Suitcases and Other Traveling Companions


Wherever our travels take us, there are a few things that are definite necessities. Among them are suitcases, tote bags, backpacks, carry-ons or some other receptacle for carrying our clothing and toiletries.

When I was a child, my dad has this ancient leather pouchy thing that he called a valise. It opened at the top and was about 12 to 14 inches high and about 2 feet long, the best I can remember. No idea what ever happened to it, but I’m sure it’d be quite a collector’s item now. Then, I just thought it was old and funny looking.

by Wolfgang H. Wogerer via WikiMedia Commons

One of my first adult purchases (on layaway) was a matched set of red American Tourister luggage – the hard-sided kind. I thought I had finally made it. I had the train case with the little plastic tray and mirror, the medium suitcase with its silky lining and snap-in pockets, and a soft-sided tote kind of thing with a zippered envelope that was lined with plastic for toiletries and other possibly damp items. They even had my initials on them! I was ready for any adventure!

While those suitcases weren’t as heavy as the ones that had come before, the hard-sided variety fell out of favor, and lighter unstructured duffle bags entered the travel scene. You could stuff a whole week’s worth of stuff into a little sausage-shaped zippered bag and even use it for a pillow! Of course, when you pulled your clothing out, it looked like it had been used for a pillow. But for swimsuits and shorts, it didn’t really matter.

by Charlie Philips Savingfutures via WikiMedia Commons

Somewhere in here, backpacks made their appearance. Or at least I became aware of them. As young people streamed into Atlanta in the early ‘60s, most carried their belongings in backpacks that were rarely out of reach. Interesting aromas sometimes wafted from them…

When we married and had kids, we discovered that backpacks could be filled with all their toys, crayons, paper, games … Remember those little magnetic checker boards and Battleship games with a million pieces you found when you traded the car years later? They were definitely peace-makers as long as all the pieces could be found. A welcome addition to the license plate game and I Spy…and the Fisher Price cassette player with the Disney books on tape… Of course, Game Boys made their appearance, and soon beeps and buzzes began their intrusion. But they too could be tucked into the backpacks.

by Kirk Ingo Franke via WikiMedia Commons

As we all aged, more constructed luggage came back into favor, although it was still softer-sided than the original suitcases I bought in the ‘60s. And carry-ons became the rage. They had lots of zippered compartments, and handles that telescoped, and wheels!

Of course the first ones only went in two directions – back and forward. And now we have those that roll in any direction, and attach to others, and fit inside each other, so we can bring back huge suitcases full of souvenirs and gifts for family and friends.

Through the years, luggage has become a major fashion accessory. From the days of luxurious steamer trunks for ocean voyages to current varieties made by every designer known to human-kind, the array available is truly mind-boggling. And longer trips demand larger and more numerous vessels to carry our belongings.

by Downtowngal via WikiMedia Commons

Simple backpacks have evolved into high-tech cases for our multitude of electronic necessities, and the selection of children’s backpacks available for purchase rivals that of their parents. Amazon alone has more than 27,000 offerings.

Of course, children’s games have evolved from the magnetic pieces to high-tech as well. From DVD players in vans and airplanes to name-brand electronic tablets for two-year-olds, our traveling companions contain items our parents and grandparents couldn’t even imagine.

What are your favorite traveling companions? Do you have a slick new carry-on? Or are you still hanging on to that olive green tapestry bag from college? Or does a huge purse/tote carry everything you need for a long weekend? Whatever your favorites, stuff them full of wonderful memories of travel and fun.

Next: Magnificent Morocco: Part Two

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