The Handy-Dandy Rollaboard

I love my rollaboard! I loved it even before I knew it's real name and called it "my case with wheels," "the wheely thingy," and other nicknames that got the job done when I wanted to tell someone about it.

I'm not even retired yet and I've loved mine since before I got it. (I lusted after the wheely thingy from the first time I saw one sliding along behind a stewardess in an airport. That was before a stewardess was a flight attendant.)

In fact, as far as I can tell, the rollaboard was designed with flight attendants in mind. And my theory is whenever possible, to go with the pros. No one travels more than flight attendants so whatever they take along has got to be good.

The luggage manufacturers and sellers woke up and made these lovely little solutions available to the rest of us. If you don't own one yet, I have to wonder why.

Here's why I love mine. . .

  1. No carts needed. I hate getting to an airport, bus depot or train station only to find all the luggage carts gone. With homelessness increasing, carts disappear from urban depots as fast as they arrive.

    Even if there are carts available, some places, trying to fend off the homeless and others who take carts, want me to pay for using the cart and get the money back when I return the cart. First, I don't always have change, especially when I'm in a foreign country. Second, I don't want to have to find a spot to return my cart and get my money back. Third, if I'm leaving a country, I don't want the coins anyway. But fourth, I'm parsimonious to a fault and don't give up my shekels easily.

  2. Although a back pack leaves my hands free, clothing that comes out of a back pack looks a lot like, well, clothing that's come out of a back pack.

  3. My rollaboard is exactly the right size for carry on luggage allowances. I get maximum use of my allowable space. Remember, I'm parsimonious.

  4. Most rollaboards, mine included, are light, so weight restrictions are no problem.

  5. Mine has great pockets on the outside where I can keep travel documents, books or magazines.

How to evaluate a rollaboard

Not all cases are created equal. Inspect what you are buying if you buy locally. If you buy online, buy from a reputable sales site and read reviews.

Here's what I would look for. . .
  1. Size. Be sure nothing extends beyond the measurements allowed for carry on luggage. You can check the limits of major airlines on the Internet. Most are the same, but if you know the airline you are likely to use, check its Web site to be sure.

  2. Roll the case along both carpet and hard surface. Does it work well on both? How easily does it transition from one to the other, especially if there is a "lip" to hop over?

  3. How easily does the handle telescope up and down? The action should be smooth and the handle should lock open when fully extended. The handle should feel sturdy.

  4. Are the zippers exposed to the elements, or are they covered by a flap? The flap is preferable. You never know when you'll be caught standing in the rain or when someone will spill something on your case. You don't want liquids introducing your clothes to each other in the intimacy of a suitcase.

  5. How easily can you lock the various compartments, and how securely do the locking tabs hold? If you use a padlock, look for zipper tabs that can be inserted one through the other so the padlock holds the compartment completely shut.
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Problems with rollaboards

Nothing works in every situation -- except maybe a smile, and I can think of limits even for that. A rollaboard is not a good idea if. . .
  1. You need two hands free.

  2. You travel outside of urban areas where you will find rough terrain. Mountain-climbing, for example, doesn't work well with a rollaboard.

  3. You want to spend lots of money on red caps and bellhops.
If you have a rollaboard story or other advice for retired or retiring people, please share.