Dean Owen

5 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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The Suitcase

The Suitcasex et


A a 2;

Investing in a nice suitcase is a bit like deciding to buy a morning suit and top hat, hardly necessary but nice to have for the odd wedding, regatta, or jaunt to the races at Ascot.

This one has been with me for 12 years. A good, solid, handmade wooden case covered in hand cut leather. The sales clerk mentioned one of these was found in the wreckage of the RMS Titanic. When they opened it up, they found everything completely dry, including jazz music manuscripts that recently sold for a small fortune. True or not, that sales pitch worked, and I was quick to part with the better part of a months’ salary to take this mundane object home.

It has since become a friend. I worry for its safety as I check it in at the airport. I stare out the window of the plane to see any signs of it being loaded. It is always with relief when I see it pop out onto the baggage claim belt, each time with a new bruise here and there.

You don’t see many of these anymore. Luggage that you actually carry and not drag along the ground like a reluctant French bulldog. No pull out carriage wheels, no zips. Perhaps I look like an idiot lugging this thing around the ginormous airport. But I am not the generic 21st Century traveller. No sweatpants and rucksacks with convenient pet bottle compartments. I’ll still wear an impractical linen suit that crumples in 10 minutes.

This suitcase is becoming a family heirloom. My children will enjoy it in the years to come much as I enjoyed my father’s wooden golf set. Decades from now it might be found at the back of an antique shop in Chelsea. It will have plenty of stories to tell. For me, this suitcase represents the éclat of decades past. It portrays an era when travel was decadent, and far from convenient. It has been carried on the heads of sherpas through the rooftop of the world. I have lugged it through Indian railway stations, navigating cows in the ticket stalls. It rode the back of camels in the Atlas mountains. It was handled with white gloves at The Raffles Singapore. By jetliner, seaplane, speedboat, steam train, jeepney and tuk tuk, this suitcase has braved the sweltering heat of a Maldivian beach, to the torrential rains of a bus stop in the deepest Java. It continues to serve its purpose, never complaining at the constant abuse it receives.

Next time you buy luggage. Take a moment to consider one nice piece. Don’t worry too much about scratches and dings. Leave all those baggage claim stickers on. Do not try to peel them off. A new suitcase is like an empty canvas. Eventually you won’t relegate its storage to the garage, or on top of that wardrobe. This one sits at my entrance way eagerly awaiting a new journey. Visitors remark at its beauty. I’ve even had an offer to buy it. One day though, I will stop needing it.

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” 

Susan Sontag

Dean Owen is Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment.

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Dean Owen

5 years ago #19

I guess there is no more prominent a tool specifically designed to be a carrier of possessions than a suitcase. For many, their suitcase is their home. Thanks for dropping by Vincent Andrew

Dean Owen

5 years ago #18

Thanks Amour Setter, I think we have discovered we are affinity nutcases!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #17

Thanks dear Franci Eugenia Hoffman. If it could talk, I expect it would say "No more camels!"

Dean Owen

5 years ago #16

You paint a vivid picture . It's always been a dream of mine to do a US roadtrip. I think you need to hop on a plane with your daughter and fly to Asia. You can volunteer at the Indonesian Wildlife sanctuary or one of the others listed here: They do ask for a donation, but they provide accommodation and meals. If Asia is too far, you could do the sea turtles in Costa Rica!

What a treasure your suitcase has been. If only it could talk - I bet the stories would be priceless. Nice piece Dean Owen.

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #14

Ive never been to Montana, I've seen many photos and it looks beautiful. You would not be disappointed!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #13

I was thinking Montana to see the Tatanka (the word for buffalo that I remember from the movie Dances with Wolves). That is currently very high on my bucket list.

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #12

ah, one day maybe you can visit Mount Helen in Utah or Yellowstone national park to see the buffalo Dean Owen!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #11

you are so fortunate to have such a beautiful country it's no wonder many Americans never get the urge to explore beyond. I've been to the US quite a few times but never to actually see what I dream of seeing, and that is free roaming buffalo.... One day perhaps. Thanks Lisa Gallagher

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #10

What a legacy to pass on Dean Owen. I will have to remember this as I travel. I hope to travel outside of the states in the years to come. Your story and the comments are enticing for a novice like myself!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #9

Pascal thanks! Yep, this one is typical me I guess. Can't quite believe it is my 75th article on beBee.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #8

Thanks Kevin-san. I think travelling can still be exotic. Taking a train ride in India, tuk tuk in Thailand, or a jeepney in Manila is extremely exotic. But flying has truly become a pain in the neck. In the end, we all fall victim to convenience.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #7

Thanks Julie Hickman. Some things are just worth holding on to....

Dean Owen

5 years ago #6

Ken-san, well Garuda was not long ago the laughing stock of the industry, but as you know, they have improved quite a bit! Not quite at the Emirates/Singapore Airlines/ANA level quite yet, but probably as good as any European/US airline. OK, I exaggerate, but they are getting better. I kind of picture you travelling in a Panama hat but then your new profile pic appears to have you sporting a baseball cap in reverse....

Dean Owen

5 years ago #5

Thanks Karen Hall. 17 years is a good innings (as we say in England). Now I am wondering if anyone gets so attached to such items that they bury them in the back yard.....

Dean Owen

5 years ago #4

Thank you Donna-Luisa, I guess all our houses are full of friends. Cherished items collected on our life journey. For me, my suitcase is certainly my friend, although there was a time when it was my only friend (the term living out of a suitcase comes to mind).

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #3

While I appreciate the craftsmanship of your valise Dean Owen on the weight thing, particularly since our recent jaunts through the airport, and across Italy via commuter train, (not to mention I'm usually the pack horse for my darling wife's extras) have made convenience trump style. You have however, pulled out your story teller magic and made a compelling case (pun intended) to bring back some of the 'exotic' into the act of travel - which has been long absent in my opinion.

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #2

a ''Dean'' post in its purest form :-)

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #1

Penned with style and grace, my friend. My eye caught the two Garuda stickers, Dean-san, and the Medan one. Off there next month, on the way to Danau Toba. Since I'm too Scottish to tip porters, I propel my own luggage, but on mag wheels, because, particularly at my age, a greyhound moves a lot smother than a "reluctant French bulldog". Like you, Dean, I also love to reminisce and, like you, I love to travel, but give me a formula 1 suitcase rather than a dragster. I'm sure if I were to ask you your favourite photo and your favourite trip, you'd say "the next one", no? ✈️

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