I usually pack a carryon size suitcase that I check and then use a backpack as my carry on item plus purse as personal item.
As luggage meltdowns occurred this summer, I decided to do the carryon size suitcase as a carryon plus a small under seat bag that my purse could fit in. I just about made it. I had to put my hiking poles aside, not bring water shoes (even though they were highly recommended for the beaches) and cut everything to the bare bones. On top of that, I needed to pack masks, covid tests, and OTC medications in case of Covid.
Finally this morning I had an epiphany. My trip had changed. I was no longer going to Venice where luggage handling would add significant extra challenges and I no longer had under seat storage available on my transatlantic flight. I wasn't transferring through Heathrow any more and I was transferring at Frankfurt instead. I would be at my first destination for 5 nights. Checking a suitcase was back on!
I pulled out my back pack and declared the suitcase would be checked both ways. Things have fit so much better and I get to bring my hiking poles. I had already arranged a shuttle (Go-Opti) that will take me right from the airport to my hotel and the cost for the backpack added just 1 euro to the cost.
The backpack has my "survival" items in it in case there is an issue with my checked luggage. I'm feeling much more positive about how the luggage is organized and I am still keeping # of items and weight down.
How have you dealt with packing/luggage issues this summer? Did the luggage handling meltdown cause you do to anything differently? Do you wish it had?