I'm going to take a break from the travel gear reviews to post thoughts on this excellent Budget Travel piece, Confessions of a Baggage Handler.
I've been traveling a lot the past six weeks and it has become very apparent to me that way too many travelers pack double what they really need. I've seen people struggling with suitcases that look to contain more clothes than my entire dresser. I've seen families with 8 bags between them, all of the suitcases packed to capacity. What's wrong with these people?
Here's a great quote from the article linked above:
A baggage handler can tell when it's spring break or a holiday without looking at a calendar. That's when the bags bulk up because inexperienced travelers overpack (and get slapped with fees for bags over 50 pounds). I'd rather work a flight filled with hard-core bowlers checking their balls en route to Reno than a trip headed to the Caribbean. How much stuff do you need for the beach?
One other piece of advice in there that I agree with completely: forget designer luggage--it's only going to get trashed. But buy quality items that are made well and will hold up to the pressure.