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How to avoid suitcase rage this summer

Travelling on public transport laden with bags can make the situation more trying for everyone. Here are some dos and don’ts.

Travel concept depicted by a suitcase with a train and coach

The summer holidays means suitcase season on public transport and the annual sport of "dodge the luggage" on an almost daily basis. I once ended up sprawled face down on a station platform after stumbling on someone’s ill placed suitcase as I got off a train. The carriage was packed and despite spotting the luggage near the doorway, I somehow got my foot caught and went flying as I tried to get off. My shoe fell off in the process and was unceremoniously thrown off the train by a fellow passenger, landing beside me on platform. Not a single person offered to help me up.

Careless attitude

London Kings Cross station

In fact I can distinctly remember – from my alternative ground level view of the world – that my fellow passengers all walked off around me. Not only was I left looking a bit grubby – as station platforms aren’t known for their pristine conditions – but I hurt myself too and all down to someone’s careless attitude over their lumpy luggage. So how can you and your luggage travel on public transport without clogging up the gangways or causing injury to your fellow passengers?

Give your suitcase an MOT first

Suitcase covered in stickers

Tempting as it is to grab your case from the loft, pack and go, travel expert Oonagh Shiel from cheapflights.co.uk says give it the once over first. "Make sure it’s roadworthy, so check for wobbly wheels, frayed zips and anything that could suddenly fall off or break in the middle of a crowded area."

Luggage racks aren’t for decoration

Woman putting luggage on train rack

Why do luggage racks sit empty while innocent passengers get squashed in their seats by selfish travellers? I was on a train the other day when a man proceeded to plonk his suitcase in front of him on the floor. This meant not only were his legs then spread either side of it, but the poor lady who ended up sitting opposite had to do the same! Trains have overhead racks or space at the end of the carriage for luggage and coaches have space in the hold so use them.

Backpacks are attached to you

Young female traveller with backpack

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been hit in the head by someone’s rucksack as they whizz round, bend down and behave as they would normally, but totally forgetting their backpack adds another few inches. "Carry backpacks on your front on public transport: this makes it easier to move and it’s much safer," says Shiel.

How to handle your suitcase in public

Frustrated businesswoman with suitcases

Get ready for the off. The time to have a fight with the extension handle of your suitcase or rearrange its contents isn’t when you’re standing in the doorway and the train, bus or coach doors open. And there’s a knack to safe driving too. "Tuck it behind you when walking along, and keep a safe distance from other people as running over someone’s toes if they’re wearing flip-flops can be very painful," warns Shiel.

Get your luggage off the seats

Youg man sleeping in train with luggage

If you’re on an empty bus or train you might get away with using the next seat for your luggage but once it gets busy move it. I’ve witnessed numerous incidents where people huff and puff when asked to move bags. Remember your bag hasn’t paid for a seat.

Avoid the crush

Admiralteyskaya station in St Petersburg

Back from a trip and feeling tired or jetlagged? Chances are you won’t want to hang around, but travelling on public transport in peak time can be doubly difficult. It can be hard enough squeezing yourself on board, let alone a couple of cases so take time for a caffeine fix and wait till "crush hour" is over.

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Sue Hayward

Carl Chambers

Sue Hayward is a personal finance broadcaster, journalist and author. Sue talks and writes on money matters including chatting on BBC Radio & TV as well as contributing to magazines, websites and newspapers. Sue's also written two books; the latest of which is 'How To Get The Best Deal'.

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