The Right Time to Buy A Suitcase

For a while now, I have been meaning to buy a new suitcase. I use a carry-on suitcase whenever I travel — whether I’m going away for a weekend or for two weeks. My cute little red carry-on was perfect for me: roomy on the inside with outside pockets, and easy to pick out of a group of suitcases due to its color.

However, ever since I started noticing suitcases with four wheels instead of two, I have been wanting one. I even went to the Container Store travel sale last year to look at what they had. But I came away empty-handed because the mechanism for the extra wheels took up too much room inside the suitcase. I decided to wait.

There was also some part of me that didn’t want to replace my red suitcase. It had served me so well, and I was afraid I would be sorry I had replaced it. Besides, I couldn’t replace a perfectly functional suitcase, could I?

My red suitcase must have known that I was planning to be unfaithful, and it started acting up: the retractable handle was resisting retraction. I figured out a work-around for that but knew that it was just a matter of time before I had to get a new one.

The coup de grâce occurred late last month when I was on my way home from the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). I got to Pittsburgh airport sooner than I needed to because I had shared a taxi with some friends who had an earlier flight. I retrieved my suitcase from the taxi driver and pulled up the handle. But it only went up halfway. No matter how many times I retracted it and released it, it only would come up halfway. (This was a new problem: previously it had only failed to go down, not up.)

Luckily I’m short, so I managed (awkwardly) to get it into the terminal and through security. Then I arrived at the airport shopping concourse and a light bulb went on over my head. I had a broken suitcase and a lot of time to kill, and I was surrounded by shops. A few minutes later, I was in Brookstone and a sales clerk was showing me the latest and greatest in four-wheel carry-on suitcases. He pointed out a surface behind the counter where I could try out a couple of the models I was most interested in by transferring in my stuff.

Half an hour later, I was marching securely towards my gate, the proud owner of a Samsonite Spinner suitcase. (I let the store keep the red one.)

I am grateful to my old, familiar suitcase for letting me know when it was time to let go. Without that push, I would have been mired in analysis paralysis, looking longingly at the new models but not being able to figure out which model would be best. I am also grateful that this push occurred in a place where there were many suitable replacements for sale!

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