It’s been an exciting year for Amtrak. After devastation by the pandemic in 2020, the National Rail Passenger Corporation this year released its plan to better connect the US with $80 billion from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.
Since then, rail travel has been making a comeback with more travelers staying within the US while vacationing and choosing Amtrak as an alternative to driving or flying.
Riding the rails has also been cheaper than ever with Amtrak offering incredible sales to stimulate demand. The latest sale on offer is for the USA Rail Pass, which offers 10 trips on any of its train lines for only $299.
Now, Amtrak is investing $28 million in upgrading its long-distance trains, known as Superliners and Viewliners. Riders can look forward to upgraded seats and rooms plus a new dining experience on six long-distance western routes.
Amtrak unveiled the new products in Chicago on Tuesday. Take a look inside the upgraded Superliner experience.
All classes of service with see upgraded products with the investment, from coach to the sleeper suites.
The tired blue cloth seats of Amtrak’s past have been replaced with more modern-looking seats with improved cushioning and upholstery.
For riders in the Northeast, the seats are similar to the updated products on Northeast Regional trains.
Seats are still arranged in a 2-2 configuration with no middle seats.
And each seat has a pitch of 50 inches, giving riders nearly double the legroom compared to a coach seat on a US airline.
Paper headrest coverings have been removed entirely from the cars, which Amtrak says reduces waste onboard the trains.
As many as 120 coverings per car needed to be discarded and replaced multiple times over the course of a single trip. Massive amounts of waste were created from the covering alone and it added to the cabin attendant’s workload.
Tray tables remain where riders can eat, drink, or get work done on a laptop using Amtrak’s free WiFi.
And two power outlets are still offered at every row.
The new seats also feature footrests that come in handy during long stretches of sitting.
Coach tickets don’t include many amenities, besides a generous baggage allowance of two checked bags and two carry-on bags, but a cabin attendant does assist passengers throughout the journey.
The coach cabin extends across both levels of massively tall Superliner and better views can sometimes be had on the top level.
One little-known fact is that conductors can actually reverse the orientation of seats so groups of up to four can face each other.
Routine maintenance programs are also being implemented to ensure that seats and carpeting don’t reach a state of disrepair. Seats will always look as close to brand-new as possible.
Coach passengers will also enjoy better sleeping arrangements as the new seats offer a deep recline complete with leg rest.
There are no dividers in between the seats, offering greater room to stretch out if riders don’t have a seat neighbor. The two seats are roughly the size of a twin-size bed.
Amtrak still doesn’t plan to offer bedding to coach passengers but riders are more than welcome to bring their own. Each passenger, after all, is permitted to bring up to two carry-on bags that can be used to store some pillows and blankets.
The next updated space is the Sightseer Car which features larger windows so riders can take in the views of the journey.
The configuration of the seats remains largely the same but the seat cushions are changed. Riders can choose from a two-seat pair…
Or a single-seat, depending on their preference and how many passengers are in a given group.
All coach and sleeper passengers have access to the shared space with first-come, first-serve seating.
Also offered in the car are standard tables where groups of four can sit.
All tables are open for seating with Amtrak moving away from a pandemic policy of blocking certain tables for distancing.
Cushioning on the bench seating has also been updated with a cleaner look, similar to the style of the coach seats.
Food and drinks from the cafe car can also be enjoyed here as coach customers currently don’t have access to the dining car.
Another change that riders can be excited about is that Amtrak is returning to traditional dining on select long-distance routes.
California Zephyr, Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle trains, which see the most meals in Amtrak’s network, will be the first to see the new program.
Three meals in the dining car are included in the sleeper car fare and communal dining will be offered once more.
Riders that choose to dine independently, however, can choose to do so.
Amtrak-branded plates will be first used when traditional dining is restored on June 23 but china will soon be used in the service.
New staples include French toast with fresh whipped cream, flat iron steak, lobster crab cakes, and Philadelphia cheesecake. And to top it off, fresh flowers will be placed at every table.
Robert Jordan, Amtrak’s vice president of operations customer services, told Insider that the dining service will better than what was offered even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Next to be upgraded are the rooms. This is the largest room available on the train and can house up to two adults traveling together.
Inside is a sofa and armchair, both of which have been updated in the new design. Gone are the paper head dressings that constantly needed to be replaced.
Here’s what the old rooms looked like with the blue cloth seats.
Riders in these compartments also have a dedicated attendant, dining car access, and get lounge access at Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounges.
Showers in the rooms remain largely the same but feature one big change: individual soap, shampoo, and conditioner bottles are being replaced with dispensers.
The move saves costs and reduces Amtrak’s environmental footprint by not having to dispose of single-use plastic bottles. Hotels have been making the shift towards dispensers, as well.
New towels are also being introduced in the showers.
A new lotion dispenser has also been added to the in-room sink.
Next on the list are the roomettes, the smaller two-person rooms that are a fraction of the size of standard rooms.
Roomettes are set up in a simple configuration with two seats that face each other.
It’s tight quarters at just six feet and eight inches long and three feet and six inches wide. But the closeable door offers additional privacy.
Roomette seats are markedly bigger than standard coach seats, however, and are ideal for couples traveling together.
Once again, the newer roomette seats replace the old blue cloth seats.
The bedding, pillows, and linens in both the rooms and roomettes are also being updated with a new design.
Roomette passengers do have dining car access but can choose to take their meals in their rooms, using the center table.
The car attendant can make the bed while riders are enjoying their meal to minimize disruptions.
Amtrak will have the entire Superliner and Viewliner fleet converted in the next three years.
Riders seeking out these train cars specifically, however, won’t be able to do so just yet. Amtrak says there will be no way to tell if a particular service will have updated products because the cars are interchangeable.
Northeast passengers, particularly long-distance trains departing from New York’s Pennsylvania Station, won’t see the new Superliner cars as they can’t fit in the Hudson River and East River tunnels. But smaller Viewliners that can access New York will be similarly upgraded with the new products.
Chicago-based lines, as well as the Auto Train, will be the first to see the updated products.
A federal judge has ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can’t enforce its “authoritarian” pandemic-era sailing orders against Florida cruise ships from mid-July, The Washington Post reported.
US District Judge Steven D. Merryday’s ruling means that the CDC’S conditional sailing orders will become “non-binding” guidelines for Florida ships, instead of stringent requirements, from July 18.
Merryday ruled that the CDC did not satisfactorily justify its cruise safety rules, comparing halting voyages to the hypothetical situation of banning sexual intercourse across the US because of the fear of STDs.
“One is left to wonder, given the persistent risk of transmission of a communicable disease… whether the director of CDC could have – or, perhaps, should have – generally shut down sexual intercourse in the United States,” Merryday wrote.
He added that a ban on sex to reduce “zero” the transmission of “AIDS or syphilis or herpes” would not be politically prudent or enforceable.
Merryday said that the shutdown of Florida’s cruise industry by the CDC was “breathtaking, unprecedented, and acutely and singularly authoritarian.”
The CDC has until July 2 to propose a “narrower” set of guidelines to “safeguard the public’s health,” the ruling added.
Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, who has been in a standoff with the CDC over COVID-19 vaccine requirements since last year, has hailed the ruling as a “major victory.”
“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” he said in a statement. “Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach.”
The preliminary injunction against the CDC resulted from a successful lawsuit filed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to halt the conditional sailing orders, which Moody argued exceed the public health agency’s authority and would cause “irreparable injury” to Florida’s economy.
This was replaced by the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) and the framework for “trial” voyages, Insider’s Brittany Chang reported. According to an updated framework, cruise companies could bypass the simulated voyages if 95 percent of passengers and crew were fully vaccinated.
Carnival Corp says its guests’ and employees’ personal data may have been impacted in a data breach first discovered on March 19, a company spokesperson told Insider in an email statement on Friday.
In response to the breach, Carnival “shut down the event,” informed regulators, and called on a cybersecurity company to look into the attack. The investigation later found that information on guests, crew members, and employees with Carnival Corp and several of its brands – Carnival, Holland America, Princess, and “medical operations” – were impacted by the “third party access to limited portions of its information technology systems,” according to the spokesperson.
Personal information like Social Security and passport numbers, addresses, and health data may have been accessed during the breach, the Associated Press reported.
However, “there is evidence indicating a low likelihood of the data being misused,” the spokesperson told Insider. Carnival has since contacted the people who may have been affected by the data breach, and has created a call center to field any questions.
“As part of its ongoing operations, the company is continuing to review security and privacy policies and procedures and has been implementing changes as needed to enhance our information security and privacy program and controls,” the spokesperson said.
The right cat carrier can make getting a feisty feline from Point A to Point B less stressful. Whether you’re headed to the vet or the airport, a good carrier should have a handful of essential features for the convenience and comfort of both cat and human.
To determine the most important qualities to look for in a pet carrier, I consulted with Lindsey Wolko, the founder and CEO of the Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Virginia, and Dr. Gwen Gadd, a fear-free certified veterinarian at East Bay SPCA in Oakland, California. To start, look for more than one loading door, plenty of ventilation, exterior pockets, and easy-to-carry straps or handles.
Over the last year, I evaluated 30 different cat carriers, including airline-friendly, budget, and backpack styles. All but one, the Good2Go Expandable Carrier, were provided as editorial review samples by their manufacturers. My two cats, Osito and Phoebe, submitted their opinions on the carriers, both at home and on visits to the vet.
For your feline companion, it is outfitted with a plush bed, privacy flap, and zip-out atrium that expands the carrier’s width by more than 50%. For the cat sherpa, there is a shoulder strap, carry handle, exterior pocket, luggage strap, detachable name tag, and an interior safety tether to prevent your cat from bolting.
My favorite thing about this carrier is its expandable mesh atrium. My cats liked stretching out into the extra space while napping inside. This feature can’t be used in flight or while driving, but you can give your cat more space while waiting at the airport or vet’s office.
The Gold Series remained well balanced on top of a carry-on and the padded shoulder strap was easy to adjust and comfortable on my shoulder. The mesh was perfectly intact after our scratch test with the exception of some slight discoloration. Stomping on the bag multiple times flattened its interior frame slightly, but it took just a few seconds to push it back out to its original form. The zippers worked smoothly too.
On a vet visit, my cat unleashed his own goop test on the removable bed. Though the bed is labeled hand-wash only, I threw it in the washer and air-dried it. It not only came completely clean, but it also looked essentially brand new.
The carrier adheres to most in-cabin airline restrictions. The frame is not flexible but has enough give to fit beneath slightly lower seats. Although it has safety seat belt attachments, it has not been third-party crash-tested. For this reason, the most secure spot to place your cat is at the foot of the backseat on the passenger side. It fit snugly there in my compact car.
Mr. Peanut’s donates their carriers and a portion of sales to animal rescues and aid organizations through their Pay a Shelter Pet Forward program.
Pros: Padded detachable shoulder strap, padded carry handle, secure luggage strap, multiple pockets, washable interior mat, collapses flat for storage, comes in six colors and two sizes
Cons: Not top-loading, seam of interior mat ripped in washing, no warranty
For a reliable soft-sided carrier that will keep your cat safe and comfortable on short journeys and long-distance travel days alike, Elite Field’s Soft-Sided Airline Approved Carrier fits the bill. Inside, this bag is fitted with a soft fleece mat and safety tether. A luggage strap, detachable padded shoulder strap, and padded carry handle make getting your cat to their destination easy. Best of all, this carrier is less than half the cost of our best overall pick.
In testing, the Elite Field carrier proved to be highly durable. In our goop test, it wiped completely clean and its fleece mat came out of the washer with no stains. Our scratch test resulted in no damage, and the zipper was smooth. The biggest flaw was a seam along the side of the mat that tore in the washing machine but did not affect its usefulness.
