But it means I can save money by taking less luggage, and I’m cool with that.
Carry on (free)
Virgin (San Francisco to Las Vegas) : One bag (127cm H+W+D, 7kg) + one personal item (handbag, coat, camera, laptop)
Delta (Salt Lake City to New Orleans) : One bag (56 x 36 x 23 cm) + one personal item (purse, briefcase, camera bag, laptop)
AirTran (New Orleans to Atlanta to Orlando) : One bag (60 x 45 x 33 cm) + one personal item (43 x 30 x 21cm)
Virgin: 157cm H+W+D, 30kg, $25
Delta: 153cm H+W+D, 23kg, $25
AirTran: 155cm H+W+D, 50lbs (22.7kg), $20
So my current thinking is that we can get away with one carry-on each, and two checked bags, one of which will be a soft bag holding the camping gear that I bought online and had shipped to Los Angeles. Once we’re done camping it might pay to mail the camping stuff home separately… dunno.
Update 2011-05-14: We ended up buying three Roncato Runner 50cm Carry-On bags (in three different colours) from Luggage Warehouse. Inexpensive, smaller than the most restrictive dimensions (Delta), smooth wheels, not too bad zips. I’ll be carrying my Caterpillar notebook rucksack, and we have a few standard suitcases. I probably still need a soft bag for the camping gear, one that can go inside the main luggage when not used.