I'm a Japanese learner of English. A Bear Called Paddington is one of my favourite books, but what's the meaning of "Wanted on Voyage" on the side of the Paddington's suitcase?

  • 9
    Possibly it's to mark the suitcase as "hand luggage", i.e. something that will be wanted during the voyage and therefore shouldn't be put into the hold.
    – AndyT
    Jul 5, 2017 at 14:41
  • 3
    @AndyT Here's a link to go with your hunch. Do a text search on the page for "voyage" to find the corroborating quote. Feel free to use it in an answer to this question.
    – Lawrence
    Jul 5, 2017 at 15:42
  • 3
    It's the same as carry-on luggage on an airline flight.
    – jamesqf
    Jul 5, 2017 at 17:38
  • 3
    As a native English speaker, I didn't know the answer either. Jul 5, 2017 at 19:19
  • 2
    I'm Hirom Zai, the man who asked about Wanted on Voyage. Since this is the first time I've posted on this site, I may not be properly using this form. However, I'd like to thank everyone for these answers and comments. It was an eye-opening question and answer that although Paddington was a stowaway, that's illegal, it had been through legal procedure, with Wanted on Voyage on the suitcase. It's meant to be funny! Now I understand the situation better thanks to STACKEXCHANGE.
    – Hirom ZAI
    Jul 14, 2017 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


When people travelled long distances by ship, they sent their bags to the ship in advance, or checked their bags dockside. Those were the days when people travelled with enormous amounts of luggage, partly because they took long trips and partly because their clothes were more elaborate.

Some of their bags would be delivered to their stateroom, but most of the bags would be put in the hold of the ship. The latter were labelled "Not Wanted on the Voyage"; the former were tagged with the stateroom number. I don't think they were also labeled "Wanted on the Voyage", but I am not sure. But they were understood to be Wanted on the Voyage.

Source: Personal knowledge from childhood trip, reading English novels, and this. Also, thanks to @AndyT, the National Museums, Liverpool.


'Wanted on voyage' means that Paddington wants the suitcase as hand luggage on the voyage, rather than it being hold luggage.

Hold luggage:

Checked baggage refers to the items of luggage delivered to an airline or train for transportation in the hold of an aircraft or baggage car of a passenger train, which means it is inaccessible to the passenger during the flight or ride. - Wikipedia

compared with hand luggage,

Suitcases and bags of a size suitable for carrying on to an aircraft. - Oxford Dictionary

Which is accessable during the voyage.

The reason for this is that it contains a large jar of marmalade, which he eats throughout the journey.

“But whatever did you do for food?” asked Mr Brown. “You must be starving.” Bending down, the bear unlocked the suitcase with a small key, which it also had round its neck, and brought out an almost empty glass jar. “I ate marmalade,” he said, rather proudly. “Bears like marmalade. And I lived in a lifeboat.” - Paddington extract (pdf)

Since the marmalade was in the suitcase, and he was not a legitimate passenger, he needed the suitcase near him during the voyage.

  • 1
    I'm over-thinking this, but since he is a stowaway, why would he have a "Wanted on Voyage" sticker implying he had checked in? Surely the Peruvian TSA slipped up here?
    – Ken Y-N
    Jul 5, 2017 at 23:17
  • 3
    @KenY-N I think it's meant to be funny... Jul 6, 2017 at 8:09
  • @Ken Y-N Love the reference to the Peruvian TSA!
    – ab2
    Jul 12, 2017 at 0:04
  • Yes and I suspect part of the difference between baggage and luggage is that luggage is what you lug about by hand while baggage can happily be consigned to the hold. Jul 12, 2017 at 21:42

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