This carrier has more ventilation than most of those we tested. It also has five pockets, including one which unzips to convert into a luggage strap, and two small zipper holes through which you can pet or feed your cat without danger of escape. The bag collapses flat for storage but does not have a top-loading entry or a warranty. When carried by the shoulder strap, this carrier does bend inward an inch or two.
The Elite Field comes in two sizes, both of which fit under the seat at United Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Although this carrier has a seatbelt loop, it has not been third-party crash-tested for car travel. All in all, while this carrier isn’t perfect, its durable, comfortable design is a great deal.
The best cat carrier for car travel
The third-party crash-tested Away Pet Carrier is loaded with features for the safety, comfort, and convenience of you and your cat.
Having earned a five-star crash-test certification from the Center for Pet Safety, the Away Pet Carrier is an ideal choice for frequent travel or long car rides. Although it is the most expensive carrier we tested for this guide, it has all of the features we deemed essential, including a luggage strap, excellent ventilation, a padded shoulder strap, and two exterior pockets. Because it also fits the dimensions of most in-cabin airline requirements, it’s versatile enough for journeys requiring multiple modes of transportation.
The Away Carrier has a washable sherpa bolster bed and safety tether inside. On its exterior, there is a roll-down privacy flap on the front door, luggage strap, and two zipper pockets, one of which runs the entire length of the right side.
Perhaps the carrier’s most important feature, though, is the seat belt attachment. While many carriers have seat belt straps or latches, relatively few have been third-party crash-tested. Away’s bag was not only crash tested in 2020, it earned a five-star safety certification for pets up to 18 pounds.
In our testing, the Away Carrier came out unscathed. It was plenty spacious for even the larger of my two cats, a zaftig 12-pounder. It was also easy to transport. The padded shoulder strap is a little slippery and did have to be readjusted occasionally. Because it’s made from leather, the handle is not as comfortable to hold as some of the other carriers I tested, which have thicker nylon handles.
Although it doesn’t fold flat for storage, the Away Carrier comes with a drawstring bag to keep it free from dust and debris, as well as a few additional goodies, including a small plush airplane, a bandana, and a collapsible silicone water bowl. The carrier can be monogrammed for an additional $35.
Pros: Made from heavy-duty 95% recycled plastic; strong, sturdy design with bolts lining three sides of carrier; self-locking wire mesh doors on front and top; affordable
Cons: Requires assembly, somewhat heavy at 3.8 pounds for the 19-inch kennel and 6.43 pounds for the 24-inch; no mat or safety tether; only two color options; not safety-tested for car travel
If you have a cat that fears the tight confinement of a soft-sided carrier, the Frisco Two-Door Top-Load Kennel is an excellent option for transporting them from Point A to Point B. This hard-shell carrier has a simple two-piece design that secures together with bolts around its exterior.
There is a folding plastic handle at the top. Both doors on the kennel have spring-loaded latches that lock them securely in place and, along with holes that wrap around the top half of the carrier, provide ventilation. The 24-inch carrier was extremely spacious for even my 12-pound cat. Both doors were large enough for stress-free entry and were easy to open and close one-handed.
The kennel passed our goop test with flying colors. The mess I smeared on its interior and exterior, then left to dry for 48 hours, wiped completely clean in an instant. When dropped, it did not fare as well as its soft-sided counterparts. It didn’t suffer any structural damage, but the back panel of its top half cracked and the handle popped off the top door. I was able to snap the handle back in place, and the back remains intact enough to prevent a pet from escaping. It’s important to note that this kennel’s competitor, the Petmate Two-Door Top-Load Kennel, broke in almost the same way but held on to its handle.
In fact, everything about this kennel is so similar to the Petmate that they may as well be the same product. I was able to pinpoint only three differences between them: Frisco’s carrier comes in two colors instead of four, it costs almost $10 less, and it is slightly heavier — a little over a half pound each for the 19- and 24-inch models.
While this kennel is missing a few of the features I looked for in the soft carriers, namely a safety tether, soft interior mat, and ID tag, it’s a well-made, affordable option for cats who need more space during travel.
Pros: Combination backpack and rolling carrier, two zippered doors for loading, machine-washable sherpa mats, telescoping suitcase handle, available in two sizes, folds flat for storage, one-year limited warranty
Cons: Does not fit in-cabin airline requirements, not safety-tested for car travel, heavier than other backpack carriers we tested
Gen7Pets Geometric Roller-Carrier takes the hassle out of traveling with a cat by providing two convenient ways for them to get around: on your back or rolling at your side. The sturdy carrier has two loading doors at the front and zippered pockets on its sides. There is a handle at the top of the bag for quick lifting and four wheels at the bottom. Soft machine-washable sherpa mats attach to the base and back of the interior with Velcro.
In backpack mode, this carrier has two adjustable shoulder straps that clip to D-rings at the bottom of the back side. It takes just a few seconds to convert the bag into rolling mode by unclipping the backpack straps, tucking them into their storage pocket, and pulling out the telescoping suitcase handle. I was surprised to find that, despite the size and weight of the large carrier, it was equally as comfortable on my back as the other backpack carriers I tested. Its padded straps were easy to adjust and it did not bounce against my lower back.
The backpack is also comfortable to pull behind you or at your side. It skidded occasionally on a rock or stick but mostly moved smoothly over sidewalks, pavement, and ramps. For cat comfort when rolling, the bag has a “smart-level platform” to change the angle of the carrier’s base.
The Geometric Roller Backpack’s front mesh panels can be rolled down for easy feeding and watering and an interior tether can be used to keep your cat from escaping. Although there are seat belt straps on the back, this carrier has not been third-party crash-tested, so they should not be used.
In testing, this backpack proved durable. The stomp test reshaped the internal wire frame, but I was able to push it back in place in under a minute. In the scratch test, the carrier’s mesh showed no signs of breakage and the loading door zipped smoothly. The goop I spread on the bag cleaned up easily, leaving only a small spot of discoloration, and the interior mat came out of the washing machine looking like new.
The large carrier was very spacious and comfortable for my cats, but at 6.8 pounds, it was a bit heavy to carry by the plastic handle at its top. It is also too large to fit under the seat in the cabin of an airplane, as is the smaller version of the carrier. While some may find it too bulky, its size, shape, and versatility make frequent travel with a cat convenient and comfortable for both of you.
Sleepypod Atom: Although this Sleepypod carrier earned a five-star crash-test rating from the Center for Pet Safety, it has only an elevated, top-entry opening for loading and unloading. I also found its shoulder strap, which had a buckle at exactly the wrong spot on my shoulder, uncomfortable to carry.
Frisco Travel Carrier: This carrier by Frisco was originally our top choice in the budget category before we tested the Elite Field. The bag is top- and front-entry, has an interior sherpa mat and privacy flaps, and held up well in testing. But when compared to the Elite Field, Frisco’s carrier had less than half the ventilation and an uncomfortable shoulder strap with no padding.
Petmate Soft-Sided Carrier: This bag has a lot of good features, including top- and front-loading entries and a design that folds flat for storage. However, on our walk test, this was the only carrier of the bunch where the floor mat dislodged and flipped up, leaving the 10-pound weight in the bottom of the bag to drop almost to my knees without any support, a serious safety hazard if it had occurred with an actual cat.
Neocoichi Ultralite Pop-Up Cat Carrier: This cleverly designed pop-up carrier is feather light and super cute, to boot. Unfortunately, its thin walls are extremely flimsy compared to the other carriers we tested and could be easily breached by a set of determined claws.
Mr. Peanut’s Gold Series Carrier: Like the Gold Series Expandable, this carrier has nearly all of the features I consider essential: two points of entry, safety tether, luggage strap, padded shoulder strap, ID tag, and more. But it lacks an expandable section to increase the carrier’s size on long travel days, one of my favorite features of our best overall choice.
Gen7Pets Commuter Carrier: Crash-tested and fitting the dimensions of most in-cabin airline requirements, this carrier has almost all of the features I consider essential. It’s missing two big things that a pricey $100 bag ought to have, though: a shoulder strap for convenient carrying and exterior pockets for holding essentials. It also does not fold flat for storage.
Good2Go Expandable Pet Carrier: I like this expandable carrier. A few years ago, I twice traveled 1,000 miles by car with my cats each tucked safely inside one. It is top- and front-loading and has an interior tether and large zipper back pocket. Unfortunately, it’s relatively pricey compared to Mr. Peanut’s carriers and does not collapse for storage.
Bergan Comfort Carrier: This affordable carrier is quite comfortable according to my cats, with a cozy fleece bolster bed and two no-escape petting holes. And while it has no interior tether, its exterior zippers have buckles to keep them from accidentally opening. However, this carrier was one of two to earn the lowest score on the luggage test. I had to stop and rebalance the bag four separate times on top of my suitcase as I rolled it a single city block. It also does not fold for storage.
Frisco Basic Carrier: The Basic Carrier has multiple pockets, an interior D-ring for attaching a safety tether, and comes with an ID tag. However, unlike the Mr. Peanut’s carriers, it has only one point of entry at the front of the bag and is not equipped with a luggage strap.
Sherpa Ultimate on Wheels Carrier: I like this carrier that can be carried like a traditional soft-sided kennel or converted into a rolling bag by rearranging the shoulder strap into a luggage pull. I also appreciate the privacy flaps over the mesh ventilation on the carrier’s sides and back. However, it does not come with an interior safety tether or ID tag, and at 20 inches long and 12.25 inches wide, it’s too big to fit most in-cabin airline requirements.
Sherpa Original Deluxe Carrier: This is a solid cat carrier with most of the essentials, including a fleece mat, two doors for loading, large back pocket, and luggage strap. Unfortunately, it lacks a safety tether and padded shoulder strap. Because I’m only 5-foot-4, when I adjusted the strap for long-distance carrying, the buckle landed right at my shoulder where it dug in. This carrier also had less ventilation than our top pick and failed to balance during the luggage test, especially when stepping off of a curb. Because I had to stop and reset the bag four separate times during our one-block walk, it was one of two to earn the lowest score in the trial.
Sherpa Element Carrier: For nearly the same price, this carrier offers little more than the Sherpa Original Deluxe. Like the Original Deluxe, it has no interior safety tether and no padding in the shoulder strap, causing the buckle to dig into my shoulder on our walk test. It has only a single tiny zip pocket and the second least ventilation of the bags that went on to the second phase of testing — just 15.5% of its surface area is mesh. It is also tiny compared to the other carriers, measuring 14.75 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 10.5 inches tall.
Sherpa To-Go Carrier: Of all the Sherpa bags, I liked this no-frills bag the least. With only a single tiny zip pocket and sans luggage strap, not to mention the lack of a safety tether and ID tag, this carrier did not make it to the second round of testing.
Petmate See and Extend Carrier: This top- and front-loading carrier was just okay, especially for the price. I like the expandable section that nearly doubles the size of its interior, but the carrier has only a single mesh pocket and no safety tether, ID tag, and luggage strap.
K&H Lookout Pet Carrier: The worst of the carriers I evaluated, the K&H Lookout’s design consists of a single zipper that wraps all the way around the carrier and serves to open and close its entry door. If it breaks or becomes stuck, the entire carrier would be unusable. The Lookout also lacks pockets and has a slim tent-like interior. While I was able to pop its plastic bubble window back out after it arrived collapsed, it left permanent unsightly evidence of its collapse.
Hard-shell cat carriers
Gunner G1 Medium Dog Kennel: For airline travel in the cargo hold or long car journeys, there’s no better kennel than the ultra-strong, five-star crash-tested Gunner G1 Kennel. But for everyday use, this heavy, extremely pricey crate is not the most practical option for a cat.
Petmate Two-Door Top-Load Kennel: Petmate’s kennel is great. In fact, it is the same as the Frisco Two-Door Top-Load Kennel in nearly every way — it even broke the same way in our drop test. But while this kennel weighs slightly less than the Frisco version and is available in four colors instead of two, it costs almost $10 more.
Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier: This is a sturdy crate that fits the requirements for airline cargo pet travel. Our tests showed that it’s more durable than the Frisco Two-Door Top-Load Kennel, but it’s also significantly more expensive and has only one loading door at the front.
Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel: This kennel is remarkably similar in design, price, and size to the Petmate Sky Kennel but fared worse in durability testing.
Backpack cat carriers
Mr. Peanut’s Backpack Carrier: With multiple pockets, an interior tether, and a shoulder strap that converts the backpack to a standard carrier, Mr. Peanut’s earned a high score in our features comparisons. However, its interior may be too small for many cats to be comfortable for long periods of time.
Sherpa 2-in-1 Backpack Carrier: The shape and size of Sherpa’s backpack is very similar to Mr. Peanut’s, but it has ingenious removable backpack straps, one of which converts into a shoulder strap to turn the whole thing into a traditional carrier. The Sherpa backpack, however, lacks a luggage tag, includes a smaller mat, and has only a safety tether D-ring instead of a full tether. Unlike Mr. Peanut’s backpack, it was missing safety buckles on the zippers, a privacy flap over the top, and a chest strap to help balance the pack’s weight.
Kurgo K9 Carrier Backpack: This backpack carrier by Kurgo is stylish but falls short in several categories including ventilation and carrying comfort. In the goop test, both the interior and exterior were left looking worse for wear.
How we tested
All of the carriers evaluated in this guide went through four tests: a basic comparison of features, a drop test, a goop test, and a cat-approval test.
Feature comparison: Interviews with Wolko and Gadd helped me determine the essential features a cat carrier should have. I created a scoring system for the soft-sided carriers based on the qualities listed below. Hard-sided carriers were subject to slightly different criteria. The bags that scored the highest went on to additional testing.
Drop, stomp, and roll test: In this test, I brought the carriers that did best in the features comparison to a local park. I placed a 10-pound weight inside each bag and, with the help of my partner, dropped each one twice from a 10-foot-tall play structure, first releasing it straight down, then flipping it end on end.
Once on the ground, I rolled the bags several times with the weight still inside, looking for any damage to the stitching, mesh, or zippers. Later, I conducted the stomp test at home, placing each carrier on a rug, then stomping on it a dozen times with bare feet, noting whether the frame changed shape or the bag showed any damage.
Goop test: Because it’s not uncommon for cats to vomit or defecate in their carrier, I devised the goop test to determine how easy the carriers were to clean. I made my goop by mashing together cat kibble, canned food, and water with a mortar and pestle, then spread a tablespoon on the exterior walls, the interior walls, and the mats of the contenders. After 48 hours, I used dish soap and water to wipe the goop from the walls and cleaned the mats in the washing machine or by hand, depending on care instructions.
In-cabin airline fit test: I measured the exterior of each carrier to determine whether it would fit under the seat in the cabin of most major airlines. I used United Airlines’ recommended maximum dimensions for a soft-sided pet carrier of 18 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 11 inches tall as the standard by which to assess them.
Ventilation test: Wolko explained that a carrier’s ventilation is important for preventing a cat from overheating during travel. I measured the mesh panels on each carrier and calculated the percentage of the total surface area they comprised. Those with more ventilation were scored higher than those with limited mesh.
Walk test: I took each of the top soft-sided carriers on a 15-minute walk around my neighborhood, carrying a 10-pound weight inside. Each was carried using its shoulder strap and held at the front of my body, as if I had precious cat cargo inside. The last block of the walk, I switched to using the bags’ hand-carry straps.
Throughout the walk, I paid attention to how comfortable the carrier was to carry by shoulder and by hand, as well as how well it held its shape as it bounced against my legs. I took the same walk with the backpack carriers, noting how well the backpack fit against my back and how comfortable its straps were.
Luggage test: I placed each of the top carriers with luggage straps on top of a standard rolling suitcase and walked a single city block, pulling them off of a curb and going up a steeply ramped driveway entrance along the way. I watched closely to see how well the carrier remained balanced with a 10-pound weight inside.
Scrape test: To test the durability of the mesh, I scraped a section of each bag 50 times with a fork, noting any damage or discoloration.
Zip test: I tested the durability of each carrier’s zipper by completely zipping and unzipping one of its loading entrances 50 times, noting any changes in the zipper’s ability to smoothly run its course.
Cat-approval test: Over a period of several weeks, I left the top carriers sitting open around the house to assess their comfort. I frequently found my cats nestled inside fast asleep. Any carrier they didn’t choose to enter on their own, I baited with treats to encourage their entry and relaxation to see how well they fit inside.
Vet test: A few of the carriers — Mr. Peanut’s Gold Series Expandable Carrier, Bergan Comfort Carrier, Good2Go Expandable Carrier, and Mr. Peanut’s Backpack Carrier — were put to the test on trips to the vet. Because I was unable to test all of the top carriers in this way, I considered what I learned from these trips to be supplemental information. This included how well they fit at the foot of my car’s back seat on the passenger side, how well my cat fit inside the carrier, and in one case, how it held up to cleaning when one of my cats vomited and defecated on the trip.
What to consider when shopping for a pet carrier
A high-quality cat carrier needs to be comfortable, convenient, and safe for use by both human and cat. After speaking with Wolko and Gadd, I determined the following features to be the most important:
Shape and design: A carrier should be large enough for a cat to comfortably lie down and turn around but not so large that they don’t feel secure, according to Gadd. Because they are made with airline cabin dimensions in mind, most cat carriers nail this, but some vary in how cramped or spacious they are. Some cat carriers have built-in expandable sections that can double or even triple the size of a carrier. These are ideal for giving your pet the opportunity to safely stretch out on long travel days.
Loading doors: Gadd recommends carriers that have two doors. Because cats like options, they may prefer to enter and exit out of different openings. And if they refuse to come out, it may be easier to gently lift them from a door in the top of the carrier than to drag them out the door in the front, Gadd said.
Floor mat: Most carriers come with some type of soft floor mat. Ideally, a floor mat will be machine washable and can be attached to the interior of the bag to prevent it from sliding around.
Pockets: Pockets are essential for keeping your cat’s gear as well as yours close at hand. A good cat carrier should have more than one pocket and at least one should be secured by a zipper, button, or hook-and-loop closure.
Straps and handles: A quality carrier should have both a removable shoulder strap, preferably padded for comfort, and a double handle for lifting. A button or hook-and-loop strap that wraps around and secures the handles is helpful for keeping them balanced and out of the way.
Ventilation: Mesh panels fitted into the sides or top of a carrier provide much-needed ventilation. Too many of them, though, can make a frightened cat feel overly exposed. Wolko said a good general rule of thumb is for mesh to cover approximately half of the carrier. Some carriers feature a privacy flap that can be lifted or lowered depending on temperature and a cat’s specific needs.
Interior safety tether: A cat that does not want to be in a carrier may shoot out of its open door when it’s time for a break. An interior safety tether can prevent them from door dashing. “We recommend only connecting to the collar or harness when you stop to feed or water your pet,” Wolko said. “The tether inside the carrier should not be used during active travel, as the pet can become tangled.” Some carriers that do not have a full safety tether have an interior D-ring to which a leash can be secured.
Luggage strap: For easy airport maneuvering, look for a carrier with a luggage strap that can be slipped over a telescoping suitcase handle. “That’s a huge convenience,” said Wolko, and something she likes to see. Some carriers also have exterior straps for securing to a car seat belt. However, Wolko explained that unless the carrier has been crash-tested and third-party safety certified by an organization like the Center for Pet Safety, a cat carrier should always be placed on the floor of a vehicle beneath the back seat instead of on the seat, itself. “It minimizes the impact and provides a lot of protection,” she said. “If you do get into a sudden stop, they’re not going to fly all over the place.”
Airline-friendly dimensions: Most carriers these days are made with airline cabin regulations in mind. However, airlines differ in the carrier sizes they’ll accept on a flight. For example, on Southwest Airlines a carrier can only be 18.5 inches by 8.5 inches by 13.5 inches whereas on United Airlines a carrier must be no larger than 18 inches by 11 inches by 11 inches. If you plan to fly with your pet, investigate your preferred airline’s requirements before purchasing a carrier.
Crash-tested safety certification: A crash-tested safety certification is important if you plan to travel by car with your cat’s carrier placed on the seat. Just because a carrier has a seat belt strap doesn’t mean it’s safe to transport them that way. While independent companies may crash-test their products, the Center for Pet Safety is the leader in crash-testing and safety-certifying pet carriers. In collaboration with Subaru of America, Inc., the Center for Pet Safety conducts specially designed crash tests with dummy dogs to study a carrier’s structural integrity and the reliability of its doors and latches.
Storage: Unless you’re frequently traveling with your cat, look for a carrier that can be quickly and easily deconstructed to fold flat for storage.
ID tag: Because you never know when you might accidentally end up separated from your best friend. It’s also crucial for any traveling pet to wear a collar with ID tags in case they become separated from their carrier.
How to encourage a cat to like their carrier
To get a cat to love their carrier, it’s important that pulling it out of a closet doesn’t predict something your cat would prefer to avoid, like a visit to the vet. By leaving the carrier accessible at all times, it can be paired with the positive experiences that turn a carrier into a safe, snuggly, magical place to be.
Begin by giving the open carrier a permanent spot in an area of the home where your cat likes to relax. “Make it comfortable,” Gadd said. “Leave the door open or even take the top off, then play games around the carrier so it isn’t scary to them.” Wolko also suggests throwing treats and toys into the carrier to make the space rewarding.
When your cat is no longer intimidated by the carrier, begin closing the door while they are inside for short periods of time, just a few seconds or a few minutes, depending on the cat. Over time, gradually increase the period for which they are enclosed. Pairing these sessions with a Lickimat spread with a cat-friendly treat paste like Churu can help them to feel better about confinement. Spritzing the carrier with a pheromone spray 15 to 30 minutes before the cat enters can also help promote calm, according to Gadd.
When it’s time to actually travel, Gadd recommends placing a piece of clothing with your scent on it inside the carrier and covering the exterior with a towel or blanket. Instead of dangling the carrier by its handles, lift it from the bottom and hold it against your body for a more secure ride.
If your cat experiences anxiety in the carrier, talk to your vet about an anxiety-decreasing medication for travel. Signs of anxiety include crying, panting, vomiting, defecating, or pushing their face against the carrier’s interior. Some cats who experience these symptoms may be suffering from car sickness in addition to, or instead of, anxiety. The vet can help there, too, by prescribing an anti-nausea medication.
Best safety practices for car travel
Although several of the cat carriers tested for this guide were outfitted with straps for attaching to a car seat belt, Wolko recommends against using them unless the carrier has been crash-tested and safety certified. “It’s counterintuitive, but you do not want to strap them in with a seat belt,” she explained. This is especially important if you are using a hard-sided carrier. When strapped in, a collision or sudden stop can cause a plastic kennel to flex, fracture, or even break apart.
If your carrier has not been crash-tested or safety certified, the safest way to travel with a cat in the car is to place them on the floor behind the driver or passenger seat, said Wolko. In that location they are less likely to shift around or take a tumble if you have to stop short or get into a collision.
For car travel, Wolko also recommends selecting a carrier that is not a dark color and has plenty of ventilation. “We don’t recommend black carriers in general because when you’re in the sunshine, it absorbs heat,” she explained. All but our budget pick, the Frisco Travel Carrier, are available in colors other than black.
A durable and reliable carry-on suitcase is a must-have for any traveler.
Hard-side vs. soft-side luggage and budget is a personal preference, so we’ve included options.
Our top hard-side carry-on is from Samsonite and our top soft-side carry-on is from Travelpro.
Waiting in a long line when running late for a flight, having to pay hefty baggage fees, and your shoulder hurting from carting around a heavy duffle bag are all hassles that make quality carry-on luggage a must-have.
