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Choosing luggage for Italy travel can make or break your trip. While some destinations allow for larger sized luggage, Italy may not be the place to take your biggest case – no matter how much shopping you think you might do. Trust me, after 30+ trips I’ve learnt this the hard way.
Whether you’re visiting Rome, Venice or the Amalfi Coast, you want your luggage to work for, not against you. In this article we share how to choose the best luggage for your Italy trip and give you some ideas of brands and models to consider if you’re looking to buy new cases or bags.
Our pick of the best luggage for Italy travel in 2020 includes a selection of carry-on and check-in luggage that will secure your belongings but be easy for you to manage.
We’ve also included a list of things to check should you want to bring your own luggage plus some bonus packing tips. So let’s get started.
Best luggage options when packing for Italy
You first need to decide if you will check a bag or travel carry on only. I wouldn’t try to do all three as pictured above. This will come down to personal preference and budget.
Your trip to Italy will probably include train travel, walking some distances on cobblestones, up steep hills (hello Positano!) and over bridges (ciao Venice!) with your cases. Older style hotels and AirBnBs may not have elevators and porterage services are not common at train stations and certainly not in small villages like those of the Cinque Terre.
Many people swear by packing carry on luggage only, even for an extended 3-4 week trip. If you plan to move around a lot during your trip, and prefer to walk or use public transportation to transfer to your hotel, traveling with carry on sized luggage is good choice. The same applies if you are visiting places with tough terrain with lots of steps like the Cinque Terre or Positano on the Amalfi Coast.
I prefer to check a medium sized checked bag, especially if we are mainly visiting cities, because it gives me more options. We also use taxis to get us from airports and train stations to our accommodation and tend to stay at each destination at least 3-4 days so the size and weight of bags is not as critical.
If you find it easier to carry weight on you back then consider bringing backpack style luggage. This also has the advantage of allowing you to travel hands free.
But, here’s the thing, no matter what type of luggage you take you need to be able to carry or pull it at least short distances.
Luggage Options For Carry-On Only
Here are a few handpicked carry-on luggage options for your trip to Italy. This luggage needs to be sturdy as well as spacious and you’ll need to be very disciplined with your packing. We looked for lightweight, durable cases at various price points.
The Carry-On by Away is a stylish case with a hard polycarbonate shell and handy ejectable portable charger for your phone. Weighing only 8lbs [3.7kg], this classy suitcase is both light and economical on space. It’s well within the flight regulations for carry-on luggage, and even comes with its own TSA-approved combination lock.
Its most useful feature is the handy compression system that aids space utilization and the separate laundry bag for your dirty clothes.
With its 360-degree spinner wheels making for easy turning, you’ll find pulling this bag along to be both smooth and quiet. Included with the Carry-On are a black leather name tag, and stylish leather finishings.
The Carry-On comes in lots of different colors and has a matte finish.
Size: 21.7” x 13.7” x 9” / 55.1 cm x 34.8 cm x 22.9 cm
- Lifetime guarantee
- Separate compartments for clothes and loose items
- Fits in overhead bin of major airlines
- Lighter colors tend to scuff easily
- Wheels do not lock in place
Samsonite is one of the leading and most trusted luggage brands in the world. They’ve been providing customers with high quality luggage for years, and the Omni lends itself as another great example of their craftsmanship.
Weighing only 6.8lbs [3.1 kg], the Samsonite Omni spinner is compact, yet spacious. Its light polycarbonate exterior makes for a lightweight yet still durable shell.
With its nylon lining and 20-inch interior, it has larger than average packing space for those looking for a carry on to fit more than a few days’ worth of clothing. The Omni’s spinner-style wheels make for easy turning and 360-degree mobility.
Also comes in an expandable version though this may need to be checked if used.
Size: 22″ x 15″ x 9.5″ / 55.8 x 38.1 x 24.1 cm
- 10-year limited warranties
- Large packing space
- Button-press handle can dislodge at times
- Wheels sometimes lock on uneven surfaces
- Dimensions may fall out of some airline regulations
Amazon has come out with its own brand of economical luggage and they’ve nailed it. This Amazon hardside spinner is compact, durable and well suited to longer trips.
On the heavier side, weighing 8.5lbs [3.9kg], AmazonBasics’s suitcase is protected by an extra-thick ABS shell, creating a long-lasting product that will protect your belongings. The four spinner wheels allow for easy transportation and manoeuvring.
Its lined interior comes with a handy divider, great for keeping your clothing items separated and orderly. The interior can also expand up to 15% more if you need the extra space.
