The 10 facts that guide my decision...
1. I don't need to be a fashion plate. Ideally we travel to observe not to be observed.
2. Especially as a woman who travels solo, plain clothes in plain styles allow me to fly under the radar and not stand out in a crowd. Social deviants and criminals are attracted to 'glitter.'
3. I know the feeling of fumbling with a purse and backpack, trying to pull a large bag along the uneven cobbled streets of Europe.
4. Ditto, I know the feeling of shlepping a heavy suitcase up and down the stairs of subways and guest houses.
5. I understand how quickly passengers must climb unto a waiting train while trying to gracefully bring the heavy suitcase on board as well.
6. For safety sake I want to always have one hand free and be able to move quickly and easily. I learned this when a group of street urchins in Florence surrounded me trying to get at my belongings. I shouted and used that empty hand to swat them away. They quickly disappeared and I didn't lose a thing.
7. I know that as long as you are clean and dressed modestly you can fit in anywhere. You don't need countless changes.
8. If you are on a multi-city itinerary you can rest assured that one city doesn't wire ahead to the next to describe what you wore. You don't need a different outfit for each event you attend.
9. Pack light and you will have room in your suitcase to bring back a few small souvenirs.
10. Pack light and you won't need to spend a fortune on taxis from the airport. You will be able to use public transport. Bonus tip: See www.ihatetaxis.com
BONUS: Pack carryon luggage and save on baggage fees that will otherwise probably pay for five glasses of red wine in Paris or five cups of coffee elsewhere in the world.