The Great Nomadic Luggage Saga

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I spent some money preparing for this trip, but spread over the course of 6 months, it was manageable. I was careful not to put any of it on plastic because who wants to start a yay-Mel-Gibson-in-Braveheart-freeedommmm trip with a whole bunch of debt? One of the biggest expenses (and challenges) was the right luggage.

How I made my decisions

I researched my luggage the same way I researched buying a car. Heck, probably even more so. I read reviews, blog posts, and advertisements. I watched YouTube videos. My Facebook and Instagram feeds were filled with sponsored posts for suitcases and backpacks. I even drove 3 hours to attend a “packing class” at a luggage store. It took me two solid months to make my choices and even then, tweaks had to occur. Because I have a history of back problems, lugging a 65-liter backpack around Europe is not my idea of a good time. I discovered that spinner luggage would never make it over the cobblestones that pave most of the European cities I plan to visit. Two-wheeled luggage is where it’s at when it comes to cobblestones, stairs, and rough surfaces.

The first round of luggage

I chose a carryon and a checked suitcase with large wheels that – well, reportedly – will handle the cobblestones with aplomb and bounce safely up and down the inevitable stairs. I got a small canvas backpack that fits my laptop and a few other essentials. Initially… I got this suitcase. I got this carryon. (I scored this for half-price at TJ Maxx. Yasss…) I got this backpack.
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Then, I took it all on a test run when visiting my oldest daughter in Canada. And I wasn’t a happy camper/traveler. But the only one that passed the test of a short vacation was the carryon. The thrice-damned suitcase had only a T-shaped handle that I found incredibly difficult to maneuver (maybe my wrists aren’t strong enough?) It would spin and flop and get totally off balance on the stairs. I’m not saying this suitcase won’t work for other people but it did NOT work for me. I was unable to return it but Eagle Creek did offer me a hefty discount on a new product. While I would have preferred to have returned the piece, I was happy with their customer service department. The backpack ended up being a weird shape. It was too brief-casey to put much into and I had hoped it would double as an overnight bag for quick trips.

Back to the drawing board

Ultimately, I got… This suitcase. And this backpack. (Using that generous discount from Eagle Creek) You have no idea how much I went back and forth making these decisions. It was harder than naming my kids. But this is what I chose and I’ll keep you posted on how it holds up. Update: The night-be-freaking-fore I left, the zipper broke on my beloved carry-on.  I said “eff it” and took both of my big suitcases and will scale down when I figure out what I can ditch. Yes, I had to pay for two checked bags. No, it wasn’t my plan but poop happens and you have to go with it or you are going to get really stressed. The large Eagle Creek that I so loathe dragging around is a rolling duffle so I was able to put it sideways on top of the Travelpro. Not ideal but I managed to get to Athens this way, dragging 80 pounds of luggage behind me. I plan to pare down and find another carry-on at some point, and then I’ll abandon my Eagle Creek suitcase to benefit someone in Europe. Or not. They might hate it too.

What I love and what I hate so far

I’ve just gotten started so the trip is young, but so far, I am madly in love with the Eagle Creek backpack. It’s ideal to take to the grocery store and load up with goodies. Then you can easily tote your items home with very little effort. I always wear a fanny pack when I have my backpack because it would be so easy to steal my wallet out of the back. It probably screams “tourist” but such is life. I dislike the Eagle Creek bag just wheeling the thrice-damned thing through the apartment. But the good thing about it is that it will fit over the handle of my Travelpro. Yeah, that means I’m wheeling 95 pounds around, but at least its compact. The Travelpro has so many awesome pockets and nooks that I’ve used it to organize the stuff that doesn’t fit into the closet and drawers. I’m sure I’ll continue to update the luggage saga, but that’s it for today.

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