Why You May Want To Reconsider Using Wheeled Luggage When You Travel

Why You May Want To Reconsider Using Wheeled Luggage When You Travel

Wheeled luggage makes it much easier to transport more when we travel, but that also might be one of the best reasons to avoid it. The more you feel like you can take with you, the more unnecessary things you’ll end up dragging along.

Photo by Strange Luke

If you think about the trips in your past, you can probably remember a few times when you didn’t even use half of the things you brought. What seems like planning ahead at the time of packing just becomes hindering weight later on. On his blog, Jan Chipchase suggests that wheeled luggage can have a psychological effect on you:

Wheeled luggage leads us astray. During packing wheels promise weightlessness, which then leads to luggage filled to capacity, and heavier items being packed. While we’re still at home, in our idealised, airport-smooth-surface view of the world this isn’t a problem, but in the real world it rapidly shapes what the journey can become: from airport escalators that don’t work; to hitching a ride on the back of a motorbike; to, at the last minute, enjoying a nearby mountain range for the weekend.

If you’re certain of almost every facet of your trip — like visiting family for the holidays — packing more may not be a hindrance. When you’re travel plans are less concrete, however, you want to be adaptable. Chipchase calls wheeled luggage the “loan-sharks of weight and space”, so it’s best to try and not put yourself in debt to useless things.

Only take what you need, leave room for the interesting things you might find, and pack as efficiently as possible. The journey is what’s important, not the stuff you take with you.

The Psychology of Packing [Jan Chipchase]


  • Last time we travelled with two suitcases, we returned with 4. One original broke pretty bad so we ended up buying 3. Two things we brought back – a small wooden stool and a light doona. Both for our 2yo. It’s amazing how much stuff they let you bring if you have a little kid with you.

  • Wheeled suitcases are also doing a lot of damage to old staircases in places like Venice (which considered banning them).

  • I spent over a month in Europe over December/January with only a Burton Traverse carry on backpack & it was the best thing I did. No waiting around for bags or dragging around large, heavy suitcases over cobbles & through snow made the trip so much easier & more flexible.
    Pack smart & you really don’t need much stuff, it was far from a traditional “backpackers” holiday.

  • Great advise for those travelling alone or not with kids and family. Otherwise wheeled luggage all the way. The extra stuff you take with you means you dont end up spending on the same thing because you realised you actually did need it, which means you have more money to spend on new stuff or experiences when you’re travelling.

  • Of course this depends on where you’re going and your main reason for going. We go to Japan once a year to shop and take 2 suitcases each, 1 inside the other. On the way there we pay for 20kg luggage and on the way back we pay for 40kg, x2! We would not be able to carry 2 suitcases 20kg each if they didn’t have wheels (btw, buy one with at least 4 wheels, 8 if you can).

    On the other hand, I travelled Germany for a few weeks and there was no need for a large suitcase, or a suitcase at all really. I could have got by with a large backpack if I was travelling alone 🙂

  • FYI, Jan Chipchase is a corporate anthro-observational researcher who was previously famous as Nokia’s “Indiana Jones”, then worked for Frog design and is now running his own studio. He’s a bit obsessed with bags as related to travel/ the experience of travel and has just released a duffel made from Cuben fibre. http://sdrtraveller.com/products/d3-traveller (Yes it’s bag porn.)

    Also, Jan Chipchase is a he (it’s ‘Jan’ as in ‘Ian’).

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