Traveling is inherently stressful. It is a change in the routine, and often when going through airports it is absolutely NOT about the journey. When you are at an airport, it is all about the destination. I have some tips on navigating through airports on my YouTube channel, but today I would like to focus on another topic: checking a suitcase.
Should you Check a Suitcase?
On one had, checking luggage seems like an excellent idea! You hand off your bag at the very beginning of your journey and reclaim it at the end. It magically arrives, and you do not have to worry about it during airport layovers or when you are cramming yourself into that highly uncomfortable seat.
On the other hand, there is a possibility that you might not get your suitcase when you expect it. When you hand carry something, it remains in your possession the entire time. You know you will have it when you need it, because well, you have it at all times. It never leaves you.
¡Vamos a México!
Recently, I was traveling to Mexico for vacation. I had two separate three hour flights, with a three hour layover in Dallas. My first flight left stupidly early, and I did not start packing until ridiculously late. Around 2AM, I realized that my suitcase was broken. I grabbed the first available working suitcase I had, transferred everything in it, and crawled into bed.
My alarm went off less than three hours later. I knew it was going to be a trying day for me at the airport, especially considering my lack of sleep. Immediately after arriving at the airport, I checked my large suitcase. I surrendered it on the belt and headed through airport security with plenty of time to eat my first breakfast and wait for my first flight.
The first flight was uneventful, and my three hour layover at DFW gave me ample time to enjoy second breakfast.
On my second flight, I was upgraded to first class! Apparently, they only had one open seat available for an upgrade. I did not think I would get it as I was number seven on the list of upgrades. However, the six people ahead of me were all traveling in pairs. Each couple decided that if both could not be upgraded, neither would want to be upgraded. Perks for being single!
Because of the length of the second flight, I was served a full meal. There were no issues on this flight either, and I arrived safely in Mexico. I turned back on my data, and that is when I saw the notification from American Airlines. (PS – you should check out Google Fi if you travel internationally. My phone costs the same in the USA as it does in over two hundred other countries. And if you use my link, we both receive a $20 credit.)
“Your baggage is delayed.”
While I was enjoying my first class amenities, my suitcase was chilling at DFW. I must state that American Airlines did not lose my bag. They just chose to place it on the flight that left three hours later. Great. Now the first thing I have to deal with in Mexico is my delayed suitcase.
The American Airlines baggage office in Mexico was incredibly helpful. They validated that my suitcase would arrive on that later flight and they promised suitcase delivery to my hotel. However, they could not promise the time frame. I would get it eventually, but definitely not immediately.
Welcome to Mexico! You have no clothes.
A Need for Medicine
By this point, I had already been traveling for close to thirteen hours on less than three hours of sleep. I was absolutely exhausted and my cortisol pump site needed to be changed. As soon as I got to my room, I changed my pump site.
Yes, it was true that I did not have my checked luggage. However, I had all of my medicine.
If you are going to check a suitcase, do NOT check your medicine. Hand carry it and never let it leave your side.
I would have been in a world of hurt if my medicine had been in that checked suitcase. Although I was frustrated that I could not change clothes or brush my teeth with my toothbrush, at least my medicine was with me. My medicine was the most important thing.
As for my suitcase? It arrived at 10:30pm, or a good 5.5 hours after landing at the airport and almost eight hours after I arrived. I was already in bed asleep by the time it arrived. Originally, I wanted to stay awake to greet my lovely suitcase. But my body told me I needed to rest otherwise Addison’s would have reared its ugly head even more. I ended up sleeping for thirteen hours and woke up to the suitcase. It was better than Christmas morning!
You Can Check a Suitcase, however…
The following is a list of items that I recommend you always hand carry when you travel by airplane. They should never go in your checked luggage.
- Medicine: Hand carry it all and not just what you need. My suitcase was supposed to be delivered three hours after it landed at the airport. And yet, it did not arrive until five hours later. If you only have a days worth of medicine, but your suitcase is lost, this puts you in a very dangerous situation.
- Contacts / Contact Solution / Back-up Glasses: I only get so many hours out of my contacts and then I need to switch to glasses. By having my glasses in my carry on bag, I was able to remove my contacts and go to sleep while waiting on
Santathe airport to deliver my suitcase.
- Toothbrush / Toothpaste: I goofed on this one. I put it in my checked suitcase. I will now transfer it to my carry on.
- Irreplaceable / High Value Items: Expensive jewelry? Money? Sentimental pieces? Carry them on.
- Change of Clothes: If your luggage happens to be delayed overnight, having the ability to change into fresh clothes after a long stressful day of traveling can make the world of difference!
I would also like to point out that if you think that you have too much medicine to carry on and that it will exceed your baggage limit, medicine does not count as one of your two carry on bags.
You can carry on an unlimited amount of medicine.
This medicine sustains your life. Keep it with you at all times. I would like for all of us to remain Clearly Alive.