John Bensalhia provides some handy hints for train travel luggage handling...
Off on holiday this year? Sandy beaches, peaceful countryside, all the sights... What could be better?
But the journey to and from your holiday destination can need a vacation in itself if not done right. One of the biggest problems is luggage. Packing for your holiday comes with a fair amount of baggage – storage, safety, security, assistance with heavy loads... However, with the right level of preparation, any baggage blues can be banished for good. Here are some useful tips...
The day before you set off on your journey is packing day.
Packing luggage is an art form in itself. Haphazardly stuffing as much as the suitcase or rucksack will take will not do. It's actually a good idea to travel as light as possible. While there are services available to help you with your luggage (stay tuned...), the onus is largely on you to store your luggage on the train. The heavier and bulkier the luggage, the greater the challenge.
The usual rules apply for packing luggage. Fragile objects should be protected with care. Liquid bottles for drinking or washing should be as watertight as possible and a good rule of thumb is to store them in tightly sealed containers in order to prevent unwanted leakage all over your freshly washed and ironed clothes.
Potentially dangerous items shouldn't be included – Trenitalia's and TNT's Bagaglio Facile initiative (again, stay tuned...) checks for goods such as aerosols, perfumes, lighters and alcohol. If any of these are discovered, your luggage will be returned to you.
Any important items, such as driving licence, wallets, purses, money, documents and life-saving medicines should be kept with you at all times.
Label the luggage clearly and lock the bags with a padlock for extra security.
What's In Storage
Depending on the types of train you take, there are two kinds of storage facilities. Catch the older style trains, and you can store your luggage in overhead shelves. You can also place luggage under or between your seat – which does at least provide the advantage of keeping a closer eye on your items.
The newer style trains include specific storage areas for bags, which can be found at the end of each carriage. It's ideal if you're bringing larger suitcases with you – just keep a regular lookout to make sure that your luggage is safe. On which subject...
Thieves Don't Like Us
In the rare case that some rapscallion makes off with your luggage, this presents something of a pickle. Train operator Trenitalia doesn't take responsibility for lost baggage, so it's up to you to make sure that your goodies are as safe as possible.
There is an insurance policy that can be taken against bag theft. If any of your luggage is taken from you on a Frecce or InterCity train, the maximum insurance amount is 300 euros per bag or 600 euros per customer.
For a small fee, porter help is available at selected Italian train stations with luggage. You will need to book a porter in advance of your journey for the price of five euros. The stations that offer porter assistance are Roma Termini, Milano Centrale, Bologna Centrale and Firenze SMN. If you're an older traveller or if you find that you have too much luggage to handle, and you're setting off from any of the aforementioned locations, it's well worth the money to hire a porter to help with the bags.
Another option open to you is Bagaglio Facile (Easy Luggage), which is an initiative from Trenitalia and TNT that makes travelling so much easier. Rather than carrying bulky luggage with you, you can arrange a door-to-door option through Bagaglio Facile, which sends your bags to your chosen destination.
This service is open to all Frecce train travellers or to those who possess a CartaFreccia card.
Most stations offer this service from Monday to Friday between the hours of 8.30 am and 6pm. Weekend services are also available at these stations: Milan, Rome, Florence,Venice, Turin, Bologna, Naples, Salerno, Bari. While mornings run the same service at these locations, Saturday afternoon and Sunday services are subject to availability, so please bear this in mind if you're travelling at the weekend.
Costs of this service begin at 20 euros for the first bag and 15 euros for the second. There's currently a special offer running between 1stJune and 30thSeptember 2019 called the Easy Luggage 5x4 Promotion. You can save 20 euros for the shipment of five bags. Instead of 85 euros, the very reasonable rate this Summer is now 65 euros, which is a great solution for couples, families, and groups of friends.
You will need to arrange the services of Bagaglio Facile in advance. Please allow for at least 24 hours before departure when you come to book.
At The Station
If it's quite a lengthy journey that you're taking, then chances are, you'll want some downtime in between stations. Maybe you'd like to do some sightseeing or grab some lunch.
Don't worry about lugging your luggage around with you. Many Italian rail stations provide a storage service in which the staff will look after your bags. It doesn't cost much, and is easy to arrange. However, it's worth double checking that the station you want does offer this storage service, which you can find on the website.
And for those links to Trenitalia and Bagaglio Facile...