I don’t consider myself to be a very materialistic person. I don’t generally spend a lot of money on makeup, clothes, expensive entertainment or anything like that.
However, there are certain items I covet that may be considered by others gross extravagances. For example, I like expensive shoes. I don’t mean Manolo Blahniks or anything, but I’ll put down a hefty chunk of change for something well-made that will last me a long time. In fairness, my feet are so large that it’s often difficult to find shoes I fit in. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been turned away from a store because they don’t have anything at all in my size. Occasionally a salesperson will brightly inform me that they have something in stock just a size below. I’m often tempted to ask to see a pair just so I can deliver them a well-placed whack over the head.
Even if they have my size in stock, it’s difficult to find shoes that don’t make me want to cut off my own feet for embarassment when wearing them. Why do some shoe manufacturers make only ugly shoes in large sizes? I seriously don’t understand this. American women’s average height has been increasing steadily since the 1960s according to a report by the CDC that can be found at About.com, which would lead me to believe that foot size would also be growing larger to provide additional balance support. (Granted, average height has only increased by an inch, but I’m not letting that undermine my argument!) You would think that SMART shoe designers would thusly capitalize on this trend and market stylish larger shoes, especially to young women, who should the trend continue, will just keep getting larger and larger feet. As it is I just have to allocate a larger budget for smart-looking shoes.
My other weakness (don’t laugh) is luggage. I love shopping for a new traveling bag. I love comparing all the options, contrasting the different dimensions, weights, zipper styles, kinds of pockets and doodads that manufacturers provide. A year ago I bought a wheelie bag that converts into a backpack which has a laptop compartment with its own zipper so you don’t have to open the whole bag when you go through airport security. It’s served me well, mostly.
But: it got stuck in the overhead compartment on my way back from Cairo. Also, it’s kinda heavy and the wheels aren’t as much of an advantage as you might think. It’s difficult to run with a wheelie bag, for example. (It’s difficult with any bag, but if you’re in a crowded train terminal with lots of steps I say you stand a better chance hugging your duffel to your chest and hoofing it.)
I recently came across a website called OneBag.com which is a small shrine to the art of packing light. In addition to propounding the Tao of Not Packing Very Much to Begin With, the author rates the best types of bags for different kinds of travel.
The one kind of bag that this website categorically does not recommend is bags with wheels on them, for three reasons: they decrease carrying capacity for the same size bag, because the handles have to be built in somewhere, they weigh a lot more so you’re at greater risk of paying baggage fees, and the world is full of non-wheelable places. Of course there are those who cannot lift their luggage for various reasons (and not just because they’ve stuck, say, a neutron star in there), so a wheel-less life will work for everybody.
But OneBag does recommend a few non-wheel bags for travelers and adventurers alike, and as we speak I have a couple of browser windows open to check out these new and wondrous modes of carrying my stuff from one place to another. Mostly I like the idea of knowing that my bag will fit in the overhead without some extraneous pocket getting caught (last time it was the one with my camera in it – not good.) Being able to actually use it as a backpack because it doesn’t weigh eight bajillion pounds before you even put anything in it is a pretty cool thought as well.
They are, however, not cheap. The bags OneBag recommends cost around $250 each. That’s a lot for a little bag…especially if I suddenly decide I want my wheels back. But as we all know, it costs nothing to dream!