Why I Hate Roller Tote Bags

travel bags

I wonder if anyone else knows to what I am referring, regarding one of my pet peeves of travel. I just experienced this pet peeve, again today, while helping out a friend transport her luggage for what seemed like miles in the blistering sun.

On my first solo adventure across the Atlantic, I planned and prepped the packing of my bags for weeks in advance. Part of the reason for planning so far in advance was just out of pure excitement. The other part was that I had no idea what I was doing. I kept asking myself in my head, “How many days would I be gone? Would I need nice clothes for going out? Should I bring reading material? Batteries? What color shoes should I bring? How many pairs of socks & underwear would suffice? Would I be able to do laundry?”

In addition to having a less-than-happy experience with lugging around my girlfriend’s enormous bag on a previous trip to Aruba, I had heard numerous horror stories of travelers losing checked-in luggage. So, I decided to bring only small bags and carry-on’s for my trip. This hindsight saved me greatly, but there were still a few hiccups. Eventually, I stopped asking myself questions and just packed what I figured would be enough for the 2 weeks away from home. My first mistake was thinking I was bringing too little… Next, I mistakenly bought a new carry-on wheel-tote bag… And I have hated roller-bags ever since.

For one, they may seem convenient and easy to roll wherever you please, but for the average traveler, roller-bags are a nuisance. If you have experienced rolling around one of these things for several weeks, place to place, staircase to staircase, cobble-stone street to gravel laden street, than you understand to what I am referring. I have found them unstable on any surface that is not paved. Their boxy shape makes it difficult to store and handle. They are tiring to maneuver on long hauls. They are constantly tugging back, straining, & stretching out your arm. Having to extend and shove the push button handle (which usually & magically somehow gets stuck half the time) irritates me and slows me down. And, they tend to get stuck or veer off-track and brush up against other travelers on any surface that is not waxed like the airport terminal. As well, hearing the annoying plastic or rubber wheel sound waves reflecting off the ground surface screams to everyone within a 100 foot radius, “Hello, I am not from here! I am just traveling through! Let me interrupt your conversation, too. Cover your ears!” In contrast, I can move a lot quicker, and quietly, reaching for a nylon handle, maneuvering back and forth between hands when hopping onto buses, trains, and in between queue lines.

I usually advise against roller bags, especially if you are a frequent traveler. However, I do understand that roller bags may be more suitable for those travelers who may not have the strength to carry & shuffle around duffel bags back and forth between their hands. For this reason alone, I understand the market and necessity.

Stockholm, Sweden, Jon Blomquist

Since that trip, I have opted in for the duffel bag and backpack as my only luggage. This comes in handy in regards to easy transportation wherever I go, and it covers all of the material and personal belongings that I need. The duffel bag holds all of my clothes. The backpack holds all of my personal items, documents, hygienic products, electronics, and laptop. This is enough to cover me wherever I go, for as long as I go.

On a side note, I know many people, especially you ladies, swear this is impossible! How could I survive off of only two bags of personal property for such a long time? I am telling you it IS possible, and it is actually very liberating. For guys, it is easier to imagine. But in my travels, I have met a great number of girls who have done this exact same thing while traveling for months at a time. In another post, I will detail the benefits and decisions on why I (as well as other travelers) choose to live this way. But for now, please just consider doing yourself and others a favor by purchasing a bag with comfortable straps and leaving behind the noisy, non-maneuverable, tourist-declaring, accident-prone, roller tote bag.

  1. Lol, roller bags are a huge pet peeve for me too. They’re always so inconvenient and they get in the way of everyone else around you. Plus, I’ve suffered a ridiculous amount of roller-bag-wheels-rolling-across-my-foot-related injuries :/ This article gave me a chuckle, thanks!