Steering Your Luggage in the Right Direction

By: Victor Epand

Perhaps you may remember the older suitcases without wheels. If you had the misfortune to have to drag such a suitcase about with you on holiday you may also recall the backache and grunting which accompanied your trip. Fortunately, for many years now, wheeled suitcases have been available to make life much easier.

However, simply purchasing or having a suitcase which has wheels is not the end of the story, and it is worthwhile giving consideration to a number of factors, including the size and construction of the wheels, the orientation of the case, the type of handle, and even the way the suitcase is packed, since all of these will greatly influence the effectiveness of the wheels themselves.

When wheeled cases first became available, they were placed at the bottom of the case as it would be carried in the conventional manner. In other words, with the longest narrow side at the bottom, and the wider panels vertical. These cases often had leashes attached to the top corner, and were pulled along behind you. Whilst this made a considerable difference as far as ease of transport was concerned, they were also notoriously unstable, toppling over very easily, and requiring much steadying and balancing.

Airline staff were the first to begin using a newer design which rotated the suitcase up so that it was in a taller, vertical position, with the smallest side at the bottom and top. These often had trolley type handles which could be retracted from the body of the case, and greatly improved stability and ease of movement.

However, yet again there were differences, and still are, which greatly affect how successful this new design is. Many wheels today are built in the same way as inline roller skates, which make for a very smooth and easy rolling motion. This is in stark contract to older and cheaper models which still use a ball bearing based construction. This can lead to the bearing getting very hot and sticking, resulting in you having to drag the case rather than roll it. There is also a tendency for these types of cases to develop interesting squeaks which will help you to be noticed, and break up the otherwise peaceful surroundings.

Even the best designed baggage is subject to one final influence which will greatly affect the way in which it achieves stability and ease of movement. Often forgotten or ignored, but the way in which the case is packed will greatly affect its ease of movement. Just as in a supermarket, if you pack all the heavy items in the front of the trolley it becomes more unstable and heavier to steer and control, your suitcase will be affected by the distribution of weight inside. The best advice is that if you have heavier objects, place them at the bottom of the case, with lighter objects on top. Not only will this tend to protect the lighter, more easily crumpled or damaged objects, but will greatly improve the overall stability of your case.

Finally, also worth a mention is a tip about whether to pull, or push your case. Generally, pulling is easier, but if you do have a heavy case, try pushing it instead. This can also greatly improve the ease of steering.

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