In my book every good trip starts with how you pack. Pack like you’re camping. Ultra-light camping. If you think this is extreme, then you haven’t schlepped heavy luggage across town. Or through a crowded airport. A crowded airport late for your plane. Hung over.
My advice is to use the same luggage each time. Get to know it. Fill it intelligently. Learn from your last trip. The best time to learn these lessons? As you unpack after a trip. Go through your luggage and note what you didn’t use this time. Odds are that’s what you don’t need next time. Hotels have hair dryers. Leave yours at home.
Carry on whatever and whenever possible. Check luggage as a last resort. Eventually they will lose your bags. If they haven’t lost your luggage, you haven’t traveled very much. At least take your toiletry kit with you. Nothing beats the red eye blues like brushing your teeth the minute you land.
Wear old clothes to there and throw them away upon arrival. This saves luggage space, weeds out your tired ass wardrobe, and makes room room in your luggage for what you bring back with you. Speaking of which, tuck an extra bag in your bag. Perhaps a simple nylon gym bag. I used to carry a mesh bookbag. Double duty as a day bag when you explore. No, don't even think fanny pack. Oh no, not on my shift you don't. The idea is to not look like a tourist when traveling.
Luggage tags on absolutely everything and a business card tucked inside your bags too. Tip: snag a handful of airline tags for future use. Fill it out with your cell phone number and email address(es) too so a kind soul has a better chance of finding you on the road. Tuck a plastic grocery store bag in a pocket of your luggage for really dirty clothes, leaky messy things, or a handy carry all. Heck, take two they're small.
On the road I roll my dirty clothes up with underwear & socks on the inside. They're tight and small, don't funk up the rest of your clothes, and unpack quickly when you get home.
I can’t emphasize enough how useful it is to store maps once you’re back home for future use. The more you travel, the higher the liklihood you’'ll be somewhere again. Then again if you own a smartphone, paper maps are of minimal interest.