7 Reasons You Should Check Your Luggage


Several years ago, many airlines started charging fees for everything — including fees for checked luggage — and many travelers started doing whatever they had to do not to check a bag. (See also: 5 Ways Carry-On Luggage Saves You Time and Money)

I get that. I really do. However, I don't think that saving the money for the bag fee is always worth it. In fact, unless I have some compelling reason not to, I usually check my bags. Here's why.

1. Getting Around is a Breeze

Have you ever worn leg shackles? If you've toted a bunch of luggage around an airport, you know what it's like.

Seriously, trekking a carry-on around an airport can be hellish. It sounds okay, but then you find yourself making a third trip to the bathroom, complete with suitcase and personal items, and all of a sudden it's like managing a hundred pound weight. For vastly easier movement around the airport, check that ball and chain.

2. Free up Your Layover

Layovers can be fun or stressful, depending on how much time you have. In my opinion, they're always easier without a carry-on suitcase.

If you have to run to your next flight, you can do it without the burden of the bag. And if you have some time to enjoy yourself, you can get some food or have a drink without keeping constant vigilance over your few possessions.

Yes, there's always a chance your bag might not make it onto your connecting flight. But in my experience, the chances of that happening are pretty small, and, when it has, I usually wound up with an email letting me know before I even had to ask. Then they delivered it to my destination, and it wasn't a big deal.

3. Stop Messing With Those Tiny Bottles

If you don't mind transferring miniscule amounts of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and any other useful fluids to carry-on compatible bottles, then by all means don't check your bag. But if you're like me and that process is tedious and painful, avoid it by just checking the thing already.

Not only is transferring the liquids always a mess (and mine don't come prepackaged in tiny bottles), but there's often not enough in that bottle for the entire trip. So I make a mess and then I have to go shopping anyway. I'd rather take the whole bottle and check the bag.

4. Bring as Much as You Want — There and Back

Minimalistic packing is cool, if that's the way you roll. But if you like to have options, you're traveling to several different climates, or you have a lot of items you might need, it's a royal pain.

When you check a bag, you can bring a lot more stuff. I don't advocate traveling with stuff just to travel with stuff, but I do think your trip will be a lot more enjoyable if you are able to bring all of the things that you want to bring. If that's more than fits into a carry-on, use a bigger bag and check it.

5. Avoid Injury

I have tweaked both my neck and my shoulder lugging too much stuff around an airport. Not only was that painful, but then I had to continue carrying my bags until I got to my destination. Even though I was hurt, there wasn't another good option because I'd already decided not to check the bags.

Even if you don't do yourself serious injury, schlepping stuff like that fatigues your muscles. If you want to be more rested when you get to your destination, check your bags.

6. Offer Courtesy to Fellow Passengers

People with a lot of luggage always seem more stressed. It makes sense: They have more to keep track of, and it's harder for them to move around and do the things they need to do. Often, their stress means that they end up being unkind to other passengers.

Most of the arguments or rudeness I've overheard at airports have had to do with carry-on luggage. Someone rolls a bag over someone else's toes. There's no more room in the overhead bin. One person opens a bin and someone else's bag falls out. It happens. And you can avoid it all by checking your bags.

7. No Overhead Bin Awkwardness

Speaking of overhead bins…they seem specifically designed to produce awkward situations. There's no room. Someone takes a spot in a bin that doesn't correspond to their row and someone else gets angry. Things fall out. You have to crawl over people to get your stuff down. Half the people on the plane can't lift their own stuff in or out. If you've ever been in one of these situations, you know it can get uncomfortable. Now, I love awkward situations in books and movies, but I hate to be in them myself. And I avoid a setup that seems likely to produce them when I check my bags.

Whether these benefits outweigh the cost of checking your bag is up to you. For me, they almost always do.

Do you check your bags? Why or why not?

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