How to travel with more functional, fashionable luggage—and a lighter conscience
PUT THE “EH” IN SUITCASE Your travels may be global, but you can pack Canadian. Mississauga-based Heys International makes some of the world’s lightest hard-shell suitcases. The funky colours and fabrics of Vancouver-designed Herschel Supply Co. luggage complement its bags and backpacks. And some of the nearly indestructible aluminum cases by Germany’s Rimowa are made in a Cambridge, Ontario, factory.
AHEAD OF THE PACK The latest luggage on the carousel favours bright colours, metallic finishes like rose gold plus wide (up to 10-centimetre), sturdy wheels. Bags that turn into scooters (Modobag, Olaf), kid-friendly vehicles (Trunki) or clothing shelves (Shelfpack or Canadian-made Rise Gear) are hot, as is so-called smart luggage—literally, as its batteries can be flammable. Make sure lithium battery–powered bags that can weigh, GPS-track or power themselves (and your devices) comply with recent airline regulations requiring battery removal pre-flight.
EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE Many airlines let you take a small amount of additional free, checked luggage to your destination if it contains humanitarian supplies or charitable donations. Canadian nonprofit Not Just Tourists details various airline rules, including those for Air Canada and WestJet, along with its own program for travellers to deliver bags of medical supplies to countries in need.
JET SETTER In June, Vancouver optometrist DR. MARINA ROMA-MARCH sets out on her 26th humanitarian vision project, delivering eye exams and donated prescription eyeglasses to thousands of people in Peru. She founded the Third World Eye Care Society (TWECS) 25 years ago, inspired by her Filipino grandmother, whose village had no vision care.
It’s a different kind of work travel, explains Roma-March, who’s earned international accolades for leading teams of optometrists and volunteers to poor and disaster-stricken countries, from Ethiopia to Nepal to the Philippines. Each traveller packs only a carry-on bag (baggage allowance is used for supplies), and the team stays in basic (think running water and a flush toilet) accommodations.
Along with treating patients at pop-up clinics coordinated with local hosts, she and her husband, Derrick March, must anticipate crises, from clinics shutting down to supplies getting seized. Being a working mother and planning for her teenage twins’ care at home adds another layer of complexity.
To supplement a team first-aid kit, Roma-March packs over-the-counter supplies like sterilizing alcohol and DEET insect repellent, antacid, antihistamines, cold medication and painkillers in her own bag. She sees a physician for vaccinations, sleeping pills (“for the flight and the first three days there”) and a travel antibiotic. Her secret weapon for countering long days on her feet: “Compression socks–I wear them every day!”
To support TWECS, donate, or take old eyeglasses to your eye clinic, Knights of Columbus or a Rotary or Lions Club
VIRTUALLY FOOLPROOF No more repacking at the airport: KLM passengers can get a virtual-reality check on cabin baggage at home. Enter your flight details in the Dutch airline’s app to access an augmented-reality sizer and compare your own bag against international carry-on specs.