It certainly makes sense to travel lighter these days. Many of the airlines are charging additional fees for overweight luggage. They have a 50 to 75 lbs. weight maximum per bag. With large suitcases weighting up to 20 lbs. empty that does not leave a lot of room for clothes and other assorted items. It's time to learn to travel more efficiently.
To start with, look for lighter weight luggage or downsize to a smaller sized piece. It's not practical to take those oversized 30" or 31" suitcases. Plan to start with no larger than a 29" case. Then look for the lighter weight brands. Many pieces of luggage, that are now advertised as "light weight", are in reality no lighter than the old pieces. Make sure you actually lift the case before purchasing. You do not have to sacrifice quality either, as there are many truly lightweight cases available in the better fabrics with the better wheel systems.
Try to limit the number of pairs of shoes you are taking. Shoes and sneakers are much heavier than clothing. Check out the many travel accessories available. Take along travel sizes of toothpaste, shampoo, and all to the other assorted sundries you cannot live without. If you are packing a hairdryer, take one that is compact and designed for travel. Also think about bringing a small travel steamer instead of an iron. These are lighter weight and work quite well, steaming out all of the packing wrinkles quickly and efficiently.
Instead of bringing along a heavy raincoat, purchase one of the super light umbrellas that are now available. These are made of airplane aluminum and weigh only a few ounces. There are also foldable rain slickers available that are lighter than a raincoat would be and they work well in an emergency.
Weigh your case before you go. Stand on the scale with the suitcase, then deduct your weight. Or there are also several portable scales available that you can hook to the luggage and lift. This will save you the arguments and the surcharges you'll get at the airport. There's also new luggage that just became available with an actual scale built in to the top of the suitcase. Of course, that will eliminate the excuse at the airport that (a) you did not know or (b) that it weighed less at home!
Plan your wardrobe with "mix and match" items. One pair of slacks can be teamed with several different tops. There are also lightweight reversible jackets that can be dressed up or down. These are very lightweight and completely wrinkle free so they are a natural choice.
If you plan on doing shopping, there are folding bags you can use to pack your purchases for the trip home. This way you will not overload your luggage. Most trips allow for 2 bags per person, as well as one carry-on and one personal bag.
Maxine Greco has worked in the luggage and travel industry over 35 years. She is currently at Village Luggage & Gifts.