Things you should never put in your checked luggage

Packing is (let's be honest) just about the very worst part of going on a trip, other than having to return from your vacation. It's a skill that takes practice in order to master. And if you're flying, there's a whole additional set of rules you have to play by in order to safely and successfully pack your things.

If you're planning to check your bags while traveling, it's helpful to have an idea as to what you should carry on the plane with you, what you can safely place in your checked baggage, and what to just leave at home. Make sure the following items aren't stashed in your checked luggage — and you'll make it to your destination hassle-free.

Nail polish

Full disclosure, this is 100 percent on my list because of my past personal experiences. I attended graduate school out of state and flew relatively often. On one trip, I thought nothing of packing a small bottle of nail polish (which is Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, compliant) in my checked luggage.

Of course, when I arrived and opened my suitcase, the bottle had broken. I was quite lucky — the mess only affected one shirt — and, I learned my lesson. Carry your nail polish on board with you, or at least take extra care to make sure that it's packed safely and securely and won't make a giant mess in your bag, ruining all of your belongings.


Depending on where you're traveling, you might need to carry quite a bit of identifying information on your person. From passports to driver's licenses, state ID cards to office or school IDs, it's extremely important that you place those items in your carry-on bag, rather than your checked luggage.

Bob Sturm Sr., chairman and CEO at Ohio-based Professional Travel, Inc., knows a thing or two about items that shouldn't be stashed in your checked luggage. According to Sturm, any forms of identification should not be packed in your checked luggage because you may need them more than once while traveling. Keeping them easily accessible can help reduce panic and stress, helping you move through security and other travel stages quickly and easily.

Your wedding ring and other valuable jewelry

The idea that your wedding ring and other valuable jewelry don't belong in your checked luggage is probably not all that shocking. However, it really is quite important. Though the majority of bags will never be lost by an airline, the chance always exists. If your bag does get lost, the airline will most likely ask you to fill out forms in order to likely remedy the situation.

According to Smarter Travel, "Airlines will pay no more than $3,300 per passenger for bags lost on domestic flights." Depending on which pieces (and how many) you have in your bag, any compensation received from an airline may not equal the value of what was lost. Additionally, wedding and engagement rings, as well as other valuable jewelry, may be of sentimental value, which is indeed priceless.

Cash or other currency

Cash, other currency, and credit cards should never be kept in a checked bag. All checked bags pass through many different hands and, though unlikely and infrequent, it's possible that cash and currency could go missing.

According to CNN, in 2015, the Miami-Dade Police Department recorded baggage handlers on hidden cameras, going through passengers' checked luggage, and stealing items. Of course, this is not typical, however it is possible. So keep these items in your carry-on. Better safe than sorry.

Electronics and relevant chargers

Electronics and chargers should always, if at all possible, be carried on board the plane with you. You'd surely be upset (if not downright panicked) if they went missing, or were damaged as a result of being tossed around by unknowing baggage handlers.

You can try to pack them securely, but once the bag is checked, it's really out of your control. According to documents like the Alaska Airlines Contract of Carriage, since electronics are determined by the airline to be too delicate to be packed in checked luggage, the airline is not liable for electronics and chargers that are lost or somehow damaged. Carrying them with you is the much safer option.

Cameras and film

Cameras can be both expensive and delicate, so it's always good to keep them with you while traveling, even if you won't use them at all until you arrive. Film is also delicate — not to mention valuable for sentimental reasons — so packing it gently in a carry-on is safer.

Additionally, according to travel expert Sturm, film can be ruined by multiple trips through an X-ray machine, so it's best to inform TSA or other security agents of its presence, and ask for it to be screened by hand. Also, check to see if your camera runs on lithium batteries, because, according to the TSA, FAA regulations prohibit loose lithium batteries in checked baggage.