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tammykva123

First time traveler to Europe

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First time traveling overseas to Europe from US.  Is it best to carry on or check baggage?  I am leaning towards carry on but would like to advice from those who have done both. 

Thanks 

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I've done both - we usually check , but spent three weeks in Switzerland and Croatia with just carry on bags. It worked for us, but there are advantages and disadvantages. How long will you be in Europe? What weather do you anticipate? Do you enjoy buying lots of souvenirs? Do you like/need to have an outfit for every occasion? All questions that will need to be asked of yourself and the rest of your party. 

 

Advantages:

1. If you are changing planes (and even if you aren't!) there's no worries about losing bags.

2. It's a lot less hassle corralling just a carry on bag when getting to and from your accommodations

3. No bag fees!

4. Flexibility when travelling.

 

Disadvantages:

1. You can't bring home that lovely bottle of wine that your beloved relatives gave you (personal experience talking there...)

2. No room for all the nice souvenirs you pick up along the way (although you can mail them home)

3. If the weather turns bad, you may need to buy extra clothes

 

 

Check out Rick Steves' packing light tips - we found them most useful:

 

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light

Edited by Paul Bradley

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Two principles we follow:

 

1.  Never arrive in Europe (or anywhere overseas) on the day the ship sails.  Stuff happens and you don't want to be waving goodbye to the ship as it sails over the horizon.  Or at least ensure that the next day port-of-call would be easy to get to...not a day at sea or some very obscure location.

 

2.  We always check baggage (and, as we travel with Star Alliance and have status, no bag fees).  First because trying to travel on a very nice cruise with carry-ons is impractical for us.  Second, we've never had luggage lost...just delayed.  Only once over 24 hours and that was a trip in the developing world where we'd arrived 3 days early.  Otherwise, see number 1.

Edited by Portolan

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We've never had a problem, why not enjoy your vacation and check everything excepts meds, paperwork and anything else you can't be without.

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We've done both, but lately, the last few years, we have leaned toward carry-on only.  This is easier if you're travelling in Business Class or at least Premium Economy, since the overhead bins in Economy get very crowded and people fight for space. 

 

We did Paris/Nile Cruise, a French Polynesian cruise, and Italy, with a cruise, all with two roll-aboards and two little carry-ons that sit on top.  Managed to negotiate trains, planes, taxis, and two climates.  But as we get older, and mobility goes down, we'll be checking our bags more often.  And on a cruise, we pack less and less with time--I always overpacked when we started cruising 18 years ago.

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We have also done both.

 

Since we generally aren't having to pay luggage fees on our international flights, we'll often check a bag.  However, our last trip to Europe (Amsterdam) might give us pause to do that in the future.  Someone at Schipol walked off with one of our bags, thinking it was theirs.  And yes, we had several unique tags on the bags.  Thankfully, the person returned to the airport in about an hour with our bag (they'd gotten all the way to their hotel).

 

Several years ago I was on a two week European land trip (lots of rail travel) and managed with a small carry-on and separate smaller hand bag.  It can be done!

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If you are using a European airline they are very strict with weight and dimensions of carryon. The only time I would consider carry on only is if I had a tight connection. 

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All airlines post their regulations online, so a little research ahead of time should alleviate any worries.

 

The issue becomes the seemingly ever-changing regulations - we have a number of former carry-on bags that are now considered too big......

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I have done both, but tend to check more now.  If I were doing a Europe trip with a lot of rail travel, I would try to pack lighter, but in Europe, we like to shop and bring home wine which you can’t do with carry on.

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We do things in reverse - travel from Europe to the US to get on cruises.  we always check bags and have never had a problem with them, even when we have had connecting flights.    That said, we also generally fly Swiss and they are very efficient with luggage.

 

Personally I cannot imagine being on a cruise and only travelling with carry on luggage.   I am not a "fashion plate" and I do pack a lot of "mix and match" stuff.  My husband generally wears a "uniform" - khaki trousers and golf shirts with a sweater if needed in the day and proper shirts and grey trousers in the evening with blazer and tie if needed but I could not fit all this into one carry on each...and I wouldn't even try!

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5 hours ago, tammykva123 said:

Got2Cruise So do they not transfer your checked bag to the next plane for you? Do you have to go to baggage claim and then recheck it for the next leg of your flight?

 

That depends on what airline, and how you're ticketed. Usually if you're ticketed with the same airline, your bags will be checked through.

