This post is a sponsored collaboration between Gothamist and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

If you could travel anywhere for the holidays, where would you go? Would it be domestic or international? With family or solo? Festive or beach-side? And how do you even pack for such a journey? With the help of SPG Amex, we asked six travel pros to share their holiday destination and how they'd stuff that carry-on—with room for sleigh bells or sea shells—for a few days away.


Ben Schlappig is the genius behind travel blog One Mile at a Time. He specializes in getting the most out of airline miles and credit card points, flying an average of 400,000 miles a year. Catch his work here!

Where are you going this year? This year I'm headed to Florida to see my parents for Christmas, and then am jetting off to the Maldives for New Year's. While I've done some big cities for New Year's in the past, I'm excited to have a relaxing New Year's on a secluded island for once.

And which bag do you choose to get the job done? With my Tumi Alpha carry on and a great weekender bag from Killspencer I can pack for any destination, and for any length of time. Since I live in hotels full time, those are the bags I quite literally "live" out of.


iPhone | LifeProof phone case | Acer Ultrabook | GoPro | Scottevest | Bag Bungee | Tilley Endurable | nexus card | sunscreen and lip balm | ear plugs and eye mask | antibacterial wipes | SPG Amex | travel journal | Hershey Kisses

John E. DiScala is the man behind Johnny Jet, a portal for tips on travel that's economical, comfortable, efficient - and of course, stylish. Check out his work here!

Where would you go this year? I would go to Banff in Alberta, Canada for Christmas since your guaranteed a white Christmas and breathtaking scenery and then spend New Year’s Eve in Waikiki so you can watch the fireworks in shorts.

And which bag do you choose to get the job done? 98% of the time I only pack carry-on so I use a Roots Duffel Bag, a Briggs and Riley briefcase roller and a Scottevest jacket since it has 20+ pockets and acts as a third carry-on.


Kirsten is a professional photographer concentrating on travel and lifestyle for clients all around the world. After being nomadic for four years, she settled in NYC and when she's not on assignment in some foreign country, she enjoys documenting life in the concrete jungle. Follow her snapchat at kirsten.alana for daily adventures and elsewhere online as @kirstenalana. Check out her website here.

Where are you going this year? St. Regis Bora Bora.

And which bag do you choose to get the job done? A duffle from Alicia San Marcos. They're colorful and chic plus the company supports a good cause.


Jen Miner is one third of the Vacation Gals, award-winning travel writers who know all there is to know about family trips, girlfriend getaways, and romantic escapes. Check out their work here!

Where are you going this year? My family and I are fortunately able to go where I personally most want to vacation this Christmas: Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island. It's been a few years since we've last been, and that time was notable mostly for its torrential rains. We're hoping for better weather this time! We're staying on Kona side, which generally has terrific weather. It's Hilo side which has often inclement weather, but, that's where Volcanoes National Park is, and Thurston's Lava Tube, and well...we'd love to explore those areas in the sunshine.

And which bag do you choose to get the job done? Even when we travel to multiple European countries in the summer, my family and I always manage to travel with carry-on luggage only. No exhausted waiting at baggage claim for us; we like to hit the ground running. Besides an large backpack (that I stuff my purse into at airport security to make that "two carry-on items only" limit), I fit everything I need into my Travelpro Platinum 7 Rollaboard Suitcase. It fits most airplane overhead bins—except for very small planes—and is rugged enough to easily tolerate the beatings I give my luggage.


Lee Abbamonte is the youngest American to visit every country in the world - that's 193 to be exact. Travel icon Arthur Frommer called Lee the "Marco Polo of the 21st Century." Check out his work here!

Where are you going this year? Being as though it's the holiday season and I've already visited the South Pole, I would like to visit the North Pole! I'm actually going there in April so hopefully Santa is fully rested by then!

And which bag do you choose to get the job done? I have been using my Osprey Meridian carry on for years and I couldn't imagine using a better carry on!


Summer Hull is the author of Mommy Points, a blog focused on family travel and getting creative to accrue the most travel points possible. Check out her work here!

Where are you going this year? While visiting family is of course paramount around the holidays, there are a couple others destinations we also enjoy. Visiting NYC from Thanksgiving to Christmas is really pure magic with the lights, window displays, ice skating, shows, and of course the real Santa at Macy's Herald Square! I also love heading to snow and the mountains for a ski trip as it is the perfect way to burn off some post-Christmas steam and ring in the New Years!

And which bag do you choose to get the job done? My absolute favorite carry-on is not a budget purchase, but it is so worth it if you can splurge. My Rimowa Salsa Deluxe Cabin Multiwheel IATA bag literally fits in every airplane sizer out there and even fits in the tiny overhead bins on regional jets, yet it can hold enough to literally take me around the world.

These six world travelers, also known as "SPG Amex Stars," took 70,000 Starpoints® and used them to book two nights at a Starwood hotel during the most wonderful (and also the busiest travel) time of the year. Whether traveling to the Sheraton Kauai Resort or the new Tribute Collection Portfolio in Florida, these Stars took on the Holiday Challenge and showed just how far Starpoints can go during the peak holiday travel season (check out their blogs to read about their travels!).

Become an SPG Amex Card Member and redeem Starpoints for free nights and flights—choose from over 1,100 hotels and resorts and 30 frequent flyer programs, with no blackout dates in sight. You'll earn one Starpoint for every eligible dollar spent on the Card and double Starpoints on stays at participating Starwood Hotels & Resorts. You’ll also enjoy no foreign exchange fees, complimentary Wi-Fi at Starwood hotels and complimentary Boingo, so you can stay connected wherever you go. Even better? The first year fee is free for new Card Members. Learn more and sign up today!