Traveling light and packing wisely

Like Rick Steves and many other companies we have many years experience in the travel business, and we have learned that it's absolutely necessary to be disciplined when packing for a trip to Europe. 

So, like Rick Steves, we request you carry only one suitcase, airline carry-on size. That's It. See our "Policy and Conditions" for details. 

When you travel with only carry-on luggage, it's less likely to get lost, broken, or stolen. Quick, last-minute changes in flight plans become simple. Every airport, every hotel change is a breeze. So are shuttle buses and trains. You're light on your feet, so the trip is more relaxed and more flexible. It's a good feeling.

Sicily Tour travelers are on our way downtown while everyone else stares anxiously at the luggage carousel; we’re on the road when everyone else is standing around the rear of their tour bus waiting for loading and offloading.

These days, you can also save money by traveling with only carry-on. While it's still free to check one bag on most overseas trips, you'd likely pay a fee to check two. For connecting flights within Europe or the USA, expect to be charged for every checked bag.   

Remember, packing light isn't just about saving time or money — it's about your traveling lifestyle. Too much luggage marks you as a distracted tourist and makes you a target for theft and harassment, and you'll be taken less seriously in general. Forget about blending in; forget about "Europe Through the Back Door"; forget about getting to know locals; prepare to be a target for every con artist and beggar. On the other hand, with one small suitcase, you're mobile, low profile, and in control. We promise you – once you experience your first taste of the mobility and freedom that traveling light brings, you'll never go back. 

We at Sicily Tour are proud of our "light on our feet" travel style. 

Packing basics

So, how do you fit a whole trip's worth of luggage into a small backpack or suitcase? The answer simple; bring very little.  

To help, here is our own advice (with thanks to Rick Steves): Sicily Tour Packing Checklist

Here's some further explanation:

Look at each item you are bringing and instead of asking if you need it or not ask whether you can find it easily where you going. Don't pack for the worst-case scenario; pack for the best-case scenario and buy extras in an emergency. For example:

  1. Pack one small version of each necessity and buy extras if you need them. Soap, toothpaste, face cream, and razors can be bought on every street corner from Sicily to Siberia. Take enough to get started and look forward to running out of toothpaste in some small Sicilian village. Then you have the perfect excuse to go into the local grocery and get an insight how the local folks live. It will enrich your travel experience!  
  2. Some things are very important to pack enough of for your entire trip, especially prescription medications. Bring a few extra aspirin and intestinal medicines (available over the counter but at limited hours), and always bring an extra copy of your prescriptions in case you lose the one you're carrying.

Whether you're traveling for three weeks or three months, pack exactly the same. Bring light, wrinkle-free fabrics and prepare to wash them in the hotel sink, then roll them tightly in the hotel towel and squeeze out the last of the water, before hanging them up to dry. In most seasons, hung by the open window, on the balcony, or next to the air conditioning vent, they’ll be dry by morning.   

Dress elegantly yet casually. If you’re traveling with the Duchess of Windsor, you’re probably not on our tour (although we did host Linda Byrd Johnson once). On our tours no one will care if you are alternating between two pairs of slacks and two blouses. If variety matters, you can mix them up and vary the look with a scarf or two.   

No need for bulky sweaters of jackets; if the weather is going to be cool (we'll notify you), bring a light jumper. Otherwise layer light garments for warmth. You can always buy a nice Italian sweater while traveling. 

Bring one pair of comfy, casual yet elegant shoes that are good for walking. For example, Merrell, Ecco, and other brands of sturdy walking shoes that can double as dress shoes. If you want a second pair, bring sturdy but compressible sandals for hot days. Actually, most folks bring sturdy hiking sandals only, which work for all occasions (please, no flipflops on the sites).

Best option for reading is to bring a Kindle or similar device. Otherwise bring one paperback and plan to trade it in at a hotel for another when you're done (most hotels have "leave a book/take a book" shelves in English). 

If you're struggling to get your things into one small suitcase, consider zipping them up into packing cubes, airless baggies, or a clothes compressor. Specifically designed folding boards (such as Eagle Creek's Pack-It Folder) help you fold and carry clothes with minimal wrinkling. For smaller items use packing cubes and mesh bags. Remember to leave some room for souvenirs! 

In short, in your travels you'll meet two kinds of tourists. Those who move about with ease, and those whose moment-by-moment travel experience is dominated by their luggage. 

The Sicily Tour style is casual and simple.