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The 23 Best Luggage Tips for Checked Bags

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Traveling can be an exciting adventure, but dealing with checked baggage can sometimes be a challenging experience. From packing to baggage claim, there are many things to think about to make sure that your luggage arrives safely and on time.

In this post, we will discuss our favorite luggage tips to help you make your next trip as smooth as possible.

Know Your Airline’s Baggage Policy

Before packing your bags, make sure you are aware of your airline’s baggage policy. Each airline has its own set of rules on the size, weight, and number of bags you can check.

Also, airlines charge extra fees for overweight and/or oversized bags, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you arrive at the airport. You can usually find this information on your airline’s website or by calling their customer service department (except for Frontier!).

Choose the Right Luggage

Choosing the right luggage is essential for a stress-free travel experience. You want to make sure that your luggage is durable, lightweight, and easy to maneuver.

Hard-shell luggage is a popular choice as it provides added protection for your belongings.

Soft-sided luggage is also a good option, as it can be more flexible and easier to fit into tight spaces. Make sure that your luggage meets your airline’s size and weight restrictions.

Be mindful not to select luggage which is oversized, unless you’re prepared to pay extra fees. Suitcase models often come in three size categories:

  • Carry-on
  • Checked (medium)
  • Checked (large)

Often, the checked-large model exceeds the standard airline size of 62 linear inches.

Another thing to consider when buying luggage is to buy a suitcase with a distinct color and/or design. This will make it stand out at baggage claim and reduce the chances of someone else accidentally claiming your bag for theirs.

Check the Weather

Before you start packing, make sure to check the weather at your destination. This will help you pack appropriately and avoid overpacking items you won’t need. For example, if you’re traveling to a warm destination, you may not need to pack heavy sweaters or jackets.

Pack Smart

When it comes to packing your bags, less is more. Only pack the essentials and leave room for souvenirs or other items you may pick up on your trip. It is highly recommended to create a packing list of what you need before you even consider starting to pack your suitcase.

Be sure to wrap fragile items in clothing or bubble wrap to prevent them from breaking during transit.

Hot Tip: If you’re traveling with companions, consider sharing your luggage space. You can pack some clothing in your companion’s luggage and vice versa. If one of your bags is delayed, you both will still have access to clothing until your luggage is found.

Weigh Your Luggage

To avoid excess baggage fees, make sure to weigh your luggage before you leave for the airport. Use a luggage scale to weigh your suitcase and ensure it meets your airline’s weight limit. If it’s overweight, consider removing some items or redistributing them between your checked and carry-on bags.

Don’t leave the luggage scale at home. Pack it in your checked or carry-on bag to use during your trip. You can use it to weigh your bags before you leave your hotel, so you don’t go over the limit.

Label Your Luggage

Make sure to label your luggage with your name and contact details. This will make it easier for the airline to find your bag in case it gets lost. You can also consider adding a luggage tag with a unique design, such as a colorful ribbon or sticker, to make it easier to spot your bag on the baggage carousel.

We also recommend that you include your personal details inside your suitcase. Write your name and contact details on a sheet of paper, then place it on top of your belongings in your suitcase. If your luggage has external pockets, place a copy of your contact details inside one of the pockets as well.

Use Luggage Tracking Devices

If you’re worried about losing your luggage, consider investing in a luggage tracking device. These small devices can be placed inside your luggage and use GPS technology to track your bags in real-time.

Don’t Pack Prohibited Items

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the TSA’s list of prohibited items before you start packing. This will help you avoid having to remove items at the security checkpoint or having your luggage confiscated.

Your airline may restrict items in addition to what the TSA prohibits. You can find the specifics on your airline’s website.

Pack Valuables in Your Carry On

Valuable items such as electronics, jewelry, and important documents should always be packed in your carry-on luggage. This ensures that you have them with you at all times and reduces the risk of them getting lost or stolen.

Pack a Change of Clothes in Your Carry On

In case your checked luggage gets lost or delayed, it’s a good idea to pack a change of clothes and any essentials in your carry-on luggage. This will ensure that you have everything you need until you’re reunited with your luggage.

Don’t Overpack

Overpacking your luggage can lead to extra fees and delays at the airport. Stick to your airline’s weight and size restrictions and only pack what you need for your trip. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re at check-in and have to repack your bags to meet the airline’s restrictions. Worse yet, you may even have to discard some items.

If you need to bring more items, consider shipping them ahead of time or packing them in a separate bag.

Consider Travel Insurance

If you’re traveling with expensive items, consider purchasing travel insurance. This will provide you with financial protection in case your luggage is lost, damaged, or stolen.

