People have always longed for adventure—despite the hassles of traveling. In the early days, travel required a lot of lugging: bags were heavy, transportation was slow, and tickets were expensive. Luckily, luggage is evolving and innovations in the industry are making modern trips easier.
The Flat-Top Trunk:
Before Louis Vuitton was known for his luxury logo, he was a luggage innovator in the era of steamship travel. His revolutionary flat-top trunk saved space by smartly stacking in cargo holds and kept passenger’s belongings from being crushed and water logged in ship hulls. As the style became the new standard, the market flooded with imitations but the brand set itself apart with Vuitton’s signature styles (like his monogram pattern), high-quality construction, and continual innovations (like the first serial lock, which let travelers open multiple pieces of luggage with a single key).
The Roller-Board Wheel:
Bags with wheels may have appeared as early as the Crusades (all those swords, chainmail, and grails can get heavy!) and in the mid-1800’s when a British colonel, inspired by an elephant-drawn cart, put wheels on a trunk. Unfortunately for the Colonel,men argued his “Traveling Carry-All, Omni-Conveyance, Bewheeled” was too feminine and his patent was rejected. For years rolling luggage didn’t catch on but, as planes became popular, travelers had to carry their own bags long distances instead of having it immediately loaded for them by a porter. So finally, in the 1970’s, pilot Robert Plath patented a design that suck: a four wheel roller-board that enabled trunks to roll upright for the first time and the wheel stuck.
The wheel gave rise to what we think of as the “modern” suitcase decades ago. In 1993 we got the collapsible towing handle and, apparently, the suitcase-bike is gaining popularity in China. “New” materials like plastics have enabled us to play with luggage structure and durability too. Functionally, however, luggage has remained about the same. Which begs the question, has anything truly revolutionized luggage since the wheel?
The Smart Suitcase:
As a modern traveler, you have to navigate to a new place as well as Airline restrictions and security hurdles. You’re more likely to pay hidden fees, get stalled in a security check, and need power on-the-go. Still, the drive for adventure is there and travelers want to explore more freely. Luckily, luggage finally caught up to the modern age and it’s making trips even smoother.
The next generation of gear is evolving, thanks to creative technology, with the traveler’s experience in mind. Bags embedded with digital technology are capable of amazing things. Tens of thousands of travelers are already carrying on the first generation of smart cases. They can be controlled remotely from your smartphone and come with technology to track your bag, outlets to charge your devices, a built-in scale, and secure remote digital lock. Some say technology has taken one small step for luggage, one giant leap for travelers. We just say it’s the beginning of the next big thing.
Watch bags change before your eyes in “The Evolution of Luggage” !