For us our problem is that our carry-on bags usually each have a laptop and I have a lot of camera gear that I won't check. So we each check a bag but our United status gets us one or two bags free. Sadly we now just accept the fact that most airlines charge something for checked bags and we just figure that into the price of the trip. If you just have essential clothing a carry on suitcase works but if you have tech gear and cameras our clothes go in the checked bags.
I would love to just bring our carry ons but we bring our snorkel gear and need the big suitcase for the fins. depending on the location, we will bring our bags on the plane going to our destination but check them going home. Especially if we have a long layover and go into town.