Hot Tip: Check the benefits provided by your credit cards. You may hold a card which offers travel insurance, including coverage for lost or damaged luggage. It’s still highly recommended that you examine the insurance policy to see if it’s adequate for your needs.

Use a TSA-Approved Lock

It’s essential to keep your luggage secure when traveling. You can use a TSA-approved lock to deter theft and ensure that the TSA can access your luggage if needed for security reasons. TSA locks are available at most airports, and they can be bought online.

Although we’re not completely sold on locking luggage while it’s in the custody of the airline, we certainly recommend that your luggage should be kept locked when traveling on public transport or leaving it unattended at your accommodation.

You can also consider using luggage straps to keep your bag closed and add an extra layer of security.

Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to organize your luggage and maximize space. You can separate your clothes by type or outfit and easily find what you need when you arrive at your destination. They also help to keep your clothes from wrinkling.

Packing cubes has transformed the way I travel. Prior to using them, I’d carefully pack my belongings directly into my suitcase. By the time I reached my destination and opened the suitcase, the contents would be in complete disarray.

Not only do packing cubes keep your belongings organized, but they can also discourage overpacking by using appropriately sized packing cubes for different types of clothing. They keep your clothes clean by separating your shoes or dirty clothes from the rest of your luggage.

Hot Tip: If you’re not convinced of the value of using packing cubes in your luggage, buy a packet of large resealable plastic bags as a cheap substitute. If they work for you, you can always upgrade to packing cubes for your next trip.

Pack Your Heaviest Items at the Bottom

When packing your bags, place the heaviest items at the bottom. This will help to distribute the weight evenly and prevent your luggage from tipping over during transport.

This tip comes into its own if you have connecting flights and have to collect your bags at your layover. I’ve often been a little weary after a first long-haul flight, having to contend with a lopsided suitcase while moving through the airport to my next flight.

Use Plastic Bags for Liquids and Toiletries

Pack any liquids, toiletries, and other spillable items in resealable plastic bags to prevent leaks and spills in your luggage.

Liquids can expand while in the plane’s hold, or plastic bottles break while being transported by baggage handlers. You don’t want to have to spend the first day at your destination doing laundry.

Roll Your Clothes

Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can help you save space and avoid wrinkles. It’s also easier to see what’s in your luggage when you roll your clothes instead of folding them.

You wouldn’t think that rolling your clothes would save that much space – I certainly didn’t think it would. I was pleasantly surprised though once I began using this technique. You can store your rolled bundles of clothes in packing cubes to prevent them from unrolling.

Prepay for Your Checked Bags

If your fare doesn’t include any checked baggage, prepaying for them can often give you a discounted fee.

However, some airlines do not offer a cheaper prepay fee. For example, American Airlines and Delta don’t offer a discount. In this instance, it makes more sense to pay for them at the airport, as baggage fees are non-refundable. Your travel circumstances may change by the time of your departure date.

Arrive Early to the Airport

Arriving early at the airport will give you plenty of time to check your bags and get through security without feeling rushed.

If you’re traveling on a domestic flight, it’s a good idea to arrive at least two hours before your flight. For international travel, we recommend arriving at least three hours before your flight’s scheduled departure.

Take Photos of Your Bags

Taking photos of your bags before checking them in can help you identify them if they get lost or stolen. Take a picture of your luggage from different angles and make a note of any unique features or markings that may help you identify it later.

We also recommend taking photos of the inside of your packed bag. This can be used as evidence if any items are damaged during transit, or you need to make a claim for a missing bag.

Keep Your Luggage Receipt

When checking your luggage, make sure you keep the luggage receipt. This has important information such as your luggage’s tag number, which can help you track your luggage if it gets lost.

Hot Tip: Take a photo of your luggage stub in case the original receipt is misplaced.

Stay Alert at Baggage Claim

When you arrive at your destination, head to baggage claim to retrieve your bags. Stay alert and keep an eye out for your luggage as it comes down the conveyor belt. If you don’t see your bag, don’t panic. It may take a few minutes for all the bags to come through. If your bag doesn’t show up, report it to the airline as soon as possible.

Inspect Your Bags

Before leaving the airport, inspect your bags to make sure they haven’t been damaged during transit. If you notice any damage, report it to the airline at once.

Although you may be feeling weary after a long flight, it’s best to take care of this issue before you leave the airport. The airline will need to physically examine the damage and make an assessment. Otherwise, you may have to return to the airport with your damaged bag.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed what we consider to be the best luggage tips when traveling with checked baggage. Did we miss anything? What are your favorite tips?

Remember to always check your airline’s website or contact their customer service for the latest information on baggage allowances and fees.

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Hands Off My Suitcase
Hands Off My Suitcase
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