Naturally this must be enough to hold the clothing and other things finally determined upon. But leave at home everything you can possibly do without. If your trip is to be short and energetic, such as the average summer trip to Europe, by all means do not take a trunk, at least no farther than the disembarking port. It can be stored (usually free) if you are sailing again from there, or shipped on to your embarking port for a modest sum. Learn to live in a suitcase. Any kind of trunk is a constant source of irritation and expense in Europe, and in most other lands. Many a man misses a train which he might easily have taken but for his trunk. It literally costs almost as much to lug even a steamer trunk through Europe as to pay for the transportation of another person.
There is no such argument against taking a trunk as far as Europe or to your landing place in nearly any other land you plan to travel through. Almost any steamship line will allow two or three hundred pounds of baggage, and not be fussy at that. Land transportation is quite a different matter. If you are on a cruise, using the same ship from start to finish, or if you plan a long stay somewhere abroad, or if money is no object and an occasional delay not very serious, then by all means take a wardrobe trunk, or several of them. But under no other circumstances. The port facilities for loading and unloading are often lacking. Even the steamer trunk should not be more than fourteen inches high, for if it will not go beneath the bunk, you may be denied having it in your stateroom at all.
On the other hand, do not take so little baggage that every packing is a gymnastic feat. One trunk will sometimes do for two persons, of the same sex, or for husband and wife. If you just simply must have more than can be carried in a steamer trunk, it is better to have several suitcases or similar receptacles. For there are plenty of porters at most foreign stations, and the cost either in time or money is not so great with hand baggage as with that which must be checked. Almost all foreign railroads permit more hand baggage than is usual in the United States.
But let us assume that in spite of all warnings the traveler is encumbered with at least one trunk on foreign soil. English railways carry 100 pounds of checked baggage free; France 66 pounds. Almost if not quite all other countries in Europe have no free baggage allowance, except what will conveniently go into the compartment with you. Italy limits this to 45 pounds; many other countries allow 24 inches of the tack space over your head. In almost every foreign country excess bag-gage pays what Americans would consider excessive rates. In the Orient and South America there is a fairly generous free baggage allowance, but anything over that pays a high rate. Furthermore, porters must be paid for carrying a trunk to or from every train or hotel bus or transfer vehicle and the delay for customs examination at frontiers is considerably more than for hand baggage. In other words, Europe and most other foreign countries are geared to hand rather than to heavy baggage.
Remember, by the way, that your baggage becomes “luggage” as soon as you reach the other side, and that the verb for expediting it in a “luggage-van” is “register.” Your request to “check your baggage” is not likely to be understood. If you use English on the continent, the expression “registering luggage” will still be the prevailing one. The British and continental system of checking baggage is more complicated, and, to appearances at least, less efficient, than our own. Instead of a cardboard check, you get a paper document of varying size, which in some cases requires considerable clerical work to fill out.
The ideal baggage for the average constantly moving traveler who is not content with a knapsack is a small handbag for those things needed at any moment of the day, and a suitcase, 10 x 15 x 24 inches, for other things. Most tours of Europe include the transportation of such a suitcase, leaving the traveler to pay for, if not to attend to, anything else. Many tourist companies sell suitcases of just that size, quite durable enough for the average European trip. The experienced traveler finds this ample for the necessities of either sex On the whole it is advisable to insure baggage before going abroad. In many countries, notably Italy and Spain, it is unwise to lose sight of uninsured baggage, at least for any length of time. Jewelry or other valuables should not be carried in the baggage, particularly in registered luggage. Many insurance companies make this a requirement. Under no circumstances should the pass-port ever be carried anywhere except on the person. The wisdom of having at least your registered luggage always securely locked is obvious.
Have your baggage distinctly marked with either name or initials, and some indication of your home address. Some other distinctive marking, such as colored stripes, preferably on the ends, facilitates the finding of trunks among a mass of them. A supply of baggage tags should be carried in the handbag, as in most foreign countries the permanent marking on the trunk or other checking baggage is not sufficient to comply with the railway regulations. If several pieces of baggage are carried, the wisdom of marking keys also is apparent.
Heavy baggage should be sent to the ship the day before sailing. All baggage except that carried by hand should bear stickers indicating whether or not it is wanted during the voyage across. Such stickers may be had with the tickets from any steamship line or tourist agency. The steamer trunk at least should bear the number of the stateroom. Other stickers have the words WANTED ON VOYAGE or HOLD. Those pieces bearing the former are usually, though not always, kept in. the ship’s baggage-room, where access to them is possible at certain hours of the day. That marked HOLD will not be available on the voyage. It will probably also be the last to appear on the dock after disembarking.
Express or transfer companies in the various American ports will attend to getting the heavy baggage to the ship. Hand baggage, and even a steamer trunk, may be taken in the taxicab from railway station to steamer. Heavy baggage, properly marked, with the stickers preferably on both ends, is commonly not put aboard until the passenger arrives. See to it that it is not left sitting on the dock through your failure to interview the dock baggage master. A sticker bearing a large initial, corresponding to the passenger’s last name, is almost as necessary to outgoing as to incoming baggage. These also may be had with the tickets.