In case the stricter weight limits and baggage charges showing up on airlines didn't convince you to pack light for your next flight, here's a another reason: your bag may never show up where you arrive. An article in today's USA Today predicts a baggage meltdown this summer.
Reports of lost baggage in the U.S. went up 23 percent from 2004 to 2005 and this summer is predicted to make last year's look like a walk in an empty terminal in comparison. A report I saw a couple of weeks ago said we are seeing the same number of fliers this year as the year 2000, but with 20,000 less employees taking care of them. Ouch! Layoffs, cost-cutting, and security bottlenecks are ensuring that the packed planes this summer are going to create a major pain in the rear for everyone.
If you are going somewhere for three or four weeks (or more), it's hard to pack everything into a carry-on, but at least put your essentials and an extra pair of socks and underwear in there just in case. And nothing truly valuable should go in a checked bag--period. If you are just going somewhere for a long weekend, you're nuts to check a bag. Pack sensibly and don't take five pairs of shoes. Otherwise you might be coming home before your bag has gotten to where you went.