13) Get a Suitcase with Wheels

The wheel is arguably one of the greatest inventions in human history. The success of the wheel has aided in countless additional inventions, primarily having made travel easier. First it was wagons, then cars, then planes—and some other things in between.

It took until 1970 for luggage with wheels to be introduced to the market, thanks to the ingenuity of Bernard Sadow. It took nearly two years after that for the vice president of Macy’s Department Store to request that his buyer place the first order. If you’ve traveled in the last few decades, you can likely attest that the vice president made a wise decision.

When I was just a few weeks old, I was flown out of state to see a doctor. I essentially haven’t stopped traveling since. As evidenced by my post, Oh, the Places I’ve Been, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled a decent amount. However, in all that time—all the airports I’ve walked through, the hundreds of planes I’ve boarded, the long list of cities, states and countries I’ve traversed—I had never taken advantage of the ease and convenience of a suitcase with wheels. Until two weeks ago.

Perhaps it was my stubbornness (okay, it was surely my stubbornness), but I hadn’t understood the hoopla around bags with wheels. Until two weeks ago.

Since middle school, I had been given various pieces of luggage from playing sports and never really had the need to go out and buy anything new. Over the years, I had realized that I was nearly the only one in the airport lugging around a duffle bag for domestic travel, while my fellow travelers conveniently and easily rolled their suitcase beside or behind them. I simply wrote it off as them being lazy and reconciled that I was getting in a good workout before being idle on a plane. In college, I became the owner of a great hiking backpack, which was large enough and suitable enough to use for my international travels.


When a backpack is a good idea!

It wasn’t until I took a job on a cruise ship that I realized a back-pack wasn’t really the best option for all travel—just travel that involves a lot of, well, backpacking. Carrying a 50-pound bag on my back, while also toting a large purse, and a laptop slung across my body (of which mine is roughly the size of the first super computer), proved difficult. Carrying my backpack and laptop at the same time was my breaking point.

I resolved to buck up, yield to the norm and buy a “wheelie bag” once and for all. Taking baby steps, I got a carry-on bag with wheels. I used it for domestic travel and it was sensational. My arms and shoulders experienced relief I had never before felt while walking through an airport. I was also surprised to feel okay joining the masses—something I often try to steer clear of on principle. While rolling the bag was great, carrying it was awkward. Unfortunately this meant that taking the stairs, something I almost always do (see above references to fitting in exercise when and where I can, and steering clear of the norm just because it’s the norm), was pretty much out of the question; as was walking up the escalator, which, to my disappointment, I more or less had to use.

I thank Mr. Sadow for his invention, and I will continue to use my “rollie bag” with joy, but I will certainly keep my backpack!


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