Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old (or Borrowed) Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile!

by Katy on July 1, 2009 · 17 comments


Summer is a time of travel. Your journey might be to far flung locales, or as close as a weekend at the beach. Either way, you’re going to need to fill a suitcase with the necessaries of life.

My family has had a few high stress travel events that streamlined our packing routine. Mostly, it was a two week trip to Japan in 2007 which my husband Dale, and then 11-year-old son went on. The packing list was very specific and everything (including host family gifts) had to fit into a standard 29″ rolling suitcase. We didn’t actually own any rolling suitcases, (29″ or otherwise) and I was unsuccessful at scoring one from a thrift store.

So, did I shell out the cash for a somewhat poor quality suitcase that would fit within our stretched budget?

No way! I found suitcases to borrow instead.

I have since scored a high end Sampsonite brand rolling suitcase in a thrift store for only $6. (I checked, and to buy it new would have been $150+.)

What’s the lesson here?

If there’s something you need and aren’t able to find an acceptable used version of, then perhaps you should look to borrow one. (It goes without saying that keeping good care of it is a priority, and that you should look for an opportunity to do a favor for the lender.) Putting off this purchase saved us over $140 had we bought a high end suitcase, and saved us from spending $40 on a poor quality one.

We now have enough nice luggage for most travel situations, but that doesn’t mean we don’t borrow a few things here and there. My ten-year-old wants his own rolling suitcase, but there’s no hurry on that. I’ll just keep an eye out.

Do you feel comfortable borrowing from others, or does it make you feel uneasy? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie July 1, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Re your closing quote: Oh my goodness! My grandmother was a young wife and mother during the Great Depression and this was her mantra. Quite timely again, eh?


Linda Pearl July 1, 2009 at 9:25 pm

I do not like to borrow. Anything borrowed that has an electrical component might break. Then, am I obligated to repair it? It would be uncomfortable to just give the item back to the lender and tell them I am sorry it broke. The things I have lent were kept in pristine condition. When returned, these same items had years of wear on them, were kept outside or damaged in some way. When anyone wants to borrow anything of mine, I usually tell them I will buy one for them.

Now, I will lend a dish for a party. But, a friend knew I had silver dishes and platters. She asked me if she could borrow them for her daughter’s wedding reception. Readily agreeing, I told her to let me know when the wedding was and I would bring the dishes with me early. Laughing, I told her my silver was always accompanied by me. She knew me well enough to borrow sterling silver but not well enough to invite me. There is something wrong with that arrangement.

When I lend, I either want it to be my idea (my offer) or have the person ask me. When I hear a plaintive wish that is a hint for me to offer, I am completely turned off. I never hint for anything to be lent either. As a matter of fact, I have turned down offers when a person takes my comment as a hint for an offer of a loan of an item.

Benjamin Franklin said it best–Neither a lender nor a borrower be.


Angela July 1, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Oh my goodness, borrowing is the best option, especially for items like suitcases.

I work on films and receive a lot of bags and luggage as crew gifts. I got one large duffel/roll on that was great and gave it to my brother because I always used my handy-dandy Travel Pro. He used it for a month long trip to Bali, and then when we went to London last summer, and I needed a bit more room than my Travelpro offered, I borrowed it back from him. We’re sharing it from now on, since there is no way either of us will ever be going on that type of vacation more than once a year.

We definitely borrow for tools, major appliances, and saws and all those work tools my husband uses.

I don’t borrow clothes, I was an only girl and I admit to a hesitancy in this area. I used to have roommates and live with girls who left their clothes on the floor and cats slept and peed on them, and I’ve never been good at loaning or borrowing clothes.

But suitcases, appliances (the Cuisinart I borrow once a year from my friend!), all good…


karen July 2, 2009 at 9:06 am

I came across this idea in a recent newsletter. It lends well to your topic I think.

Wretched Excess Party
Every so often, I host a “Wretched Excess Party,” inviting a bunch of friends and whoever they want to bring. Each of us brings at least four items we can live without like clothing,art, cosmetics, furniture, books and electronics. For large
items, I suggest bringing a picture. We then have a lottery and draw three numbers each. If there are ten of us, we have 30 numbers. Numerically, we each go into the display room and shop. No matter how many items a person brings, each one goes
home with just three. The “wretched excess” is donated to appropriate charities. Often, someone will bring 20 to 30items, so there is a lot of excess.
One friend hosted a party with a jewelry-only theme and the excess was donated to Dress for Success. It was a huge hit! A friend told me that she had been to a similar clothing-only party called a “Naked Lady Party” because everyone is trying on clothes.