The best carry-on suitcases are reliable, durable, easy to pack, hold plenty of clothes, and fit on both domestic and international planes of all sizes.
As a travel editor who pre-pandemic frequently took more than 50 flights per year and was often in a destination for just a day or two before moving on, I practically live out of my carry-on at times. I’ve also had checked luggage lost or arrive late enough times to avoid going that route whenever possible, making a carry-on my go-to item even for longer trips.
While my luggage may go through a few more rigorous trials than the average leisure traveler, most people are looking for these same qualities in any good piece of luggage.
Pros: Excellent price for the quality, durable, scratch-resistant, wheels easily, expandable
Cons: Handle wiggles a decent amount when fully extended, slightly heavier than other options available
This hard-side carry-on suitcase will fit in just about any overhead bin for domestic and international flights with the exception of tiny jumper planes. The twill texture is scratch-resistant with a slightly shiny finish that helps it stand out in an airport crowd.
I’ve used this bag consistently for more than two years, and while it has a couple of very small white marks upon close inspection, it has overall remained in remarkably good shape — especially in comparison to other hard-side cases I’ve tried.
It’s easy to lift into overhead bins and a rubberized grip under the top and side handles add extra comfort when lifting. The zippers have good grip and run smoothly without catching and the expansion zipper even has a finger hole for extra ease and agility. There is also a TSA-approved lock on the right side.
The four multi-directional wheels are quiet and making rolling the bag in front of you, beside you, or behind you on almost any surface a breeze, though it was harder to pull on thick carpet.
Despite its small size, I’ve been able to pack a week’s worth of clothes in and the 1.5-inch expansion capability comes in especially handy if you’re like me and always end up coming back from a trip with more than you originally packed. While there aren’t any fancy extras when it comes to interior storage, it’s more than sufficient with a mesh zip close on one side and a strong buckle to keep clothes packed in tight on the other.
The bag’s one downside is the adjustable push-button handle. While I’ve never had any major issues with it and it does have two different heights it can lock into, the handle is a little bit wobbly when fully extended. As is the case with most suitcases, the handle poles do also take up some space in the interior compartment, making it harder to lay items completely flat on that side.
After multiple lengthy trips with this bag, it has stood up incredibly well in terms of durability. There are no dents or major scratches, and from a cursory glance, the bag still looks practically brand new both inside and out. As an added bonus, the bag is also backed by a 10-year warranty.
For the affordable price, this Samsonite carry-on is a serious winner.
Pros: Durable and high-quality materials, leather detailing, doesn’t tip forward even when fully packed
Cons: Easy to overpack
Travelpro is well regarded among serious travelers for a reason. The brand was pioneered by a pilot who knew exactly which small details make a world of difference in a bag, and that thoughtful care and attention is apparent in the Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On. The brand offers a warranty against defects for life.
This particular bag meets FAA regulations for carry-on sizing and the high-density nylon fabric is durable, stain-resistant, and has not torn or ripped at all in the time I’ve used it. Leather detailing not only adds a sophisticated look but also makes the top lifting handle extremely comfortable compared to those made from plastic. However, the additional handle on the side is a little bit tight even for my small hands.
With an expansion option of two full inches, this bag holds a lot more than just your weekend essentials. There are three front pockets of varying sizes, including one that can hold a laptop. The main compartment has the standard layout of a soft-side bag with one deep side for packing most items and a smaller zipper compartment that is half mesh on the other side.
While the handle poles do take up some space, the bag is deep enough that it’s not much of an issue. Once buckled, there are also two additional mesh pockets available that are good for holding small items.
Large chrome zippers are super easy to maneuver and the four, large PrecisionGlide wheels made this bag one of the easiest to wheel on every surface, including carpet. The adjustable handle is very sturdy and has a contoured grip making it extra comfortable. At 7.8 pounds, it’s a pretty standard weight for a carry-on and is easy to lift.
The bag also comes with several handy extras, including a garment bag, a built-in USB port (battery pack not included), and a removable clear plastic bag attached to the inside for holding toiletries and liquids.
However, I did find that with so many front pockets, the bag was very easy to overpack, especially when fully expanded, which defeats the purpose of having a carry-on if you end up having to check it in after all.
Pros: Very affordable, durable for the price, solid adjustable handle that doesn’t wobble
Cons: Marks up easily, may not hold up well over time, no lock
For a bag that costs much less than our top picks, I was thoroughly impressed by the quality and look of this carry-on. It was sturdier than I was expecting and the material only had a little bit of give when I pressed on the top and sides.
Though it is expandable up to 15% for additional packing room, I found that it held less overall than the similar Samsonite suitcase we recommend in this guide, making it a good option for shorter or weekend trips.
The interior has one mesh zip side and one side with a buckle. The buckle isn’t too sturdy, but it will do the trick of keeping clothes in place as long as you don’t overpack that side. The adjustable handle is comfortable and surprisingly didn’t wobble very much. The wheels also glided smoothly on nearly every surface (thick carpet gave it a bit of trouble), though they were just a little bit louder than others I tested.
The ribbed exterior has a shiny finish, and other than the AmazonBasics logo on the front, is stylish enough that it won’t give away how little it costs. The zippers ran smoothly and for the most part, the bag held up throughout my tests, though it did get marks relatively easily and had a mark on the back after just one use.
That said, some reviewers have complained that after about five or six trips the bag starts to break down, with complaints of broken handles, wheels, and zippers. It’s also missing a notable feature: There’s no lock, TSA-approved or otherwise.
But for the casual traveler who only takes a couple of trips a year, this is an extremely affordable option that still gets the job done.
The best high-end hard-side carry-on
True to its name, the Rimowa Essential Lite sets itself apart with its under 5-pound weight without compromising on durability or quality.
Pros: Incredibly lightweight, durable
Cons: Not as good for organization, expensive
Rimowa is best known for its distinctive aluminum suitcases frequently spotted on celebrity Instagram accounts. While those bags will set you back a cool grand, the luxury travel brand has alternative high-quality options that won’t cost more than your monthly rent.
I was particularly impressed with the newer Essential Lite bag. When it first arrived, I actually assumed a vase I had ordered around the same time had come in an inexplicably large box because it never dawned on me that a suitcase would be that light.
The Essential Lite weighs less than five pounds, which is especially great for chronic overpackers who worry about their bag being overweight. Shockingly, the Lite suitcase actually holds slightly more than the classic aluminum suitcase, too.
To achieve this light-as-a-feather feat, the brand didn’t sacrifice when it comes to the quality of the materials. Although the bag has some give at the top when pressed, the suitcase is plenty sturdy. Its thicker glossy coating also keeps it from scratching or marking up as easily as matte-finished suitcases. I tossed it around several times and even after getting jostled around in a moving van, it came out the other side with no dents, scratches, or marks.
If an aesthetically pleasing or eye-catching bag is important to you, you’ll also likely enjoy the glossy finish, subtle vertical ribbing, and array of rainbow-hued color choices that range from a candy apple red to a deep teal, along with classic black and white options.
The bag has a TSA-approved lock on top, a rubberized top handle that’s comfortable to grip, and a sturdy telescopic handle. The wheels are whisper quiet thanks to cushioned axles and worked beautifully on every surface from hardwood to carpet. I also liked that both sides of the interior had a mesh zipper, which I found made keeping everything organized and in place easier than the typical one-sided buckle system.
The suitcase also comes with a complimentary leather luggage tag and is backed by a five-year warranty. One added bonus of owning a Rimowa bag is that the company not only does in-store and send-away repairs, but also works with a network of luxury hotels that do repairs onsite should anything happen to your bag while you’re traveling.
Pros: Durable, high-quality materials, smart and unique features to help fit more in
Cons: Pricey, heavy
With a hybrid fiberglass frame, ballistic nylon exterior, reinforced corners, and smooth YKK zippers, this Briggs & Riley bag is made to withstand the test of time. The bag is incredibly durable and mine has experienced no rips, tears, or marks to speak of.
This suitcase is also full of ingenious tricks that make packing it a breeze and help you sneak in those extra outfits. For starters, the bag has a CX compression-expansion system that increases packing capacity by 25% before compressing back down to fit carry-on size regulations. I tried the feature out myself and it worked beautifully.
The main compartment is extremely spacious and unlike every other bag I tested, Briggs & Riley has taken the smart step of making sure the adjustable handle is entirely on the outside of the bag so no packing room is lost to the poles. That said, it does mean that the poles are visible on the outside of the bag and may make it slightly harder to slide the bag into the overhead compartment.
Like other soft-side bags, it has one deeper side and a smaller side with a zippered compartment. But another smart feature that adds packable room to this bag is a fold-out divider in the smaller zippered compartment so you can stack clothes, fold it in, and then stack more clothes before zipping it all up. The zippered compartment also has an additional small mesh pocket. Sturdy mesh panels clip together to keep the deeper compartment secure.
The wheels expertly navigated every surface, and the handle is sturdy and easy to grip. Two outer pockets on the front add additional space, but I found they didn’t expand quite as much as the Travelpro front pockets, which was actually a plus since it wasn’t as easy to overpack. There’s also a small zippered pocket on the back ideal for keeping your phone (especially when going through security) that also comes with a hideaway ID tag.
The biggest downside to this bag is the weight. It’s heavier than the other bags I tried and could be hard for some people to lift into the overhead, especially when fully packed. It also became front heavy and tipped forward slightly when completely full.
The best carry-on for extra space
If you’re not restricted to smaller overhead bins, the Monos Carry-On Pro Plus is a sleek suitcase with extra room inside and a smart front pocket for easily stowing accessories.
Pros: Significantly more packable space, smart front pocket that doesn’t protrude when packed
Cons: Doesn’t meet all carry-on size requirements, marks up easily
At 23 inches, the Monos Pro Plus is just a hair too big for many standard flights. However, if you mainly take larger cross-country or transatlantic flights where overhead bins are bigger and space isn’t usually an issue and relish every last ounce of packable space, this carry-on is worth a look.
It offers more packable space than any other bag on this list. It features one side with a zippered mesh compartment and an alternative side that has a fold-out mesh pocket and two wide and sturdy buckles that help to seriously compress clothes when pulled tight.
But what really sets this bag apart is the front pocket space, which is unusual for a hard-side suitcase. The padded pocket holds a 15-inch laptop and has additional pockets of varying sizes for easily organizing everything from your phone to headphones. Unlike soft-side bags with front pockets, this pocket also zips up to fit its original size even when items are inside rather than protruding out. While some Away bags also feature a front pocket, this one has significantly more pockets for far superior organization. It’s also cheaper than other suitcases with front pockets like Arlo Skye and Rimowa.
The bag itself has a simple and chic look and comes in an array of attractive colors like pale pink and royal blue. However, my bag did get several small white marks rather quickly. Though the company does include a small eraser with the bag that worked remarkably well when I tested it out. The adjustable handle is sturdy and doesn’t wobble, the YKK zippers didn’t catch, and the wheels glided smoothly on all surfaces.
As an additional bonus, the bag is guaranteed for life and has a 100-day trial period.
For those who want to ensure their carry-on fits on all flights, Monos recently launched a smaller carry-on option with a pocket, the Carry-On Pro. However, you do lose 10 liters of packable space, so the Pro is best for shorter trips.
Pros: Durable, sleek look, dual locks, ample packing space
Cons: Heavy, expensive
Aluminum suitcases are more expensive than standard polycarbonate options. However, they’re supremely durable and built to seriously last. They also have a sleek and shiny look that stands out from the crowd at the airport.
Though I’ve only been testing Away’s The Carry-On: Aluminium Edition for about two months, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite suitcases. I was worried it wouldn’t easily fit into all overhead bins because it has a bulkier look, but I was even able to fit it on a small regional plane recently.
As for that shiny look, I receive compliments every time I take this bag out. And on durability, this carry-on has held up remarkably well so far, with no scratches, dings, or dents to speak of, even after I also threw it around on my rooftop to simulate the wear and tear that comes with typical plane travel.
