But I'll play along. I'll even play by the rulesunlike the young woman in front of me on a flight from Baltimore to Charlotte last week who somehow got onto a full flight with two bags that each filled most of an overhead bin.
I digress. I lug around an Eagle Creek Expandable 24 ($220; www.eaglecreek.com), which has about 3,500 cubic inches of packing space. I find that it'll cover me for close to a week, more if I have a chance to do some laundry en route. It's strictly one of those ubiquitous wheeled suitcases, but the slightly larger Switchback Modular 26 ($285) comes with a backpack option. The latter is borderline acceptable as a carry-on piece, but you probably can sneak it on. A very nice piece, which will work wonderfully with Eagle Creek's packing accessories. Keep in mind, though, that it really isn't a "backpack"; it's a semi-soft rolling suitcase with pack straps, suitable for a trek from the train station to your hotel.
For something more back-friendly, you might look to Dana Design's new Swift Traveler ($349; www.danadesign.com), a true traveler's backpack with a roomy capacity of 6,300 cubic inches. It has an internal duffel you can check-in, plus a removable daypack. The Swift also includes a pretty good trimmed-down version of Dana Design's superb suspension system. Osprey's Departure 75 ($289; www.ospreypacks.com) is very similar, though a little smaller at 4,500 cubic inches. Still, that's a substantial capacity, and either of the above should let you carry a fair-sized selection of clothingeven some spare shoes!
Though you don't specify where you're headed, I'd probably take a mix of synthetic and cotton in terms of clothing. The synthetic stuff certainly dries better (example: Mountain Hardwear's Canyon Shirt; $65, www.mountainhardwear.com), but cotton is comfortable and often looks less travel-geeky. Lands' End and L.L. Bean both sell a selection of wrinkle-resistant clothing, such as the Lands' End Carefree Coastal Shirt ($40; www.landsend.com).
Bon voyage! Send us a postcard.