10 Things You Should Never Pack In Your Checked Luggage

I’m prepping two Glam Italia Tours that are running back to back this June, and as none of the ladies have traveled internationally before I’m sending them all kinds of great travel information to get them ready.
Some of it I am posting here for you as well.

Its really easy to make novice mistakes when you’re packing for your first international trip. Actually its really easy to mistakes even when you’ve already done it a hundred times. 

So lets talk about what not to pack in your checked suitcase.

10 Things You Should Never Pack In Your Checked Luggage

1. Lithium Batteries.

Lithium batteries can move around, catch fire, and cause catastrophic damage to the plane while it’s in the air. 
The FAA issued a Safety Alert for Operators to warn airlines “of the potential risk for a catastrophic hull loss due to significant identified dangers associated with the transport of lithium batteries as cargo on either passenger or cargo aircraft.”

They are okay while installed inside your electronics (which should be in your cabin baggage with you), but loose are very dangerous.

There has been talk about lithium batteries exploding inside the hull of airliners and bringing the plane down. 

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the FAA video of what happens when lithium batteries explode and catch fire inside a simulated cargo bay on a plane.

2. Jewelry and Valuables.

Don’t take the risk of your bag going missing or of someone rifling through it behind the scenes and taking or damaging your valued belongings. Whether it’s your valuable watch or a family photo album, take it on-board with you in your cabin baggage.
Should the airline decide to compensate you for a bag that has gone missing, or items stolen from your bag (most of the time they won’t), they will depreciate the value of your items and the capped maximum on replacement of a missing bag is $3300.

3. Cash and Credit Cards.

Same as above. If you travel frequently you have no doubt found TSA notifications in your suitcase, telling you they searched your bag. Or perhaps you’ve arrived at your destination and found that things are in different places in your suitcase – someone has been in there looking around. 
It happens all the time, and the number one thing that thieves are looking for is your cash and credit card stash. Keep it with you in your cabin baggage.


4. Passports/Identification/Boarding Passes/Essential Documents

Always keep the originals with you, but make copies of them (credit cards front and back as well) and keep a digital copy attachment in your email. You can keep  photocopies in your suitcase, but beware that you may be creating an easy path for identity thieves.

5. Medications

This one is important. Should your suitcase go AWOL you could be in a world of trouble if all your medications/prescriptions are inside. It’s a good idea to separate your medicines and take half on board with you and check the other half through, especially when travelling internationally.
You can take liquid prescriptions that exceed 3.4 fluid ounces in your carry on luggage so long as it is well labeled. I recommend telling The TSA officer, and also having a doctors note to accompany it.

6. All Of Your Clothes

Always pack a couple of days worth of clothes in your carry on luggage. Should your suitcase not arrive with you, you need to have something to change into. 
For most of us spending the first few days of your international vacation in the smelly clothes you flew over in would really ruin the trip. One of my friends spent 3 weeks of her 3 1/2 week trip to Spain last year without her suitcase. Luckily she had enough supplies in her carry on to be able to rotate her outfit each day. You won’t always have enough money to buy a new travel wardrobe, and there won’t always be places to buy things that you like.
Typically airlines will get your bag back within 3 or 4 days, but chances are you will be moving around, which makes it harder to reconnect you with you bag.

Shop Sale Items at Samsonite.com!

7. Laptops/iPads/Electronics

Think in terms of theft and breakage. Your electronics are of course, a very popular item to steal. On top of that you have to know that no matter how many sweaters you wrap your laptop in, chances are it won’t survive being in a bag that is thrown around and has heavy bags thrown on top of it. Just take it on board with you.

8. Flammable Items

Lighters, matches and flammable items are banned from checked luggage. See a full list of banned items on the TSA Website

9. Breakables

Have you ever watched them throwing suitcases or piling heavy suitcases on top of each other? Your breakables don’t stand a chance! Even if you’ve bubble wrapped them and cushioned them with socks and sweaters, how many heavy suitcases stacked on top of yours would it take for the collective weight to break your treasures? Read Confessions Of A Baggage Thrower for more insight into the perils of packing breakables.

10. Film

The X-Rays used to screen suitcases can damages film. If you have been shooting your trip with wet film, put the film in clear cannisters or ziplock bags and take it with you in your cabin baggage. Ask the TSA agent at the X-Ray machine to check your film by hand.

Here is the FAA video of what happens when lithium batteries explode inside a plane:

How To Buy Luggage


I’ve just been shopping for new luggage.
There was nothing wrong with my old luggage, which has been round and round the world with me countless times in the past 15+ years. It is still in great condition, is super sturdy and ready to go, but it was time for an upgrade on two fronts: I wanted 360 degree wheels, and a lighter suitcase.
I bought a Samsonite 25 inch Spinner.

This is the suitcase I’m taking to Italy on the Corinna B’s World Glam Italia II Tour next month.

There are so many options to choose from when it comes to luggage, and it can get confusing, so here are my tips for how to buy luggage.

