When a woman looks in her closet and sees 300 pair of shoes she realizes she may have a problem.
When a man’s heart rate races and his palms get sweaty over a magazine advertisement for the latest model of Omega timepiece (not a watch mind you but a “timepiece”) he knows there are some deep psychological issues in play.
Modern humans like “stuff”. We all become inordinately attached to certain categories of “stuff”.
Nearly 20 years ago I vowed to liberate myself from “stuff”.
I sold my ridiculous luxury sports car, liquidated my overly decorated houses and gave away box after box of knick-knack bric-a-brac and state-of-the-art electronic equipment.
The freedom was exhilarating as I decreased my drag and set off for a new life with no strings attached.
But there was one category of “stuff” I still couldn’t divorce myself from.
As I checked in at the airport with my first class ticket to “Freedomville” the airline clerk raised her eyebrows and commented, “Nice luggage”. “Thanks” I beamed. “It’s new”. And I stood there grinning like an idiot displaying about $5,000 worth of sparkling new top-of-the-line luggage.
From a giant rolling wardrobe right down to the ballistic nylon wallet in my pocket, I was totally kitted out with the Tumi brand of travelling accessories, the Rolls Royce of luggage.
To this day I continue to shed possessions not serving a purpose but my luggage remains.
I still own half the bags I boarded the plane with in 1999.
The big hard case wardrobe walked out the door with my ex-wife a few years ago. And a smaller matching unit designed for a 7 day stay is still being “borrowed” by my younger brother. But my indestructible rolling duffle, swanky leather toiletries bag and trusty wallet are still clean, dry and serviceable.
They are not possessions, they are old friends.
Now before I begin with a further discussion of this obsession and luggage in general, let me state for the record, I will not be impressed by how cheaply you purchased that knock-off Gucci bag at Mike’s Shopping Mall. Its crap and you know it.
I never cease to be amazed at how cheap many travelers become when it’s time to buy luggage.
In my opinion, luggage and shoes are a similar type of purchase.
There are people who buy dozens of pairs of cheap-ass throw away shoes and then there are those who spend $300 on a pair of high quality kicks and own them forever.
When it comes to luggage, you don’t get what you don’t pay for. There is a reason a real traveler buys quality luggage.
It doesn’t let you down.
Over the years I’ve had to replace some bags and suitcases.
When my ex-wife absconded with the largest piece, I set about researching and purchasing a new flagship for my luggage fleet. In the end I chose a behemoth of a suitcase produced by Delsey. It’s made of some flexible space age polymer that weighs absolutely nothing and apparently can’t be scratched, punctured or soaked.
Silently I roll it through airports with confidence that the zippers won’t become derailed and the TSA approved locking mechanism is keeping my socks and shorts secure. The wheels swivel and roll and spin so effortlessly I can push it with two fingers.
Delsey is a French manufacturer of fine travel equipment that is slightly less expensive than Tumi but in my opinion, just as quality. And their warranty is up to 10 years.
When my business demanded I travel with an oversized laptop, I turned to Delsey again and purchased something I never thought I’d own; a backpack.
After auditioning at least 20 different brands I came back to the ballistic nylon Delsey with the neoprene sleeve especially built for my big fat computer.
The back unzips and allows the telescopic handle from my ancient rolling duffle bag to slide through easily creating a perfect travelling tandem.
So, here is what a guy with a luggage fetish looks for when shopping for travel gear:
- First I look at the handles to see what they are made of and how they are attached. If something is going to break, it’s usually a handle or carrying strap.
- Next I look at the quality of fasteners like snaps, button, latches and especially zippers. This is where a manufacturer can cut corners and what causes that cheap bag you bought on the street to lie unused in the corner of your closet.
- Next I look at the wheels if it has them. Cheap plastic wheels cannot take the pounding you and baggage handlers will dish out. Look for rollerblade type urethane or rubber wheels that swivel.
- And the most important feature of any luggage? The warranty. After 15 years of use I took my Tumi duffle into the shop in Bangkok and they replaced the wheels free. They offer and support a legitimate lifetime warranty.
So the current lineup on my travel team is as follows:
A large 3 year old hard case Delsey Spinner suitcase, An 18 year old Tumi rolling duffel made of ballistic nylon, a 2 year old Delsey deluxe backpack made for a large laptop (also ballistic nylon), An 18 year old leather Tumi toiletries case, A 4 year old Tumi nylon cosmetic bag (distributed free to Business Class passengers on Delta transoceanic flights), A brand new ballistic nylon Tumi wallet with money clip and of course my trusty 20 year old Johnston & Murphy leather passport holder. Also recommend are Victorinox, North Face and Briggs & Riley fine luggage brands.
It is impossible for me to pass by a high end luggage store without at least peering in the window.
There are times when I am tempted to take a trip just so I have a reason to purchase a specific piece. Then I realize that I’ve actually reached “stuff” Nirvana.
I’ve got just enough of the right “stuff” to carry all my other “stuff”.
By Bart Walters