A Quick History of Baggage

3 October, 2022

From a bulky old trunk, to the modern well-made, often sustainable suitcase, luggage has majorly evolved over the years.

A Quick History of Baggage

The origins of the suitcase

From a bulky old trunk, to the modern well-made, often sustainable suitcase, luggage has majorly evolved over the years. Hard-wearing and trusted baggage these days can now last many years and has advanced from what was considered ‘state of the art’ a century or two ago. In this blog, we explore the history of the suitcase and how it became what we use today.

Before the suitcase was invented

Before the 19th century, the suitcase as we know it today barely existed. Generally speaking, luggage usually consisted of heavy trunks made from leather and wood. The higher-end trunks were made waterproof with either tree sap or canvas, making them the go-to item of the time.

Time for something other than the trunk?

Back in the day, it was normal for the upper class to have people carry their bags for them, but as we moved out of this time period (and travel wasn’t just for the rich anymore), the need for the typical trunk became flawed. We needed something that was a lot more portable, and that’s where the earliest suitcases came in.

Baggage in the 19th and 20th century

The end of the 19th century is when the idea of smaller, lighter and more functional luggage was invented. The `suitcase’ was indeed just that, a case to carry suits. A standard suitcase usually had a sleeve for holding shirts, occasionally with some sort of hat box fitted on the side, as well as space for other necessary items such as trousers, socks and anything else one deemed appropriate for travel at that time.

As we headed towards the 20th century, there were many types of luggage used by travelers that also had many uses depending on your choice. From club bags to steamer trunks, the beginning of the 20th century was a particularly abundant time for the baggage business.

Although these cases were much more portable than trunks, they were still very bulky compared to the luggage we have today. Usually these cases were made from thick cloth, leather or wicker, stretched over a steel or wooden frame. Any lighter-weight pieces available were categorically marketed towards women.

Luggage in aviation

Although a wheeled trunk was invented in 1887 and a wheeled suitcase in 1945, in the early 1970’s is when the first patented wheeled luggage was invented by Bernard Sadow. By this time, total passengers on flights had increased by over ten times in the last two decades and aviation was becoming an affordable global phenomenon.

Nowadays, luggage is usually linked to aviation. With both carry-on luggage and checked baggage having to obey specific airline restrictions, luggage has become progressively lighter and smarter in order to keep up with some stiff competition!

The future of baggage and technology

With the progression from a trunk to a wheelable suitcase, baggage is constantly evolving. Recent inventions include using Al and smart technology. This new technology compromises add-ons such as built-in portable chargers and TSA-approved combination locks. Some newer creations can track your luggage from a distance, without any physical contact or even suitcases that can follow their owners around the airport.

The sustainable option

With a worldwide focus on sustainability, luggage brands also face the challenge of making sure passengers have the option of a bag that’s good for the planet, and they continue to deliver. From materials that are carbon neutral to luggage that is made from 100% recycled materials, manufacturers and passengers alike understand the future of baggage is green.

So, although the trusty suitcase has changed materials and added wheels, the primary reasons for the invention still remain the same – carrying your belongings from one place to another. Much like this invention needing a spruce up, and the adaptation being a key part in keeping the customers’ needs in mind, baggage tracking also needs to follow suit. The current system used is outdated and creates unnecessary waste and emissions. Look no further for a solution as here at BagsID, we’re using our innovation and technology to conquer these issues.

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