Remember when I told you about how much money you could save by riding your bicycle instead of driving your car? Remember that? Charging yourself back at $.50 per mile. This rate is low, way low, but just because I’m a jerk and want to prove my point, I’ve been keeping track of mileage, and I’ve been using this rate. The savings from riding my bike just allowed me to buy an expensive suitcase while still having money in reserve.
I’ve got a laundry list of things I need to buy. I always tell myself I don’t need anything, and perhaps if we stick to the strict definition of need, well, maybe I don’t NEED any of these things, but for some reason I find myself collecting various items including the suitcase you see here. I’m a traveler, whether I want to be or not, both for myself and for Blurb. Prior to the pandemic, I might have even been considered a “road warrior,” although I never commuted via air. But I did experience a seven-year stretch where I was on the road the majority of the time.
I’m not complaining. Blurb travel is work travel but when you consider my “territory” is the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, well, you can see why I’m not turning down any trips. There were times when I was one the road for six, eight weeks at a time. There were times I spent four weeks in Europe, flew home for one day then flew to Australia for five weeks. Boom, boom, and boom. Travel like this requires planning and it requires health and fitness. It also requires a bit of zen, and for this reason I like the challenge. Something WILL go wrong, so you have to learn to adapt and roll with it baby.
Consequently, I am fairly hard on my luggage. I rarely check a bag because I’ve learned to go super light. The rules of home are not the same as the rules of road where I can wear the same clothes for days at a time and nobody says a word because they are doing the exact same thing. A stain here or there, some wear, a few extra creases and nobody cares because of where we are and what we are doing. Amazing what happens when you are stimulated.
I was returning from Australia and had to check my beloved Eagle Creek. As it emerged onto the turnstile it appeared as if it was sitting in a puddle of some sort, and in fact it was. A puddle of industrial strength cleaning fluid that had completely and utterly soaked all but the very inside middle of the bag. I showed the airline and they claimed it was my fault, that I had somehow managed to bring my own massive bottle of cleaning fluid and had somehow managed to fit it inside my bag. Once I proved they were at fault they said “Well, didn’t you read the fine print?” “We aren’t responsible for your belongings.” I tried to salvage the bag but the fluid began to eat away at the fabric and it finally died in a powdery, smelly, whimpering mess.
The following years were a blur of crap bags. Cheap as I could find. We all have the friend who says “I just buy the cheapest bag I can find and it has lasted sixty-five years without a hitch.” Then you find out they have used it twice, or that it fell apart after the trip, or that the zipper broke and now they use tape to keep it shut. I know this person because my wife is this person. This year, minutes before our Albania trip, she bought a cheap suitcase. The zipper broke by the time we landed in London. She looked down and said “Oh crap.” I responded in the warmest possible way, “Sucks to be you.”
I was using my Away polycarbonate suitcase which I had been using for the past few years. The Away bag, until today, was the most expensive bag I had ever purchased at right around the $200 mark.(When I bought it.) Plastic, well designed, large battery for recharging things and lightweight. I’ve used the Away bag maybe thirty times and was entirely happy with it. The center of the bag does close with a zipper, which means at some point you are going to need a new zipper which means you might need a new bag.
As my wife’s shit bag exploded, and her belongings began to increase as she purchased this and that along the way, she began to resemble an unhoused person who pushes their entire life’s collection down the street in front of them. Watching her leave the plane in London I could only think, “There is my hobo wife, God love her.”
Halfway through our trip I said “Okay, my bag is now your bag,” as I began to mentally plan the next step. Also, you should know that after I purchased the Away suitcase she gave me nonstop shit for at least two years. “I can’t believe you spent that much on a suitcase.” Every single time the bag would emerge I would hear this same thing right before she asked to use the Away battery to recharge her phone. Over and over and over. Until I said “I’m giving you this bag.” Suddenly, she began beaming and saying “Ohhhh, this is NICE.” (This makes total sense to any married person.)
I suddenly found myself in the market for a new suitcase. I knew I wanted to try to find something that would conceivably last for several decades. I knew I wanted to try a metal case of some sort, but also knew that many of these cases run into the thousands of dollars. I have important shit to buy, like new motorcycle pants, so I didn’t want to spend that kind of cheddar. I began the hunt. After looking at numerous brands I settled on the case you see here, and yes, it really is three hundred and ninety five dollars. But the shipping was “free,” so this makes me super smart right?
But let me remind you of the first paragraph of this post. I’ve been riding. In fact, since being in Maine I’ve filled the van ONE time. ONE time. That’s it. The rest of my trips have been on foot or on the bike. The miles and dollars are adding up which means the three hundred and ninety five dollars doesn’t even use all of the money saved by riding. I’ve got more in reserve. And did you notice the suitcase is army green? The real question is how could I not buy this bag?
This is the carryon version of the case, and it’s also the Euro style carryon which means it’s tiny compared to the behemoths that Americans attempt to stash on board. And yes, Americans suck at travel fashion too and many of us look like we just got out of bed. (not me) I’ve noticed the airlines getting more and more stringent about what makes it inside the plane, so I was future proofing my decision, at least as much as possible. And yes, this case will dent and scratch and look used rather quickly if I end up having to check it, but it comes with a plastic cover for just such occasions and as long as the bag structure remains intact, so will my appreciation for a robust build.
Another benefit of this bag is that is will not expand, which means crazy buying decisions while on the road are far less likely to happen. Not that I ever did this but perhaps I know someone, someone who may or may not have been mentioned on this post, who might be capable of such a thing. No expansion, no zipper, cleaning fluid resistant and hard to crush in case I need to toss a camera inside and check the damn thing.
This is not my only suitcase. I still have the Away and I also have two duffle bags I can check if a trip requires it. My wife has her shit bag which will surely live around our house for far too long resulting in a fight as I secretly attempt to donate it or throw it out the van window at high speed. Maybe at a kid on a bicycle. Full circle people, full circle.
UPDATE: After searching for this bag online, I am now being bombarded by luggage ads. Wow, wow, wow. I had no idea where we were price wise with what I would consider average bags. My brain was still thinking in the hundred and fifty range, but after searching for one of my older bags I discovered the current price was $359. I also found fabric suitcases for FAR more than this metal/alloy beast I purchased. Here I was thinking I was a 1%’r with dropping this amount of cash on a suitcase, but apparently this isn’t as crazy as I first imagined. I should have known. I once saw a colleague pay $27 for avocado toast.