Walsh's Wonderings — The family suitcase

Suitcases are meant to be personal items, an expression of our unique tastes and desires. They’re our mobile slice of home, containing as they do everything we feel we need to survive away from it. We’d learn more about people from what they’ve packed for a two-week trip than we’d ever find out otherwise. This is why buying new luggage is such an important decision.

I was mistakenly sent two suitcases when ordering my latest upgrade online. Upon inspection, my wife decided she’d keep the second one and pay for it because she knew all the time I’d put into researching it. There are two kinds of people in this world: people who respect the individuality of suitcase choice, and monsters.

How are we supposed to play “Baggage Return Roulette” when we can’t know whose bag is coming up first? What’s next, matching Hawaiian shirts and ordering the same tea? A man’s suitcase should be as unique as the stink he’s trying to hide with his deodorant stick.

It’s already hard to be unique because so many suitcase manufacturers have devolved into similar designs. The wheels in particular have really suffered. I believe in big wheels; they can’t be big enough. They should require an air pump and snow chains in winter. My wife is fine with the dainty, Lilliputian wheels that have become standard because they take up less room when trying to cram the suitcase into the car trunk as we race for the airport. However, I’m not taking my luggage on a casual stroll through the Gumdrop Forest. I’m rushing through packed parking lots into terminals under construction because I forgot to look at my airline app to see that they pushed up the departure time. I need the Jeep Wrangler of suitcases, complete with oversized tires, bumpers and a rollover bar.

I didn’t sign up to be the “matching luggage family.” I want the world to know whose bag required that red “over maximum weight” tag. When I’m punching my wife’s suitcase into the overhead bin on a crowded flight, I’d rather it be pink with polka dots and covered in unicorn stickers. I want people to know which one of us is to blame.

My wife and I certainly don’t share the same needs when it comes to travelling gear. She prefers the Thanksgiving editions, the bags that have expandable zippers should your trip include multiple shopping excursions. She treats her bags as accordions, rendering her “carry-on” items an exercise in subjectivity. She’s looking for a rip in space and time into which she can fit the entire contents of her closet in case it suddenly starts snowing in Miami.

I tend to underpack, preferring my suitcase to remain concave after I’ve packed in case I see a set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s I want to bring home. Of course, after mocking my wife for her overpacking, I inevitably end up forgetting crucial items. I’ll spend the rest of the trip sneaking into her bag for toothpaste or shampoo.

My ideal luggage would look like a fisherman’s vest on the outside, covered in pockets of various sizes for all the wires and plugs required to run everyday objects these days. It would have a secret compartment where my house keys would magically reappear upon my return home. Most importantly, it would have a scrolling message flashing across the front: “Buy those unicorn stickers for her suitcase!”

You can read more at RobertFWalsh.com, contact him at RobertFWalshMail@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.