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If you’re planning a trip you might be debating whether or not you should check your suitcase or just bring a carry on. You’re not alone with this dilemma either! With ever changing airline policies and restrictions it’s even tougher and ever to bring stuff on the plane. Then again, what if your luggage gets lost?

Should You Check Your Suitcase

A lot of people opt to bring both a carry on bag and a suitcase. This is a good way to eliminate some of the problems on this list, but not everything. Plus you have to try and juggle two pieces of luggage throughout the airport!

We can’t solve your problem for you, but we can help you decided if you should check your suitcase or bring a carry on. Here’s some things to consider:

Are there any extra fees?

A lot of airlines are changing the way they do business. For some, only the carry on is free. Other airlines, especially discount ones, charge you for the carry on and the checked bag, and only allow a small personal item. Usually the price for a checked bag is steep so this can be a real part of your decision making.

Tip: check the airline’s checked bag policy and pricing. If you do opt to pay for a checked bag it’s usually cheaper to do it at booking or online than going to the check in counter.

Can you fit everything into your carry on?

Carry on bags are a lot smaller than the maximum sizes for checked luggage. If you’re planning a long trip then you might not be able to fit everything into a smaller suitcase. Pre-pack and make sure that everything you need fits inside your luggage before you make plans.

Tip: If you really want to just take carry on luggage you can stretch your space by packing some items in your personal item that fits under the seat (like a backpack) as well as wearing your bulkiest items on the flight.

Do you have items in your suitcase that you can't check

Do you need to pack items that can’t go on a plane?

Certain things aren’t allowed in your carry on but are in your checked luggage. Most notably are larger bottles of liquids or gels. Everything from a souvenir bottle of wine to your favorite shampoo brand might have to be skipped if you don’t check a bag. Even travel sized liquids and gels are limited in quantity.

Tip: If you’re going somewhere that provides these items or you can easily buy them that might be an option too.

Should you check your suitcase if you have a connecting flight?

If you have a connecting flight, especially if it’s a close connection time, having to lug a small suitcase through the airport can be quite the plane. Especially if you’re travelling with kids or someone who needs extra help. Having your luggage forwarded to your destination makes these stops lighter.

Tip: If you want to keep your luggage with you during a connecting flight consider bringing a backpack rather than a small suitcase.

Will you need things during your travels?

If you’re travelling with young kids it makes sense to bring a carry on. Even if you’re already checking a bag! Make sure you have enough diapers and formula, and anything else you might need for your kids if you’re stuck on a plane or on a layover.

Tip: Pack your essentials in a carry on bag or at least a small backpack or purse. Don’t forget to include extra medication if you take it.

Do you want to bring your suitcase through the airport

Do you want the hassle of bringing luggage through the airport?

Security is always worse with a carry on bag. You have to pull out liquids and gels and it’s one more thing to put through the scanner. While you’re waiting to board, you have to lug your carry on with you through the airport. Some people don’t mind, others find it annoying.

Tip: Pack all your liquids and gels on the top of your bag so they’re easier to pull out through security.

How quickly do you want to get off the plane?

Waiting for your checked bag to come out feels like forever. Especially if you’re in a hurry to get to your destination. Taking a carry on avoids this and makes getting of the plane (and on your way) way faster.

Tip: Some airlines gate check larger carry on bags. These sometimes can take a minute to arrive, but it’s still faster than checking a suitcase.

Is lost luggage a concern?

Although it’s rare, lost luggage does happen sometimes. Especially if your flight has multiple connections. If your luggage is essential, the safest way to make sure it arrives in one piece is to keep it with you.

Tip: Split your packing between a carry on and suitcase if it doesn’t all fit so you’re covered in an emergency.

Is checking your suitcase the right option

Should you check yours suitcase with travel companions?

One more thing to consider here is your travelling companions. If you’re going with family or part of a tour group, other people might have checked luggage in your party. That means you’ll still be stuck waiting for their bags even if yours came off quick.

Tip: Coordinate with your party and see what everyone else is doing to help you make your decision.

Should you check your suitcase?

I’ve done it all; checked bag, carry on suitcase, and just a backpack. By far the checked bag was most convenient. The small suitcase was nice for shorter trips. And the backpack was pretty easy too.

I usually make my decision based on where I’m going, what I’m doing, and what the costs are to check or carry on a bag.