9 Things You Should Never Pack in Your Checked Bag

travel and leisure packing tips

9 Things You Should Never Pack in Your Checked Bag

So….  I had a client who traveled to Europe the beginning of this month and the airline lost her luggage!!!  Not just for a couple of hours or a day, for her whole ten day trip!!!   She still had a fabulous time, but what a nightmare.  Even though I was in contact with the airline baggage department daily, sometimes multiple times, my poor client did not get her bag back until she returned home.  So, now I am in the process of putting in her claims so that she can recoup what she had to spend to replace those items.

With that said, here are 9 tips to follow of What NOT To Pack In Your Carry On Bag.

Jewelry and Valuables

Of course, it’s not probable that your checked bag will be lost by the airline. Opt to take less expensive jewelry, not items that cannot be replaced.  While only only about .012 percent of passengers’ bags are reported damaged, lost, or delayed, you don’t want to happen to fall in that .012 percent.

Most carriers require passengers to submit claims forms when bags are lost. The airline will then tally the depreciated value of the contents of your missing suitcase, and if your claim is accepted, that is, the airlines will pay no more than $3,300 per passenger for bags lost on domestic flights. All in all, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive compensation equal to the full value of your lost possessions.

Identification, Passports, Boarding Passes, and Essential Documents

All necessary documents, whether they’re work or insurance papers or other sensitive information, should be kept with you in your carry-on bag. However, if you must check them, another solution is to back them up. If you plan to put papers of importance in checked luggage, keep copies (either hard photocopies or copies on a flash drive) on your person. And any documents that include sensitive or private information should be kept out of your checked luggage altogether.

Cash and Credit Cards

All checked bags are screened electronically, but select checked bags are opened by TSA agents and screened by hand. When packing a checked bag, be aware that a security agent, a stranger, may be rummaging through your things at some point. There have been reports of TSA workers stealing electronics, money, and other valuables from passenger’s luggage; however, such occurrences are rare. But as a precaution, your cash, checkbook, and credit cards should be kept with you in your carry-on bag.

Laptop and Electronics

Take it from the TSA,  Electronics should be packed in carry-on luggage because they are typically fragile, expensive, and more prone to breaking if transported in checked baggage.

Lighters, Matches, and Flammable Items

The TSA has a handy checklist of prohibited items on its website that you can refer to for prohibited items. Items of note include lighters, matches, and flammable objects, which anyone going on a camping trip (or travelers who smoke) might need to pack.

Lighters without fuel may be packed in checked luggage. However, lighters with fuel may only be packed in checked luggage if they’re in a Department of Transportation-approved case.  Matches are prohibited in checked baggage and flammable items, such as paint or liquid fuel, should be avoided as well.

All of Your Clothes

If your luggage disappears into the mysterious black hole of missing checked bags, you’ll thank me later for suggesting you put a clean pair of underwear and some socks aside in your carry-on bag. An entire outfit is recommended, just enough to get you through a day or two at your destination in case your airline loses your suitcase. Other daily essentials, tooth brush and key toiletries (though liquids must be in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces), and whatever else you might need if your bag gets lost should be placed in your carry-on as well.


I’m going with a theme here…. If you can’t live comfortably without it, don’t pack it in your checked bag. You know the old cliche, “better safe than sorry,” should be lingering in the back of your mind when you’re organizing your luggage. Accordingly, prescription drugs are best kept on your person.

Passengers are permitted to bring liquid medications onto planes, even if they exceed the 3.4-ounce limit for carry-on liquids. But you’ll need to officially declare your oversized liquid medications when going through the checkpoint. Tell a security officer stationed at the checkpoint that you’re carrying liquid medications, and hand them over for inspection. It’s also helpful if you have a doctor’s note or a medical ID card, but it’s not required. The TSA also suggests that travelers label medications to facilitate the screening process.

Breakable Items

Don’t blame it all on the baggage handlers. However, I’ve seen how some baggage handles just toss my luggage into the pile.

Fragile items should always be packed in your carry-on bag. If you just have to bring home that wonderful bottle of red wine you picked up in Italy, use a product like the VinniBag, which will protect the contents of your bag in case the bottle breaks.

Food and Drink

According to the TSA, flyers should avoid putting food and beverages in checked bags.  Bottled drinks are likely to explode or crack in transit, thus ruining that cashmere sweater tucked away in your bag. And if your flight is delayed or your luggage gets lost for a while, your packed food might spoil.

As well, If you’re traveling internationally, you may be prohibited from bringing food to your destination. Each country has its own rules about what kinds of foods can be brought across borders. Check the embassey website of the country you’re visiting for more information.



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