Friday, May 31, 2013
My Favorite Things, Volume VI
How would it be possible to take advantage of all the tools and gadgets so necessary to a successful mobile life without tried-and-true luggage to schlep it all around? For a "road warrior", nothing is as discomfiting as an enroute luggage malfunction: wobbly wheels, broken handles and stuck zippers are unwelcome examples.
Several national, retail brands claim rugged construction and guaranteed durability. Their names are as recognizable as "Kleenex" is to facial tissue: Samsonite, TravelPro, etc. But all luggage is NOT created (or supported) equally and some of those brands that claim durability and anxiety-soothing product warranties don't deliver in the end. In my own experience, the two most reliable mainstream retail brands, both in terms of wear and warranty, are TUMI and Briggs & Riley. Both brands are at the higher end in terms of acquisition cost, with good reason. Their dependable functionality and rugged construction deliver much better than average wear. When something does go wrong, both brands stand behind their products with some of the best after-the-sale customer service available for any product, not just luggage.
If you want the best-of-the-best without the premium price tag, search for these brands online at ebay.com or other auction sites. Both retailers also offer seasonal discounts (usually no more than 20%) which might help ease you into what can be a major purchase. (TUMI is currently [6/1/2013] having an end-of-season promotion:)
When traveling for leisure, I tend to favor TUMI products. While on duty, working for my airline employer, I go a more practical route with hyper-ruggedized, crew-optimized luggage by LuggageWorks. You may have seen crews pulling their famous "Stealth" rollaboard: it looks like a black metal rectangle covered with fabric. And that's essentially what it is! The metal frame and box help to support the tremendous weight of the pilots' manual and chart bag without being crushed by it. (They have recently introduced the same bag with an ABS plastic "box" which is almost as ruged but lighter in weight and lower in cost.) The "Stealth" comes in various sizes but the most popular is the 22" standard allowed in the cabin of most commercial aircraft. Again, these bags aren't cheap but have built-in dependability and construction methods that allow simple user "change out" of defective or malfunctioning parts. You can find LuggageWorks bags online at luggageworks.com or at crew-oriented retailers like stopoverstore.com.
I don't want to leave you without a "healthy habit of the week", so let's look at something for the mind this time. Admittedly, I have a bit of an obssessive-compulsive personality. Like all traits, OCD has its benefits and its detriments. The detriment is that most waking hours are spent feeling the need to do something. The benefit is one tends to be rather productive.
Whether or not you have OCD, one great use for your extra time and energy while traveling is to maintain a blog or journal. Though I've made several furtive attempts at journaling in the past, I always found some practical impediment to maintaining the habit. With the advent of some of the technical tools I've discussed here, blogging has become almost second nature. It's a great way to vent, to express yourself, to virtually take others along for the ride and to leave a trail behind you to be retraced, often with fascination, at a later time.
Our lives are like meandering paths. It's always fun to revisit the interesting sights you encountered along the way and, for a moment, remember what was...