Size: 14.4″ x 9.2″ x 21.6″ / 36.6 x 23.4 x 54.8 cm
- 3-year limited warranty
- Rigorously tested
- Heavier than average
- May not meet certain airline requirements – check before buying
- Wheels can struggle on bumpy or uneven surfaces
Cabin Max has come up with a great utility bag for your Italian luggage. Simple and uncomplicated, its dimensions and multiple compartments make for great space utilization.
The Cabin Max Metz is a lightweight backpack, weighing only 1.5lbs [700g], and has a relatively large surface area. This bag provides a good balance between size and weight.
Its durable 600D polyester exterior stands up to the elements. The interior comes with 44L of unobstructed space as well as 3 main zippered compartments, and a waterproof layer to protect your items.
This is a useful backpack for ease-of-access and lightweight travel.
Size: 22″ x 14″ x 9″ / 55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm
- 3-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Shoulder padding protection
- Designed for comfort
- Overpacking can lead to tearing
- No stomach or chest straps
- Not well-suited for longer journeys due to size
The Bigger Carry-On is, as its name implies, a bigger version of Away’s Carry-On case reviewed above. It’s everything the smaller counterpart is, with more space. The manufacturers meticulously tested this luggage to make sure it fits in overhead luggage bins on most airlines after they noticed they could hold a bigger case.
It weighs only 8.4lbs [3.8kg] just 0.4lbs more than its counterpart. Size-wise, Bigger Carry-On has 47-litres of space, and with its 360-degree spinner-style wheels, you can expect easy mobility.
The Bigger Carry-On offers a compression system that’s great for space utilization. So, along with its TSA-approved lock, your luggage will stay compressed and protected.
Included is an ejectable portable charger, a hidden laundry bag, and the ever-popular, elegant polycarbonate outer shell. It’s conveniently sized, durable, and stylish to boot.
Size: 22.7” x 14.7” x 9.6” / 57.7 x 37.3 x 24.4 cm
- Lifetime guarantee
- Durable outer shell
- Big enough for longer travels
- Extra size makes it more difficult to carry
- May fall out of flight regulations – consider before buying
- 360-degree wheels may jar on bumpy/uneven surfaces
The Osprey Meridian is one of the most useful and fun luggage bags you will ever own. Its ability to convert from a wheeled travel bag to a backpack makes it incredibly handy. With a detachable day-bag, the Meridian would be a great addition to your Italian travels.
Weighing 8.7lb [3.9kg], it’s on the heavier side. However, you’ll need to weight this up against its dual purpose capabilities. The Osprey has an aluminum and ballistic nylon shell that provides a tough and durable framework.
With 60L of unobstructed space, and a modern two-wheeled chassis, the Meridian can be a great, long-lasting travel companion.
Size: 22″ x 9″ x 14″ / 55.9 x 22.9 x 35.6 cm
- Neat design
- Metal frame reduces flexibility
- Heavier than average
- Detachables may get lost
Checked-in luggage Options
For those going on a longer trip or wanting to bring back extra souvenirs these medium sized suitcases may suit you better. Make sure to choose a lightweight design and don’t pack very heavy items as you may need to lift and carry it.
Wheeling a suitcase this size across the bridges of Venice could be a bit tricky, and I recommend taking a water taxi to your accommodation or staying close to the train station in this situation.
The Medium is a stylish, sleek and spacious suitcase. Its 70L compartment space and lightweight design make for a great check-in option.
With its sound-proof, 360-degree spinner style wheels making for smooth maneuvering, you won’t even notice the extra weight inside. This case can also be pulled on 2 wheels which is a big plus when navigating cobblestones.
Its polycarbonate shell and TSA-approved combination lock will keep your luggage well protected. The Medium’s neat leather finishings, internal compression system and hidden laundry bag complete an all-round great suitcase.
I have this case and it meets all my requirements. I love the separate zip section for loose items and at 9.7lb [4.5 kg] it is easy for me to move and carry.
Size: 26” x 18.5” x 11” / 66 cm x 47 cm x 28 cm
- Lifetime guarantee
- Internal compression system
- Removable separate laundry bag
- Potential to be overpacked due to roomy interior
- Prone to scuffing
Where the Omni 20″ is a useful carry-on, the 24″ makes for a great check-in suitcase. Boasting the iconic Samsonite style, the Omni spinner 24“ is strong and utilizes space very well.
Weighing only 8.34lbs [3.8 kg], it’s lightweight yet incredibly spacious. You can be assured that the micro-diamond polycarbonate shell will keep your valuables safe, along with the included TSA-approved combination lock.
