Rick Steves: Choosing the Right Travel Gear


Hi, I’m Rick Steves.
I’m really committed to helping people
travel smartly. Getting the information
and skills you need from a good guidebook
– that’s important. And so is traveling with
the right gear. Here are four kinds of
carry-on-the-airplane-sized bags, all pretty
much the same size – 9 by 21 by 14 inches.
I really believe that to travel in a
light-packing, flexible way, this should be
your self-imposed limit. It’s also as
big as you’re allowed to carry onto the airplane.
Embrace this concept and right off the bat, you’ve simplified a big
part of your trip. I’ve lived a third of my adult
life out of these bags. They’re my home on the
road, and I love ’em. Now, why would I sell
four different version of the same size bag
in our Travel Store? Well, people have
different travel styles and different priorities
– so before we look inside these bags,
let’s do a quick comparison to see which
one might be the best fit for you. This is my Convertible
Carry-On backpack. You wear this like
a backpack, and I like this feature
because now your arms are free when you’re
hopping off trains and climbing up to your
hotel room. It’s just nice to have this mobility.
It comes with very comfortable padded
shoulder straps, and it’s got a waist belt for distributing that weight
that’s sitting on your shoulders.
If you want to use the convertibility aspect
of this bag, you can zip these padded
shoulder straps into this zippered pouch
back here, and then you can carry it like a
soft-sided suitcase. This is handy when
you want to check your bag as luggage
onto the airplane. This bag costs a little bit less than the roller bag,
but can you carry fifteen or twenty
pounds on your back without experiencing
pain or getting all tired? That’s the issue.
Now, this is my choice. As long as
I’m hardy enough to carry this on my back,
I’ll choose this bag – but we have other good
and popular options. This is our Rolling Backpack. Depending on your
situation, you can pull out the handle and
then roll it along really smooth in the
airports, or – if you want to be more
flexible – you can pull out the padded shoulder straps.
So it’s a combination roller
bag and backpack. It costs a little more,
it weighs a little more, it carries a little
less, and it doesn’t expand like
some of the other bags. But if you’re a
light packer who wants the flexibility
of being able to go as a backpack or as
a roller bag, this could be a good fit. Here’s our best-selling bag.
This is the Rolling Carry-On.
It’s got a molded shell on the back to protect
the handle and the wheels, and it’s got
a soft front, like a backpack, to flexibly
fit whatever you’re packing. This
is sized to fit in the smaller overhead
compartments that you’ll often find on
European airlines. It’s got a handy handle
right here that people really love for getting
it up and down. If you’re flying home
with a little more than what you left
with, there’s an expandability zipper.
You pull that, and your bag becomes
a lot bigger. For travelers who want
maximum carry-on size and don’t want to lug
a lot of weight on their back, this bag
is hard to beat. That’s why it’s our bestseller. And this is your
fourth option. It’s called our
Ravenna Rolling Case. It’s called a “case”
because it’s hard on the top and the bottom, and
what makes it a hybrid is that they’ve got a
nice fabric area here that has a very smart
configuration of three pockets, like you
find on all of our bags. Now, the great
thing about this bag is because it’s hard
and so structured, you cannot overpack.
This is as big as you can carry on and
it’s always going to fit in the overhead locker. Now, let’s say you’d like to pack heavier. It has a unique feature
which lets you zip this whole thing around here,
and it accordions out. This is a very popular bag, and it’s a good-looking bag, too. Okay, let’s get an
inside look at what a good carry-on bag
should include. We’ll use this Rolling
Carry-On bag as an example. All of our
carry-on bags feature tie-down straps. These
hold everything snug to the back of the bag.
If you’re wearing the bag on
your back, this lets you distribute weight
smartly and keeps the weight close to
you, so there’s less of a tug on your shoulders.
If you’re using the bag as a rolling
bag, these tie-down straps keep the weight
closer to the handle, so the bag is more sturdy.
Now, in both cases the compression
straps hold your things together
tightly, so you can actually pack a
little more and still make that carry-on-the-airplane
size limit. All of our bags have a brilliant pocket configuration
both inside and out. They have these three
beautiful pockets on the outside and a
pocket here inside the lid. This is handy
because you can put your jacket in
here, or put your laundry in here if
you want to keep it apart from the rest of
your luggage and so on. In the bags we include
a couple of very handy mesh bags,
and these are very convenient for packing
a lot of little extras. And one
feature that we’ve innovated that I
really love is this special security pouch.
Notice it’s the same color as the
lining of the bag, and you can put
valuables in here. They stay in one spot and
nobody knows where they are. Don’t tell thieves about this.
The nice thing about this feature is
you can unclip it, and then in one easy
little package, you can slip that into
your hotel safe. Let’s talk about packing
light – and we’ll use one of these bags
as our guinea pig. Pack light, pack light.
That’s my travel mantra, and it’s one of the keys
to traveling happily. Think about it – you meet two kinds of travelers on the road: those who pack light, and those who wish they’d packed light. You’ll never meet anybody who,
after five trips, brags, “Every year,
I pack heavier.” Just as an example, let
me show you what I put into a carry-on sized bag
for one of my trips. Remember, I spend
four months a year in Europe living out
of a bag this size. I pack exactly the
same, whether I’m traveling for two
weeks or two months. The main difference
is less clothes. Downside of that is
you don’t wash more, you just wash a little as you go. No matter which bag
you ultimately buy, you need to pack
it smartly, and an innovation that has
been very popular among our travelers
is our Packing Cubes. We sell them in packs of three.
There’s a big one and two small ones.
At a glance, you can see what
you’ve got and where, because they’ve got
this see through mesh cover, and
remember – these are designed with the
configuration of the bag in mind. This lets
you get full utility out of every cubic
inch that these little bags offer. I like
it because it lets me get well-organized.
Here I’ve got my socks and underwear, for instance.
In this packing cube I would
have my electronics, and over here I would
have sweaters and so on. Also, all of the bags
have a full-length lid pocket, and this
is really handy for your folding items.
Each of our bags has a smart configuration
of external pockets. This bag has four different pockets.
I love this big, huge one hidden here.
Imagine all the practical value
you can have from the full-length external pocket.
There’s a sizable pocket here.
This is ideal for your guide book, or, I stick
my noise-reduction headphones in there.
You’ve got a sizable pocket up here.
This is good for an umbrella or a
book you’re reading. And there’s this
little pocket on the very outside, and
this is great for small items you want
to keep track of. When I’m going through
security at the airport, everything in my pockets
goes right in there. So now the big question:
how do you fit all your stuff in
a bag this size? Well, we’ve got a
lot of information on that at ricksteves.com. I’ve put together a very
practical, half-hour lecture on packing
light, and I know I don’t have a lot of
credibility among women when it comes
to packing light, so one of the women in my
office has also put together a very practical
lecture on women packing light and smart.
We also have practical packing lists
at ricksteves.com. Bottom line: if you pack
light, you can travel happy. Thanks a lot, and have a great trip.

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