21 things you should never pack in a checked bag


I’ve learned to travel light with just one carry-on bag (usually 22x14x8). It’s my #1 rule to making travel simpler and liberating. It certainly eliminates the gamble of whether your checked bag will show up on the carousel!

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Never pack these items in your suitcase

US Department of Transportation statistics suggest that a passenger has about a 2% chance of having a checked airline bag lost, delayed, stolen or damaged. For the average traveler, this headache is likely to be a more than a once in a lifetime experience.

But there’s an exception to every rule, right?  If you must check a bag with an airline, pack what you couldn’t live without during the first 48 hours in a carry-on bag. If your checked bag goes AWOL, you’ll have your immediate needs in hand.  Those items might be your passport, eyewear, electronic chargers, medicines and basic toiletries. 

Airlines have a lengthy list of items which they won’t reimburse you for if they misplace your bag.  The list pretty much covers all items other than your clothing. This sample list below from Alaska Air is fairly universal, but check with your individual carrier before your trip to be sure.

  1. Cash, currency
  2. Negotiable papers
  3. Securities
  4. Business contracts, documents
  5. Jewelry, watches
  6. Cameras, videos and photographic equipment, camcorders, audio equipment, film, camera equipment, photographs
  7. Electronic equipment/devices, personal electronic equipment/devices, including components such as compact discs and video game cartridges
  8. Computers and related components
  9. Binoculars, telescopes, optical devices including eyeglasses
  10. Silverware
  11. Precious metals, stones or materials
  12. Art objects, sculptures
  13. Historical artifacts
  14. Original manuscripts
  15. Irreplaceable books, publications, collectibles (such as baseball cards)
  16. Antiques, heirlooms
  17. Keys
  18. Sales samples
  19. Medications
  20. Furs, including coats, gloves, hats
  21. Game trophies, antlers and pelts

Source: Alaska Airlines Domestic Contract of Carriage

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