Packing and clothing tips for a Rhine river cruise – with my Samsonite cabin case

These days I rarely travel with more than a carry on case and avoid checking in luggage wherever possible. Who wants to be stuck for ages waiting for your case to come through on the carousel when you could be out of the airport and on to your next travel adventure? But packing light for a cruise is different isn’t it? On cruises we want to look our best, dress up a little and live the elegance and occasion of the cruising experience. So when Samsonite sent me their Panayio carry-on case to try, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test whether it will serve as a travel bag for cruises. Could I pack a light cabin case and still have everything I needed to look my best on a week’s Rhine River Cruise?

Clothing tips for a Rhine River cruise Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

What to wear on a Rhine River cruise

What to wear on a Rhine River Cruise

The big test was whether I could fit everything I needed for my 6 day cruise into my new Samsonite carry-on. Applying my tried and tested packing rules, which work well for trips of up to a week, I was looking good to go. My packing light tips are;

1. Plan exactly what you need – take only what you need for each day of your holiday and no more, you can always give one or two things a quick wash if you run out of things to wear.

2. Cut down on the shoes – I normally limit myself to 2 pairs and wear the more substantial one, although I did cheat a bit and take 3 this time. Shoes take a LOT of space.

3. Colour co-ordinate – choose one colour theme per holiday so that everything will mix and match. On this trip I went for tones of brown, beige, cream and soft pink which all worked together.

4. Pack miniatures of your favourite toiletries – I have a small sponge bag that’s always ready to go and contains miniature versions of everything I need.

5. Dress up with accessories – A couple of scarves and some pretty jewellery take up hardly any room and dress up your outfit.

My Samsonite cabin case on the Rhine River Cruise Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

My Samsonite Panayio light cabin case on the Rhine River Cruise

So how did I get on for my Rhine river cruise? I’m happy to report that it all fitted in my new Samsonite cabin case and I still had room for some of my camera equipment. Here’s what I packed for my 5 night, 6 day cruise;

  • 2 pairs of trousers, one a velvet jean style, the others a more dressy, lightweight wool
  • 2 cardigans in cream and pale pink that toned with each of my trousers
  • A top or t-shirt for each day I was there, choosing neutral colours and simple shapes with pretty details that look equally good when going for a bike ride or at dinner in the evening.
  • A large cream pashmina that my daughter brought me back from her trip to Nepal which was suitable as an evening wrap and also a cosy muffler if it got cool in the day.
  • Lastly, breaking my rule of only taking what you need, I took a lacy pink cardigan which was I wore for the Captain’s cocktail party but which stayed in the wardrobe the rest of the time, proving I could have probably done without it
  • For shoes I took some flat leather boots my sister bought me in Rome which were perfect for all the city walks and also some smart city trainers (no heels for me when I travel). I also took some pretty flat pumps to wear in the evening – again I broke my own rule and only wore these a couple of times, but they did pack up quite small.

Samsonite Panayio travel bag for cruises

Although at first sight the case seemed on the small side, I did squeeze in all these clothes, together with nightwear, underwear and a few other bits and bobs, although I did have a separate bag for most of my electronics. Of course being a River cruise the dress seemed to be a bit more casual than on some sea cruises, and although guests dressed smartly for dinner, there was no need to pack a cocktail dress or evening gown, which saved on space.

Samsonite Panayio travel bag for cruises Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Samsonite Panayio cabin case showing lock and interior

As we approached Heathrow airport for our flight to Basel to join the cruise ship, the traffic was building up and I was starting to worry that we would be late for the plane. Luckily it all went to plan and soon the wheels of my spinner case were gliding into Heathrow Terminal 5 and through security, with no delays to check any luggage. My new case held its own in terms of sleek good looks as we passed the designer shops of Paul Smith, Smythson and Tiffany on the way to the departure gate.

I particularly liked the curvy shape of the Panayio range; curvy mean less edges to catch and rub, and as I’m getting a little more curvy myself these days, curvy means feminine, curvy knows how to enjoy life! With my practical head on I also needed a case that would meet to size dimensions that major airlines require for carry on bags – normally around 55cm x 45cm x 25cm for Easyjet and British Airways or a slightly smaller 55cm x 40cm x 20cm for Ryanair and Germanwings. The Panayio easily fitted the lower size requirements, so no stress there. In my packing-light challenge, I must admit that I cheated a bit as both British Airways and Germanwings with whom we were flying allowed an additional laptop bag, so I did take an extra bag for all my electronics. Getting into the holiday spirit, I chose the Panayio in the red colour, for a bit more pizazz and visibility among the sea of boring black luggage that you’ll find in any airport.

