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Quick bag survey at Denver

Couple of weeks ago, I was bored. I set myself up at a pinch point near the Southwest gates and did a little survey. As quickly as I could, I noted the luggage choices of roughly 150 travelers in five minutes. I ignored families with kiddies because I did not have a column on my survey form for stuffed animals.

18 No luggage (presumed checked bags or just carefree)
62 Spinner with shoulder bag, small backpack, or no personal item
35 Spinner with sleeved personal item (often a matched set)
22 Wheelie with shoulder bag, small backpack, or no personal item
12 Wheelie with sleeved personal item (often a matched set)
14 Backpack (travel-specific or hiking style) with or without personal item

By far, the most popular choice these days is a spinner.
I had a chance to chat with a few backpack users and we agreed it was the best carry-on option but they could also see moving to a spinner with their next luggage purchase.

Posted by
2124 posts

I made three trips with my backpack this summer (1 Europe, 2 domestic) and it's just so EASY. I can stuff mine in those tiny overheads on the regional jets. But, as a petite woman at age 77, I keep wondering how long I can keep this up!

Posted by
5879 posts

I love my spinner - I made the transition about 7-8 years ago and I will never go back.

Posted by
9311 posts

Bogiesan I love your survey and your admission that you left off families since you weren't counting stuffed animals (although I must say on my Paris-Atlanta flight on Friday, the young adult next to me also had a stuffed animal with her !!).

Posted by
2714 posts

I tried a backpack I just could not do it. I was miserable. I wound up buying one of those done folding metal carts to haul my luggage. I also really dislike spinners, and by the way, if you have a spinner, it’s your job to maintain control of your luggage. Do not let it roll away and hit people on the subway, or on the airport train or anywhere else. Hold onto your piece of luggage. It has no brakes unfortunately. I’m tired of being hit by your runaway luggage.

Posted by
2267 posts

Im traveling with a carry-on spinner right now, my 4th or 5th trip with this case. Upon my return it will be donated, trashed, or relegated to the attic as storage for… attic stuff. I will never travel with a spinner again.

It has only one advantage over two wheel options—the ability to push it narrow-ways down aisles of planes and trains.

Otherwise I find moving them to be inefficient, at best. And when walking 15+ minutes from the train to hotel along anything other than perfectly smooth surfaces they’re truly uncomfortable. (Even when tilted onto two wheels.)

Posted by
14573 posts

I tried a backpack I just could not do it. I was miserable. I wound up buying one of those done folding metal carts to haul my luggage. I also really dislike spinners, and by the way, if you have a spinner, it’s your job to maintain control of your luggage. Do not let it roll away and hit people on the subway, or on the airport train or anywhere else. Hold onto your piece of luggage. It has no brakes unfortunately. I’m tired of being hit by your runaway luggage.

And those of you pulling two wheeled bags.....please be mindful of the space you are taking up especially in crowded. airports and rail stations. There are people behind you and I'm tired of getting tripped up by them.

I love my spinner. After a long walk, my shoulder doesn't feel as if it is coming off having dragged it behind me. While I have to be mindful on uneven surfaces, everywhere else it is a breeze to handle. And since it's by my side, it doesn't get in people's feet.

And those of you with backpacks--both travel size and smaller--remember, there is something protruding out your back. It's not just you but another few inches. I've lost track the number of times people wearing backpacks have backed up into me or hit me when they were turning. Take the off in crowded, confined spaces.

Posted by
3716 posts

I love my spinner too. And on uneven surfaces I simply pick it up and carry it - they do have handles.

Posted by
6855 posts

I love my 2-wheeler (Eddie Bauer Expedition) carry on for European travel. But for domestic travel, I usually take my backpack (Mother Lode Jr.), instead. I’ve never considered a spinner because the wheels would be too fragile for the many uneven surfaces workout I give my suitcase when traveling.

I considered taking a backpack to Europe instead of the 2-wheeler last June, but I’m glad I stayed with what works well for me, and it was packed light for lots of train travel connections.

Isn’t it a wonderful feeling that we’re using our suitcases again!

Posted by
2996 posts

I’m going back to a small backpack for my cabin bag.
I’ve always used one up until this last trip in September.
I bought a beautiful Delsey bag last year because it had a sleeve to go over my case’s handle, but the two together just kept tipping over.
I love that bag, but it’s staying home now.
As far as cases go, I still have a sore shoulder 5 weeks later from trying to manoeuvre my 4 wheeled case over European cobbled streets.
I’m undecided over 4 or 2 wheels for my next trip……..

Posted by
19022 posts

But Mommy, all the other kids are using wheeled bags.

Posted by
10133 posts

I’m curious what the ratio was for hard sided vs. soft sided luggage. I needed a new bag this year and it was hard to find anything soft sided, which is my preference. The superiority complex from certain people who condemn other peoples choice of luggage, such as backpacks vs. wheeled luggage is tiresome. Not everyone can carry a suitcase on their back.

Posted by
1259 posts

Andrea: I’m curious what the ratio was for hard sided vs. soft sided luggage. I needed a new bag this year and it was hard to find anything soft sided, which is my preference.

I didn't have a column for construction but I recall noting most were (oh-so-boring) black/gray hard-shells with the occasional candy-colored unit. Few soft-side rollers, maybe ten out of 120, but they were easily recognized as Eagle Creek or Osprey.

Posted by
1259 posts

Lee: But Mommy, all the other kids are using wheeled bags.

