So Soon, Luggage?

posted in: Day In The Life, Work 16
Not what I'm looking for, exactly, but at least it wouldn't make noise. Image: Wikipedia.
Not what I’m looking for — but at least it wouldn’t make noise. Image: Wikipedia.


The writer’s conference was fabulous in every way. I have arrived home inspired, encouraged, and feeling generally optimistic my life as a writer.

But the trip was not without its pain, as you know, and I’m afraid that it wasn’t just nostalgia pain I had to endure. This trip forced me to admit a painful truth, and that painful truth is that my luggage is dead. I have to buy new luggage. Maybe even before QuiltCon in two weeks. It’s bad, you guys.

This luggage situation really frosts my tarts* because the luggage I have been using for the past couple years was way, way too expensive to be pooping out on me this soon. Nevertheless, both of my silver hard-top Zero Halliburton suitcases have major problems. Suitcase One has latches that no longer stay latched and call me crazy, but I kind of want the contents of my suitcase to, you know, stay put until I decide otherwise. The horror of seeing one’s suitcase half-open as it comes around on the baggage claim is hard to describe. Is something valuable falling out?? Possibly more horrifying: Is something embarrassing falling out?? Note that “something valuable” would be earrings and “something embarrassing” would be any number of lady items.

Suitcase Two has a wheel problem. This is a nice way to say that the wheels on Suitcase Two are surely the most poorly-designed objects on or off a suitcase that ever were designed ever on the planet. And no, I am not a designer of suitcase wheels; I’m not saying I could do better. Except that it’s clear common sense was not drawn upon in the design of the blinkin’ things and they should have consulted me.

The wheels are plastic, which I’ll concede seems standard. But the two back wheels feature plastic brakes. The brakes are activated by pressing down on small square buttons on the top of the…fender (I don’t know suitcase wheel words!) that stop the wheel from rolling when deployed. This would be a nice feature if you are a person who takes many sea journeys, I imagine; there, you would need to keep your luggage from rolling to and fro on the deck of the ship. But if you’re not a fancy sailor or a well-heeled woman on the Titanic, why on Earth do you need brakes on your luggage wheels? (Confession: I have engaged the brake buttons a couple times while on a packed subway. Having brakes that kept my suitcase from rolling back and forth and into people as the train lurched was sort of cool, though it’s amazing how well one’s foot works just fine in such situations.)

And the brakes break. (I replaced a wheel once already.) And the brakes get stuck halfway down on the wheels. On this latest trip, as I rolled Suitcase One through the lobby of the hotel and through various airport terminals, I discovered that the brakes are now in some half-stuck state. This not only makes it hard to roll my luggage along for the resistance, it creates the most ridiculous, unbelievably loud and continuous sound. When I pull my luggage, it sounds like someone is intermittently honking a sad clown horn. It sounds like a duck is crying. My luggage sounds like a sad, plaintive duck.

You should know that my superstar stepdad, Mark, turned me onto the Zero Halliburton brand (no connection to the Halliburton company you’re thinking of, by the way.) Mark was a commercial airline pilot for years and was in the Air Force before that; the guy knows a few things about luggage. He bought me my first Zero suitcase back when I was in college because he has long believed it’s the best stuff on the market. I used that suitcase until it was too banged up to take on business trips; it was awesome. After retiring that one, I got another Zero suitcase that served me well for years, and I travel a lot and am generally hard on things like shoes and eyeglasses and suitcases. But neither of those pieces had wheel brakes. I will look at the company’s website, see if there are any sales going on, and probably get another couple pieces from them.

Unless you brilliant PG readers tell me otherwise. So, how about it? Do you have luggage brands you swear by? Remember: I haul heavy books and quilts from one coast to another on average 2.4 times per month. I can’t mess around with stuff from Wal-Mart. Nothing wrong with it, but this is serious stuff. Talk to me!

*This expression has come into my field of vision via my beautiful, talented, valued, exceedingly competent assistant Carmen, who used it the other day in an email. Love you, Carm.


16 Responses

  1. Jean
    | Reply

    Eek! A quick google of the ZRO Halliburton website, made me realize that this is serious luggage. I travel a lot, for pleasure not work and I am also very hard my luggage. I like Hartman luggage. Also somewhat pricey, but i have 2 pieces that have lasted close to 20 years. And when the handle fell apart on one, I took it back to where i had bought it and the handle was replaced for free. I would suggest you contact the company, send them a copy of this blog even, and perhaps they will replace the offending item for you.

  2. Lori jansen
    | Reply

    Get the good stuff! I too have stood at the baggage carousel and felt enormously sad for the person who’s suitcase had obviously just been run over on the tarmac buy the baggage handler with his headphones on! That’s no way to begin or end a travel day. You travel a lot, get the good stuff….you’ll be happy you did.

  3. Kathy Patterson
    | Reply

    My hard-traveling musician sweetheart believed in Tumi. Good luck with your search!

  4. Chris K.
    | Reply

    Briggs & Riley has a lifetime repair guarantee. Also expensive, so I haven’t used it, just heard about it.

  5. Mary Says Sew!
    | Reply

    Another traveling quilt teacher gave rave reviews about Briggs & Riley luggage. At that time, they had sizes that made packing quilts easier, but with the changes in airlines policies, I haven’t looked into those lately.

  6. Carrie
    | Reply

    I swear by the big catalogue guys’ luggage: Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer, LLBean. You want heavy-duty zippers, not spring-open latches. That’s a no-brainer for sure! I dunno about the brand you’ve bought before, but I swear by these suitcases. Seriously!!

  7. Jennifer
    | Reply

    I once bought a 5-piece set of dusky rose luggage at Target for $50. I could always find my bag, because who has pink luggage? The pieces included 3 rolly suitcases from large to carry-on, a small rolly duffle and a useless toilet kit. The set lasted me about 15 years of flying “home” and back home with oodles of Christmas presents, and a 9 month stint of work where I lived in a hotel and got to fly home every other weekend. I don’t travel lightly and had brought books & sewing projects to work on in my hotel in the evenings. I finally retired the suitcases because the tubes of the extending handles were dented and the extension didn’t work. However, they were the best suitcases I’ve ever had, fit tons, and were pretty sturdy. And for $50 bucks, well, I wasn’t so sad that they’d died. Going cheap was a gamble, but I think I won.

  8. Mary Lou Hutson
    | Reply

    Briggs & Riley is awesome and they currently have a great promotion going on. They will accept any other bag for a $50 trade in toward one of theirs. They aren’t cheap but I love my bag and they repaired it free of charge when it had a minor issue. Lifetime guarantee. Go to a reputable dealer and check it out.

  9. debby
    | Reply

    Yeah, I have pink luggage too, from Walmart. I don’t travel as often as you, but I have been overseas and across the country several times with my suitcases. They have zippers too. And are almost always loaded to the 50 pound limit. I’m very happy with their performance. Except that they’re the wrong color of pink 🙂

  10. KateinFuquay
    | Reply

    Careful with zippered closures. Those pull-thingeys get knocked off pretty fast. You can replace or, like me, just use a big safety pin.

  11. Claire
    | Reply

    I am traveling in New Zealand with my Briggs & Riley 25 inch suitcase. Love it & guaranteed for life.

  12. Carmen
    | Reply

    Ah, Mar. I can’t stop giggling. Much love and good luggage vibes to you!

  13. Sharon
    | Reply

    Love my TUMI

  14. Susan Sebree
    | Reply

    Check out the reviews on what’s the best for your situation on EBAGS website.

  15. […] when I told you my luggage was on its last wheels and that I would need to replace it? How bummed I was; how peeved. The wheels were broken, I was […]

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