I miss trunks. They were egalitarian: every house had a shiny steel one or a black lacquered beast that in effect, was a small room pretending to be an article of baggage. You could do things to them that would lend trunks a hint of glamour–like so:

trunk-matchbox

…but nothing could cover up their essential squat trunkishness.

Air travel has become almost as interesting as rail travel as it’s become grungier and more uncertain, but planes have Class Issues. The TSA and airline security would not take kindly to holdalls, trunks, tiffin boxes–all essentials of travel that allow you to adjust to Being In Phoren by the simple expedient of letting you pack your house with you. (They’re also migrant luggage, as artists like Vivan Sundaram recognised with his Gateway series.)

As you may have guessed, I am so not a minimalist packer, though I kind of like the challenge of pretending to be a person who can survive for a month with one black T-shirt, a pair of pants, and a statement necklace. The key word here is “pretending”: my bookshelves are not minimalist, my kitchen is not minimalist, and it is unreasonable to expect the rest of me to follow suit. But every time I succeed in throwing out the stuff that no traveller needs–essentially useless objects that represent the worn, comfortable teddy bears of travel–I experience a small glow of satisfaction, plus nostalgia for the old days of cabin trunks:

 

Meanwhile, despite the airlines, and the way Security seems to be a euphemism for returning to the exciting old days of medieval travel through fortresses, bearing letters of identity that might or might not be honoured by the local barbarian in charge of the gates, I am glad to see that the redoubtable steel trunk is sneaking back, thinly disguised. If only the old-school canvas holdall/ bedroll combination would become fashionable again; so much nicer than the boring sleeping bag-duffle duo.

Steel trunk, modern reinterpretation by Rimowa, circa 2012-2013