Packing for vacation can be difficult. For one, you need to comply with strict TSA guidelines or you risk being stopped for a random search. You already know the drill for your carry-on — liquids, gels, and aerosols have to be in containers 3.4 ounces or smaller. All those items should be placed in a clear plastic quart-sized bag. You can’t bring any weapons or tools.
Most people know the rules for carry-on bags, but what about your checked baggage? If you’re going on a longer trip and need to check some bags, there are very specific rules for what you can and can’t bring. Plus, there are some things that could potentially get stolen out of your bag or lost along the way.
Ahead, discover the items you should never pack in your checked bag.
Wearing your jewelry through the security scanners is a major no-no. But you won’t necessarily want to put it in your checked bag, either, because it could get stolen or lost with your bag.
Tuck jewelry into your carry-on in a well-protected pocket. Better yet, leave your most precious jewelry at home when you travel. That way it’s guaranteed not to get lost.
Next: These always belong in your carry-on.
2. Identifying documents
This is an easy mistake to make, but it’s so important that you don’t make it! Be sure to pack your boarding pass, passport, and other identification documents like your driver’s license into your carry-on bag or personal item since you’ll need them to get through security.
Next: You could get in big trouble for packing these types of items.
3. Flammable items
Gasoline, lighter fluid, flammable paints, and cooking fuel may not be packed into your carry-on or your checked baggage. If these are items that you need for your trip, then you’ll need to purchase them after you reach your destination — not before.
Next: This fragile item may get broken.
Have you ever seen how checked luggage gets thrown around? Baggage handlers have a lot of stuff to put onto the plane and a very short amount of time to do it. It’s not that they’re trying to be rough with your stuff — they just have to get their job done quickly and efficiently.
Make sure you pack expensive, breakable items like laptops into your carry-on bag instead.
Next: Your checked bag should never have these two items in it.
5. Cash or credit cards
No doubt you’ll want to pack some cash for vacation, but your checked bag is not the place to keep it. Incidents of theft may be rare, but there are certain airports where they happen frequently, and the last thing you’ll want on the first day of vacation is an empty wallet.
Better safe than sorry — keep your cash tucked close for the duration of your flight.
Next: You might need this during a delay.
6. Daily medication
Always prepare for the worst case scenario. Let’s say your flight gets delayed or canceled — you may need that medication and there’s a chance you won’t be able to access your bag. Anything that you require on a daily basis should be packed into your carry-on. Only put items in your checked baggage that you can live without for the day (or longer).
Next: Keep a spare of this in your carry-on bag at all times.
7. All your clothes
You should have at least one emergency outfit in your carry-on for the same reason that you shouldn’t pack medication or other daily necessities in there — luggage gets lost and flights get delayed. You won’t want to be stranded on vacation with nothing but the clothes on your back, right? It’s best to be prepared for never seeing your bag again (and obviously hope that never happens).
Next: Anything in this category should not be placed in your checked bag.
8. Anything irreplaceable
Your grandfather’s pocket watch. Your wedding jewelry. Priceless family heirlooms. These are just some examples of items you should never pack in your checked luggage.
Need to transport something like this? Either put it in your carry-on, or ship it with insurance instead. But really the best way to get your precious item from point A to point B safely is to literally carry it on your person.
Next: You can ask a TSA agent if these items are allowed.
9. Prohibited items
Fireworks, gasoline, aerosol, spray paint, gun lighters, flares — the list of prohibited items for checked luggage is obvious, but still, it never hurts to double check. You can always tweet a TSA agent or contact them on Facebook if you have specific questions about something you were planning to bring.
Next: Packing these items could leave you with a big mess.
10. Unsecured liquids
Yes, you can certainly pack your full-sized shampoo in your checked bag. But you do not want to leave it in with a loose cap, or it’s possible you could wind up with shampoo covered outfits that are way more difficult to clean on vacation.
Next: Most people don’t realize this type of item can get damaged.
11. Camera film
Still taking photos with regular film? Then you may not want to stash it in your checked luggage. There’s a real risk that the x-ray machine your bag passes through could damage the film and ruin your chances of capturing those priceless vacation memories.
Next: This item is so annoying to replace when it gets lost.
12. House keys
You may not need them in the airport, but just think: what if you lose your bag? Replacing house keys or car keys is frustrating — and it’s also avoidable. Keep all your keys with you (just be sure you take them out of your pockets while you’re going through the security scanners).
Next: You’ll want this in the airport — not in your checked bag.
If you’re stuck waiting in the airport for a long time, you might end up wanting to charge some of your electronic devices. Then you’ll regret packing your chargers in a checked bag.
It’s a good idea to bring portable charging devices with you and to keep your wall chargers in your carry-on. Then if your bag gets lost, you won’t have to replace everything!
Next: This type of item won’t do you any good when it’s lost.
14. Work materials
Going on a business trip? You may not want to stash all the materials you need for your presentation in your checked bag. If it happens to get lost, you won’t just be dealing with purchasing new clothing — you’ll also be scrambling to recreate all the documents you need for the trip.
Next: Assume total strangers will be looking at this type of item.
15. Confidential items
There’s a good chance no one will go through your bag. But there’s also a good chance they will. If your bag gets selected for a random search, assume everything in there will get touched by a security agent. Documents with financial information or other private materials should never be placed inside a checked bag.
Next: Weird items you can actually pack in your carry on.
A screwdriver sounds like a tool that the TSA would prohibit completely. But as it turns out, the agency actually allows travelers to pack screwdrivers that measure shorter than 7 inches either in their carry-on or checked baggage. Counterintuitively, the TSA prohibits ice picks. Ice picks are usually a lot smaller than 7 inches, but they do have sharp ends — or at least ones that are sharper than those of a screwdriver.
Next: In case you want to mix your own margarita.
Surprisingly enough, the TSA allows you to pack a blender in your carry-on — so long as you take one important precaution. You have to remove the blade from the blender. Then, you have to either leave the blade behind — which would probably render it pretty useless — or pack it in your checked baggage. The TSA also advises, “Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.”
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