I’m one to call a cab to take me from the airport to the hotel, but I’ve found that change on two trips overseas. Taking advice to avoid the potentially high priced taxi rides in heavy traffic, I have opted for using public transportation by underground and train. It is not just the arrival and departure. In other situations, using the train service is the logical option to get around the country. The challenge is handling your baggage.
An excellent article written by Stephen Downes (@downes), How to Get the Most Out of a Conference, addressed how to pack and travel with luggage. He provided some good points that I considered in advance and during the trip. For example, I chose not to get upright luggage this time, but I will for the next one.
My experiences in October 2010 (London, Leicester, Turin, Rome) and February 2012 (London, High Wycombe, Leicester, Paris) have emphasised a few key points. There are a lot of escalators, many flights of stairs, and few elevators to be found. Walks around the airports are long, although you can take a slow ride on the moving walkways. Reminders to “mind the gap” are continuous on the underground due to the gaps between the platform and the train. On other trains there are steps to negotiate. Luggage gets in the way on crowded underground trains, and there is not always room to store luggage on the longer national train trips.
On the latter point, I wish my wife and I had traveled first class from London to Leceister on the recent trip. The train had less coaches than expected, so there were some without seats. All of the luggage space was taken in our coach, and there was nowhere to put 2 large suitcases. I can tell you that the cases traveled fine on the seats, leaving us to sit on the edge and stand most of the way.
Planning to travel this way? You will be lifting and pulling luggage. You cannot handle more than 1 case and possibly a carry-on. The weight should be kept as light as possible, and plan to do all the handling yourself. For the next trip, I would switch to upright luggage with 4 wheels for easy manoeuvrability. There are times when the case needs to travel down narrow aisles. I would also do what I could to reduce the weight. It appears we were travelling with about 22 kg per case at most times, with one at 26 kg at one point. Not too bad, but too heavy for the type of travel.
A couple of other options include remaining in one place, so moving from city to city is not a problem, or using a luggage shipping service. The latter could work, but you have to ship a week in advance to be reasonable, and it is unlikely to help moving to different locations throughout the trip.