Traveling light and packing wisely

Like Rick Steves and some other companies, we have decades years experience in the travel business and we have learned that it's unfair to yourself and others not 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 travellers 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 as long-suffering drivers and porters perspire loading and offloading.

These days, you can also save money by traveling with only carry-on. The airlines are so desperate for you to travel light, they’re getting punitive about luggage fees. And they are right, we need lighter aircraft to save on aviation pollution.  

Remember, packing light isn't just about saving time, money, the atmosphere, and the good will of fellow travellers and staff — 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 (adapted from Rick Steves): Sicily Tour Packing Checklist

And 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 whatever else comes up when you need it. 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 shop 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. A few things you should pack enough of for your entire trip, include prescription medications and always bring an extra copy of your prescriptions in case you lose the one you're carrying. We have excellent pharmacies and they have all the medicines you have at home, but brand names may differ, and different things are available over-the-counter versus needing a prescription.

Whether you're traveling for a week or three months, pack exactly the same. Bring light, wrinkle-free fabrics that you can wash quickly in the hotel sink. Then roll them tightly in the hotel towel and squeeze out most of the moistuer, 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 and her entourage once). On our tours no one will notice if you’re 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 (late Oct-April), bring one or two light jumpers. Otherwise layer light garments for warmth. If an abnormal chilly spell happens, or you decide to go up Mt. Etna, you can always buy a nice Italian maglione (jumper, pullover, or sweater), which will have a story to tell when you wear it back home. 

Bring one pair of comfy, casual shoes that are good for walking on uneven terrain. Actually, most folks bring sturdy hiking sandals for our days (please, no flipflops on the sites). If you want something more stylish for the evenings, Merrell, Ecco, and others make sturdy walking shoes that can double as dress shoes; lightweight fashionable sandals are what the Italian women wear in the evenings.

Best option for reading is to bring a Kindle or similar e-reader. Otherwise bring one paperback and plan to trade it in at a hotel for another when you're done (many hotels have "leave a book/take a book" shelves in English). Or, many bookstores in areas we are touring have selections in English, especially guidebooks and Sicilian classics. 

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, attention turned to where they are, and those whose moment-by-moment travel experience is dominated by their luggage. 

The Sicily Tour style is casual and simple.