Its 360-degree spinner wheels are a breeze to roll on numerous surface types, though they are a bit louder than some other carry-ons I own and have tested. Rather than a typical zipper, this aluminum suitcase features two sturdy TSA-approved locks that easily click into place.
What most impressed me was the huge amount of packing space. I took this bag on a weekend ski trip and was able to fit my long underwear, sweaters, ski pants, gloves, and a light jacket on just one side. I easily fit a weekend’s worth of everyday clothes on the other side.
However, that durability and packable space does come with a price: the weight. At just under 11 pounds, this bag is heavy. While that isn’t too big of an issue on car trips, train trips, or some flights, with airlines that have stricter weight limits I would hesitate to use this carry-on.
As with almost all Away bags, you have the option to choose a standard bag or one that comes with a removable and TSA-approved battery. While the battery isn’t totally necessary and you will have to remember to remove it each time before you get on a plane, it can be a handy perk for on-the-go charging.
The best carry-on luggage for travel with kids
Traveling with kids makes it significantly more complicated to bring just a carry-on bag. You have no choice but to think of every single thing your kids might possibly require, then pack it where you can actually find it.
You also need space for snacks, entertainment devices, and materials to change your child’s bottom mid-air. And of course, you’ll need several extra outfits on hand and within reach during the trip — you know, just in case your kid vomits unexpectedly or spills chocolate milk at the worst possible time.
That means your carry-on needs significantly more pockets for organizing and space-saving options will reign supreme. Here are some carry-on options to consider for family travel:
Genius Pack G4 Carry On Spinner ($219): This carry-on has a compartment for everything. Extra pockets you can use to stay organized include a hidden interior lining pocket perfect for shoes, a removable laundry compartment, and separate spaces for chargers, socks, underwear, and more. If you wind up needing extra room on the ride home, a simple pull of a zipper will garner a 20% increase in space.
Biaggi ZipSak Boost ($89.99): If storing bulky luggage is an issue for you, this bag will wow you by folding down so small that it can easily fit under your bed or inside a drawer. It also features a flexible outer shell that makes packing in lots of stuff a breeze. Its exterior pockets are perfect for storing baby wipes, tablets, or snacks, and you can haul this bag in more than one way — either wheel it along like a regular carry on or use the side handle to carry it like a briefcase.
Timbuk2 Quest Rolling Duffel ($139.30): Ideal for families with toddlers and babies, this rolling duffel has multiple exterior compartments perfect for diapers and wipes, bottles and formula, and extra onesies and sleepers. Not only does it roll like a spinner, but you can throw it on your back like a backpack if you need to free your hands. Extra exterior storage compartments are ideal for everything you’ll need for your baby in the air, and this bag is still appropriately sized as a carry-on.
— Holly Johnson
What else we tested
What else we recommend:
Away Carry-On ($225): I’ve had an Away bag for years and it’s another good option. I have found that over the years it’s gotten quite a few marks and scratches though, and it’s more expensive than the Samsonite bag and not as high-quality or lightweight as the Rimowa bag. That said, I would recommend this bag to anyone who absolutely wants charging capability for their phone or who wants a wide array of fun color options.
Tumi International Carry-On ($750): This is a high-quality, premium bag that will likely last you years. However, the extremely high starting price point is prohibitive for many.
Target Open Story 21-inch Hardside Carry-On($149.99): Travel Editor Emily Hochberg tested out this bag and found it to be another great option at a similar price point to the Samsonite bag. It features a durable but lightweight polycarbonate shell, heavy-duty zippers, quiet spinner wheels, and a telescoping aluminum handle. She also liked the multiple interior compartments for easy organizing and the built-in USB port for use with a power bank or battery charger, though that’s not included. However, the lighter colors especially show marks easily and more than one reviewer has noted that the lock didn’t work properly. It also doesn’t have an option for expansion.
Roam The Jaunt ($495): This bag is on the pricey end and didn’t hold quite as much as other options I tested, though it would be just right for a long weekend trip. However, when it comes to being able to customize, this bag stands out. If you want to be able to mix and match colors from the handle to the spinner wheels, this may appeal to you.
What we don’t recommend:
London Fog 20-inch Spinner Carry-On ($139.99, currently out of stock): I couldn’t fit in quite as much to this bag as other options I tried. Additionally, it comes in very limited color options and there is no plain black.
Roam The Jaunt ($495): Lightweight and fully customizable when it comes to color options for the shell, wheel caps, stitching, and more, we’ll be seeing how this bag compares to those we already tested.
For this guide, I narrowed down the field to the 10 top contenders based on my own considerable travel experience and knowledge as a travel editor, as well as additional research and user reviews. While some of these bags I’ve personally owned and used for several years, others I tested extensively specifically for this guide.
I put all 10 of the bags through the same tests, which considered durability, packability (both ease and how much the bag could actually hold), maneuverability across multiple surface types, as well as the weight of the bag. I also took into account the price point, style, quality of materials, and any extra features the bags included.
Due to the pandemic, I have not been flying recently, but I still mimicked the conditions carry-ons would typically go through in a number of ways. I packed each bag to capacity, rolled them for several blocks on the street, tested the wheels on wood floors, thick carpet, and concrete, stress-tested the zippers, and lifted each bag onto a high closet shelf roughly the same height as an overhead bin.
I even used all of the bags in a recent move where they were thrown around the back of a moving van in a similar fashion to how they might be tossed around on and off a plane by bag handlers to test durability.
What to consider when buying carry-on luggage
While this may be the most obvious thing to consider, it’s also the most important. Think about how you’ll be using your carry-on most frequently and factor that in. For most standard domestic flights, anything 22 inches and under will suffice. However, if you frequently travel on short jumper flights or often fly on budget airlines overseas, you may want to consider going even smaller. On the flip side, if you mostly take large cross-country or transatlantic flights, you might prefer a bag with a little extra space since overhead space won’t be as much of an issue.
Hard-sided vs. soft-sided luggage
While people on both sides of this debate swear their preference is the right one, this is pretty much a matter of personal choice. Soft-sided bags tend to have more front pockets you can stuff extras into, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how prone you are to overpacking and going over weight limits. Hard-sided bags tend to have two compartments of equal size, one on each side, while soft-sided bags usually have one deep side and one small zipper compartment on the other. Your personal packing style will largely dictate which option is best.
Of course, in general, the lighter the bag, the better. But if weight isn’t a huge concern for you, you might like a bag that comes with some extra bells and whistles in lieu of one that’s more minimal to save on weight. However, if you frequently take small flights where every last ounce matters, you may want the lightest bag you can get your hands on. If you have mobility issues or trouble lifting bags into the overhead bin, weight will especially be a consideration.
I am a staunch believer in the four-wheel systems that most newer bags have. While some are still adamant in their use of two-wheel bags, I have found four-wheel bags to be lightyears ahead in terms of maneuverability. If you are still living in the two-wheeled past trust me on this: Being able to easily wheel your bag in front of you, beside you, or behind you will change your life.
Materials will be dictated largely by your budget and choice of hard- or soft-sided suitcase. It can be worth splurging on a more durable option if you travel frequently or just want to invest in a suitcase you’ll have for years to come. In general, look for bags that are tear- or scratch-resistant. The most common materials for hard-sided suitcases tend to be aluminum, polycarbonate, and ABS. Aluminum is extremely durable, but also extremely pricey, and ABS is less durable but more affordable. A good polycarbonate bag can hit the sweet spot of price and quality. When it comes to soft-sided suitcases, ballistic nylon is one of the most durable options, but again can mean a higher price point. Regular nylon can still be high-quality while being more affordable, while polyester tends to be a good budget option.
The look of your bag is a very personal choice. Some suitcases are all about function but a bit of an eyesore, while others prioritize aesthetics and come in pleasing pastels practically made for Instagramming. How important a chic bag is, and what exactly that means to you, should be taken into consideration when choosing luggage.
Marriott Bonvoy’s Homes & Villas has 24/7 support, professional cleaning, and top amenities.
Marriott members earn and redeem points in 100 destinations; here are some of the best U.S. homes.
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Marriott Bonvoy is renowned for its robust portfolio of hotels that includes breathtaking properties around the world from luxury brands such as St. Regis and The Ritz-Carlton, and trusted names like Renaissance, Westin, Sheraton, Courtyard, and many others.
I tried Homes & Villas by Marriott International for the first time during the pandemic and found it was not only as comfortable as a Marriott hotel, but offered exceptional value as well. Here’s everything you need to know before you book.
What is Homes & Villas by Marriott International?
Homes & Villas by Marriott started in 2018 as a pilot program in Europe under the brand name Tribute Portfolio Homes, intended to speak to the evolving needs of travelers that like to travel together and prefer to stay in a home with multiple bedrooms for more than three nights. Today, it operates in over 100 destinations worldwide. The portfolio focuses on premium and luxury tier homes that are generally owned by a frequent traveler, and primarily used as a vacation home.
Marriott’s home rentals blend the comfort of a traditional hotel stay with all the amenities of a private home, unlike other rental platforms such as Vrbo or Airbnb, which are traditionally someone’s personal home or guest house that is rented out from time to time.
All Marriott homes are professionally managed to ensure they meet Marriott’s standards of quality, design, and service. Expect design-forward and impeccable lodgings like waterfront bungalows, luxury villas, cozy cabins, and sleek penthouses. Homes are thoughtfully curated with amenities such as games, a wood-fire pizza oven, a private pool, or a children’s playroom and are well-suited for group gatherings.
Homes are vetted by Marriott’s property management partners, which work directly with homeowners to ensure the homes are up to Marriott’s standards of quality, design, and service. Some of these property management companies well-regarded brands like AvantStay, Turnkey Vacation Rentals, LaCure, London Residents Club, as well as existing hotel operators like Mainsail Lodging, CPG, and Reserva Conchal.
How do I book and use Marriott Bonvoy points?
Anyone can book a Homes Villas by Marriott International directly from their website, however, reservations can’t be made through Marriott.com, which is still primarily for hotel bookings.
Marriott Bonvoy members can earn and redeem points at all of the properties within Homes & Villas by Marriott International, which is a nice perk that most other home rental sites don’t offer. Bonvoy members earn five points for every qualifying $1 USD spent. You can filter listings by Bonvoy points, price, number of guests or bedrooms, and home features like a pool, building elevator, and pet policy.
Once you book a property, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Homes & Villas by Marriott International with the assigned property management company and contact information, payment details, and the cancellation policy. You’ll receive a separate email with home details and the property address.
How does check-in work?
Check-in is usually contactless and done through a lockbox code, which is provided in an email after you’ve booked your reservation. The email will also include a house manual to help navigate home amenities and features like lighting, washer and dryer, and Wi-Fi.
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors where fuel-burning appliances are present
Professional cleaning pre- and post-stay
Child-friendly items upon request, such as high chairs and travel cribs
Where is Homes & Villas by Marriott International available?
Homes & Villas by Marriott International currently has 2,000 highly-curated, luxury homes and villas and operates in over 100 destinations in the United States, Europe, Caribbean, Middle East, and Latin America.
Locations have been selected to represent areas where Marriott Hotels doesn’t have a major presence, such as small ski towns like Big Bear and Aspen, remote islands like Anguilla and Turks and Caicos, and European regions that aren’t heavily commercialized, like Lake Como or the Amalfi Coast.
Over one-third of the markets are new destinations to Marriott’s portfolio, so if a Marriott hotel is not present in the area, a private home rental under the Marriott brand may soon be available.
According to Marriott, the most popular homes in the US to book right now are located in the Hamptons, Florida, Carolina beaches, mountain escapes in Tennessee and North Carolina, and coastal hideaways in California.
What is the average cost of a private home rental?
