Basics | Luggage | Clothing | Packpourri | Electrical | Resources | Lounge | Archives


Tips, special
via email

Other sites by
Lani Teshima:

Luggage: Luggage Tips | Duffel Bag | Shoulder Bag | Garment Bag | Rolling Upright | Backpack | Travelpack Basics | Travelpack Samples


Rolling Uprights

The story I've seen in TravelPro's ads is that the inventor of the Rollaboardª is a former airline employee who combined a piece of carry-on luggage with a luggage cart. For years, these rolling uprights were the exclusive domain of airline personnel, who had you thinking it was a status symbol.

These are the current darlings of the travel circuit. Unless you've been in the rugged outbacks of Mars, you've probably seen these around. You certainly can't miss them when you're at the airports. In fact, your odds of tripping over someone's rolling upright is probably as high as your walking into someone representing a religious cult who wants to convert you or sell you magazines.

Nowadays, every luggage company has its own version of the rolling upright. Some are soft-sided, some are molded. Some have extra straps, clips and pockets. But all have two elements in common. The first is that they all have two wheels, and the second is that they all have a telescoping handlebar that extends lengthwise out of its body, allowing you to pull it like a not-quite-yet-trained puppy.

One thing to be particularly careful about: Because of the popularity of this style, many luggage manufacturers have adopted the wheel-and-handlebar format to entire lines of luggage. Just because you see these features, no longer means they fit as a carry-on bag. Also, you need to inspect the bag carefully before making the buy. The handles have to go somewhere when they're not telescoped out. Where do they go? Is the casing for it on the outside (where it adds to the external size of the bag), or on the inside (where it takes up precious packing space)? Those with the casing on the inside usually have one big bump sticking right up along the middle of the bottom. How hard will packing be for you then?

Advantages: These bags are miracles for people with bad backs or who have trouble lifting and carrying heavy items. Rolling uprights are great if you intend to stay in metropolitan areas with modern amenities, where all the streets are paved. This means going straight from the airport to a taxi, to a hotel with a porter.

Disadvantages: While paved roads are fine, these bags are terrible over unpaved paths. They are also rather inconvenient to lug up and down a flight of stairs. They also do not do so well in public transportation: They're awkward on your lap, take up a lot of room on the aisle, and mark you as a tourist or traveler. Most of all, keep in mind that they really are like dogs. That is, you keep it on a leash, and you get it to sit and stay (and roll over when it goes in the overhead). But you can't carry it under your arm or over your shoulder when its paws--erm...wheels--get tired from the bumpy pebbles on the road.

Don't know what to look for when choosing a rolling upright? Read "Flight-crew luggage" from Consumer Reports (December 1, 1995 v 60 n 12).

Important features to look for:

  • Make sure the seams seem strong.
  • For soft-sided versions, make sure the corners aren't too flimsy.
  • Make sure the zippers do not seem too flimsy.
  • Look for a little loop at one end, through which you can install a little padlock (and lock it onto the end of your zipper).
  • Make sure the telescoping handlebar can be locked in place.
  • Make sure wheels are easy to roll, and are not too recessed as to make it difficult to lug up a flight of stairs.
  • Look for a hook in the front to hang extra bags.


Next: Backpacks.
Back to top.

Search WWW Search

Base URL:
Contents 1996 - 2002 Lani Teshima. All rights reserved. Travelite® is a registered service mark owned by Lani Teshima. Send email to the author.