One of the most important things I have learned by traveling as frequently as I do; is never to own a black suitcase ever again!
As someone who has spent endless hours around conveyor belts in different airports across multiple continents, I can testify that one of the most frustrating vacation pastimes can be trying to figure out which suitcase is yours from a plethora of seemingly identical others. Now, envision that same scenario, after a delayed red-eye, flying on a multi-segment international flight with a cranky kid with autism, and how the already complex situation can become a full blown disaster in a matter of a New York minute.
My secret is buying the ugliest patterns or hideously-colored suitcases I can find and that most consumers would not consider purchasing. Moreover, I usually buy them in batches of six identical ones, four to travel with, and two extra ones that are my ‘spares’ (in case one breaks and my pattern is discontinued).I seek these ‘hidden hideous treasures’ in outlet stores like TJ Maxx or Overstock.com.
The luggage I currently use is a hard shell version by Olympia with large hippie 60’s flower pattern that sticks out like a sore thumb. The design is the one that you can quickly detect on the long windy conveyor belt and stop anyone from trying to walk away with it since it can be easily spotted across the airport arrivals room. As a result, everyone in my family can actively participate in retrieving our four identical pieces of luggage off the conveyor belt, thus enabling us to exit the airport faster.
We have recently switched to the hard-shells swiveling suitcases but have yet to take them on long-haul flights with multiple stops. I guess we’ll just have to adopt a wait-and-see approach on how they weather the severe manhandling practiced in airports nowadays.
I think it couldn’t be worse than the time we flew back from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles and had all six fabric suitcases destroyed.