Baggage

One of the hardest parts of any long trip is the baggage that you have to lug behind you. Too often it is painful to carry one’s collection of clothing up a step staircase or heave it onto an overhead luggage rack while trying not to kill yourself or the person in the seat below you.

Last summer I decided that since I was going to be backpacking across Europe taking a backpack was the perfect solution. No painful dragging while going up stairs, it would be perfect. Then I went to the airport and the weight hung on my shoulders and they ached. I hadn’t even left home yet but it was too late I was set to leave.

So I arrived in Paris and thanks to a tremendous effort I managed to stay upright while putting my backpack on. It was the first day of my trip and I hated this stupid backpack already. I trekked to my hostel and was glad to be rid of the wretched backpack.

Over my stay in Paris I debated whether it was worth getting a rolling bag. I had borrowed the backpack from my sister — she is slightly taller than me, which might be part of my problem — and she expected it to return with me so I couldn’t simply abandon it. After much deliberation I decided I would spend the money. Comfort is the most important thing in the world right?

There was a discount luggage store by hostel by it was closed the day before I left so I had to go wandering instead. I asked around and was told to check at train stations. After a couple of misses I found a place in the Gare de Est that had a good deal on a rolling duffel that would fit my backpack — it happened to be the time of summer blowout sales in France. Excited and regretting the expense I wheeled it shamefully back to my hostel.

I lifted my backpack into it before making the trip to catch my train out of Paris and was delighted by how easy it was. I thought just because they call it backpacking doesn’t mean that you need a backpack. Hindsight 20/20.

It served me well for the most part and when I needed to climb staircases I took the backpack out and carried the empty bag but it was not build to last. The wheels started to crack apart and no amount of duct tape could fix it.

After getting off the train in Glasgow (a month after the bag was first purchased) one of the wheels ceased to turn. I stopped and looked at the problem. The outer rubber had ripped in half and was getting stuck. It would have to be cut off so I pulled out my Swiss Army Knife and hacked away at it, looking nice and sketchy in the process.

My bag was on life support for the rest of the trip and I was happy to pack all of my stuff safely in the backpack inside the bag for the flight back because several holes patched with duct tape seemed ripe to break open. The bag was then thrown out. Next time I will think about a nice hybrid — a rolling suitcase with backpack straps for stairs.

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