Pack for Italy in a carry-on

I’ve been spending a lot of time researching luggage and efficient packing. Several friends and travel mates who make carry-on travel look easy have inspired me. Bigger bags mean bigger effort.  In Italy, there are cobblestones, stairs and uneven surfaces that are wheel-crushing obstacles for a big suitcase.

Train travel is efficient and fun – especially with a small bag!

On my last train trip from Verona to Munich, when I couldn’t lift my 30-inch, 40-pound bag into the overhead rack, it was the last straw. It was me or my suitcase in my seat, and I didn’t want to stand for four hours.  I have all kinds of reasons to justify packing more, but half of what I pack often isn’t worn. And if I wear something 2-3 times, who will really notice? Or care?

Rick Steves’ travel guests don’t have an option: if you travel with him, it’s carry-on only. It sounds brutal, but it makes travel so much easier when you have a smaller bag. If my husband or hotel staff is helping me with my bag, I don’t notice it as much. But when I have to lift it, climb a flight stairs, jump on a train, unpack-repack – I realize how beneficial it will be to scale down.

I still love my TravelPro suitcases – especially with the spinner wheels. I’m also trying out a new hard-sided Samsonite on my next trip. There are many styles and brands out there to pack smart, travel comfortably and fare una bella figura – look fashionable. I recently came across these below/attached in Travel + Leisure magazine. They’re hundreds to thousands more than my bag, but they are a fun selection.

Say, for example, you had $7,000 burning a hole in your pocket. You could get the extravagant French carry-on suitcase: the Goyard Bourget Trolley for $6,700.  Or, you make it go a little further: get the Away carry-on ($475), take a trip to Italy, and have cash left over for those hand-painted dishes or Murano glass vase!

There are many handy how-to-pack videos on YouTube, and I encourage all you travelers to check out the great ideas and packing tools available now (packing cubes, “capsule” wardrobes, etc.) You will love your travels more when you can get around easily!

Three of the four trips happening yet this year will have stairs (Amalfi Coast), trains (Pompeii, Naples), cobblestones – and maybe even a funicular (Orvieto). Fun adventures and great memories ahead for 40 of you – and I’m happy to “consult” on packing if you have questions on scaling down.

There’s room for four more in October (the sites mentioned above.) Perfect time to practice good packing!

Happy travels,


Villages along the Amalfi Coast are built on a mountain side. You’re either going up or down stairs. With. Your. Suitcase.