You know those people.
They're at the ticket counter, screaming at the agent to let their oversize bag for a three day trip on the plane without paying extra for it. You know those people, don't you? I do, too.
Unless it's absolutely necessary, (like I'm leaving the country for weeks at a time) I try to never check a bag. I don't even want the gate agent to "complementary" check my bag to its final destination. I'm good. Let me keep my bag, fam.
I like to pack light. I hate digging in suitcases for things and I have a tendency to lose stuff when I'm unorganized.
I just wrapped up a three-day stay in Los Angeles — more on that later — and I took only a backpack. I stuffed three days worth of clothes and toiletries into two packing cubes (which I highly recommend! They're great) and used my backpack as my personal item. It's a Burton backpack. I think I got it from Urban Outfitters a few years ago. It has a bunch of pockets to keep things like your wallet and passport in. I have two packing cubes, a pair of Vans, a pair of flip-flops, my Beats by Dre headphones, and my glasses case all in this backpack. I'm able to quickly reach for whatever I need without tearing my bag apart. I don't have to fight my seatmate for overhead bin storage because my bag goes under the seat in front of me.
For short trips like the one I'm on, I recommend a backpack. If you're going out of the country for less than a week, then a small suitcase is fine. I still prefer carry-on sizes to avoid having to check a bag. There's no better feeling like getting off of a flight, grabbing my backpack, and heading for the exit. No waiting at the baggage carousel, or, God-forbid, searching for a bag because it didn't make it on the flight. Save yourself some time, if you can, and pack lightly.