We always bring a soft sided cooler compressed in our checked bag. It holds as much as my Igloo playmate and is much easier to pack. There are plenty out there including ones that you put in the freezer. We did put frozen food in one of these freezer types and it survived the trip fine in a checked bag. We really don't bring meat down anymore though....
We also bring a soft-sided cooler and pack it in our suitcase. We take it everywhere....unless the restaurant at the beach we are at prohibits it. I remember a few places on Orient told us we were not allowed our cooler. Don't know the situation post-Irma. If we buy too many souvenirs ie Rhum (LOL) on the island we pack them in the cooler and check it as an additional bag on the way home.
Re: Taking a cooler or buying one at ACE
#177383 12/07/201810:11 AM12/07/201810:11 AM
We always bring a cooler as carry-on wherever we travel. I put a duffle/gym bag at the bottom then put some clothes in a plastic bag (garbage bag) place on top then if TSA wants to look inside they can. If travel in USA when we land and rent a car for a road trip I just take the duffle out fill it with the plastic bag of clothes/shoes or whatever then stop at a wall.mart for ice, water, veggies, cheese etc and fill the cooler.
If using ti at SXM you could freeze food fill it and check it.
Personally, we have checked a bag with food in it ONCE. And the bag took a couple of days longer to get to SXM than we did. We have a small cooler that we take as carry-on. I personally would never check food again. Your mileage may vary.
Another option, if you want, is you can rent a cooler for $10 a week from Craig at Packlight. He has a medium sized flat top cooler that we often rent. We use it as a table on the beach also.
Just a heads up on the Polar Bear Coolers. I have 3 of them and the 2 newer ones have a totally different lining than the original which makes the capacity several cans (or whatever you are packing) less. It is a much stiffer lining and will not "give" at all like the original. Supposedly it is an anti-microbial lining but it really limits the packing as it is so stiff. The old "12 pack cooler" I have would easily hold 16+ cans and ice and did a great job. I have yet to get even close to 12 cans in the new "12 pack cooler" from Polar Bear. They do a great job for a soft sided cooler but the improved/new lining limits capacity. I would suggest ordering a size bigger than what you think you will need. With this special, it is a very good time to consider one.
Like a lot of you said, a soft or collapsible cooler works great. We've used one for years. It's also terrific for putting your liquids in such as sun tan lotions. I also fill it up with cans of tuna, energy bars and anything else that could fit in it. There's plenty of room for it in my checked bag. If you don't want to fill it, just fold it up.