Dec 31, 2023


Loel and Gloria Guinness once confided to a journalist that the hardship of jet-setting to five homes scattered around the globe, from Palm Beach to Lausanne, was one thing, but packing and unpacking was an altogether more tedious chore. So they took to keeping a complete wardrobe in each residence and traveling with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

If the Guinnesses did not care for the burden of luggage 60 years ago, it is safe to assume they would have a distaste for the current state of affairs. Recall the record flight cancellations, delays, and baggage mishaps of last summer? Even optimists say it's looking as if this year will be more of the same.

"We’re going to see more flights this year than ever before, and whenever you increase capacity on an already stressed-out system, there are issues," says Brian Kelly, founder of the Points Guy. So if you don't already have another set of your belongings at your destination, what's a girl to do? For some, the humble carry-on is emerging as the answer. For others, there was never an alternative. The question for all is how to carry on with efficiency, and panache.

Aerin Lauder swears by Rule 1: Do a tight edit. "I love a simple black pant, a pretty blouse, a classic blazer, and two pairs of shoes—one for daytime and one for night," she says. Needless to say, an Aerin suede pouch is part of the inventory. Designer Dianora Salviati, who splits her time between New York and Italy, streamlines to the extreme. "I travel with the bare minimum," she says. "And, of course, with a couple of elegant pieces for the evening." Salviati also preaches the gospel of Rule 2: Let accessories do the heavy lifting. She does design scarves for a living, after all.

The delicate matter of transporting personal effects while on vacation predates the enchanting nomadic life of the Guinnesses. Louis Vuitton introduced his first hard-sided trunk in 1858, and at the dawn of the 20th century his "steamer bag" came about, ushering in an era of monogrammed trunks carried on and off ocean liners and trains. The tradition continued even after the invention of wheeled luggage in the 1970s.

Trunks, of course, have evolved. At its new Salon on Melrose Place, Gucci invites clients to update with bespoke details and velvet accents the hard-sided versions Guccio Gucci introduced a century ago. And during this year's Salone del Mobile, the world's largest design fair, Vuitton debuted as part of its travel-inspired Objets Nomades collection a so-called Cabinet of Curiosities, a megatrunk conceived by Australian industrial designer Marc Newsom made up of 19 compact leather-covered metal cubes. It's fitting that only 40 Cabinets will be produced. The label knows that even the most pampered traveler puts a premium on Rule 3: Peak mobility is nonnegotiable. Not for nothing did a new rolling trunk featuring such updated features as an improved trolley system and a TSA combination lock make an appearance during Vuitton's spring men's show.

But it's not just hypebeasts who crave portability. For Becky Malinsky, the brains behind the hit fashion Substack "5 Things You Should Buy," the name of the game is Rule 4: Curate. "You need a dress that is dress code—flexible, a black-and-white or black linen dress that could be dressy with a proper pair of shoes, or if it were paired with sandals would look casual enough to go to a beach or pool." Rule 5: Footwear should segue from day to night. "A Tod's driving moc or a French Sole ballerina—something that feels easy no matter where you’re dining or spending the day," she adds. Rule 6: Pack a chic pair of pajamas. A clever option as a lounge-as-evening-wear look—or a cover-up, if need be. And Rule 7: Bring a good chambray shirt, because, Malinsky says, "it can take you to the beach, but you could also see it at dinner."

Another writer, Helen Lee Schier, is an evangelist for Rule 8: Have a contingency plan. "Don't put all your shoes in one bag. Don't put all your undergarments in the same suitcase," she says. That way, if one piece of luggage is lost, you’ve spread out the risk.

Meanwhile, jeweler Briony Raymond relies on Rule 9: Neutrals are your friend. "The only things I plan my outfits for ahead of time are formal events, and I’ll choose one option for that and stick with it." Short of that, consider Rule 10: Double bag. "I often pack my evening bag full of toiletries and my passport, and tuck it into my travel tote to double as an organizer for the plane. The Hermès Sac de Pansage—literally the only bag I travel with—is also my beach bag."

Carry-on, it should be noted, is not an option for everyone. Malinsky, for instance, is a mom, and she knows from experience that traveling with children renders lightness obsolete. Bonus rule: Shipping is available thanks to companies like Send My Bag and Luggage Forward. These white glove services can run about $200 a bag (depending on weight and time frame), but they guarantee your valuables securely reach intended destinations. Though, as Malinsky points out, vacation spots can add a wrinkle to this method: "If you’re going somewhere remote, shipping isn't really going to be less risky than checking." As with everything in life, there's a trade-o when it comes to checking, shipping, or going the carry-on-only route. Geoffrey Weill, who is a professional globetrotter as the founder of his namesake travel PR agency, offers some solace and well-earned wisdom to the risk-averse: "There are nightmare stories, but when cases get lost, invariably they do arrive."

This story appears in the Summer 2023 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW

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Rule 1: Do a tight edit. Rule 2: Let accessories do the heavy lifting. Rule 3: Peak mobility is nonnegotiable. Rule 4: Curate. Rule 5: Footwear should segue from day to night. Rule 6: Pack a chic pair of pajamas Rule 7: Bring a good chambray shirt Rule 8: Have a contingency plan. Rule 9: Neutrals are your friend. Rule 10: Double bag. Bonus rule: Shipping is available This story appears in the Summer 2023 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW You Might Also Like