Peak travel season is now underway.

And if you’re heading anywhere this summer, chances are you’ll be loading up a suitcase or two.

That may include some bags that have wheels.

It’s worth pausing for a moment to think about how much those little wheels help us get around when we’re traveling.

What’s even more amazing is that there was pushback to the idea for decades.

The first known wheeled suitcase came from an artist and inventor in Yugoslavia, Alfred Krupa.

He put wheels on a suitcase in 1954.

His other inventions included a glass bottomed boat and skis that let a person walk on water.

But since he was in Yugoslavia during the Cold War, his inventions didn’t show up in the West.

That meant that travelers in this part of the world were still lifting their suitcases and carrying them around, or at least having porters and baggage handlers do it.

In 1970, Bernard Sadow was carrying some heavy bags on his way back from a trip, when he saw an airport worker moving some equipment on a wheeled cart.

And he thought, why can’t luggage work the same way?

He obtained a US patent for rolling luggage, and you’d think that anyone who had ever carried a bag through an airport or onto a train would want one of the wheeled bags.

But there was actually a lot of resistance to the idea!

Back then, the thinking was often that Real Men could handle carrying luggage, that it was the manly thing to do.

Only women supposedly would need a suitcase with wheels, and then only when they weren’t traveling with a man who was also supposed to carry her bags around as well as his own.

Sadow’s invention was a niche for years and years.

But the rolling suitcase finally made a breakthrough in the 1980s.

Airline pilot Robert Plath added wheels to the side of the suitcase, so that they rolled upright.

And he added a telescoping handle that could fold back into the suitcase when it wasn’t moving.

He sold what he called Rollaboards to other pilots and crew members, and when regular travelers saw the airline staff moving quickly through terminals, they all wanted them too.

So when it came to luggage, we did get where we needed to go – it just took a while.

This weekend in Ruston, Louisiana, the Louisiana Peach Festival.

There’s going to be music, food, an arts market.

And there’s a beard contest that’s open to natural as well as artificial beards, so that everyone can get in on the action.

Mystery of the wheelie suitcase: how gender stereotypes held back the history of invention (The Guardian)

Who Actually Invented the Wheeled Suitcase? (Interesting Engineering)

Louisiana Peach Festival

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Photo by Matthew Hurst via Flickr/Creative Commons