While we’re big fans of packing light and sticking to a carry-on bag, for longer vacations or trips with lots of souvenirs (hello, wine from France), checking a bag can be the best option. But before you stuff everything into your suitcase and send it on its way, check out the nine things you should never pack in checked luggage, whether for safety or practical purposes. Additionally, always check the TSA’s website detailing what you can bring on a plane, if you’re unsure.
1. Lithium batteries
Lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries are only allowed in carry-on baggage. Lithium-metal (non-rechargeable) batteries are limited to two grams of lithium per battery, while lithium-ion (rechargeable) batteries are limited to 100-watt hours per battery (the average traveler easily meets these requirements). Some smart carry-on suitcases, from brands such as Away and G-RO, have removable chargers, so if you end up needing to check your bag, don’t forget to take out the charger and carry it onto the plane.
Related to the above, large electronics with lithium batteries should be kept out of checked luggage for safety reasons. Even electronics without lithium batteries should be kept out of checked baggage, though, as they’re far more likely to be damaged or potentially stolen in cargo.
Although you’ll have to put any medication over the 3.4-ounce liquid limit into checked luggage, you’ll want to keep medications on-hand because luggage does get lost or have a delayed arrival from time to time. No one wants to start their vacation with a call to their doctor for an emergency prescription.
4. Matches and electronic lighters
One book of safety matches is only allowed in carry-ons, while strike-anywhere matches are strictly prohibited from all luggage. Electronic lighters are also forbidden from airplanes, but disposable and Zippo lighters without fuel are allowed in checked bags. Travelers that have lighters with fuel can check them if they’re properly enclosed in a DOT-approved case.
5. Electronic cigarettes and vaping devices
Ever-popular e-cigarettes and vapes are also banned from checked bags. Keep them in your carry-on, and don’t forget to remove them if you have to check your bag at the gate.
You’re free to put as much jewelry into your checked bag as you’d like, but we recommend keeping anything valuable in a carry-on. Having it on hand will allow you to avoid any chance of losing it.
7. Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof
Wine and some alcohol can be packed into checked luggage, though you’ll want to safely keep wine bottles to prevent them from breaking. However, any alcohol over 140 proof is banned. This means Everclear (190 proof), Bacardi 151 (151 proof), and Hapsburg Gold Label Premium Reserve Absinthe (179 proof) should be kept at home.
Film is allowed to be checked, but because X-rays from the security scanners can potentially damage it, it’s best to pack it in your carry-on. When going through the TSA security checkpoint, ask for the film to be scanned by hand.
9. Flammables and some firearm-related objects
You’d expect weapons to be banned in carry-ons, but some firearm-related items aren’t allowed in checked baggage either. Gun powder and flares are prohibited, as are flammable items like fireworks, flammable paints, and hand grenades. Firearms, rifles, starter pistols and pellet guns are all allowed, but check the TSA website for the specific way they must be packed.