The idea appalled me as much as it intrigued me. What would it be like to travel with see-through luggage? More importantly, what possessed Canadian luggage-maker Heys to market X-Ray bags (in 30-inch, 26-inch and carry-on sizes) as part of its new fall/winter line?
“Travel seems to have become too serious and stressful,” says Fariha Sheikh, Heys’ director of marketing. The brand, already well-known for its lively designs, wanted to raise the stakes on the luggage carousel and try to make travel more fun by playing off fashion’s transparent purse trend. “It’s a refreshing example of ‘full transparency!’” she added in an e-mail.
The hard-side, wheelie bags – made of lightweight polycarbonate – are technically translucent, with blue, red or black trim.
But what does it say about a person who willingly struts her stuff for all to see? Does the material (prettily allowing light in but blurring the messy details) make her a woman of mystery? Or make her look like a fool? Would the translucent glow off her rolling bags reflect upon character? (Revealing a pleasant lack of artifice or a penchant for stealing hotel toiletries and sneaking booze into a cruise ship, for example.) Would it make getting through security easier? (No oversized gels or liquids here, see?!) Or more embarrassing? (Why didn’t I stuff my underwear into my shoes!?)
I had to figure it out for myself and carefully packed both a checked bag and carry-on from the X-Ray collection for a week-long escape to the Bahamas.
Packing definitely took longer – especially when heading home and things weren’t so fresh. I had to rethink what I wanted people to see. Maybe a few tour brochures? A colourful beach wrap? But I also have never had so much fun with my luggage once I left the house. Everyone had a comment or an eye-roll or a wry smile to share. I have never chatted with so many strangers before, either. The long interminable lines of travel were passed more easily. I have also never been talked about and pointed to (in languages I don’t understand) so often.
Airport employees – who must see millions of bags a week – were especially intrigued and wanted to know more. “What is that? Where did you get it?” They stopped me to chat about my bags the most. The security folk who scanned my carry-on in Toronto feigned indifference – and my bag still got kicked out for a secondary inspection. Nothing untoward, just reassessing a flight-sized, but suspicious tiny tin of lunch tuna. On the way back to Toronto, a connection in Fort Lauderdale brought my translucent checked luggage before the Transportation Security Administration. They were also not amused – and TSA officials left a note card inside letting me know they’d rifled through my stuff.
Was it the bubble wrapped jars of Fergie’s Kitchen pepper sauce and mango jam? The baggie of Exuma sea salt? Or was it just a rampant curiosity to look inside a see-through suitcase – because, really, what is she hiding? Certainly not my love of travel.
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