At-Home Activities

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter and #HistoryAtHome!

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter and #HistoryAtHome!

A Suitcase to Go Around the World

Create your own suitcase like Nellie Bly’s using cardboard and a paper grocery bag. Decide what you would take with you on a trip around the world!

Journalist Nellie Bly went on a trip around the world that started on Nov. 14, 1889.  Inspired by Jules Verne’s novel, “Around the World in 80 Days,” Nellie left New York City with a suitcase that was, according to the Evening World newspaper, “14 inches long, by 6 by 10 inches.”

Make your own “suitecase” and think about the choices Nellie had to make when setting out!

  • Brown paper grocery bag
  • 7 in. wide x 10 in. tall piece of cardboard
  • 6 in. wide x 10 in. tall piece of cardboard
  • Masking, duct, or washi tape
  • Ruler
  • Scissors and/or box cutter
  • Pencil, pen, or marker
  • Decorating supplies

Grab everything you’ll need to make your own “suitcase” inspired by what Nellie used on her record setting journey around the world.

With the help of a grownup, cut the cardboard into a 7 in. x 10 in. piece and a 6 in. x 10 in. piece.

Take the 6 in. x 10 in. piece – his will be your “suitcase” handle – and put it horizontally on your workspace and measure two inches in from the left edge at the top and bottom.

Draw a line and extend it to be one inch tall. Do the same thing on the right side then connect the lines on the inside.

Step 1 | A Suitcase to Go Around the World

Work with a grownup to use scissors or a box cutter to cut out the rectangle you drew.

Step 2 | A Suitcase to Go Around the World

Measure three inches up from the bottom and draw a line across the width of the cardboard.  This is the middle of your handle. Work with a grownup to use a box cutter to gently score it.  You want to be able to fold the cardboard, so be sure not to cut it the whole way through.

Step 3 | A Suitcase to Go Around the World

If you want to decorate your handle or your “suitcase” brown paper bag, now is a good time for it.

You can use markers, tape, or colored pencils to make the “suitcase” your own! Most suitcases and handbags from Nellie’s time period were plain, but sometimes travelers added stickers to them from their journeys.

Turn the brown paper bag on its side with the open side facing away from you. Use tape to attach the handle to the brown paper bag. You’ll want the handle to be open at about a 45-degree angle.

Step 4 | A Suitcase to Go Around the World

After you have the “suitcase” assembled, decide what you want what you bring with you.  Remember, Nellie started her journey in November.  She went near the equator before coming through the United States by train in January.  Nellie had tough choices to make with limited space.  Grab what you think you might want and put it in the suitcase.

This suitcase isn’t as strong as Nellie’s, so be sure to keep it over a bed or couch in case what you packed is too heavy!

Now, it’s time to close off your suitcase!  You can decide if you want to keep anything in it or leave it empty.  Either way, take the 7in x 10in piece of cardboard and attach it to the open side of the brown grocery bag.  You can add tape to the inside of the bag.

Step 5 | A Suitcase to Go Around the World