You may also enjoy: Viking river cruise packing list and cruise packing tips

Me and my Samsonite Panayio light cabin case at Heathrow Terminal 5 Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Me and my Samsonite cabin case at Heathrow Terminal 5

Although I had my doubts about the spinner wheels at first, the 4 wheels glided effortlessly along the departure hall and there was also the option of tilting the case at an angle on 2 wheels for more bumpy pavements. The sturdy extendable handle also adjusted smoothly to 4 different heights and as I’d given my old case to hubby I felt rather smug as his clunked along while mine glided noiselessly. At the top and side, the built in handles were curvy and streamlined, but felt sturdy for lifting the case into the overhead locker. My only minor gripe was that there was only one small zip compartment on the front, which was just about big enough to slide your documents into, so no opportunities to stuff lots of extras into outside compartments. Another great feature was the built in padlock that you could set to your own 3 digit combination and was TSA approved so you could keep your case secure on flights to the USA.

What to wear on a Rhine river cruise Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

What to wear on a river cruise in Europe

My Samsonite Panayio carry-on met the cruise packing-light challenge with flying colours and fitted into my new cruising lifestyle rather well, with its elegant good looks. You can choose between two variations of the cabin size case; the spinner which has exterior wheels that spin in any direction or the upright version with the same case shape but wheels built into the bottom of the case. While the spinner has better mobility, the upright does have the advantage of a little more capacity (34L v 32L) so this could be better for those who need to need maximum space for packing.

On our Rhine river cruise Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

On our Rhine river cruise

Are you one of those travellers who has to sit on your case to get it shut or have you perfected the art of travelling light while looking good? If so, I’d love to hear how you manage packing light for a cruise.

About the Samsonite Panayio Spinner light cabin case

Heather tried out the Panayio Spinner carry on case from Samsonite ; Price £139: Weight 2.4kg: Volume 32 Litres: Dimensions 55cm x 20 x 38. The case features a 3 digit TSA combination lock. The case is also available in an upright version and in 69 cm and 75 cm sizes. Colours available: Black, Blue, Red, Green

More tales from my Rhine River Cruise with Lüftner Cruises

All aboard the Amadeus Princess – what to expect from your river cruise ship
Day by Day sightseeing diary, our Rhine River Cruise
How to make a Rudesheim coffee – video

My thanks to Samsonite who kindly gave* me the Panayio case to try.

* More info on my policies page

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com

This article may contain affiliate links that provide commission on purchases you make at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    July 4, 2013 at 3:57 am

    I’ve been curious about Samsonite’s spinner wheels. Glad to hear that you found the case easy to maneuver on all four wheels. When packing light, I find that shoes are always the problem. Looks like you solved that one. I’ve tried the ballet slippers that fold flat. They make a great shoe for night, if you’re pants aren’t too long.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      July 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      @Donna This was the first time that I had tried a case with this style of spinner wheels and I must admit that I had my doubts, but I did enjoy how easy it was to move the case around. With regards to shoes, mine were also like the ballet slippers you tried which pack very flat.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Many thanks for your review Heather, I bought one after reading this from Luggage Warehouse, they had a promo code and got it for £80 but the 2 wheel version, pretty happy with it and it is very light, the only thing I can see possibly a problem is where it flaps open rather than being able to unzip all the way round, and this could leave a bend mark in a few years? who knows, just a thought.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      June 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      @Martin so pleased you found the article useful- I agree about the lid flap but haven’t seen any crease so far – probably depends how often you use it.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    @Heather Thanks, yes that is good to know, I have done only a couple of trips so far, very happy with the size and weight, I spent hours and hours finding the right one, so many seem not to fit the Ryan Air/Thomson Size Cabin Limits which is frustrating, and many on ebay even lower the size to sell more it would seem!

  • Reply
    June 25, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Heather, Two pairs of pants?!!! That’s it? I’m looking at a pile of 7 right now wondering if it’s enough. I leave for a Uniworld cruise in July (Germany, Austria, Hungary)with a few extra days in Hungary, and I’m at the point where I’d like to just shove a clean pair of underwear in my pocket and go with nothing;) I’ve been debating which size light weight luggage to use, and after reading the way you pack, I’m rethinking taking the larger one. I am sticking with my 2 pairs of shoes policy. I keep hearing from others to pack a raincoat and umbrella too. Huh? I get that it might rain, but that will just “junk up” my case. Anyway, great reading your tips. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      June 25, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      @Sue Yes, although we did slightly shorten the 7 night cruise so we were there for 5 days – even so I felt quite well dressed on all occasions. I would definitely pack a lightweight rain jacket, you could have wonderful sunshine but the weather can always be changeable in northern Europe. Possibly a very small, lightweight telescopic umbrella, but I just rely on my hood and rainjacket to keep me dry.

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