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7 of Our Most Controversial Travel Opinions

The SmarterTravel staff spills our most controversial travel opinions—from seat reclining to babies on plane.

Our Most Controversial Travel Opinions

[st_content_ad]My controversial travel opinion? Duty free is terrible. I hate the ubiquitous duty free shop for a number of reasons—first, the fact that it’s not a bargain (you can pretty much always find lower prices outside the airport). Second, it’s a giant hassle, especially if you’re buying a liquid, like alcohol or perfume. You have to deal with collecting it and getting it through security again if you have a connecting flight (and possibly argue with a TSA agent who doesn’t know that you can bring it through). Here’s what the rest of our editors think:

Controversial Travel Opinion: Don’t Pay for a View

“Paying to go the top of a city’s tallest building is hardly ever worth it. To me these are some of the most overpriced tourist traps, and unless you’re in a place where it’s really remarkable like NYC or Dubai, it’s not worth paying tons of money, especially if the line is going to take up half your day. “ – Jamie Ditaranto

Controversial Travel Opinion: Reclining Seats Are a Passenger Right

I recline my seat on the plane, always. I’ve written about my philosophy behind this before, after a mishap in which a rude recliner sabotaged me by knocking my hot tea into my lap, but in general: It’s your right to recline as long as you do it courteously. In extenuating circumstances I would understand being asked not to do so—but I almost never skip this simple pleasure. Paired with extra lumbar support (a rolled up blanket or sweater) it makes long-haul journeys so much more bearable, and I see no problem with the person in front of me reclining as well.” – Shannon McMahon

[st_related]OP-ED: It’s My Right to Recline My Seat[/st_related]

Controversial Travel Opinion: Premium Economy is Worth It

“Premium economy is worth it (sometimes). On a long flight or red-eye I often upgrade for extra legroom. I have a lot of trouble sleeping on planes and find that the extra legroom helps me be more comfortable so I actually can fall asleep. While you aren’t getting much more for the price, on longer flights and most airlines I think the upgrade is worth it for some extra comfort and shut-eye.” – Ashley Rossi

Controversial Travel Opinion: Armrests Belong to the Middle Seat

“Indisputably, the armrests belong to the passenger sitting in the middle seat. Think about it, this person suffers by being sandwiched on both sides, and doesn’t have the option to lean sideways.” – Patricia Magaña

[st_related]Travel Etiquette: 5 Controversial Rules You Might Be Violating[/st_related]

Controversial Travel Opinion: Babies on Planes Are Great

“I’m happy when I see babies and toddlers on planes. As I wrote in my article, Dear Parents Flying with a Baby: I’m Judging You,  ‘anyone who once brought young children to new places and helped those children become curious explorers knows that these are the first steps. They do not always go well, but more people than you think are supporting you on this journey. Look around and know that not all silence is judgment—some of it is quiet applause.’” – Christine Sarkis

Controversial Travel Opinion: Skip the Free Breakfast

“Skipping free breakfast at the hotel. If I don’t have to be anywhere early, I prefer to skip the hotel breakfast and try a restaurant in town whenever there’s an option. Just because it’s included in my stay doesn’t mean I should force myself to eat sub-par scrambled eggs and soggy bacon, when there might be a chance to find an amazing local breakfast.” – Jamie Ditaranto

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Caroline Morse would love to hear your controversial travel opinions. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo,, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

E-mail her at

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