1. Where are you going?
I have chic leather weekender bags and I have durable suitcases for international travel. They don’t really crossover, so you need to be looking for luggage specific to where you’re going/what you’re doing.

2. Hard Case or Soft Case?
A musician friend of mine had his hard sided suitcase burst open as he was running through an airport. He has never used a hard sided case since and neither have I.
It’s all personal preference though.

3. Size Matters.
It really does.
So does weight. With a larger suitcase you will almost instinctively pack more, which means your case will weigh more, potentially costing you excess weight fines at the airport. It is also harder to maneuvre large suitcases off baggage conveyor belts, in and out of cars, on and off trains etc.
The thought of traveling with only a carry-on sized bag is mortifying to me, so I have split the difference. My old suitcase was 29 inch, my new one is a far more compact 25 inch.

4. Weight.
The big trend in luggage is to go super lightweight, but you need to be careful when buying lightweight luggage. I found plenty of 25+ inch suitcases that were 7lbs and under, but the problem with most super lightweight luggage is the structure of the case can’t withstand weight on top of it.
Have you ever watched them throw suitcases onto baggage carts at the airport? Chances are a heavy case will be on top of yours. Or even a middle weight case. Try piling other cases on top of the one you are considering buying and watch how the frame holds up.
I found most just collapsed or buckled under the weight of empty cases.
The key is to look for a durable fiberglass frame which provides strength but is lightweight. 

5. Fabric
Assuming you are not going with a hard case, the fabric of your soft sided suitcase is really important.
It must be waterproof, and tear proof. Ballistic nylons are great as are industrial strength polyesters.
Also think about fabrics that are stain proofed. 
If baggage handlers toss your case into a puddle or leave it on the tarmac in a storm, you don’t want to find dirty water has soaked through and ruined your clothes, and also you don’t want your case to be stained and ruined.

6. Color.
Have you ever stood at a medium sized baggage claim conveyor belt and noticed just how many black suitcases come flying down the chute? I always think you have a far higher chance of your suitcase being mistakenly taken by another traveler if yours is black – they all look the same!
Pale colors are more likely to show scuffs and stains, but deeps reds and blues, greens and burnt oranges etc won’t get lost in all the blacks and also won’t look stained as quickly.
I chose scarlet for my new luggage. It’s easy to spot in a crowd, won’t look dirty after it’s inaugural flight, and isn’t goofy looking like the hot pinks and purples that the stores were full of.

7. The Zippers.
Test the strength of the zippers, and look at how well they are attached. Big name luggage brands such as Samsonite will use industrial strength zippers that won’r separate from the case itself. Check the strength of the zipper pulls too.

8. The Wheels.
Save the strain on your shoulders and back by investing in a case that has four 360 degree wheels. Check to see the wheels are mounted on sturdy stems that can handle the weight, and that won’t break off when the baggage handlers throw your case. The wheels also need to be large enough to support the size and weight of the suitcase.

9. The Pull Handle.
Check to see how sturdy the pull handle is – it has to be able to withstand the pressure of an overstuffed, overweight bag.
My Samsonite has a beveled alloy pull handle that is super strong and ultra light.
Also look at the ergonomics. Does the pull handle have more than one height setting? You need to be able to push or pull your suitcase without crunching your back or shoulders.

10. The Top and Side Handles
No matter how great the rest of the case is, you still have to be able to haul it off baggage conveyor belts and load it in and out of cars.
Look for at least 2 handles, top and side, or top, side and bottom, so that you don’t kill your back by taking the full weight of your suitcase by lifting just one handle.
The handles need to be strong and well constructed into the case itself. Handles that break off or tear turn a great suitcase into a liability.
One of the features I love about my new Samsonite is that the handles are integrated into the body of the case, top and side, and are padded for comfort.

11. Outer Pockets.
You need them, but just how many do you need??
Ideally you need two. One shallow one to put documents/boarding passes/papers that you need easy access to en route to and from the airport check in, and one larger one that can take your folded coat/scarf/ neck pillow etc.

12. An Expander.
A second zipper that expands the depth of your suitcase by an inch or two can make a huge difference, especially if you are shopping!

13. Internal Organization Pockets.
One cavernous compartment is okay, but suitcases that have plasticized pouches, mesh pouches, internal zippered sections all help to keep your items separated and organized.
If you are a super organized person you cannot beat the
Eagle Creek Packing Cubes and Folders 


14. Brand and Warranty.
Invest in a well known luggage brand. A designer who is sidelining in a luggage collection isn’t going to be ruined if their luggage falls to pieces. An established luggage brand will.
I chose a Samsonite suitcase because that’s what they do – build suitcases. And because that’s what they do, and they do it exceptionally well, they also give a 10 year warranty. The shorter the warranty, the less faith a company has in their product.

Samsonite has a 25% discount available on all of their Spinner luggage until August 25th 2015. Use this link to access the discounts: 25% Off All Spinners at Samsonite with code: SPIN25 Ends 8.24