• Suitcase-ing – backpacking with a suitcase
  • Backpacking – travelling with a backpack, usually on a low budget

Conclusion? Those who backpack with suitcases are probably travelling with budget suitcases.

I would like to have travelled with a backpack and, after my first trip (December 2006-February 2007), I decided to buy one. It was beautiful – sturdy with cushioning on the back and a strap for my hips. Unfortunately my eyes were bigger than my strength, and it’s so big that I can’t actually carry it when it’s full (well, not if I want to stand up straight). It’s a bit impractical.

So I’m travelling with a suitcase I bought from Auchan at La Défense for €20.

As I packed, the lining (attached to the suitcase by a zip) pulled away from the suitcase frame.

When I left Paris, I discovered that the case rocked from one wheel to the other as it rolled.

One week into my trip, the little stand on the bottom of the case fell off, at a metro station in Budapest.


Two weeks into my trip, the plastic grips around the top handle snapped off.

Three weeks into my trip, I realised that the corners of the plastic frame of the case had started to crack. From then on I watched them crumbling before my eyes, piece after piece of loose plastic presenting itself every time I opened the case. I began to think that this was not the best €20 I’d spent to date.

Four weeks into my trip, the Marc Mallory logo popped off. Don’t ask me how. I was looking at the departures board at Lisbon airport and heard a little “ping!” I turned around and my suitcase’s badge of honour was on the ground.

After this, the plastic frame continued to break, and the grips around the side handle started snapping off.

It was time for an intervention.

Six weeks into my trip, I used packing tape to reinforce all of the corners.

Freshly returned to Europe from the US and approaching week eight, today I discovered that the damage had spread – the tape was holding together dislocated fragments of plastic that flexed back and forth when I poked them, and white fractures squiggled across the grey plastic from under the tape.

I slotted a new loose piece into a gap, and attacked the suitcase with the packing tape, mummifying its insides.

16 days to go – will it last?

Stay tuned.

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