When your work revolves around travel, you establish some personal preferences, on-the-road routines, and strong opinions. For our new Travel Showdown series, travel advisors, industry leaders, and Virtuoso staff are facing off over some of travel’s most divisive topics – from packing methods to room service. This month, two Virtuoso Life editors tackle a topic for nearly every trip: check a bag or carry on?

My Checked Past

Yes, I have in the neighborhood of two decades as a travel editor under my belt. And yes, I still need to pack that belt and probably three others for my next trip. That I can’t head to Europe for a week with a suitcase the size of a throw pillow probably says something deep and abiding (and not good) about my personality. Or maybe it just says I want to feel put-together – and warm enough – no matter where I am in the world. Either way, I’ll admit it: I like checking a bag.

I’m not a total diva. I can carry on – and do most of the time these days. But to glide through security unfettered by a 22-inch ball-and-chain is to experience en route bliss (ditto skipping the overhead bin-space stampede and wedging my roly-poly roll-on into said space).

In the days when checked bags came only at the cost of a brief curbside transaction, I’d even hand over my small suitcase in order to sally forth to the jetway unencumbered. Now I save my $30 and reserve checking for longer trips with larger bags – but I always give luggage-drop stations a wistful glance.

“But what about lost luggage?” everyone, especially my fellow editors, is shouting at their screen. What about interminable waits at the carousel? Guess I’ve just been lucky. Maybe I’ll change my tune the day my precious things wind up in lost-luggage purgatory (but also: Blue Ribbon Bags). And obviously, I’d never check a bag to JFK.

Take it from me: True happiness is boarding with just a tote bag and an embarrassing number of shoes snug in the cargo hold.  – Marika Cain, managing editor


Carry On, Carefree

Here’s a scene: In an old provincial house in northern France, my hard-sided, ketchup-colored suitcase is so packed it won’t shut. A crowd of extended family watches with grim faces as moi – la petite américaine” – struggles to shove yet another pair of 1990s bell-bottom jeans into an invisible crevice. Never again.

Fast-forward some 20 years. These days, we all have enough to manage when traveling – from tapping out work emails to refreshing social media to calling the dog sitter to remind him that Sunny is not allowed on the couch. I don’t want any baggage weighing me down. My vacation rule: Apply some minimalism to your headspace and your wardrobe, starting with a small carry-on that accommodates precisely what you need. (And there are some sleek options to be had, from four-wheel spinners to adventure-ready duffels.) Plus, you’ll never have to face the creeping dread of standing by the luggage belt waiting, and waiting, and waiting … Stride straight past that potential pitfall and start your trip.

Here’s the rule that helps me stick to carry-on travel: Bring half as much stuff and twice as much cash, and put the saved checked-bag fees to good use – I love a good vacay shopping spree.  – Samantha Falewée, assistant editor


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