The average cost for booking a vacation home on Homes & Villas by Marriott International depends on the location and specific property. However, all homes listed require a three-night minimum and the average length of stay is five nights for an average price of about $2,000 per reservation.
Because these homes tend to be large, upscale, and luxury-leaning, with multiple bedrooms, the price reflects that type of accommodation. Therefore, it might prove costly for couples or solo travelers.
Drawbacks of Homes & Villas by Marriott International compared to other vacation rental sites
There are many different home rental options available to travelers looking to book a vacation home Homes & Villas by Marriott International is backed by a well-known, global hotel brand, which is one of the main differentiating factors for travelers who might otherwise be hesitant to stay in a private home.
Unlike other vacation rental platforms such as Vrbo, HomeAway, and Airbnb, Homes & Villas by Marriott International does not allow guests to write or read past reviews and rate homes. The luxury lean of the collection also means that most homes are quite large therefore more expensive than other home rentals. Some budget picks exist, but they are fewer to come by.
Additionally, each property listing shares details of cleaning protocols, and additional updates regarding the Homes and Villas by Marriott International COVID-19 policies have been shared on the website, which include increased sanitization between reservations using hospital-grade solutions.
Marriott also created a Marriott Cleanliness Council to redefine cleaning standards across Marriott hotels and homes. However, since each home is managed by a separate property management company, there is no real way to ensure consistency.
What are the cancellation policies?
Homes & Villas by Marriott announced updated cancellation policies to offer additional flexibility in response to COVID-19.
For most new reservations, guests may change or cancel at no charge within a specified period. Some high-demand homes, however, do not have a cancellation period. Guests must contact the property management company listed on their confirmation email to initiate the cancellation.
Policies are determined by individual properties and management companies.
My experience with Homes & Villas by Marriott International
As someone who normally prefers a hotel over a home rental for the convenience of on-site customer support, amenities, and higher cleaning standards, I really enjoyed my stay with Homes & Villas by Marriott International and would definitely book another home in the future.
My friends and I shared a Los Angeles home I found on the Homes & Villas by Marriott website that was a 3,615 square foot, 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom property near Point Dume in Malibu. The reservation was comped for review, however, the rate for our weekend dates was $930 per night. While expensive, when split between multiple people, it offered strong value.
The home looked just like it did in the photos and any issue or question I had was immediately resolved, and management was quick to respond.
While Homes & Villas by Marriott International does require a minimum stay and rates are on the higher end compared to other rental sites like Airbnb, I still prefer Homes & Villas by Marriott because I can earn Marriott Bonvoy points, which is a huge benefit.
I also like that I didn’t have to coordinate a meet-up with the host to check in as a lockbox code was provided. While some travelers like a personal interaction provided by an Airbnb host, I prefer a more discreet experience where I don’t see the owner’s personal belongings in sight and still feel like I’m staying at a hotel.
I found check-in to be super easy and convenient. When I couldn’t access the Wi-Fi network, management was quick to reply and replace it with a new password. I also recommend checking with the property manager for certain kitchen utensils you might anticipate needing. For example, tea bags were available in the home I stayed in, but there was no kettle to boil hot water. I contacted management and they delivered one the next morning. Listings only mention kitchen essentials, which can be subjective, so it’s best to confirm with the property manager if you have specific requests.
These are some of the best Homes & Villas by Marriott International in the U.S.
A newly remodeled home with vaulted ceilings, brand new appliances, and a chic living area, this laidback, snug home is part of the Sea Pines Resort, which grants guests access to the beach and the Sea Pines Beach Club. The resort also has three golf courses less than 5 miles away. Though, there’s plenty within the confines of the home itself such as a lovely pool, hot tub, and secluded backyard with outdoor dining, a hammock, and chaise lounges.
This tranquil oasis in Montauk is the quintessential beach house in the Hamptons with ocean views from every room and a stunning pool area. The two-story, Nantucket-style home boasts high ceilings and tons of windows for natural sunlight flanked by a 2,200 square-foot deck. Dip in the pool, make a meal in the chef’s kitchen, or simply read a book on the hammock at this rustic, casual home that offers a ton of privacy.
This magnificent three-story estate is comprised of over 6,000 square feet with seven bedrooms (six master suites), two full kitchens, five balconies, three decks, a pool table, and three fireplaces. High wood-beamed soaring ceilings and plush furnishings can comfortably fit up to 25 guests.
Tucked into the mountainside, it’s like staying in a dreamy log cabin, if your idea of a cabin includes top-tier luxury. The home is certainly sprawling but the lush grounds are spread across a generous 1.61 acres and include a pond, gazebo, and fire pit with views of Mount Le Conte.
While expensive, this stunning waterfront home includes standout features such as retractable windows for indoor-outdoor living and alfresco dining.
The beach and boardwalk are both a short walk, and the home provides beach goodies such as boogie boards and a kayak in addition to indoor games and activities like a foosball and ping-pong table, outdoor bar, barbecue grill, and fire pit.
This is the five-bedroom home I booked, which was a quaint hideaway with ample room for a large group or family. The home was made for entertaining with an open-kitchen design, and plenty of outdoor seating areas to enjoy the lush surroundings.
I was drawn to this particular house because of the location, outdoor terrace, and fire pit that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. I also appreciated the open kitchen since I knew we would spend a lot of time cooking.
The best part of this home might just be the massive backyard filled with games like a sand volleyball court, shuffleboard, bocce ball, and a swim-up bar. Though, the views of the nearby vineyards are pretty spectacular, too. Be sure to try some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon that Paso Robles is known for.
Dubbed “The Mermaid,” inside, this quirky home includes five bedrooms under high ceilings, a full bar area, statement lighting fixtures, arcade games, and a centerpiece fish tank designed by the team behind the HGTV show, “Tanked.”
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Set at the easternmost tip of Long Island, Montauk is a little beach town with a big reputation.
It’s known for world-class surf breaks, deep-sea fishing, gorgeous beaches, and its distinct style.
We found the best hotels in Montauk, from overhauled motels to upscale beach resorts.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
A dozen years ago when my husband and I were looking at vacation homes in the Hamptons, we thought about getting a place in Montauk but decided it was just too far from civilization. Turns out we were wrong. Even though this quirky little town is nicknamed “The End” because of its remote location at the easternmost tip of Long Island (about 120 miles from New York City), it’s teeming with restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and visitors – especially in the summer.
You’ll find shops stocked with $3,000 Chanel handbags next to stores flogging souvenir T-shirts. Lounges serving craft cocktails are just down the street from scruffy dive bars frequented by working fishermen. And of course, there are plenty of hotels to cater to the range of people who come to Montauk these days, from chic surfers to yoga devotees to families.
My husband and I ended up buying a house in the next town over and we appreciate being close enough to Montauk that we can buzz over to dine at the hotel restaurants, enjoy cocktails on the beach, and even have the occasional staycation. Here’s my list of the best hotels in Montauk.
Here are the best hotels in Montauk, sorted by price from low to high
Set between two state parks on a wide stretch of beach, Driftwood on the Ocean is a refreshingly affordable find. Technically, the hotel is just over the border in the town of Amagansett, but I can attest that spiritually it’s more connected to Montauk.
At first glance, the condo-style property looks sterile — like something you’re more likely to see on the Florida coast, with a decor that can be hit or miss. Some rooms have been renovated with a crisp blue-and-white coastal decor, while others are a throwback to the early ’80s. Many of the rooms are equipped with kitchenettes or have a terrace overlooking the ocean.
But you’re not coming here to stay inside. Swim in the outdoor pool. Play a match on the tennis courts. Compete in a heated game of shuffleboard. Grill up some local seafood on the BBQ. Take a hike through Hither Hills State Park. And don’t miss out on the star of the show: the wide beach, which is often blissfully uncrowded, even in the height of summer.
A few years ago, my family and I were renting out our house, so we decided to do a weekend staycation in Montauk. We chose Haven, a modestly priced motel from the ’70s that has been updated with a pared-down Scandi-chic style. Our daughter (who was a toddler at the time) loved hanging out on the pint-sized chairs in the garden and floating on a big inflatable swan in the kidney-shaped pool.
There are so many hotels in Montauk that are hyper-focused on a cool pool scene, but Haven appeals to both families and couples who don’t mind if a 5-year-old is splashing around in the water next to them. Indeed, Haven celebrates life’s simple pleasures, like grilling s’mores over the fire pit. The hotel even provides guests with a free s’mores kit.
Haven is located in Montauk’s Harbor area, a quiet neighborhood where fishing boats bring in the daily catch. Two of my favorite restaurants in the Hamptons are right nearby: Salivar’s Clam & Chowder House (great sushi) and Swallow East (eclectic small plates). Just across the street is a small bayside beach where the hotel can set you up with a free umbrella and a blanket for the day.
One of my favorite Montauk memories was celebrating a dear friend’s 40th birthday at The Backyard Restaurant at Solé East. It’s no wonder her husband chose this location to host the milestone birthday: The restaurant is set among 2.5 acres of landscaped gardens, complete with outdoor seating, twinkling lights hanging in the trees, hammocks, and a fire pit.
The restaurant is just one of the many things that make Solé East so special. The building itself is beautiful: a landmark Tudor building overlooking Fort Pond. There are 60 uniquely designed rooms and seven garden cabana suites; each has luxurious touches like 300-thread count Italian linens.
On the grounds, there’s an oversized, heated pool surrounded by St. Tropez-style daybeds, where guests can relax and listen to live music and poolside DJs. Want to head to the ocean? It’s just a five-minute walk or a three-minute bike ride to the beach, and the hotel has a fleet of cruisers that you can rent to take you there.
The hotel also has a sister property, Solé East Beach, in case you prefer to stay right on the ocean. Guests at Solé East Beach have access to all the amenities at Solé East Resort, though not vice-versa.
For current COVID-19 cleaning procedures call 631-668-2105.
The Montauk Beach House combines the best of all worlds — it’s a block away from the Atlantic Ocean surf beaches and just a short stroll to Montauk’s shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes. Adding to the appeal: a sophisticated design and a social vibe.
With vintage furniture, claw-foot tubs, and soaring ceilings, the rooms feel like you’re staying in the beach house of your dreams. Additionally, the Montauk Beach House features sustainable sheets, towels, and robes from the company Farm to Home, which sources its lush, organic designs in India.
The public areas are impressive, too. The lobby is filled with cool artwork and will be hosting cultural events throughout the summer, including a digital NFT exhibit, interactive light installations, film screenings, and more. Actress Naomi Watts has set up a poolside outpost of her brand, ONDA Beauty (which specializes in natural, clean, non-toxic products). And as if that weren’t enough, the hotel also has a fleet of BMWs that guests can borrow. Not to be missed: the hotel’s weekly Friday Sunset Session, with live music and cocktails under the sunset-streaked Montauk skies.
I was not happy when I found out a couple years ago that one of my favorite laidback oceanfront Montauk resorts was being transformed into a wellness retreat. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the new Marram provides a fresh addition to the local boutique hotel scene with an easygoing approach to wellness that’s not in your face.
Though just five minutes from the main strip in Montauk, Marram encourages guests to slow down. Rather than the party vibe that Montauk has become notorious for, there’s morning yoga, sunrise meditation, and evening pranayama (breathing) experiences led by local and visiting yogis. You can take guided and self-led nature walks along the bluffs of Shadmoor State Park. The hotel also has a global point of view with a South American counter-service café, Mostrador, led by two chefs from Uruguay.
The property itself takes inspiration from the surrounding landscape. It’s named after the wild grass that grows on the dunes around the property. With its unfinished white oak walls, hand-trimmed cedar exterior, and mahogany walkways, Marram’s architecture and design evokes the natural beauty of the Atlantic seaboard. A fun fact: There’s a famous surf break called Terrace right in front of the hotel, so don’t miss riding the waves with Marram’s world-class instructors.
