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 cruises are different aren’t they? 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 I could have my cake and eat it. Could I pack light and still have everything I needed to look my best on a week’s Rhine River Cruise?
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 it’s 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 pzazz and visibility among the sea of boring black luggage that you’ll find in any airport.
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.
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.
So how did I get on for my Rhine river cruise? I’m happy to report that it all fitted in my new Panayio carry-on 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.
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 need to pack a cocktail dress or evening gown, which saved on space.
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.
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 your packing tips.
About the Samsonite Panayio Spinner 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 69cm and 75cm sizes. Colours available: Black, Blue, Red, Green
My thanks to Samsonite who kindly gave me the Panayio case to try.
More tales from my Rhine River Cruise with Lüftner Cruises
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