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, which may be long and boring...
During my past couple of trips, I have taken my Expandable 24" Eagle Creek wheeled bag as my check in bag.
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.
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.
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.
If I had taken my new bag, it probably would not have been damaged like my 24" bag was since the new 22" Crossroads bag has a lot of padding in the back by the telescope handles. Off topic a little...when I went to the airline counter to put in a claim for the damage, the woman had a big smile on her face while handing me a paper with a statement highlighted in pink saying the airline does not cover damaged bags (even though they are the ones that damage the bags!). Eagle Creek once again and came through repairing my bag. I only had to pay for the shipping to Eagle Creek (not cheap but cheaper than replacing the bag).
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):
Eagle Creek Round About Wheeled Tote
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
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.
I am leaning towards the Hovercraft although I like the Tarmac also and 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. Hopefully I will make a decision soon so that I will have enough time to have the bag shipped (with any luck with free shipping - without that special asterisk that says in the tiniest print that Hawaii and Alaska are excluded).
Any opinions on the choices above or other suggestions??