For current COVID-19 policies email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Hero Beach Club, you’ll find a lovely blend of tranquility and tradition, all set against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. The property’s nostalgic nod to the culture of Montauk (artists, fishermen, surfers) and the outdoors is engrained in its original 1950’s architecture, which has been elevated with a new modern design and up-to-date amenities like bikes and surfboards.
One of the winning things about Hero Beach Club is that the mellow atmosphere has been holistically enhanced by the surrounding Peconic Dune Land Trust (meaning, the nature around it is protected). While there’s no on-site restaurant, there’s much to do here, from pop-up movie nights to pilates and yoga to lounging on the Balinese furniture by the outdoor pool. Be sure to check out Umbrella Beach, where you’ll find umbrellas (thus, the name) and bean bags set up on this gorgeous stretch of powdery white sand.
You might not know Sean MacPherson’s name, but this hospitality guru has left an indelible mark on New York City with hip hotels (the Jane, the Maritime, the Bowery) and trendsetting restaurants (Bowery Bar). I used to love going to an eclectic old seafood restaurant overlooking Lake Montauk called the Crow’s Nest and was a bit concerned when I heard that MacPherson was taking it over. I had nothing to worry about. He transformed the Crow’s Nest into one of the most stylish (and delicious) restaurants on the East End.
What many people don’t realize is that the Crow’s Nest also has rooms and cottages for rent. The hotel’s boho-surf vibe is influenced by the nearby neighborhood of Ditch Plains (a favorite surf haunt). Beds are topped with colorful Moroccan pillows and coverings that look like they’re straight out of Goa.
Rooms range in size from a studio to a three-bedroom cottage and some have kitchenettes (not that you’ll want to eat anywhere other than the onsite Crow’s Nest restaurant). There are bicycles and paddleboards for guests to use, plus a free continental breakfast. But if you want to stay in one of the cottages, just don’t think you can come for a two-night stay: They’re rented out on a weekly basis, allowing you to move in and live like a local.
I’ve been frequenting Gurney’s long before it was transformed from a dowdy timeshare property into a hipster hot spot. Besides the fact that my husband runs a local photography studio and shoots weddings here, we used to visit Gurney’s on cold winter days to use the indoor heated pool (which is fed with ocean seawater) and the spa’s thermal hot tubs. Alas, those facilities are now only available to guests. But we still love to come to Gurney’s for dinner at Scarpetta Beach and cocktails with a view.
This Hamptons icon appeals to everyone from couples looking for a sexy night out to families in search of entertainment. In the summer, the resort hosts DJs and live music at the Beach Club and the Firepit, while kids can sign up for Camp Gurney’s (a partnership with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Program) and learn about sustainability and the surrounding marine environment.
Besides Scarpetta Beach — an Italian restaurant that leans heavily into seafood — there are unique culinary experiences including the seasonal Bungalows by the Sea, an outdoor dining experience set against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean where each private bungalow can accommodate up to six people and has a seasonal menu, curated cocktails, furry blankets (to ward off the ocean breezes), and an open-air fire pit.
The other big news this summer: Gurney’s is unveiling the latest accommodations in its evolution, with three cottages on the beach, 29 new rooms, and 11 suites. Each space has those dazzling ocean views that make Gurney’s so famous.
It’s all about getting outdoors, with surfing on Ditch Plains Beach, horseback riding (Montauk is home to one of the oldest ranches in the country), hiking in the state parks, and visits to the iconic lighthouse.
There’s also an emerging style scene, with high-end boutiques mixed in among the T-shirt shops in town. Many of the hotels on this list have notable restaurants, but some of my favorite local spots include Salivar’s Clam & Chowder House (a fish restaurant with excellent sushi), Swallow East (a dockside restaurant with small plates), the Inlet (more great sushi and gorgeous water views), Duryea’s (lobster on a dock over the water), and Ruschmeyer’s (global coastal cuisine, including summertime favorites like lobster rolls and Neapolitan-style, wood-fired pizzas). Right in town, the Montauk Brewing Company is the place to sample the local brews. Want to see an amazing sunset? The views from The Montauket, a dive bar on the outskirts of town, are epic.
What are the beaches like in Montauk?
Montauk has a range of options, from wide Atlantic Ocean expanses to small bayside beaches. Ditch Plains is one of the most popular surfing spots in the world, but it’s not just for surfers — kids play in the water, while couples stroll along the cliffs. You can also find plenty of gorgeous beaches along the Atlantic coast.
All the beaches in this part of Long Island are open to the public, and while you might be tempted to just pull up to a beach, you should know that parking can be challenging if you don’t have a beach sticker or are in a paid lot. (And parking tickets are not cheap.) Luckily, some hotels on this list offer free parking permits. Other hotels are located directly on the beach.
How many days do you need in Montauk?
You can make the most of Montauk in a weekend. But a warning: On summer weekends, getting to and from Montauk can be a nightmare due to traffic. If you can take the time off, it’s best to try and arrive on Thursday night or Friday morning and leave on Monday.
What is the best time of year to visit Montauk?
This little beach town at the tip of Long Island hits its peak in summer, when it seems like all of New York City descends. One of the best times to visit Montauk is in September and October, when the weather is still spectacular, the crowds leave, and the fish are jumping.
How do you get to Montauk from New York City?
If you drive or rent a car, it takes a little over three hours to get to Montauk. However, on Friday evenings in the summer traffic can be almost unbearable and it will take much longer. You can also take the Hampton Jitney bus starting from $30 each way, or the Long Island Rail Road, which starts from $13.50 one way.
Former Airbnb employees said that the company deals with thousands of sexual-assault allegations every year, and that the vast majority of them never make it into the public eye, Bloomberg reported this week.
Its investigation disclosed new details about how Airbnb has used a combination of monetary settlements and legal tactics – such as mandatory arbitration clauses and nondisclosure agreements – to avoid lawsuits and negative press dealing with a variety of safety problems.
The result, Bloomberg found, is that regulators, researchers, and the public have had little visibility into the scope of safety incidents involving Airbnb and that courts haven’t had the opportunity to determine who should be held legally liable.
Airbnb spends about $50 million a year trying to make things right for guests and hosts who’ve had bad experiences. One woman received a $7 million settlement after she said she was raped, Bloomberg reported.
The company told Bloomberg fewer than 0.1% of stays involve safety issues, that most payouts deal with claims of property damage, and that six-figure payouts are “exceptionally rare.” But with 193 million nights booked in 2020, that could mean that some 193,000 Airbnb stays could’ve involved safety incidents, by the company’s accounting.
Airbnb has dealt with a number of high-profile incidents over the years, including its first major scandal in 2011 after guests trashed a host’s home and a fatal shooting in Orinda, California, in 2019 that forced the company to crack down on party houses and ramp up efforts to keep guests and hosts safe.
Bloomberg’s reporting showed that Airbnb avoided scrutiny for serious incidents involving its guests, hosts, and listings, including numerous claims of sexual assault and a murder case.
Airbnb used to include a nondisclosure agreement in every case it settled, which prevented people from talking about their experiences, asking for more money, or suing the company, Bloomberg reported, adding that the company stopped the practice in 2017 as the #MeToo movement highlighted how NDAs often silence survivors of sexual assault.
An Airbnb spokesman, Ben Breit, told Insider that to the company’s knowledge, “There are no settlement agreements related to sexual assaults at listings prior to 2017.” (The $7 million settlement with the woman who was sexually assaulted was reached in 2017, after Airbnb stopped pursuing settlements with NDAs that prevent survivors from discussing details of their experiences, Bloomberg reported).
Airbnb has avoided lawsuits and public scrutiny over safety by including a mandatory arbitration clause in its terms of service. Such clauses prevent Airbnb guests and hosts from suing the company in court, where records are made public, instead forcing them to bring disputes through an arbitration system that’s funded by, and often favors, companies – and where proceedings are kept confidential.
That apparently led to only one sexual-assault case being filed against Airbnb, which the courts allowed to proceed because, they said, the company hadn’t done a thorough background check on the host, who had previously been accused of assault, Bloomberg found.
Airbnb declined to comment on its use of arbitration clauses.
Airbnb’s ability to reach settlements and avoid lawsuits, either dealing with sexual assault or other safety issues, has prevented courts from determining when and to what extent short-term rental-booking sites should be held liable for crimes involving its users or listings, Bloomberg reported.
Many cities have introduced regulations aimed at Airbnb and its competitors in recent years, and Airbnb has devoted additional resources to keeping users safe. But, Bloomberg said, as with Uber, Lyft, and other “platform” companies that initially skirted regulations as they grew rapidly, being able to obscure the extent of safety issues from public view has left regulators lagging far behind.
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ResortPass allows you to access hotel pools and other amenities without paying a nightly room fee.
I found it to be a great option for remote work, a special occasion, or a family day at the pool.
I booked three ResortPass visits at top hotels around LA. Here’s what my experience was like.
Ever crave for a day at a hotel pool, even if a far-flung vacation isn’t in the cards? (Yes, of course – everyone does!) Then you need to know about ResortPass.
The hotel day-pass booking platform allows you to search and book widely across your target region, and sometimes even offers exclusive booking options and extra perks. is In some cases, you could get these same deals by searching individual hotels, but the platform is an easier one-stop-shop.
It’s an especially great option for this transitional summer when travel is coming back, but with plenty of restrictions still in place with regard to safety and logistics. So I’m all about tucking in little vacation-like experiences locally whenever I can. Plus, there are few things I love more than a stunning hotel with a sparkling pool and suite of amenities and services to go with it.
I booked three different stays through ResortPass to try out a remote workday, a family day out, and a romantic day date.
For each of the three visits, I sought popular, highly-reviewed, and in-demand properties around LA. My stays were comped for the purposes of this review, but I was otherwise treated as a regular ResortPass user.
These hotels, all easily bookable through the ResortPass site, appealed to me because of their attractive pools, desirable locations, and, frankly, their cachet. After all, part of the fun of a day pass option like this is getting to use the amenities of exclusive and luxurious hotels you might not otherwise be able to afford.
I also sought a range of options to review multiple types of experiences: one was a solo visit with my laptop during a workday, the second was a poolside cabana for a weekend outing with my family, and the third was a date with my husband at an adults-only pool.
Here’s what those ResortPass experiences were like.
My first time using ResortPass was at The Figueroa for a solo working daycation.
Hotel Figueroa is widely known as a gem of Downtown Los Angeles. The 1926 building was recently restored to its Spanish Colonial flair and it oozes with coolness and culture. It has a rich feminist history starting from its origins as a YWCA, and houses tons of rotating art installations. (For more on the room experience, you can find my full hotel review here.)
It’s often buzzing with young creative types working in the lobby and other spaces, so it seemed a perfect place for a solo working visit mid-week.
I booked for an “all-day daycation,” a $100 pool pass.
The pass includes a reserved lounge chair from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; use of the outdoor heated pool; towels; Wi-Fi; access to poolside food and beverage service from Veranda Al Fresco with a $45 food and beverage credit; and self-parking for $5 with validation, which is a huge perk compared with the cost of parking at many LA hotels (more on that later).
The coffin-shaped pool is utterly inviting – and Instagram friendly too, as it abuts the hotel facade, which is painted entirely in a soaring leafy mural. I plugged in my laptop using an available charger around the pool deck’s perimeter and worked comfortably in the shade.
When it was time for a personal reward, I ordered fish tacos and a side of Mexican street corn and took a dip in the pool while waiting for it to arrive. Several hours later, when my work for the day was done, I ordered the fish tacos a second time. They were that good. Plus, at $18 per plate, both meals were covered by that $45 food credit.
Especially when you factor in the parking and the substantial F&B credit, this ResortPass option is an excellent value. It’s a great bet for a day split between productivity and fun.
I’d definitely come back, and I could spend even less to get a great experience. You can book a half-day in the morning (for $45) or the afternoon (for $55), and each also includes an F&B credit ($20 or $25 respectively). If I came with a group, I’d book the morning cabana at $200 with a $50 F&B credit and room for as many as four guests. There are a ton of flexible options here, offering nice value.
