Amidst all of the chaos of packing for a trip–or even worse, packing up to come home–one of your most important jobs is getting all of your belongings in the right bags. When you have both a carry-on and a checked bag, it’s important to pack the right things in each one. You probably know that liquids in bottles that hold more than 3 oz and weapons can’t go in your carry on, but you may not have thought as much about these items that should never go into your checked bag.
1. Cash and Credit Cards: Not only do you want to make sure you have some cash on hand and a credit card for emergencies, but you also don’t want to risk losing these if your checked bag disappears. Airlines lose bags all the time, or items can end up in someone else’s bag during a screening.
2. Laptop and Other Electronics: You never know how your checked luggage will be handled, so your electronics should travel with you. Even though it’s a pain to take your laptop out going through security, it’s better than having it get broken in your checked bag. Other electronics, including your camera, e-reader and handheld game console, should also be in your carry-on.
3. Flammable Items: According to the TSA, flammable items like aerosols, fuels, gasoline, matches and paint thinner cannot be packed in your checked luggage. In fact, most of them can’t go in your carry-on either. You are only allowed to have one book of safety matches and a common lighter with you.
4. Your Entire Wardrobe: Airlines misplace checked bags more often than you’d like to think, and it would be a pain to arrive at your destination with only the clothes on your back. So pack at least one extra day’s worth of clothes with you. If you’re headed home and have a layover that could get delayed, it still doesn’t hurt to have a change of clothes.
5. Breakable Items: If it’s fragile, you want to have control over the item all the time. Breakable gifts, souvenirs and other items should not go in your checked bag. Instead, carry them and ideally tuck them under the seat in front of you so you can watch how they’re handled.
6. Essential Documents: Your travel documents, which include your itinerary, ID and boarding passes, definitely shouldn’t be checked. If you’re traveling for work, keep sensitive documents and essential resources for your job with you as well.
7. Jewelry: The airline’s financial liability for lost baggage is limited, which means that you may not get fully reimbursed for the value of lost jewelry. Keep jewelry with you, especially if you’re traveling with sentimental pieces of jewelry that would be difficult to replace.
As you’re getting ready to travel, start packing well in advance so you have plenty of time to get it right. Before you zip up your checked luggage, confirm that none of the above items are in your bags. In addition, check over the list of prohibited items in your carry on before heading to security to avoid having your belongings confiscated.