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Need Advice on Travel Gear
Old 03-19-2009, 01:05 PM   #1
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Need Advice on Travel Gear

I am thinking of preparing for a visit maybe to Latin America, maybe to Spain for language study. I have a backpack but it is pretty rough looking. I also have a cheap pull along suitcase, but I don't do well with these as they seem to hit my ankles, plus flop all over on the rough sidewalks and cobblestones.

Here is an REI travel pack. I looked at it yesterday, and it seems to have a lot of nice feaures. The main compartment is duffle style. Is a nice shirt and some clean neat pants good enough for museums, churches etc. in Europe? If so, I think I could put those items in a light plastic box or something to keep them from getting completely wrinkled. Any need for a sport coat?

REI Grand Tour Travel Pack at REI.com

No tow bar, but good heavy back-pack straps that can be stowed for easy checking or even carry-on. This bag is a bit large for absolute by the book carry-on. They don't make the same model smaller, but there are likely other similar styles. One nice feature with this one is that is has a small pack that can be used for stuff you want to get at, but also detached and used as a day pack at your destination.

Any comments, ideas or suggestions?

Ha
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:22 PM   #2
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Haha,

I have this pack CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack - 100 oz. at REI.com. It is small and has the hydration system. But for its size it certainly holds a great deal and Im pleased with the quality.I think what you are looking at will have plenty of room and comfort. Might have a problem with wrinkled clothes but you already know that.
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:17 PM   #3
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I'm familiar with Eagle Creek, which makes pretty much indestructible travel gear. This one Eagle Creek Thrive 90L is a bit bigger and more expensive than the REI, but is also available in a smaller size.

To keep your travel clothing neat, they also making packing cubes, which can help keep things relatively wrinkle-free.

Europeans generally dress nicer than Americans. Don't wear shorts, wear actual shoes instead of sneakers, and you'll look less touristy. While a sport coat is not strictly necessary, one can either wear it on the plane or carfully pack it (good quality wool tends to resist wrinkles). Don't forget that if you're going to Latin America, you can likely supplement your wardrobe while you are there. Spain, on the other hand, would likely break your budget.
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:28 PM   #4
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Don't forget that if you're going to Latin America, you can likely supplement your wardrobe while you are there. Spain, on the other hand, would likely break your budget.
Good point. If I stay in this hemisphere I'll just buy a suit and shoes there if I stay any length of time.

Ha
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:42 PM   #5
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For that price, I think you should look into something that would get you duel use.
Do you do hiking? - take a look at the Camelbak Alpine Explorer - $90 at Camping Gear - Discount Clothing, Outdoor Gear & Camping Equipment - Top Brands including North Face & Columbia Sportswear - lowest price I found.
If you are just looking for a backpack style bag there are much lower priced ones out there.


I have this backpack and use it for backpacking and traveling - put it in the overhead - I would not check it with all the straps.
Deuter Futura Pro 42 Pack at REI.com
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:38 PM   #6
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You should get some kind of bag (I use an old sailbag) to slip the entire backpack into for checking it.
I like using a medium sized one for my stuff and carry a separate daypack (the Rick Steves one is quite handy and cheap).
One key is to have your bag open at the top and have a zipper for accessing the middle. I really appreciate this feature. Another good idea is those mesh zippered laundry bags used to subdivide your stuff (underwear in one, shirts in another, etc) so you don't have to dig through everything.
Also, rolling stuff eliminates wrinkles and makes it pack better.
I bought my pack cheap at Campmor.com and see no need for a more expensive one, honestly. Mine has seen many miles, but not a lot of them actually on my back. If you are going to spend more time actually hiking with yours, go for the best brands. Otherwise, just about any durable one that fits you well will work.

Congrats on the upcoming trip ideas--too cool!
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Old 03-19-2009, 05:50 PM   #7
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You should get some kind of bag...
C'mon, Sarah. Sure Ha has some challenges in attracting members of the opposite sex, but he's not ready to sink to that level. At least not just yet...
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Old 03-19-2009, 05:59 PM   #8
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Bag, not HAG! Jeez, REW!
He just needs to show off those mad dance skills and the Spanish ladies will swoooooooon!
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:04 PM   #9
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Bag, not HAG! Jeez, REW!
He just needs to show off those mad dance skills and the Spanish ladies will swoooooooon!
Has there ever been a better set-up than me?

I admit it; if life were a movie I would be a character player.

Ha
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:06 PM   #10
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Bag, not HAG! Jeez, REW!
No, I really did mean bag...as Igor said 30 seconds into this clip...

