How A Simple Suitcase Changed EVERYTHING

Update: Broad City's Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer love this suitcase — and this article — almost as much as we do! The comedic duo mentioned both in one of our favorite moments from the show's third season. Watch the clip here.

This article was originally published on August 28, 2014.
Drew_Travel_Slide_1Photographed by Erica Gannett.
This is how I found the "perfect" suitcase, where I least suspected to…at a snowboarding store.
My husband had asked me one day if I didn’t mind going to run an errand with him.
“Can we stop at the Burton store? I gotta grab my snowboard," he asked. Great, I thought. That’s not exactly what I want to do, given I’m not exactly a sporty girl, never have been. Yes, I can rock a stunt here and there, but when my husband and I go away every Christmas, he snowboards (turn-on to the max, I love watching him...), and cut to me at the duck pond with the kids.
But, I gave in, and there we were in a store that I thought would have zero to offer a girl like me. Until I spotted a wall of suitcases that was full of colorful shapes I'd never seen before.
There were backpacks, snowboard bags, sporty-looking things I couldn’t totally identify, and then I saw this bag that I could tell was flexible yet still had some structure. Roomy, yet not overwhelming. Androgynous and timeless. My husband, Will, walked over at that moment and said, "Hey don’t you need a new suitcase?"
I quickly smash-cut, in my head, to my current suitcase lying lifeless in my garage, zipper dangling and lining torn, waiting to be carted away. I'd destroyed it during travel, mostly by overstuffing it to the gills and breaking its back with too much stuff. My husband is carry-on status, but I am the one doing gymnastics to get my suitcase to close, to the point where when you open it, it is unlikely to get closed again. My husband deemed this last suitcase, The Kitchen Sink.
Drew_Travel_Slide_3Photographed by Erica Gannett.
But, in this particular moment, he was pulling down the new bag I'd spotted with some curiosity. As we started to play with it on the floor, I discovered that it was really two halves that make a whole. Literally, the suitcase comes apart in two pieces, making it really easy to maneuver. It had ample space as well as skateboard wheels, which give it a totally different kind of traction and movability. Think more Lords of Dogtown and less old lady with her wheelie suitcase.
Fun fact: Burton owns Channel Surfing, so they actually crafted part of this bag with super durable and pliable wetsuit material. So, those last minute gotta-have-it extras fit in nicely thanks to the malleability of this cool material. One last thing: There's no hard metal spine or handle running through the center of the bag that compromises an inch of space.
Long trip or short trip. Winter. Summer. Fancy or laid-back. It works. Skin-care products, shoes, books, etc., go in one side, clothes go in the other. I fold the two halves up, and voilà — I’m ready to go! Eventually, I would come to discover that all those last-minute things you end up shoving in there, which are really the things that send a good bag over the edge, still beautifully fit. The malleable aspect allowed this bag to basically fit more stuff. Period.
Drew_Travel_Slide_2Photographed by Erica Gannett.
And, about my stuff. I don’t know about you, but any space you give me I will fill. Evening bag, stuffed. Large suitcase, at capacity. It’s as if I have no control over how much stuff I need, and no willpower to keep it simple. My husband laughs at me. He travels light. He always has. And, I am jealous, because my back is not only breaking, but I look ridiculous! Why do I always need so much?
Well, ever since I was young, I have been a nomad. I love to make everywhere I go a "home," and if I'm out for the day, I will put enough stuff in my purse to last a weekend, if I need to. I am convinced I need all of these things. I have no ability to edit, or better yet, trust that I will be okay without so much stuff! And, this is not the message I want to send to my kids. I want my girls to move freely and not be weighed down. So, I am now giving myself the discipline that if something doesn't fit in the suitcase, I don't need it!
Perhaps the most exciting part of this story is that I bought Burton bags for each of my two daughters. We all have our vanity tags on them to help us quickly identify which is whose. And, I can fit all their clothes, diapers, bath rings, sound machines, musical glow worms, shampoos, etc. And, yes, for a hoarder like me, I really met my match with the excess of kid gear! (Oh my god...there’s so much that comes along with a kid, it would make any minimalist insane.)
These days, we all look like little pied pipers at the airport — the traveling circus is contained and looking good with the most highly functional bags I have ever known. In fact, the other day I was in the kitchen and the whole family was packing to go on another adventure, and my husband walked in lugging a Burton bag. I asked which one of ours he was moving, and he said “It’s mine! I decided to join the club, too.”
Check out the rest of Drew's stories here!

More from Travel

R29 Original Series