Tips for Packing Light

If you have to sit on your bag to shut it, that's not a good sign.

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In 1940s films, characters board steamships with an army of porters to lug their many bulky suitcases. But in today's age of airline travel, that kind of thing would never happen. In fact, U.S. Airways charges a $15 to $100 fee for each bag checked on a domestic flight, plus additional fees for bags more than 50 pounds (22.6 kilograms) [source: U.S. Airways]. Gone are the days of packing every item of clothing that you might conceivably wear on your European vacation.

The point is: Be smart and pack light. It's a good idea to pack a single, semisoft bag whose combined length, width and depth doesn't exceed 60 inches (152.4 centimeters). That's the maximum size that most airlines allow for carry-ons. Then stow it in the overhead storage bin [source: Gifford]. You'll do your spinal disks a favor, and with fewer items to keep track of, you'll minimize the chances of leaving something behind at a hotel.

Click through the next 10 pages for more tips from the experts on how to pack light.