Rolling luggage

Tomorrow I am leaving for a week-long business trip to Copenhagen. On my last trip the wheels to my rolling laptop bag fell off on the cobblestones lining Vesterbrogade –hurtling like mini curling rocks out into the bike path — I dragged my crippled tote into the train station before I could witness where the little ballistic missiles finally landed. I prayed that the agile Danes, used to biking over rough terrain, managed to negotiate around the tiny tires.

I tried to find a replacement bag in Denmark, but the cheapest thing I could find was a backpack for $88 and I was not going to pay $88 for a bag colorfully printed with praying hands and beer steins (besides, its label said “Made in the USA”). So for the rest of my trip I lugged my stuff instead of rolling it. I am too old to be lugging laptops, files, books, and binders, not to mention cords, mice, headset, power converters, and enough office supplies to qualify me as a Staples annex. So I have been on the lookout for a new rolling laptop bag.

I went to eBags.com to research bags and discovered they were all in the seven to ten pound range — too heavy. I went to Staples and found a selection of bags but they were too cheap. I don’t want a repeat of the lost wheels while abroad. I went to Samsonite Black Label store in the mall and decided a)the store was too dimly lit to see any of the merchandise and b)I did not want to spend $300 on a bag. I went to Macy’s and found a Ricardo of Beverly Hills Essentials bag which was nice but a little too small. I would have purchased it, however, but I could not find a sales associate anywhere.

Finally I went to a store in Harvard Square that specialized in luggage. I found a rolling backpack made by Kipling. It was perfect. Lightweight, the right color (smokey blue), and it has lots of organizational features. I took it for a test run around the store, including some sharp turns. I opened and closed the extension  handle several times. I tested the zippers. Awesome. On the way home I remembered that I have a Kipling travel handbag, also in smokey blue — styl’n Lin!

My big suitcase is beginning to look pretty sad and besides it is too big. So I went “shopping” in the attic where I have a luggage storehouse — at least ten suitcases of varying sizes. I selected my husband’s suitcase which is a size down from mine. I think it will work. I need a bag big enough to carry a week’s worth of business clothes plus my CPAP machine, toiletries bag (which is the same size as the bags used in Marine boot camp to toughen up the recruits while hiking), and my “project” — I always take a craft project to work on in the evening while I relax. I have never actually “relaxed” in the evenings, so  I have never actually unpacked my project.  I am still knitting the brim of a charming cap.

My bag can not exceed fifty pounds according to the airlines. This means I have to pack light. Winter clothes are heavy so I used to pack summer clothes. This is not always the most comfortable approach to Danish weather in February, however. Happily I recently discovered “travel wear” — clothing made out of unwrinklable, lightweight fabric that is not native to Earth. I can pack six pairs of pants along the bottom of my suitcase and still have eleven inches on top for more stuff. There are a couple of problems with travel wear fabric — it tends to cling and is especially drawn to folds of  abdominal fat. And it tends to be shiny. So, unless I dress entirely in drab colors I look like a large Christmas ornament. So I compromise — 50% alien fabric and 50% stuff made by Lands End.

Any luggage worth its salt has a compartment specifically designed to house crossword puzzle books and pencils, not the little paperback once you get at the drugstore but rather the New York Times Sunday omnibus volumes.  That is why wheels are essential.  And since we are now required to remove our laptops and put them through the x-ray machine separately, the bags must have an easily accessible laptop compartment.  I hate the feeling of hot breath on my neck breathed by my fellow travelers waiting as I remove my shoes, my sweater, my charm bracelets, my laptop — pushing my train of four or five plastic bins along the conveyor belt.  And then I always set off the alarm because of my artificial knee and have to stand in the prisoner’s box while they pass by me giving me “the glare.” Having stylish and functional luggage bolsters my self-esteem so I can glare right back.

Whoever invented wheeled luggage was a genius — but why did it take so long?  When you think of it, it is kind of a duh! All those educational trips to Europe when I was a kid would have been far more enjoyable if I did not have to lug my brother’s suitcase around.  I love seeing toddlers in the airport pulling their tiny luggage — how cute is that?  This trip to Copenhagen won’t repeat any of the disasters of my last trip.  No strokes, no delusional ambling around Tivoli Gardens in the rain, no solo singing performances at the beer Garten, and no wheels shooting off my luggage, lethally felling innocent Danes.

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3 responses to “Rolling luggage

  1. Have a great trip, enjoy your subdued travel wear and come back to us safe and sound. And with all wheels still attached.

  2. It’s a good thing you are such a seasoned shopper.

    =Whoever invented wheeled luggage was a genius — but why did it take so long? When you think of it, it is kind of a duh! =

    Yeah, I’m old enough to remember the days before luggage had wheels, and I’ve often wondered why it took so long to come up with the idea. But it was an idea that evolved, rather than leaping out as a fait accompli: You may recall that at first there were no wheels, and then there were those (usually flimsy) metal tube luggage carts that had the shelf that folded out and you used bungy cords to hold your luggage on them. We had the folding carts for some years before it occurred to someone that it would be more convenient to just build the wheels into the luggage. So it was an idea that came in phases.

    Still, definitely one of mankind’s greatest achievements.

  3. Just catching up on your back issues, Lin, but this one had me laughing out loud. The experience of folding the stroller, getting my kid’s shoes off, my shoes off, my kid’s sweatshirt, my sweater and my belt off, all while my kid is screaming because he’s afraid of the big man on the other side of the tunnel and doesn’t want to be put down…these things too elicit the glares of the hot-breathing travelers behind me. My husband chooses to carry-on his CPAP, so it’s him that gets put in the prisoner’s box. I point and laugh, until I remember that my kid is screaming, and I’ve got shoes to put on everyone. Thanks for sharing, I love your way with words. I hope your trip is (was?) awesome.

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