Theories on luggage and packing…….

Theories on luggage and packing…….

Where do we start? Well, it depends on where we are going, of course. Warm or cold weather clothing will influence the size (and weight) of your bags. We have learned over the years to pack less and less with each trip because bags are heavy and seem to get heavier as we go.


If you, like us, are traveling independently, there are no porters or baggage handlers, so size and weight become an issue. YOU are the porter/baggage handler, so lugging around a large and heavy bag becomes a real pain in the butt! Plus, when you are on public transportation and your bag doesn’t fit under your seat or in the overhead rack you get to hold your bag in your lap and that’s not fun. You will remember that experience next time you pack. Also, when you stay at a place that doesn’t have an elevator you will definitely be glad you packed light.


Duffel vs Pullman suitcase


What type of bag should you choose and why? We prefer duffels over the Pullman hard type suitcases. Duffels are narrower, compress, and fit in the overhead rack on public transportation. They are easier to carry up flights of stairs and if necessary can be converted to a backpack style with the straps provided.

Type of wheels and which is better? We like the inline urethane skate type wheels over the plastic spinner wheels.  The plastic spinner wheels are not as durable and practical on cobblestone, gravel and dirt streets, bog down and do not roll easily.


26” rolling duffels

Let’s use our last two trips as examples for packing because the styles of traveling were different on each of these trips. For our 6-week fall trip to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, we took warm weather clothes (Spain and Portugal). Then we went to the mountains in Morocco (cold weather, hiking gear) and, best for last….needed to bring our sleeping bags. How do you fit all that into a carry-on? You don’t. Much to our dismay, we had to take our 26” rolling duffels. Packed for this particular trip they weighed out at just about 35 lbs each at departure – a lot of weight when you are hauling them into train cars, over your head into compartment racks, or carrying them up several flights of stairs.


Carry-on duffels & personal items

The second trip was 6 weeks to Southeast Asia with only our carry-ons. How did we pack for six weeks with only carry-ons and not the 26” rolling duffels? It was actually very easy because the only weather we were going to encounter was hot and hotter. We packed clothes for 5-7 days and did laundry along the way. No “what if I need…” clothing was allowed. We were so happy not to be dealing with big, heavy bags. It made moving locations so much easier.


Don’s carry-on duffel items 

The clothes are in the brown packing folder and underwear & socks are in the black packing cube.


Renee’s carry-on duffel items 

The clothes are in the red packing folder and underwear & socks are in the black packing cube.


Too many people think they have to pack clothes to last the entire trip and for every “what if” scenario and that is not the case. People everywhere use the same items. Clothes, shoes, and toiletries are available for purchase wherever you go. In fact, we have found brands on our trips that we prefer but are not available in the US.


We like to take older, comfortable clothes for a couple of reasons:

1) laundry is laundry, but the clothes may not come back in the same condition.

2) you can buy new clothes on the trip if you need. Old clothes are easy to discard or donate if you want to make room for stuff you buy along the way.


When we do need clothes, we purchase with traveling in mind: how will it pack, is it wrinkle free, practical, easy to wash and dry (even in a hotel room sink)?


Bottom line: no “what if’s……” when you pack. Use one color scheme, lay out your clothes, and then pack only half. NO ONE is going to remember what you were wearing on a particular day or if you wore it more than once. Trust us on this – we learned the hard way.


In the next post, we will be sharing what we pack, why and how. Stay tuned!



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