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Appreciate the Help Here; Finally Made Decision to Check Bag for Upcoming 3-week Trip (Probably)

Before starting to follow this Packing Light forum, I’ve always checked a Travelpro 2-wheel soft side bag. I even packed a down pillow. It only failed to show up at baggage claim once, which was a pain waiting 2 days for it to catch up with me. I’ve always prided myself on being able to travel for any length of time with just a carryon size bag (checked) and a RS Civita daypack.
I was inspired reading all your posts about how to successfully do carry on only. I bought compression packing cubes. I lined up all my clothing on a garment rack. I spread all my liquids, makeup, hygiene items on a bed. I did a test pack with my newly purchased smaller Travelpro Maxlite 5 spinner and Sherpani Soleil bag. I was able to get everything in. Yay!
HOWEVER, what finally busted up my plan to carry everything onto the plane: I just wanted to take more liquids than I could cram into a 1-quart bag, and I wanted to take a small pair of scissors.

So, I think I’m going to take my larger carryon bag and check it. I know there’s a risk of it going missing, but I’m hopeful because my itinerary isn’t the riskiest. Flying from Seattle to Dulles on Alaska with a 4 hour layover. Then checking bag again with United for direct flight to Lisbon.
This plan will give me an extra inch of packing space and the ability to bring a few more items that wouldn’t make it through TSA security. I’m not going to be changing locations much because I’m staying on a cruise ship for 14 of 21 days. I plan to report back after this trip, especially if I change back to carry on only. (My sister has offered to carry my scissors in her checked bag.)
One final observation: I love the features of the Sherpani bag, but I have to admit I was able to stuff a lot more into the. Civita daypack. However, the daypack would come unzipped (if running to catch plane) so I felt the need for a bag with a bit more structure.

Thanks again to all the packing pros on this forum for sharing your advice and experiences!

Posted by
6774 posts

I check bags a lot just because I don't want to have to deal with it at the airport and getting it on the plane. Like you, I have enough stuff in my personal bag to get me through a few days. And in all the time I'm been flying, I've only had a bag not show up once, and that was in the US approximately 15+ years ago. BTW, I love the TravelPro Maxlite 5 spinner! That's what I have. I like the Sherpani Soleil bag and actually bought but wound up returning it because it was just too heavy for me.

Posted by
5631 posts

Download the United app before you leave. When i flew from IAD to LIS last year, the app showed me updates on my luggage. When I was waiting at the LIS luggage carousel, I got an alert with my luggage status (can’t remember details but I think it showed it had arrived in Lisbon and had been offloaded from the plane).

Posted by
14150 posts

I think you have done a good analysis of what will work for you. Any way you and sis can cross-pack a few items so each of you will be covered if something goes missing?

Let us know how things work! I've carried on the last few times and literally just made it to a connection in Seattle because I HAD carried on (coming back home) but like Mardee I really prefer to check and not have to deal with a bag when I am on a longer layover. I'm always interested in people's experiences, though.

Posted by
2345 posts

I am not against checking a bag, as long as you accept the associated risk. But if the decision to check a bag is based solely on liquids and a pair of scissors, I would seriously look at what is in that liquid bag.

Toothpaste, lotion, sunscreen, and mascara can all be easily purchased in Europe. Same for hair products, although I tend to bring conditioner as I have curly, unruly hair. Solid shampoo bars work beautifully.

Scissors can also be found easily. Or bring a small foldable pair. I do this when I bring knitting on the plane. Small scissors are allowed.

Posted by
2844 posts

My words of wisdom: get AirTags.
United left my carry-on sitting in SFO. They delivered it late the next day in Phoenix. Too much stress for me on top of an awful flight and jet lag. From now on it’s carryon both ways.
Your luggage, you do what’s best for you.

Posted by
2616 posts

I'm pretty much in the checked bag group--I did do carryon twice for short trips around 5 years ago, but what I did not like was the aggravation of trying to find overhead space for my suitcase when I was in the last boarding group, and people of course had filled the bins with things that could go under the seat. My other piece was a small soft zipped tote that also held my purse. I like to bring my scissors, too! And frankly, I like to shop and bring home goodies, sometimes including liquor that goes in my checked hardside suitcase. I finally got an Apple Airtag, flying tomorrow to Edinburgh so I will amuse myself seeing where my bag is.

Posted by
14150 posts

@Christa....are you staying in Edinburgh? I've had several friends transit thru there recently who have had misplaced bags. I'd make sure you've got a hotel list inside your bag or in an outside pocket.

Posted by
22 posts

Pam, thanks for mentioning the wisdom of putting the address of the hotel into the bag in case it goes missing. The one time my DH and my bags didn’t arrive with us, (Air Canada 2015), we had checked them in Seattle for a SEA-YYR-DUB flight, but due to an issue, we were diverted to a different flight and the bags didn’t reach us for 2 days. Luckily, I’d packed some extra clothes; DH (the rookie, fly-by-seat-of-his-pants type of guy) didn’t. We had to go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant with his cousin the first night wearing our travel clothes. Yuck. Of course, we reported the issue to the airline at the airport and gave them our hotel address so they were able to deliver the bags to us.

Now I do use AirTags and the United app. I wasn’t aware their app will track luggage, though.

With two nights in Lisbon before we board the ship, fingers crossed we don’t end up like the woman who posted on the Cruise Critic message board about having to wear a spa bathrobe and slippers on the ship in while laundering her one outfit. 😭. On the 3rd day, she was informed that her bag was at the next port, only to have the ship not stop there due to high seas. Makes a funny story in retrospect but no so funny at the time, I’m sure.

Posted by
2616 posts

Pam--I'll be in Edinburgh 5 days and will definitely have hotel info inside the carryon tote always has enough to keep me going.

ETA—I arrived in Edinburgh this morning and so did my checked bag 😊

Posted by
20 posts

I always check luggage because I can't lift even a light carry-on into the overhead bin. All the above suggestions are excellent. Another tip is to take a photo of your bag with your ID tag clearly shown. The one time my luggage was misplaced, before air tags were available, I had a photo and the lost bag agent was somehow able to find and show me my suitcase forlornly going round and round on an empty carousel in the luggage area in a different part of the terminal. Don't know how he did this, but I was able to retrieve the bag. Of course, this may be outdated because of the new technology.

Posted by
978 posts

Personally, I’d check a bag too, if going that long. I still would take a carryon and put my essentials thst I absolutely needed (which is a bit for me to feel good)and clothes for 3 days and evenings.

Posted by
2145 posts

I always check a bag. I add an air tag and also track it on the airline website. There’s only been one time since 1985 that my luggage was delayed (Delta didn’t put any luggage on the plane in Amsterdam) but it caught up with me the next day. It arrived in Zurich and they found me in Murren - I was quite impressed.

Do take a photo of your suitcase. On a whim, I took a picture of mine last month. The flight was delayed then cancelled and they were able to easily retrieve my suitcase based on a description and the photo.