travel with solo on trains, planes, and buses all around Italy.

The good thing about investing in a new wheeled bag (I say investing because these bags are expensive) is that my back and neck muscles will thank me. Once I have a wheeled bag for a carry on, I will no longer need to check out that foldable metal wheeled luggage carrier in Newark. I may just stop in anyways and say hello to my buddy at the travel store during my 6 hour layover. The bad thing about switching to a wheeled carry on bag is that I am automatically adding 3-4 pounds of weight so I am looking for something light but also with space.

I first thought about getting one of the new smaller wheeled bags which can be stacked on top of my check in bag while traveling in Italy. This would solve the problem of how to get around with 2 wheeled bags. I was surprised at how expensive they can be.

After hours and hours of searching on the internet, I narrowed it down to the following two bags (both have the back slip panel to stack on rolling wheeled luggage):

The Rick Steves Avanti Rolling Tote
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Info on the bag: 5 1/2 pounds, 16 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 10 in, 1000 cubic-inch main compartment with a padded, zippered laptop compartment. Not sure on the overall space.

Eagle Creek Round About Wheeled Tote
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Info on the bag: 5 lbs 10 oz, 14.5 x 15 x 9.5 in, 1700 cu in. More space but I would still lose 700 cu inches if giving up the backpack and that would put the pressure on for definite light packing.

It’s a good thing I stopped at a luggage store that sold heavy luggage just to check out the sizes yesterday. I found bags which were similar in size and they were tiny!!

SO back to the drawing board. I remembered seeing a hook up on one of Pauline Kenny’s Buying Luggage and Travel Accessories page demonstrating how to connect two rolling suitcases piggy-back style. I’m still not sure exactly how that is done but it obviously can be done and so I am going to figure it out. There must be some sort of strap I can purchase to hook up the 2 bags. I don't know what the solution for the train station stairs would be however with 2 wheeled bags. I guess I could put the one with the backpack straps on my back just for the stairs. Traveling isn't as easy as it was 10 years ago when I was much younger and in better shape.

After more searching online yesterday and today, I have again narrowed it down to 3 choices. My criteria is a bag that will not be denied as proper carry on size and a bag that is light and will not easily tip over.

Baggallini Daytripper - Crinkle Nylon
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Info on the bag: 5 lbs , 10 oz, 17.5 x 14 x 7.5 in, no info on cu inches. The two front pockets are sort of goofy looking and probably pretty useless but otherwise the bag seems like a possibility.

Eagle Creek Tarmac 20
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Info on the bag: 7 lbs 8 oz, 14 x 20 x 9.5 in, 2225 cu in

Hovercraft 20
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Info on the bag: 6 lbs 14 oz, 14 x 20 x 10 in, 2550 cu in

I am leaning towards the Hovercraft although I like the Tarmac but the Baggallini is the cheapest. I wish I could find these bags here to check them out. There are only a few luggage stores on the island and none sell Eagle Creek bags and I don't think any sell the Baggallini bags. I need to make a decision soon so that I will have enough time to have the bag shipped (hopefully with free shipping).

Any opinions on the choices above or other suggestions??

Comments (5)

sandrac:

Hmmmmmm, this is a fascinating issue because most of us struggle at some point with luggage choices. Especially a solo traveler as you and I both are!

I'm now noticing how many people are pulling wheeled carry-on bags, which seems to me to be an excellent idea, especially when you have connections and long layovers. Lugging a coat, maybe a laptop plus a full carry-on with camera, and books and medications, etc., can get really tiring and annoying!

But I've also puzzled over how I would handle two pieces of wheeled luggage (carry-on plus by 24" checked suitecase.) Up to now, I've carried on a large tote bag with a flat base, so it actually sits very well on top of my 24" check-in, especially when the big one is tipped back and being pulled. They're a bit heavy to pull together, but it works out for short hauls, to and from airports, etc. Together, they look a lot like Pauline's example of the duffle bag that sits on top of the suitcase (rather than being pulled piggy-back style) That latter style might be hard to handle on stairs and if it ever got loose, yikes!

My point (and I think have one!) is that I would look for a wheeled carry-on bag that is fairly squat and flat, so that it could sit happily on top of the check-in bag, either upright or turned sideways. The Baggalini carry-on you found seems to have large feet that would keep it from sitting securely on top of your check-in. But I think either of the others, turned sideways, would sit okay. They probably have handles or straps that you could drape over the long handle of the check-in bag to kind of hold the carry-on in place. That's what I do with my tote; if it tips, it doesn't actually fall off.

You've inspired me! I think I'm going to start looking for a wheeled carry-on to replace the old tote bag. Much more comfortable to handle during layovers, I would think. And possible to stack the two suitcases together. Although that doesn't solve the problem of getting your things on and off trains. I'm not sure we'll ever find an answer to that one!

Donna:

Girasoli, check out Travel Pro. The Google add says free shipping and they're on sale.

Sandra, I never thought about trying to stack one of these bags sideways, although I have tried to stack my backpack sideways with not much success when my back got tired while in Italy. I think if I just get some sort of strap they will wheel nicely together...it is just the train stairs I will have to deal with and really only a few stops this time since I am not going to as many places. Maybe I will try to sneak on the elevator they have in some train stations :-)

Donna, thanks so much for doing a search for me. Unfortunately they all say free shipping but then when you look at the fine print - "Does NOT apply to shipments to Alaska or Hawaii".

Decisions decisions! I really liked the light green Eagle Creek bag but I guess it is too small. Like Sandra, I find it a little awkward to have two rolling bags but if they stack, that's great. I always try to have a small carry on - but over the last years I have definitely been getting more technology stuff and that takes quite a bit of space.

Sorry I don't have any good advice...

Chiocciola, I was really drawn to that little green bag also. The size in the photo is quite deceiving though. Although I have not seen this particular bag in person, the others with similar dimensions were very tiny. I really wanted to find a stacking type of bag but in the end I think I would be more frustrated with not enough room. The technology stuff definitely takes up a lot of space and adds more weight. Thanks for your comment.

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