With the four 360-degree wheels taking the weight off, you won’t even notice your luggage load as you wheel it along.
Size: 26.5″ x 17.75″ x 11.75″ / 67.3 x 45 x 29.8 cm
- 10-year limited warranties
- Button-press handle can pop
- Wheels not suited for uneven surfaces
- Difficult to carry when need be
TravelPro is a top-of-the-line luggage company. Their softshell Maxlite 5 is both flexible and light-weight, whilst still maintaining durability. The case weighs just 7.3lbs [3.3 kg] which makes for an incredibly light check-in suitcase.
With a neat, fabric lined interior and a tough polyester fabric shell, the TravelPro Maxlite 5 is great at keeping your items secure and protected. If you’re needing that extra space, the suitcase can expand up to four inches.
This luggage has quiet spinner wheels softly moving across the floor, this is a well-suited, designer suitcase for on-the-go travel.
Size: 27″ x 18.5″ x 11.5″ / 68.6 x 47 x 29.2 cm
- Flexible yet robust
- Limited lifetime coverage
- 1-year repair guarantee
- Zip can be fragile if overfilled
- Wheels may jar on uneven surfaces
- Make sure to pack evenly so it doesn’t topple over when standing
Osprey is great at blending utility and style, and their Sojourn wheeled backpack is no exception. As checked-in luggage goes, it’s the perfect dual-purpose partner when traveling Italy.
Its aluminum and ballistic nylon outer materials makes for a sturdy and robust shell. Although heavier because of it at 8.97 lbs [4.1 kg], Osprey has given you two deployable harnesses, a hip-belt, and a back panel to help ease the strain.
The 80L capacity is perfect for fulfilling your luggage needs on longer trips, and the suspension panels can be detached for more space if needed.
This luggage has a two-wheeled chassis that makes for easy and durable movement on more uneven surfaces such as cobblestones.
Size: 28″ x 14″ x 14″ / 71 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm
- Stylish for a backpack
- Metal frame reduces flexibility
- May be bulky and awkward on smaller framed people
- Can lose detachables
The Delsey Paris Chatelet is designer luggage with sophisticated features including a modernized braking system, multiple packing compartments and recessed TSA locks. Weighing 10.8lbs [4.9 kg] suitcase, the suitcase has double spinner wheels that provide extra durability and support
Stylish faux leather exterior is not only for show. The polycarbonate shell is designed to protect your luggage from all manner of knocks and keep your wine purchases safe. And you’ll have no trouble recognizing the distinctive design on the baggage carousel.
With a deluxe panel interior, your items can be arranged and stored neatly, making for better organization.
Size: 24″ x 11″ x 16.5″ / 61cm x 28cm x 42cm
- Modern features
- TSA-approved combination lock
- Multiple compartments
- Upper price range
- May be susceptible to dents
- Lining is prone to stretching if overpacked
AmazonBasics’ 24-inch Hardside Spinner is not only economical, but it is also great for protecting your valuables.
Its 12.74lbs [5.8kg] weight is above average, but considering its extra-thick ABS shell, this makes sense. According to Amazon’s standards, the bag is scratch resistant and well-suited to being in the cargo hold of an aeroplane.
The case comes with a neat 150D-polyester interior, with dividers, to add an extra layer of protection. Although spacious already, if you’re needing more room the suitcase can expand up to 15%.
Size: 17.2″ x 10.2″ x 26.8″ / 43.7 x 25.9 x 68 cm
- 3-year limited warranty
- Convenient size
- Bulky and inconvenient
- Heavier than average
- No built-in lock
Considerations for choosing your luggage for Italy
Italy, has unique characteristics that may not be obvious to the first time visitor. Here are some important things you should consider when choosing luggage for your trip to Italy.
Know the Italian terrain
Italy’s cities, towns and villages are paved with narrow cobblestone streets and founded on notoriously hilly landscapes. Rome itself is known as the “City of the Seven Hills”. And remember that Venice has over 400 bridges. When you’re tired and in an unfamiliar place, the last thing you want to do is drag heavy bulky luggage across bumpy streets.
If you’re headed to the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre regions consider you may need to negotiate hundreds of stairs with your bags. This can challenge even the fittest of travelers.
Understand trunk sizes and limitations
If driving, you should be aware that trunk space and taxi limitations for luggage allowance, are smaller than in the States. Cars and taxis are generally more compact and you may find it difficult squeezing large cases in the trunk. This is important if you want to keep your luggage safe and away from opportunistic thieves.
