9 Things You Should Never Pack in Checked Baggage

Many people don’t really give due consideration to what should or shouldn’t be packed in their suitcase when they travel by air which can result in disappointment and even some serious problems.

There are some things you are not permitted to place in your checked bags but there are other things which are permitted that you should still never pack in checked baggage. These include electronics, money, passports, valuables, keys and medication.

There are four good reasons why any of the things below shouldn’t be packed in your checked bags which are:

  • They may get damaged
  • They may get stolen
  • Your baggage may be lost or delayed
  • They may be banned by the TSA and/or your airline from being carried in checked baggage
9 Things You Should Never Pack in Checked Baggage

Electronics

It is not a good idea to pack electronics in your suitcase to go in the aircraft’s hold. This includes laptops, tablets, phones, satnavs, iPods, and camera equipment. These items can easily become damaged in the baggage handling system as checked luggage can often be handled very roughly.

Power chargers/powerbanks are not permitted in checked bags at all.

I have often seen suitcases fall off of luggage trolleys traveling at 30 mph on their way across the apron to be loaded into the aircraft. That obviously won’t do a whole lot of good to anything that cane be damaged inside.

Also, these items are very attractive to light-fingered baggage handling staff who, incredibly, still manage to steal from baggage despite the cctv etc that is in place throughout airports.

Money

Perhaps this should be totally obvious but people do still put their travel money inside their suitcases and then are amazed to find that it has been stolen while in transit.

Always keep your money on you, either physically in a pocket or in your carry on bags or purse.

Important documents

Important documents should be kept on you at all times and these include passports, visas, flight tickets, boarding passes etc.

This is particularly important when traveling internationally as when you get the the foreign country you are traveling too (or when returning home) you will need to pass through immigration control BEFORE you retrieve your checked bags in the baggage hall.

Telling an immigration officer that your passport is in your suitcase will not make you very popular and may well mean you are denied entry into the country.

Even if you realize at check in that you have packed them in your suitcase when you are asked for it, you will not be popular with those in the line behind you and you will also look pretty stupid if you have to open your suitcase at the desk to hunt for them.

what not to put in checked bags

Valuable items

Again it seems to make absolute common sense to not pack valuable items such as expensive watches and jewelry in your checked bags. But every day someone in the world does it and they get stolen.

Even if they are not stolen then your bag can go missing. There is limited compensation available should this happen which probably won’t cover the value of the items. Even if you have good travel insurance that may not cover the cost of replacement either. Of course nothing can replace any sentimental value the item may have.

So keep these items on you or in your hand luggage, or perhaps a better idea is to travel without them and leave them at home.

Car and house keys

When you arrive back at your home airport you will probably need to drive your car home and when you get home you will need to get into your house. So if you pack these in your suitcase and it is delayed or goes missing then that will be very inconvenient.

Even if your baggage does arrive with you, imagine how awkward it would be if you arrive back at your car in the airport parking lot, at night and perhaps when it is snowing, to have to open your suitcase and have to hunt for your car keys.

Don't leave car keys in checked bags

Medication

This can be very important. Here we are not talking about simple over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol or some form of headache relief tablets. It is prescription medication that is important, particularly if there is a possibility of you having a medical episode during the flight so need the medication.

Also checked baggage can be delayed or even go missing completely. If this happens, and the medication you need to take regularly is in it, then that will cause you a problem. You will probably have to try and arrange to see a doctor at your destination to obtain a prescription for some replacement medication which can be difficult and also very expensive.

If you must then only pack spare medication in your suitcase and at least carry some in your carry on in case you need it during the flight.

To find out more about flying with medication read my post Taking medication on a plane?

Flammable liquids

Certain types of liquids, especially flammable liquids, are not permitted to be carried in your suitcase in the aircraft’s hold by the TSA and in many cases cannot be taken on a plane at all, even in carry on bags.

These include:

  • Fuel (petrol/gasoline, lighter fuel, lighter gases etc
  • Aerosol paints and thinners
  • Explosives (including flares, fireworks, firecrackers, party poppers, sparklers and even English Christmas crackers)
  • Lighters (including arc, plasma and electronic lighters)
  • Curling irons containing butane
  • Chlorine (for swimming pools and spas)
  • CO2 cartridges
  • Spray starch
  • Alcohol over 70 percent proof

Spare lithium batteries

For security reasons you are only permitted to carry spare lithium batteries for your electronic items in your carry on bag, not in your checked bags. This is due to the, albeit small, possibility that they could get hot and catch fire which if it happened in the hold during the flight is difficult for the crew to fight.

To find out more about flying with lithium batteries read my post Can you take lithium batteries on a plane?

Vape/e-cigarettes

Vape and e-cigarettes are only permitted on a plane in your carry on bags. The reason for this is that they normally contain lithium batteries which can present a fire risk should they heat up and explode.

To find out more then please read – Can you vape on a plane? Flying with vape – the rules

Useful Reading

Read my article What Is Not Allowed in Checked Luggage? A Complete Guide

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