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Hambagahle,  forgive me for wandering slightly off subject, but my favorite country to travel to is Switzerland, and I believe the very best airline is Swiss! No problems ever. Excellent service always.

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we check and carry 1 bag with a change of clothes and essentials just in case

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22 hours ago, tammykva123 said:

Got2Cruise So do they not transfer your checked bag to the next plane for you? Do you have to go to baggage claim and then recheck it for the next leg of your flight?

Also, if you have to go through customs before your final destination (which we always do coming back home since there are no direct international flights to Tulsa), you have to reclaim your bags in customs then recheck..

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Depending on what airport you are coming into and once you clear customs and immigration, you will go to the airline transfer desk of your connecting airline which is usually outside of custom.  It’s pretty easy.  No airline can check your bags from an international to your final destination in the US.

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As for packing, one thing we always do if we're checking bags, is to "cross-pack", i.e, divide clothing for the two of us among the various suitcases.  So if we lose a bag, we'll still both have some clothing to wear.

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I am not sure how long you plan to say in Europe but can't imagine how you could fit all of your items in a carry on bag, particularly if you are cruising.

 

For us we check in luggage and also take carry ons.

 

Whether or not you have to claim your luggage if you are on two flights really comes down to how the airline flights were booked.

 

Keith

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Again, if checking luggage to the US all bags must be claimed and go through immigration and customs.  Even on the same airline they must be claimed and rechecked.  You can get a porter to assist you.  Once you go through immigration then you get your bags and go through customs.  Easy.

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True for Europe to USA but my comments were in response to the original topic of the thread - traveling from USA to Europe.  In that case depending on how the flights were booked often you get your luggage at your final destination.

 

tammykva123..on a related note when you book your flights allow a lot of time if you need to change planes for both your USA to Europe  and Europe to USA flights.  Many factors come into play including if you change terminals.  

 

If you are changing planes after arriving back to the USA, regardless of whether you checked any luggage, you have to go through immigration, (you will go up to a kiosk and there could be a line for that), then see one of the immigration agents, then go through customs and then go through security and then make your way to the gate for your next flight.

 

I don't go with the airline legal connections because there are too many variables that could result in missing the next flight.  I allow several hours.

 

Keith

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I was speaking of inbound connections in the US from international.  Sorry, I thought I made that quite clear.  

Edited by MalbecWine

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On 11/1/2018 at 5:49 PM, Keith1010 said:

I am not sure how long you plan to say in Europe but can't imagine how you could fit all of your items in a carry on bag, particularly if you are cruising.

 

For us we check in luggage and also take carry ons.

 

Whether or not you have to claim your luggage if you are on two flights really comes down to how the airline flights were booked.

 

Keith

 

I pack pretty light, but how in the world do you pack enough clothes for at least a seven day vacation in a carry-on?  Especially a cruise vacation.   

 

You would need to wash and wear the same clothes in a 2-3 day cycle. Not that there is anything wrong with that.  The last time I did something similar I had a backpack and stayed in hostels.

 

 

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Not done it for a cruise, but we spent three weeks in Switzerland and Croatia using only carry-ons about 5 years ago. The trick is layering and coordination of clothes, getting the max use out of them. Don't forget that you can wear quite a few clothes ontot he plane!  Of course, it helped that Croatia was hot, but we needed to pack extra layers for Switzerland. We did laundry on a 4-day rotation, and as ships have laundry facilities, that shouldn't be an issue. Depending on the length of the cruise, there may not be formal nights - that also helps. 

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On 11/1/2018 at 7:56 AM, Sharle said:

we check and carry 1 bag with a change of clothes and essentials just in case

 

We do the same. But with enough in the carry on for several days, just in case. We’ve been very fortunate to have never had luggage problems (knock on wood) in 40+ years of travel, but you never know. I always breathe a sigh of relief to see our checked bags, do a little happy dance inside and go shopping for some souvenirs.

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I have always packed our suitcases so that we both have clothes in case of a missing bag. 

Worked almost perfectly when once we weren't so lucky. On a cruise from Chile to NYC we had a bag go missing for a few ports. In what i thought was a brillant solution to a packing problem i put 1 of my dress shoes in 1 suitcase and the other in the other bag.  They fit perfectly in each suticase.  So no dress shoes for formal night (back in those days when formal nights still existed). I had arranged a private tour to take us from Santiago to Valparasio and part of that time was spent buying a new pair of dress shoes.

My travel companions can't resist teasing me about every time we talk about packing for a trip.  Have never made that mistake again. 

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