My next stop on the ResortPass circuit was on a weekend with my husband and six-year-old twins. We chose the Viceroy Santa Monica, a very chic boutique hotel by the seaside that’s one of the best beach hotels in Los Angeles.
While the property doesn’t sit on the sand, it has two small and shallow but beautiful heated outdoor pools. These are lined with cabanas. In addition to the poolside cabanas are so-called “backyard” cabanas in an outside lounge area adjacent to the pool.
Our fully shaded cabana in this area had a TV with remote control, and sofa and lounge chair seating with room for as many as four people.
The retail cost was $550, which seemed extremely steep at first, and unlikely an expense I would have shelled out had I not been on the job. (Though starting cost of a ResortPass here is $150 for a workcation room.)
Similar to packages offered directly through the hotel, our ResortPass package included Wi-Fi, bottled waters for our group, and a bottle of sparkling wine. Because we were driving and also hosting our own alfresco party at home later the same evening, we asked the staff to swap our bottle for anything nonalcoholic, and they gladly obliged, bringing instead a carafe of fresh-squeezed orange juice that my whole family could enjoy.
We also ordered a few additional snacks – not included, and at our own expense. We ordered a plate of pastries as well as a side of fruit, and it hit the spot.
Our visit exceeded expectations, in part because of the chic facility but in part, too, for reasons related to luck that every traveler (even staycation-er) experiences sometimes. We were expecting LA’s notorious “May grey” weather, which we expected would keep it cool and overcast, especially at the beach. Instead, the weather was sunny and perfect.
In addition, the serene, quiet pool areas had just two other children, both in the same age category as my own. So the kids all had a ball – and when the kids are happy, everyone’s happy!
The pool was so serene my husband was even able to get some shut-eye.
While there’s no getting around the cost of the cabana being extremely high, we had an outstanding day.
And while it’s too steep for my everyday leisure fare, I’d definitely consider it for a milestone event or birthday party with a small group.
Another thing I might try at this property instead? I might just get a hotel room. No, you don’t get a cabana when you go this route, but a spot check shows I could score an entry-level room in the $400s on a weekend day, and use the room for changing, showering, resting, etc. Plus it would come with its own TV, and we’d have pool access.
This goes to show that when booking with ResortPass, you should always check the price of the hotel itself and weigh how much you really want those extra perks. In some cases it may be worth it, but in others you may be better off just booking a room sans cabana perks.
That said, our valet parking cost at the end of our visit: $0 plus tip. Gotta love that.
My final ResortPass visit was to SLS Beverly Hills for an adults-only day date with my husband.
My husband and I have long loved the SLS Beverly Hills, located right in our own neighborhood. It’s always felt rich, chic, and even mysterious with its moody interiors and surrealist artworks.
Plus, Jose Andres’ molecular gastronomy concept The Bazaar had been our go-to special occasion restaurant during its run at the hotel. For all these reasons, it seemed like an ideal place to choose for our ResortPass day date.
Through ResortPass, we booked two chaise loungers, available only to guests 18 and up.
These entry-level passes cost $50 per person and they are not inclusive of too many frills. Most importantly, of course, you get the rooftop heated pool. You also get Wi-Fi. But that’s about it.
In fact, I was rather shocked to note on my ResortPass confirmation email that parking for the day would be $49. That’s expensive even by LA standards and far exceeded the budget. So we decided to toss our laptops in backpacks, swap flip-flops for trainers, and get our steps in by walking the three miles roundtrip in the heat.
Once there, however, the experience felt very elite. I checked in at the front desk and was issued a room key to gain access to the pool deck from the elevator. We arrived at about 11:30 am on a weekday and there were just a couple of other couples around the pool, relaxing quietly. It was a peaceful vibe and just the kind of date I’m into.
For a similar cost, my husband and I could have gone to an upscale restaurant, but I found this to be a better option.
It was wonderful to spend a few relaxing hours simply chilling out, and not getting fancy for a stuffy, multicourse meal. (If it’s any indication of just how relaxed my husband got in the middle of a workweek, he took a nice long nap poolside.)
This is also no ordinary hotel pool: It’s extremely photo friendly, with a focus on arty installations. A sculpture of oversize red lips sits in between two side-by-side pools. And around the perimeter are art pieces and oversized frames, through which you can view the urban environment below.
For lunch, we used the QR code posted at the pool-adjacent rooftop bar Altitude to view the menu. Options were somewhat limited (in the COVID-era), but I enjoyed my grilled cheese-avocado-tomato sandwich with side salad, plus a Diet Pepsi. Total price for that lunch fare, including tip? $42.73.
So while I overall recommend this hotel and the ResortPass experience offered here, I’d offer a buyer-beware warning: read up on what’s included in any passes you book and if F&B credit isn’t part of the deal, keep in mind those additional expenses.
I’ve tried other similar companies for daytime resort passes.
Prior to trying ResortPass, I’d used platforms like these for years, including a competitor called DayAxe that has since shuttered. Through that one, I regularly took myself to the W Hotel Hollywood as part of my strategy for avoiding burnout as a freelancer. It offered a similar experience and a great value. But now that that operator is closed, I could book the same hotel through ResortPass starting at $30. Daycation offers a similar service (though I’ve not tried it).
No matter the platform, it’s just a great idea. It’s a way to visit a local pool without having to shell out beaucoup bucks for a nightly room rate. I’ve found it an especially worthwhile and blissful investment when the weather gets scorching here in my hometown of Los Angeles, when I want to celebrate a special occasion, or just grab some me time.
The bottom line
ResortPass is the platform you need in your life. Especially at a time when travel opportunities are more limited by safety and logistical hurdles, it’s a chance to experience that luxe hotel life without getting on a plane. Chances are, if you live in a dense urban environment as I do, you’ll find access to tons of ResortPass options to suit a range of budgets and a range of preferences specific to your own or your group’s tastes.
I’ve already recommended this to many friends and will keep booking into the future, for sure.
JetBlue Airways has a new chariot awaiting its passengers, the ultra-modern Airbus A220.
It’s among the rarest passenger aircraft flying in the US and JetBlue joins Delta Air Lines in flying passengers on the aircraft. Unlike Delta, however, JetBlue went straight for the larger model, the A220-300.
JetBlue will soon take customers across the country with the A220 thanks to its impressive 3,400-nautical mile range. But for now, it’s flying on popular routes between Boston and Florida.
I flew on JetBlue’s new Airbus A220-300 from Boston to Tampa, Florida. Here’s what it was like.
JetBlue has been flying the A220 since late April and the Boston-Tampa route has been its mainstay. Four daily flights between the cities were being flown by the aircraft at the time of my flight.
I arrived at gate C9 at Boston Logan International Airport and there it was, one of JetBlue’s newest fleet members.
At first, it was jarring to see this aircraft in JetBlue colors. I’ve been flying JetBlue for years and had gotten used to its two fleet types, the Embraer E190 and Airbus A320 family, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
A brilliant blue galley wall greets customers with JetBlue branding and the name of the aircraft. JetBlue named its first A220 after Rob Dewar, the vice president and general manager of the CSeries program for Bombardier. Much like the aircraft, Dewar now works for Airbus.
A total of 140 seats make up the all-economy cabin that’s split between what JetBlue calls “even more space” extra legroom seats and standard economy “core” seats.
One of the best features of the A220 is that there’s something for every type of traveler thanks to the 2-3 seating configuration of the aircraft.
Larger groups traveling together, for example, can sit on the three-seat row side of the plane.
Alternatively, couples or solo travelers might want to sit on the two-seat row side.
Modern aircraft don’t typically feature this type of configuration. It’s a setup that the McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 and Boeing 717 series of aircraft are known for but those jets are being phased out by most airlines.
Having two-seat rows also means that there are no middle seats on one side of the aircraft.
That’s why I chose a seat on the two-seat side. It gave me easier access to the aisle from the window seat.
The aircraft’s mood lighting was in full effect for boarding. Flyers that hadn’t noticed they were booking a seat on a new plane certainly did once seeing the colored interior.
We boarded at around 4 p.m. but it seemed like it was 10 p.m. by how dark it was on the inside. Having the windows shut did help to keep the plane cool, however, and the mood lighting gave the plane a futuristic feel.
Legroom for core seats is an above-average 32 inches. It’s not as much as JetBlue’s older Airbus A320 aircraft but it’s still quite spacious.
I had no trouble getting comfortable in the seat.
Seat-back pockets also offer multiple pouches to store a multitude of items.
In-flight entertainment is offered at every seat via 10.1-inch touch-screen systems.
But for more natural entertainment, it’s hard to miss the enormous windows on these aircraft that were larger than my head. Getting a good view was no problem at all.
In-flight power is also doubly offered on this aircraft. Passenger-facing 110v AC power outlets are located under the seats and USB charging ports are also found under the screens themselves.
Our aircraft was conveniently parked next to the Embraer E190, the jet that the A220 is replacing. JetBlue never bothered to update those aircraft and it shows when flying them.
After pushback, the cabin was illuminated for takeoff in a required safety feature. I preferred this lighting compared to the mood lighting, at least while we were on the ground.
We departed from Boston on time and blasted off toward Tampa. One of the A220’s selling features is its low noise levels and I was impressed at just how quiet it was on engine start and takeoff compared to other aircraft.
We settled in at a cruising altitude of just 36,000 feet and flight attendants then began the in-flight service. I’d flown JetBlue before and knew to expect something close to normal in terms of snacks and drinks.
Flight attendants serve drinks from a trolley on this aircraft. One starts from the front while another from the back to minimize wait times.
I was all set to enjoy the service when I opened my tray table and found the tray table in an utterly disgusting state. Spilled coffee and crumbs topped the table and I could feel the grime.
It was surprising to see this not only because we had just come from JetBlue’s hub in Boston, where cleaners are supposed to go through the aircraft with a fine-tooth comb, but because this plane was less than one month old.
I managed to get a few napkins and wipe off the table before enjoying my meal. First the drinks were offered and all standard soft drinks were available and served in normal-size cans.
Snacks came next with four of JetBlue’s signature snacks available. Passengers have to request which one they’d like instead of taking from a basket.
Once the in-flight service was complete, I decided to dive into a movie for the rest of the three-hour flight.
There’s no remote to control the in-flight entertainment system but flyers can pair their devices or simply use the touch-screen functionality.
This system is JetBlue’s newest and greets customers with their first name by matching seats with bookings.
The home page is quite intuitive and provides a flight tracker as well as an overview of what the system offers.
On tap for the flight was countless hours of movies…
Live television through DirecTV…
A moving map also lets flyers keep track of the flight’s location.
Complimentary in-flight satellite WiFi is also offered on the aircraft through Viasat. Flyers can use the service from gate-to-gate and the satellite aspect of the services means fewer outages while over water.
I wasn’t too impressed with the movie selection but did settle in on an old favorite, “Atomic Blonde” with Charlize Theron.
A cool feature of the system is the picture-in-picture functionality that allows flyers to view the moving map while watching a movie. The flight’s progress is also displayed.
We pressed on down towards Florida and I saw firsthand just how busy the East Coast was as other aircraft left contrails and were visible from the plane. Quite a few aircraft also buzzed past us heading back north.
The aircraft truly lived up to its reputation for quietness and the cabin volume was incredibly low compared to other jets.
Our routing had us flying towards Miami while over the Atlantic but then a right turn had us cut across the state, making for an interesting sight-seeing adventure.
We made landfall just north of Cape Canaveral, cutting through the center of Florida.
We started down towards Tampa and made a 180-degree turn over Tampa Bay on the approach. The three-hour flight soon reached its conclusion thereafter.
I was already a fan of the A220 but JetBlue really packed it full of great features to make the aircraft even better.