We also bring a dish for potluck and the hostess servesbeverages. We play games while the shopping is taking place. I have made several new friends this way and the idea is spreading. It is a sustainable way to have fun and help others.
Brenda L. in Louisville, KY


Non Consumer Girl July 2, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Karen, the “Wretched Excess” and “Naked Lady” party is a great idea!

I like the arrangement with drawing the numbers, so that everyone gets 3 turns and the excess is donated to charity.


Non Consumer Girl July 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

I like the concept of lending things, particularly as it is in keeping with the Compact. I like to lend and to help people out.

So it is disappointing when you lend things that are special to you and they are not returned.

When I have read a book I usually pass it on to friends and tell them to keep it.

But there are some that are favourites and I like to keep and reread. I have lent my favourite books to others over the years, and none of them have been returned!

I also offered to lend 2 very expensive designer tops to a girlfriend who had nothing to wear to a job interview at short notice! I lent her 2 tops so she could have a choice of which looked best on her. Months later, after they hadn’t been returned, I asked her for the tops back, and she was so surprised and a little indignant that I would ask her for them back!

I lent a cocktail dress to another girlfriend for a special event. Same story. Same surprise/slight indignance when I asked for it to be returned. When it was eventually returned after i had asked for it back, it hadn’t been drycleaned!

So, if you are borrowing something from someone, remember to return it and look after it so that the lending/ borrowing can continue into the future.


Tara Morrison July 2, 2009 at 6:20 pm

I have one rule about borrowing or lending. Only lend or borrow things that if they were to be damaged you could replace. I don’t borrow someones antique family heirloom crystal vase, but I will borrow a piece of silver service ware. I love borrowing and lending I have been doing for years with maternity clothes and am now going to gift mine to someone in need.


Jill July 2, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Oh yes, absolutely. Lending is big in my family. On my recent trip to Vietnam, I was able to borrow not only an appropriate suitcase, but a camera as well. Talk about trust! My friend had so much trust in me – and I watched that camera like a hawk. Luckily, it was returned in great condition and I learned how to use a terrific camera that I would otherwise not have had experience with. And my pictures turned out amazing! One thing I have trouble lending is books – they rarely come back.


BarbG July 2, 2009 at 7:06 pm

I have a fear of borrowing something and it breaking and then having to replace it! My dad always taught me when I borrow something I am to return it in better condition than I received it.

I am an avid reader and give books away if I’ m not going to read them again.

With books that I keep, I will no longer lend. I collect books on local history and many are no longer in print. I have lost too many books to keep doing this. (Once burned, twice shy!)

PS – Re: the post on plastic. We have a great store in our community called The Soap Exchange. You bring in your old containers (previously purchased from them for a nominal fee) and bring them back. I have not bought shampoo or conditioner in plastic in ages!


Sue Madre July 2, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Come from a family of eight kids, the idea of sharing stuff is just hardwired in me. I’ll lend you just about anything but my sterling flatware. A couple of years ago, my husband bought me a 20-year-old Chevy pickup for Christmas. I love it, and had lots of sets of keys made that I distributed to family members — as well as letting neighbors and friend know I consider it the communal truck. At 11 m.p.h., I don’t use it as my “real car.” (Tho I feel like one tough babe when I drive it!) My worst borrowing story is on me: I borrowed a red sequin gown from a drag queen pal for our wedding at the Elvis chapel in Las Vegas, then took A WHOLE YEAR returning it!


Karen July 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm

By the way, it was not Franklin but Shakespeare who said “neither a borrower nor a lender be…”. That comes from “Hamlet”. I actually don’t agree with this line, since much good can come from lending, depending on the parties involved.

It makes more sense not to have everyone buying the same things if they’re not used every day. I have a lot of china and platters that people always borrow, and maybe I’m crazy but I’m glad to let those pups out of the sideboard and see the light of day from time to time! Maybe occasionally one chips or breaks, but they’re just platters. I think in our culture it’s easy to get hung up on possessions so that we end up prioritizing our stuff over all. That said, I do have a problem lending books if they are one of a kind or very dear to me, if I don’t know the borrower well. So maybe we all draw our lines.


tammy July 3, 2009 at 7:50 am

Any creative way to aquire what one needs without stealing is ok in my book -LOL.


Diana July 4, 2009 at 12:10 pm

I was once in need of luggage. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to be able to borrow. I had to take a flight home from where I was and the luggage I had borrowed wasn’t airline proof.

I went shopping and found a great deal on a 4 piece set for $100. I still have the same set; I’ve used it many times, and lent it many times. Sometimes a brand new purchase makes the best sense. Of course, I shopped around and found the best deal possible, but I’ve never regretted making that purchase.


Christine T. July 6, 2009 at 8:12 am

I love the “keeping an eye out” mentality. It has completely changed my buying habits.


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