Can't tell what your tone is intended to be, sarcastic, ironic, or condescending.
But, seriously: Have you noticed what the kids take to college these days? Roller bags! Mostly two-wheelers running heavy duty rollerblade-style wheels; spinner transmissions simply do not survive the daily miles over varied terrain.

Posted by
6855 posts

We have a huge dilemma to solve!

No spinners because it will bump into people.

No 2-wheelers because dragging it behind can trip someone.

No backpacks because we’ll clock someone in the face behind us as we do a 180 in the airplane.

No paper sack because it might rain.

No plastic bag because it’s not “green”.

Travel with nothing?? No, no one will want to sit beside us on the way home! LOL!

Posted by
1259 posts

Jean: Travel with nothing?? No, no one will want to sit beside us on the way home! LOL!

There is an active sub-genus of the digital nomad/one-baggers known as “no-baggers.” They travel all over the world with only what fits in their pockets or a small personal item and gearing cheaply up at the other end. They’re on the ground for months, packing super light and moving quickly, binning or thrifting the few things they’ve acquired. Personally, i couldn’t do that. I have about 35L of stuff but I like my stuff.

Posted by
80 posts

Just a comment about not counting families with children as there was no column for stuffed animals...someone apparently left a stuffed elephant at BNA (Nashville, TN) airport this week and the folks there took it all around the airport taking pictures of it visiting places (airplane cockpit, new section of the airport, etc.) and said that it was now waiting for the owner to return and pick it up. It was a very cute news item, but I know some parent somewhere had a rough trip with the child who was missing that elephant!

Posted by
13623 posts

Awww…ukkrazy…that is so sweet of airport staff! And yes, the little one was probably devastated.

Posted by
6855 posts

Frank II, oh I so enjoyed the link you sent picturing how my curvy body would look with phones, etc. all over the vest. It would look much different than the slim girl pulling out an iPad from her side pocket with ease. And at 45 seconds into the video, I laughed out loud when she pulled out the full bottle of wine!

Posted by
19022 posts

Travel with nothing.

Years ago, I was living in a motel in Denver, having just started a new job here. I was taking a shuttle to Stapleton to pick up my wife and kids, who had come out on a house hunting trip, and to pick up a rental car, because I couldn't fit all of them in the sports car I had driven to Denver.

The shuttle driver picked me up at the motel and noted that I didn't have any luggage. A few minutes later, she asked me where I was going. I told her, on vacation, to a nudist camp, "that's why I don't have any luggage." I won't forget the look on her face, trying to decide if I was serious or not.

But really, has anyone ever heard of Cap d'Adge (look it up). It's a nudist resort on the French Riviera. One could go there without a bag, just a comb and toothbrush. Travel with just the clothes you have on, take them off when you get there, wash them sometime during you vacation, and wear them home. The ultimate in light packing.

Posted by
14573 posts

Jean...about 12 years ago Scottevest challenged travel writer Rolf Potts to travel around the world with no luggage.

https://rolfpotts.com/why-rolf-is-traveling-around-the-world-with-no-luggage/

He traveled with someone to record this adventure and met up with others along the way. One rule was that if he had some type of body odor, they had to tell him.

I have been traveling with a Scottevest jacket for years. In weather where I need a jacket, wearing the Scottevest means I don't need a daypack. The way the jacket is designed it doesn't get very bulky.

Posted by
103 posts

My wife (72) and I (76) recently returned from a month-long trip to Sicily. My luggage was a Rick Steves convertible carry-on as it has been for a couple of decades. My wife uses an Osprey backpack. We pack light to comply with airlines' limitations and to make it easy on our backs. So far, so good. When in crowded spaces, I hand carry the pack so as not to impact the people behind me.

We feel fortunate to still be relatively fit. I suppose when we age out to where we can no longer carry the packs we'll opt for spinners or cut back on airline travel. Time will tell.

Posted by
1259 posts

FRank2: I have been traveling with a Scottevest jacket for years. In weather where I need a jacket, wearing the Scottevest means I don't need a daypack.

Nice endorsement. I have several of Scott's zip shirts, long- and short-sleeve: well made, good hand, cleverly placed zipped pockets, undeniably expensive. If I didn't like my Eddie Bauer down jacket (fluorescent orange, of course) so much, I'd be seriously considering one of those 30-pocket jackets (windbreaker $150, jackets $250-400). However, my organization obsession is only barely kept under control by using the same EDC setup all the time, regardless of weather or destination, so I'd be all messed up switching from my backpack to a jacket or vest on a daily basis. Just my hangup and I've got plenty more where that came from.

Posted by
19022 posts

Can't tell what your tone is intended to be, sarcastic, ironic, or condescending.

It seemed to me like you were insinuating, since 130 out of 150+ travelers used wheeled bags, like that was the way to go. And I thought that, from the replies, that a lot of people were inferring the same.

After a lot of work, I now can spend weeks (3 at a time, so far) in Europe with less than 10# of "stuff". Using a 2.7# bag, my total load is about 12½#. I love the freedom that light packing gives me. How many of the spinner and wheely people can say that?

Posted by
10133 posts

Well Lee, I just returned from a 10 week trip with a carry on bag that I never needed to expand. I had no problem moving around easily and I used a spinner bag.

Posted by
101 posts

My husband and I are taking a quick trip to Rome and will be there the week before Christmas. I told our kids that I might do a bit of Christmas present shopping and our 20 years old son said the only thing he wants is a stuffed Zebra Juventus Soccer mascot. We have carry-on only tickets, so if I can't shove the thing into my bag, count me as an adult flying with a stuffed animal!