Venice: day four of 16 with a stuffed Rick Steves Roll-Aboard.
I never learned the art of packing light. But travel expert Rick Steves has it down to a science, with strict rules (bring one carry-on bag; wash clothes by hand), precise quotas (five pairs of socks), and a line of luggage designed to limit your load. I put Steves's less-is-more packing philosophy to the test on a 16-day jaunt through Europe, accompanied by my notebook and his slim 21-inch Roll-Aboard suitcase ($129, 425-771-8303, travelstore.ricksteves.com). Here are some observations.
TIME TO PACK I mostly stick to Steves's packing list (www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips). But at the last minute, I sneak in an extra pair of shoes—and my bag still zips!
Day 1 My restrictive suitcase glides through the terminal. On the plane, it slides easily into the overhead bin.
Day 4 The plane to Venice is small and the flight attendant makes me check my bag. Later, at the carousel, my navy blue Roll-Aboard stands out in the sea of black. (Steves also offers the bag in green, merlot, spruce—and, of course, black.)
Day 8 Out of clean socks in Barcelona. I decide to invest in a few new pairs instead of washing the grubby ones by hand in the hotel room sink.
Day 12 On Barcelona's main shopping drag, I buy six T-shirts and a footlong salami. Thanks to the "expando-zipper" that makes the suitcase two inches deeper, I can muscle them into my bag.
Day 16 It's raining in Paris. My Roll-Aboard and I splash through puddles on a mad airport dash. My shoes are soaked, but the clothes in my suitcase stay dry. I'm thrilled with my bag and with my decision to break the rules and bring along an extra pair of (still dry) shoes.
Photography by Christine Yue
This article was first published in September 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.