"The" Suitcase

I bought my suitcase from Walmart. I paid $59 bucks for it. I then returned less than a week later and got $10 back because it went on sale for $49. Price comping is a beautiful thing. My suitcase is a 24 inch Traveler's Club 360 rolling hybrid. Hybrid (half plastic) or all plastic cases are all the rage. I could have gotten that particular suitcase anywhere be it online, at an outlet, at Ross - because Traveler's Club is America's cheap yet mass produced suitcase company. Sadly, it ain't American Tourister but it will do. It did do and still does. I originally saw the case in a 20 inch. When I returned to get that one all I found was a 24 inch. There is also a 26 inch and an online exclusive set with all three. I chose this case because it wasn't anything fancy and happened to be the lightest thing I found. I looked. Yes, this suitcase was my first choice but I never stopped looking even up to days before I left for Europe. Why? Because the suitcase is the most important purchase after your home, car and computer. It can totally make or break you. If you don't have one you probably can't get up an go. If your suitcase sucks it may fall apart during your trip. If your suitcase is heavy it can burden you during your trip. If your suitcase is awesome it will fade into the background during your trip. My suitcase was the most reliable thing I had. Even more reliable than human beings and paper money.

I would sit and molest this case for over a month. Why? I had to know its potential which proved to be limitless. There were hundreds of ways of filling it up. I could use whatever packing method was around. There was this packing technique called "one-third". You  lay everything out you wanted to bring and eliminate one-third of it. I even watched YouTube vids to get a grasp on the concept. There were even videos by cabin crews finest explaining how to put socks in shoes and tier slacks. I just wanted to be able to zip mines up. I wanted to zip mines without the expansion. I wanted to have room around the tops and sides. This was virtually impossible. Why? Because I had no concise amount of what I could afford to live without. I was murdering my suitcase all the while doing these trials of nothing but error. I began to search blogs and forums. I wanted to walk the line between tourist and backpacker. I needed to store 90 days worth of crap in the most minimalist way. I also needed to put all of it in the suitcase I invested in. This is why I couldn't stop doubting it and looking for something better. Then I realized I could buy more to make everything work. That is when I found backpacks, messengers, travel packs and all these things to put in my suitcase. I became a cubist of sorts. 

Buying the extra bags was a necessary evil. Had I not invested in something to supplement I would have never been able to get off the ground. Travel cubes were the only way to compartmentalize my ever growing amount of unnecessary stuff - more on those and that later. When I returned to the states, I only came home with one of three of supplemental bags and all of my cubes. I actually enjoyed them and I think that was my best purchase outside of the suitcase. I was indeed a bag lady weighed down by ignorance. I really should have focused on the one thing that had value. The one item I would be granted to return back with even if completely empty. Stay away from plush and or printed suitcases made by washed up designers. Stay away from suitcases that everyone and their mother has. Stay away from a suitcase with that outer pocket that can't be stuffed under any shelf or baggage rack. Stay away from the bottomless suitcase with that lipped edge you can't fill beyond a.k.a. the optical illusion. Stay away from the two wheel and two stand kind when 360 is at the same cost. My friend had all of the above. Now I never said anything but her case was the ultimate block. 

I thought I was the pack rat. She had so much incredibly unnecessary stuff. She had about five swimsuits. She had workout gear. She had 120 volt extension cords. She had entire collections of facial stuff. She had regional DVD's for Pete's sake. All the swimsuits were in their original online shipping bloated baggies. All the smalls were rolled in zip locks. Her plethora of floral and lace panties were still in tissue paper. Once she applied a half-assed one-third the bag was still incredibly heavy. I feared for her. She's tiny with no upper body strength and then she added a heavy duffle with a thirty pound modified camera bag to the mix. I personally never had to hear about it. I only had to hold the camera bag which doubled as purse a few times. I did help mash this suitcase into many a rack on trains but she helped me do the same. Hers actually weighed less than mines over time but she still had more individual items which required her to dig though her case. So yes a bottomless case with a lipped lid is pretty much futile for a travel hoarder. Hers was also some designer and a beautiful grey microsuede. I watched her pet the grains on the bag so everything appeared smooth and lint free. She never washed her hands after crossing over the sardine juice that splashed on it in Paris. She always walked a ways in front of me and I loved to count the times she casually dragged it through a puddle or walked under a leaky air conditioner. So I totally remember the seafood spot she angrily drug the bag past causing a Parisian acrobatic splash. 

A hybrid or any basic dark solid cotton can at least be wiped down. A 360 doesn't have to be drug and can be rolled at an angle or upright, horizontally or vertically. However, she drug my case in Nantes as a "courtesy". I allowed her to do it and watched in horror but I was jet lagged. So overtime my seams had to be reinforced with masking tape. I never told her that she did that. I guess "we" forgot the beauty of the wheels that actually pivot and turn because she didn't have that. I learned to bear the weight to save the bottom of my case. Mines may have been a little scuffed and may need help from a sew & save but at least my suitcase remains fish juice free. Regardless of the minor damage to my case it was basically waterproof, I could push versus pull to save my arms and the silver plastic made it stand out. I'm sure any bright or metallic finish would help at a busy airport but I did see two guys mistake each others bags and they were lime green. Choose wisely. Sometimes you will be in a time crunch and actually need to get somewhere fast with your case. You may want a leopard suitcase but account for everyone in Italy having one too. You may be stranded and actually sleep with the aid of your suitcase. Again, choose wisely. Your suitcase is going to be there for you beyond the friends and memories. It is going to your desk, your dining table, your pillow, your chair, your savior and your possible demise.

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