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Old 03-19-2009, 06:53 PM   #11
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Rick Steves' Europe: Packing Light and Right
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:35 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by haha View Post
I am thinking of preparing for a visit maybe to Latin America, maybe to Spain for language study. I have a backpack but it is pretty rough looking. I also have a cheap pull along suitcase, but I don't do well with these as they seem to hit my ankles, plus flop all over on the rough sidewalks and cobblestones.

Here is an REI travel pack. I looked at it yesterday, and it seems to have a lot of nice feaures. The main compartment is duffle style. Is a nice shirt and some clean neat pants good enough for museums, churches etc. in Europe? If so, I think I could put those items in a light plastic box or something to keep them from getting completely wrinkled. Any need for a sport coat?

REI Grand Tour Travel Pack at REI.com

No tow bar, but good heavy back-pack straps that can be stowed for easy checking or even carry-on. This bag is a bit large for absolute by the book carry-on. They don't make the same model smaller, but there are likely other similar styles. One nice feature with this one is that is has a small pack that can be used for stuff you want to get at, but also detached and used as a day pack at your destination.

Any comments, ideas or suggestions?

Ha
My standard travel gear these days is composed of:
1) a small "messenger bag" (used as a carry-on during the trip and then used to carry things like travel guides and camera when walking around town). Very popular in Europe. A small backpack could work too but beware of pick-pockets.
2) a duffle bag on wheels used as checked-in luggage. The center of gravity for the duffle is much lower than for a suitcase, so it doesn't tip over so easily when navigating rough terrain. It's also pretty long (including the tow-bar) so that it doesn't hit my ankles when I am pulling it. It's also much lighter than most suitcase, so it's easier to pull and carry.

As for the European dress-code: Leather shoes, dress pants or khakis, a nice dress shirt, perhaps a light sweater for colder evenings, a sports coat is a bit too dressy for museums and churches but it could get handy if you are planning to go out in the evening.
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:58 PM   #13
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See, you old guys....I think I vaguely remembered men calling old ladies "bags", but I'd long since forgotten it! Funny!

Firedreamer, I think you are offering good advice, but I have a special dark spot in my heart for those rolling cart dealies--when I took my mom to Italy for her 65th birthday, I took my trusty backpack and then had to carry her luggage.

It was, you guessed it, one of those rolling carts. Well those are great when you are in a place that doesn't have a million stairs leading to and from the trains and lots of uneven cobblestone streets.

I spent much of my time huffing it along by the tiny useless handle. It would have been so much easier to have something with a long strap that I could have put on my back like some kind of pack animal.

I grew to hate rolling suitcases, among other things, while on that trip. Grrrrrrrrr!
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:34 PM   #14
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See, you old guys....I think I vaguely remembered men calling old ladies "bags", but I'd long since forgotten it! Funny!

Firedreamer, I think you are offering good advice, but I have a special dark spot in my heart for those rolling cart dealies--when I took my mom to Italy for her 65th birthday, I took my trusty backpack and then had to carry her luggage.

It was, you guessed it, one of those rolling carts. Well those are great when you are in a place that doesn't have a million stairs leading to and from the trains and lots of uneven cobblestone streets.

I spent much of my time huffing it along by the tiny useless handle. It would have been so much easier to have something with a long strap that I could have put on my back like some kind of pack animal.

I grew to hate rolling suitcases, among other things, while on that trip. Grrrrrrrrr!
LOL! Well I must confess that the only navigation I do with my bag is around airports and hotels (where the terrain is relatively smooth). I always use a cab door to door, so I never really walk around town with my bag in tow. But my bag also has a good shoulder strap and handles, so it's easy enough to pop on my shoulder if I have to go up stairs for example (can't do that with a suitcase!). Of course, I only have to carry MY bag... The problem with large backpacks, I find, is that they get heavy really quickly. At least with a bag on wheels you can take a break from carrying the bag if your shoulders start killing you.
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Old 03-19-2009, 10:27 PM   #15
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The wife and I do a lot of traveling overseas with just backpacks, often several weeks at a time. The wife has settled on one she really likes where you can zipper the entire back part open instead of just an opening in the top, since can get to stuff much easier. It also somehow expands in that it can get taller (as in distance away from back) if needed.

I just hang onto my old one I bought at Target five years ago, it finally ripped near the zipper while in Guatemala last month so it's going to be retired with a small ceremony that hopefully local dignitaries will attend.
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Old 03-19-2009, 11:36 PM   #16
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My wife and I have always used this arrangement: each of us has a common carry-on called "roll-aboard" in the Rick Steves link posted by Caroline, supplemented by a small duffel bag, or a backpack. Both items are small enough to fit in the overhead bin of airliners. They are also light enough so we can hop on trains, buses, metros, or ferries in Europe, carrying one in each hand.

