I am happy to report to the many followers eagerly inquiring about this that my neverending quest for the perfect travel bag might well be over.
My obsession with suitcases is an endless source of tease among my friends and loved ones, and anyone in my immediate family who needs a bag for any reason knows they can simply pick one in the rich collection of discarded “not quite right” ones that to most people seem absolutely fine. It has gotten so bad that I even wrote a checklist to use for those long hours in airport lounges, idling checking out travel gear stores where I might be tempted to snatch another “not quite right” bag.
And not to be accused to be greedy, here it is, ultimate distillation of my travel years:
1 – big wheels – not the whole world is smoothly paved like an airport floor, and my well-rooted preference for public transportation when abroad makes sure my bags log quite some distance on uneven surfaces, cobblestone, gravel, wood, etc.;
2 – silent wheels – I hate being followed by mr. Creaky, but I hate even more BEING mr. Creaky;
3 – two wheels, not four – four-wheeled bags are wonderfully stable at the airport, but a drag on uneven surfaces, also because the four wheels are small (see 1)
4 – handle long enough for me – height of 186 cm means that even 2 or 3 centimeters too short a handle will strain my back in a very uncomfortable way;
5 – vertical orientation – horizontal bags might (might) be more stable, but they hit your feet when walking;
6 – light – that’s why God gave us ballistic nylon, possibly semi soft on one side, to allow flexibility in packing. Definitely NO LEATHER, too heavy and too expensive;
7 – won’t flip when loaded – most bags have a PC (the heaviest item the bag contains) compartment in front; bags that are less than perfectly balanced flip over as soon as you release the handle;
8 – external fast access pocket for travel folio – holding ticket, passport, boarding pass, frequent flyer cards, etc., don’t want to open the full bag to access it;
9 – extractable lightweight sleeve to carry laptop+power brick+ipad folio – this is a need that only recently I became aware of. Once at my destination, if my stay is longer than one day obviously the bag stays at the hotel, and I lose my ability to carry what I need efficiently;
10 – cabin luggage sized (56x45x25 cm) – goes without saying, haven’t checked in a bag in the last 3 years;
11 – business compartment can be accessed without exposing the clothes compartment – that is actually more a “nice to have” than an absolute necessity, and could be solved by a large canvas bag to hold all my dirty laundry;
12 – outside compartment for iPad – same logic as 8, but much larger in size.
I have used my checklist in more than one travel gear store, and was never able to get to the bottom of it, but today, at the Dixon’s store in Heathrow Terminal 1, I spotted this bag by Thule of Sweden which ticked off 11 out of 12, the only one missing item being the extractable laptop sleeve, which however can be had for a few euros in many places, compensated by a very nice crushproof recess for my sunglasses, for the relatively reasonable price of 133 pounds.