Just One More for the Road

I have never been someone who can travel the world with a paper bag filled with nothing but a toothbrush and a spare set of underwear.

By | Fri 29 Oct 2010

Hello. My name’s Phil and I am a bagoholic.

The first stage of recovery is admitting there is a problem. So for the record, I am addicted to bags. Not handbags or suitcases, but for years, I was on an obsessive quest for the ultimate travelling bag that served both business and pleasure.

Being a bagoholic is the same principle as an alcoholic except your liver tends to be safer even if your back is not. When I was working, I was able to feed my habit and bags were bought and discarded way too frequently. To be clear, discarded meant stored for future use. Like someone remembering an old lover, the wheelie of ’97 would sometimes be rolled out for an overnight stay in Singapore some ten years later.

But no longer. Apart from being broke, a recent move to a house that has the storage space of a haddock meant that my wonderful travelling partners had to go. Of course, Mrs. D was totally supportive.

“Sort out your crap” she said, a week before we moved.

An impassioned speech to move them all fell on deaf ears. I even tried pointing out that she had many more handbags than was necessary to which she replied, “That’s different. You want me to look good when we go out don’t you?”

I took off my glasses and said, “well this always works for me” as she disappeared into a wall of fuzziness. It was to no avail and I was forced to move quickly to avoid the left hook.

Marched into the spare bedroom, I was made to sort through my lovelies. I was allowed to keep three but making the decision which ones were going to be thrown difficult. Mrs. D stood behind me offering encouragement whenever I showed hesitation.

“Stop mucking about and get on with it!” she’d cry as my hands lingered longer than she thought appropriate. I could remember the trips I had with each bag; the Mexican Tequila Incident of ’97; the getting shouted at by angry Korean customers in ’03; the new contract in Taiwan of ’06; all had memories but now, most had to go.

My problem started innocently enough. Many years ago, all you needed when you travelled somewhere on business was a good book or two to pass the time in the evenings. Then laptops came along and had to be lugged with you wherever you went. Weighing the same as a small car, the bag started to become important to help you move around sans hernia.

Then came mobile phones, MP3 players and portable games machines, each needing its own charger. Couldn’t put those in your suitcase; never knew when you might need to make a three-hour call waiting at an airport or listen to all nine thousand songs one after the other. Rediscovering photography didn’t help either. With the camera came lenses, flashguns, tripods and other associated paraphernalia. My need for the ultimate carryall became intense.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t use half of what I took with me. I have never been someone who can travel the world with a paper bag filled with nothing but a toothbrush and a spare set of underwear. I just needed all my stuff…and bags were my enabler.

I tried wheels. I tried backpacks. I tried hold-alls. With each, I would find a flaw on the next trip. The one I had was never enough. I even found myself buying suitcases when I arrived somewhere because I had ‘found a better bag’ on the way but simply couldn’t abandon the old one. Mrs. D just didn’t understand.

When I found myself in front of a budget airline check-in desk trying to pass off my 22 kg rucksack as weighing no more than a bag of sugar, it had gone too far. Unable to support it on my outstretched arm, it fell to the floor and burst open. As a lens rolled at the feet of the supervisor with whom I had been arguing, I knew I needed help.

Unemployment was part of the solution. I no longer had to travel and now had no money anyway. My dependency started to wane slightly. Mrs. D’s ‘cruel to be kind’ approach when we moved was also right, though I can never tell her that.

A small step every day is the secret. I can now stand in the luggage shop and not feel the need to touch anything. Although Mrs. D is always telling me to take my hands out of my pockets just in case I do. I am going to beat my bagoholism.

Oh no…I’ve just heard…D2 needs a new backpack for school…has to have lots of pockets…and compartments…the school bag to end all schoolbags…I know just the thing…Airport Plaza, here I come.

Daddy’s back!