Is the above "roll-aboard" the same as the "rolling suitcase" that others mentioned? If so, I do not see the drawbacks as people described. Is the size the problem, as some of these are awfully big and heavy? Again, we use the smaller size, which still allows us to rest the small duffel bag or backpack on top while rolling along.

All of our trips to Europe have been in early spring, fall, or winter, to take advantage of the lower fares and also to avoid tourist crowds. Hence, we had to pack some warmer clothes to last 2 weeks. Else, we might be able to downsize to two smaller items, like those of the man shown in the Rick Steve link, if we were traveling in spring or summer.

Also due to the cooler weather, we usually wear a trench coat or a black leather jacket. If it's not too cold, I prefer polo shirts over long-sleeve shirts. I don't think I would wear T-shirts even in the summer.

That's what we have to do next: experience Europe in early or late summer to enjoy the warmer weather, travel light (without the heavy clothes) and still miss the crowd.
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:25 AM   #17
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My wife and I have always used this arrangement: each of us has a common carry-on called "roll-aboard" in the Rick Steves link posted by Caroline, supplemented by a small duffel bag, or a backpack. Both items are small enough to fit in the overhead bin of airliners. They are also light enough so we can hop on trains, buses, metros, or ferries in Europe, carrying one in each hand.

Is the above "roll-aboard" the same as the "rolling suitcase" that others mentioned? If so, I do not see the drawbacks as people described. Is the size the problem, as some of these are awfully big and heavy? Again, we use the smaller size, which still allows us to rest the small duffel bag or backpack on top while rolling along.
My wife uses that arrangement as well. Seems to work for her.

Quote:
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All of our trips to Europe have been in early spring, fall, or winter, to take advantage of the lower fares and also to avoid tourist crowds. Hence, we had to pack some warmer clothes to last 2 weeks. Else, we might be able to downsize to two smaller items, like those of the man shown in the Rick Steve link, if we were traveling in spring or summer.

....

That's what we have to do next: experience Europe in early or late summer to enjoy the warmer weather, travel light (without the heavy clothes) and still miss the crowd.
If you want some warm weather and smaller crowds, then I think you should go in early September when the kids have already gone back to school. In Europe it's known as a prime time to vacation among retirees and couples without children.

I go to Europe once in the winter and once in late spring/early summer. I have to say, I am so used to having air conditioning everywhere in the US that I have a hard time spending the summer months in Europe. I like Late May/June/Early July best. Warm but no scorcher either. I tried August in 2005, but I was very uncomfortable most of the time (except when we spent time high up in the mountains). This year we are going in late July, not by choice, but because my grand-mother lent us her condo in the south of France and it was the only spring/summer availability. Not complaining, and at least there always a nice Breeze to cool you down on the riviera. Plus it's going to be the perfect time to stroll through the Provencal markets.

But we are lucky in that we have a home base in Europe and we get to keep a lot of bulky items such as heavy winter clothes stored there. So when we travel to Europe, we get to travel very light year round.
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Old 03-20-2009, 01:09 AM   #18
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I forgot to add an advantage of traveling in cold weather. Unless it is very cold, which we have been lucky to not have experienced, it is really nice to walk around in 40-50degF weather. We usually walk all day touring on foot, and the exercise warms us up to just right. The coats also have convenient pockets for cameras and snacks, and the inside pockets protect us from pickpockets. I often fumble to get my wallet out of the inside breast pocket. I don't see how a thief can get to it when my coat is zipped up. Compared that to the hot summer traveling, when many tourists strip themselves down to near naked.
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:29 AM   #19
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I forgot to add an advantage of traveling in cold weather. Unless it is very cold, which we have been lucky to not have experienced, it is really nice to walk around in 40-50degF weather. We usually walk all day touring on foot, and the exercise warms us up to just right. The coats also have convenient pockets for cameras and snacks, and the inside pockets protect us from pickpockets. I often fumble to get my wallet out of the inside breast pocket. I don't see how a thief can get to it when my coat is zipped up. Compared that to the hot summer traveling, when many tourists strip themselves down to near naked.
Are you referring to some speific type of coat? Could you link to one?

Earlier you said trench coat, but now you have mentioned a zipper.

Ha
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Old 03-20-2009, 01:35 PM   #20
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Are you referring to some speific type of coat? Could you link to one?

Earlier you said trench coat, but now you have mentioned a zipper.

Ha
My wife likes her trench coat, but I alternate between a black leather jacket that is not really that warm, and a long parka that has an inner zipper covered by a buttoned flap.

This olive-green parka has goose down, and really keeps me warm. It's also practical with half dozen pockets for maps, a bottle of water, a minicamcorder, GPS, you name it. I love it for its practicality. Can't recall where I bought it, but it has served me well for several trips.

Note: It does not make me look like Michelin man like some jackets with horizontal sewing lines, if you know what I mean.
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