If you’re traveling and have to lug baggage while using transit, you need to take extra steps to prepare but it’s easier to do than it seems, whether you’re riding the Metro in Milan, Paris, Budapest, Kansas City… or any public rail/bus transit system in the world for that matter.
First, pack as light as you can. Try not to carry more than two bags with you, and try to avoid carrying more than one bulky suitcase, if you carry a suitcase at all. A handbag or backpack with a duffel or travel bag is your best bet if you’re going to get around at all by city rail or bus. Not only is the extra bulk of a big case (even a rolling suitcase) unwelcome in a crowded station or transit car, but many metro stations will charge extra for large pieces of baggage (never minding checked bag fees if you fly to your destination). Sure, you might have to do some laundry while on a two week vacation if you only carry 5-7 changes of clothes, but it beats trying to carry two weeks worth of clothes in a large case or two onto a cram-crowded train.
Travel with bags that you can carry over your shoulders, rather than bags you must hold with your hands like suitcases. Backpacks and bags with shoulder straps are your best bet. This improves your mobility, which will prove vital in navigating crowded stations, streets and transit cars. Even rolling suitcases can be a pain in large crowds and when navigating staircases, curbs and choppy walkways.
Before your trip, sit in a chair and practice setting your bags on your lap, taking up no more space than the width of your shoulders and length of your thighs. Being able to set your bags efficiently on your lap will be vital if you elect to sit down on a crowded train or bus, as there often will be no floor room to set your bags. This will also make it quicker and easier to throw your bags back over your shoulder once you reach your destination.
Try to pick a seat or standing place far enough from the door that you aren’t in the path of heavy passenger traffic… but close enough that you can comfortably get to the door once you reach your stop. This is admittedly not an exact science. Basically, don’t sit near the back if need be, and don’t stand right next to the exit door.
Now that said, you may have to stand on a crowded transit car. With backpacks, either stand so your backpack is pressed against a wall, or remove the backpack and hold it in front of you, even sitting it at your feet if necessary. Keep your other bag(s) on your shoulders and turn shoulder bags so that they’re in front of you while standing. This helps prevent you from inadvertently bumping others and vice versa.
Plus, it makes it more difficult for pick-pockets to steal from you. Some cities have more crime than others, but rest assured in major cities that you’re going to cross paths with pick-pockets. Keep a close eye on your bags and make sure nobody’s hands strays near them. Keep your wallet in a front pocket or a sizable bag that can’t be easily snatched away. And of course keep that bag in your sight at all times.
Traveling with baggage on a metro transit system is easy as long as you plan ahead and pack knowing you’ll need to carry everything you pack onto a crowded train or bus. Pack light, pack portable and pack to move. Have a fun trip!