Luggage on trains in Italy
Though there are no luggage restrictions for train travel, many stations do not have elevators or porter services to help you with your bags. You may need to carry them up and down stairs. If you travel from Naples to Sorrento on the Circumsvesuviana train you need to get to the train platform via several flights of stairs.
Security conscious travelers may want to keep their bags close by when on the train. A carry-on will easily fit in the overhead racks or between seats but larger items will need to be stored away from you near the entrance to the carriage.
As most visitors will make at least one intercity trip by train, consider how you will manage your bags when deciding on the type of luggage for your Italy vacation.
Prioritize durability and weight
In Italy you will likely find yourself storing your suitcases amongst other tourists’ bags either on trains, hotels or as part of a tour group. Having robust luggage during these times is wise as a measure to protect the items within. But, make sure it is not too heavy so you are able to carry your bags when required. As a general rule, the lighter the luggage the better.
General things to know before you choose your luggage
Here are some more general guidelines for choosing luggage that suits you.
Know your baggage allowance
When buying your luggage, you’re going to have to consider whether or not it fits international flight regulations. Most airlines have very strict baggage restrictions with excess baggage charges applying if they are not met.
Unless you are flying first class on a premium airline, make sure you are aware of your allowances in terms of number, size and weight of items allowed on board. For example – Alitalia states that you can take one item of hand luggage (55 x 35 x 25 cm) weighing up to 8 kg, plus one personal item such as a laptop on board. Your checked bag can weigh up to 23kg with a
For a handy summary by airline click here
Suitcase or backpack – choose the style that suits you best
Be realistic about your travel plans, budget and capabilities. If you will need your hands free to navigate with your map or phone while you walk, consider choosing a wheeled backpack that gives you the option to pull or carry.
I much prefer to wheel my luggage, plus I have narrow shoulders so hauling a backpack is never comfortable for me. Also I find clothes tend to get crushed inside a backpack.
Comparing hard shell versus soft case
A hardshell suitcase is great for durability. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that whether your luggage is going in the overhead compartment or into the cargo hold, it’ll be well protected.
The hard shell luggage will protect your belongings but is not the best choice for flexibility. In comparison, the soft shell suitcases afford more room to squeeze into. They adjust to a smaller space, are more flexible, easier to carry about and are usually lighter.
Comparing Two Wheels versus Spinner Style
Another decision point is whether you’re looking for a two-wheel bag or a spinner-style one.
If durability and robustness are two traits you like in luggage, then consider going with a two-wheeled bag. Two wheels offer more durability and noise-reduction. The wheels are generally tough and durable.
The spinner-style four-wheeled luggage is great for those looking for stability and 360-degree movement. The four wheels are, however, more suited to flat, even surfaces.
Tips and tricks for packing for Italy
Once you’ve chosen your case you’ll want to think about packing. Here are a few tips and tricks to help ease the preparation stress and make the most of your luggage when in Italy.
1. Plan your travel outfits
As much as you want to pack light, you’re heading to one of the most fashionable countries in the world. So, planning some of your outfits to fit your itinerary will keep you prepared as well as save you a lot of space.
Use the rule of 3 – make sure you can use each item in 3 different outfits, choose 3 colors so everything coordinates and take 3 pairs of shoes as an absolute maximum.
2. Organize your luggage for convenience
Make use of packing cubes to better utilize space within your luggage. Pack more, in neater spaces, so you can fit your items in a smaller bag and find things easily. It is no exaggeration when I say that luggage cubes have changed my traveling life.
3. Learn airline luggage regulations
Luggage regulations, such as size and weight, are important to know. They can vary from airline to airline, and you’ll need to know and comply with them if you wish to avoid a hefty fine.
To make sure you’re always prepared and within your limits, measure your bags before you leave. This will make sure you’re well within your limits. You can also take along a portable luggage scale just to ensure you will never have to worry about your bags being overweight.
4. Plan to do laundry
One mistake many travelers make is to pack for every day they are away. Instead, make use of local laundry facilities or hand wash your items and save yourself the clothing space. These laundry sheets are great for easy packing and make for super-convenient washing.
5. Ship your purchases
You don’t need to worry about saving space in your luggage for all your shopping. If you want to bring back some of that famous Italian wine, limoncello, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, most wineries and farms will ship your goods home for you. Let shipping handle it and save yourself the space. It’s very reliable and less likely to get damaged.
Check out our Italy packing guide for detailed information on what to pack into your new travel luggage. It even includes a printable packing list.
Hopefully, now you’ve found the perfect luggage for your travels to Italy. If you’ve taken our advice you’ll be packing your gear like a pro into your durable lightweight case or bag and are ready to conquer the cobblestones of Rome. Buon viaggio!