It is impossible for me to overstate how important good hand luggage is to me. Ever since the day, four years ago, that I sold almost all of my possessions and embarked on a new life living only in hotels, my entire life has been packed into a single carry-on bag.
In many ways, my bag is as important to me as a house is to other people, containing as it does every single thing I own. And like most people seeking their dream home, I suffered several false-starts before I found The One.
My first bag was a small red leather suitcase on wheels, which I bought from a South London street market. Wide and cumbersome, it functioned like a reverse TARDIS, being far bigger on the outside than its internal capacity would suggest. Next came a smaller, greyer Samsonite case — again on wheels — which fit everything perfectly, but gave me the appearance of a mid-level sales rep, trundling around with a bag full of samples.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I didn’t actually need wheels on my hand luggage. The whole point of hand luggage, in fact, is its ability to be carried with one’s hands. Having come to that realization, my baggage options were blown wide open — and I spent two intense weeks researching everything there was to know about quality, interior capacity and the various carry-on limits of the world’s airlines.
Finally, I found it: the Marc Jacobs duffel bag that, for the past two years, has acted as my home-without-a-home. And like all good homes, it only gets better — and more comfortable — with time.
Crafted from black leather, the exterior is as simple as it’s possible to be — there’s a shoulder strap that I never use, and two handles that have never shown the slightest amount of stress, no matter how many times I’ve thrown the thing over my shoulder. The inside is delightfully basic too — a huge open space lined with three wide pockets along one side (sunglasses case in one, flip-flops in the second and toiletry bag in the third) and one narrow pocket on the other (passport wallet). The capacity is exactly right to cram in my entire life — an extreme capsule wardrobe of clothes, essential toiletries, important documents, electronics and the rest — while never once having been turned away from the overhead bin of a plane.
Most importantly, the workmanship is such that — despite my best efforts to drop, throw, stow, jump and sit on, and otherwise mutilate the thing — it hasn’t so much as busted a single stitch. Perfect.