Preparing to head back to the States is a bittersweet moment. Buying souvenirs for loved ones along with something special for yourself to remember your time abroad can be fun-until you begin to pack.
Being ambitious at the beginning of the semester, I came to Florence with only a carry on and one checked bag. When my boyfriend visited he brought an extra suitcase and I filled that up for him to take home. As I began to pack for my trip home I thought I would have plenty of room for the rest of my things- oh how wrong I was.
With only a few days left in Florence I needed to find a new suitcase as soon as possible.
Here are a few dos and don’ts to know while shopping for last minute luggage.
Don’t Go with a Designer Brand
Brands such as Mandarin Duck, are overpriced and unnecessary to look at if you need a new suitcase. Designer brands are not budget friendly for students. At the end of the day, spending 150 euros on a piece of luggage that may get beat up during an international flight is not worth it.
Do Go to the Train Station
The vendors across from the Santa Maria Novella train station offer a wide variety of sizes that are affordable and easy to buy at the last minute. A normal size carry on is around 25 euros while a larger suitcase is around 45 euros. However, you get what you pay for. Be aware that while these suitcases may look brand new and comparable to luggage in stores, but the quality will not be as great. If you go with this option check the zippers on the bag and know that the suitcase might only survive the trip home. Keep in mind some vendors only take cash, so have some handy in case they don’t take card.
Don’t Go Under the Train Station
While the underground “mall” at Santa Maria Novella train station offers some decent shopping, it’s over priced when it comes to the luggage department. If you really are in a bind, Roncato has a wide variety of sizes and colors. A hard shell carry on begins at 99 euros and a medium suitcase begins at 119 euros.
Do Look Around Mercato San Lorenzo
The outdoor market around Mercato Centrale has a few luggage options but not as many as the vendors outside of the train station do. The market does offer a different option. If you’re looking for a more Italian option you can go with a leather duffel bag. They are a unique alternative to suitcases but they can be pricey and may not offer as much room as a suitcase.
Do Go To Carpisa
Carpisa, which is right around the corner from the Duomo, has a wide variety of handbags but an even bigger selection of luggage. The prices of the hard shell suitcases run a little high, but for regular suitcases they are about average. The bags are good quality and light weight. Carpisa also offers a wide range of travel gear all in one place which makes last minute shopping quick and easy.
Don’t Forget Cash
While most stores and vendors are equipped with credit card machines, some vendors don’t so you don’t want to be stuck without some cash on hand.
I went with a medium size pink suitcase from Carpisa that was 60 euros. I decided to go with a medium size bag instead of a small carry on because I wanted to have a little extra room.
There’s no need to panic about having to buy an extra suitcase but you do need to set a few hours aside to get it done.
PRO TIP: Make sure to add your extra bag to your flight before you get to the airport as most airlines will give you a discount before you get there!