What is the Point of a Carry-On Bag if You Can Check Your Luggage and Have a Personal Item? : Checked and carry-on luggage

What is the point of a carry-on bag if you can check Your luggage and have a personal item?

I have seen a variety of these questions being asked by different travelers on forums like Reddit and Quora.

While some folks think that carrying a carry-on bag is more of a headache than its worth, others swear by it as an essential travel item. So, why should you bother with a carry-on bag if you can check a larger suitcase and bring hand luggage?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the perks of having carry-on luggage and why it could be the secret to effortless and organized travel.

Let’s take a closer look! 

What’s the point of a carry-on bag if you have a checked bag?

The point of a carry-on bag is to have a convenient and accessible place to store essential items and valuables that you may need during your trips, such as your passport, wallet, phone, medications, or a change of clothes. And if heaven forbid, your checked bag gets lost or delayed, your trusty carry-on luggage can save the day by providing backup supplies until your checked bag is located.

So while you can certainly travel with checked luggage and a personal item bag, carrying a carry-on bag offers several benefits, including convenience, accessibility, time-saving, cost-saving, and peace of mind.

Get more details below:

A carry-on bag serve as a backup in case your checked luggage gets lost or delayed

What is the Point of a Carry-On Bag if You Can Check Your Luggage and Have a Personal Item? : a woman frustrated about her lost luggage at the airport

It can be extremely inconvenient to arrive at your vacation or business destination and have to do without necessary clothing and toiletries until the airline locates and delivers your luggage, which can take several days or even longer in some cases.

Unfortunately, this is a situation that many travelers have faced.

To further emphasize this point, consider the fact that in April 2022, U.S. airlines mishandled nearly 220,000 bags, including those that were lost, delayed, damaged, or stolen, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

However, carrying essential items with you in your carry-on baggage can significantly alleviate such situations, particularly if you are traveling for business or attending important events.

This gives you more control over the safety of your valuable items. 

Many members of travel communities on platforms such as RedditQuoraTripadvisor, and Flyertalk share this sentiment.

A Quora member who lost their luggage three times shared that they always carry a laptop backpack (as a personal item) and a larger bag (as a carry-on item) even when checking in a bag.

By bringing carry-on luggage, you always know the location of your belongings and can keep a closer eye on them during your journey. This is especially important when you are carrying valuable items or important travel documents. 

It allows you to keep your most valuable items with you at all times

What is the Point of a Carry-On Bag if You Can Check Your Luggage and Have a Personal Item?

With a carry-on, you have the advantage of being able to keep your most valuable and essential items with you at all times.

This ensures that you are in control of your belongings and can access them whenever you need them during your journey.

If you have important, fragile, or expensive items like passports, jewelry, electronic gadgets, cameras, medications, or other valuable possessions, I highly recommended that you keep them in your carry-on bag to prevent them from being lost or stolen.

Doing so can save you the inconvenience of having to replace them, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

Moreover, carrying carry-on luggage enables you to store items that are not recommended to be kept in checked luggage, such as battery packs.

This is because certain items, including lithium-ion batteries, are permitted on the plane but not in checked baggage due to safety concerns. 

Bringing a carry-on along with other bags allows you to pack as much as possible

What is the Point of a Carry-On Bag if You Can Check Your Luggage and Have a Personal Item? : an overstuff luggage

Carrying carry-on baggage in addition to checked luggage can provide several benefits, especially when traveling for extended periods or work.

Firstly, there may be instances when your checked baggage allowance is not enough to carry all your essentials. In such cases, carry-on luggage can serve as an additional storage option for essentials that you want to keep close at hand.

According to a Reddit member, keeping their checked luggage below the weight restrictions has multiple benefits. Not only does it ensure that they don’t incur any excess baggage fees, but it also makes it easier to carry and lift two lighter bags instead of struggling with one heavy bag.

Secondly, there may be sensitive items, such as electronics or documents, that you prefer to keep within your sight during the flight, rather than being checked in with your hold luggage, or mishandled by baggage handlers. A carry-on bag allows you to keep these items in your possession throughout the journey, ensuring their safety.

Furthermore, carry-on baggage also enables you to keep items that you pick up from the airport, such as souvenirs or duty-free purchases. You can store these items in your carry-on luggage, avoiding the need to repack your checked luggage or risk exceeding the weight limit. 


Can you have a personal item and a carry-on?

Absolutely! Most airlines allow passengers to bring a personal item and a carry-on bag when flying. A personal item is usually a smaller bag, such as a purse, briefcase, or laptop bag, that can fit under the seat in front of you.

Meanwhile, a carry-on bag is a larger bag, typically measuring 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, that can be stowed in the overhead compartment or fit underneath the seat in front of you.

Can you have a checked bag and a carry-on?

Yes, you can have both a checked bag and a carry-on when traveling on an airplane. The carry-on bag is meant to be stored in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you and can usually be a small suitcase or backpack.

The checked bag is typically larger and heavier and is meant to be stored in the cargo hold of the plane. But remember, airlines may have different rules and restrictions regarding the size, weight, and number of bags allowed, so I recommend that you always check with your airline before you travel.

Can I bring two personal items on a plane?

No, typically airlines only allow one personal item per passenger when flying. The reason for this is that personal items are usually intended to be stowed under the seat in front of you, which limits the available space.

However, some airlines may make exceptions for certain situations. For example, they may allow passengers traveling with infants to bring an additional diaper bag on board.

My advice is that you should always check with your individual airline before traveling to make sure you’re aware of their specific rules and size requirement regarding personal items.

Is it better to check a bag or carry-on?

Deciding to check a bag or carry-on with you onboard depends on the length and type of trip, airline policies, and of course, your personal preference.

A carry-on bag can be convenient and cost-effective for short trips, but a piece of a large suitcase may be necessary for longer trips or specific purposes, because of its spacious packing capacity.

What is not allowed in a carry-on?

Certain items are not allowed in a carry-on bag due to safety and security reasons. The following items are generally prohibited in a carry-on bag:

  • Sharp objects such as knives, scissors, and razor blades (excluding safety razors)
  • Firearms and explosives
  • Flammable substances such as gasoline, aerosol sprays, and lighter fluid
  • Liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters)
  • Illegal drugs and other controlled substances

You can head to the TSA website for a more conclusive list.

What is allowed in a carry-on bag?

Many items are allowed in a carry-on bag when flying. Here are some common examples:

  • Clothes and personal hygiene items, such as toothpaste and deodorant
  • Electronic devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones
  • Medications and medical devices, such as inhalers and EpiPens
  • Non-flammable liquids and gels in containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or smaller
  • Snacks and food items
  • Books and magazines
  • Jewelry
  • Other allowed items: Many other items are allowed in carry-on bags, such as umbrellas, cameras, and baby items like diapers and formula.

Again, it’s important to check with your airline for their specific guidelines and restrictions regarding carry-on items, as they may vary depending on the airline baggage rules and destination.

What is the difference between a carry-on and a checked-in bag?

The main difference between carry-on and checked luggage is that carry-on bags are smaller bags that you can bring with you onto the plane that fits in the overhead bin during the flight, while checked luggage is larger bags that you hand over to the airline at check-in and are stowed in the cargo hold of the plane.

Closing Thoughts

What is the Point of a Carry-On Bag if You Can Check Your Luggage and Have a Personal Item? : carry-on luggage in overhead bin compartment

So, what is the purpose of a carry on luggage if you already check a luggage and have a personal item?

The purpose of a carry on even if you have a check luggage is to give you easy access to your must-have items during the flight, but it can also be a real lifesaver if your checked baggage gets lost or delayed. So if you are wondering whether to invest in one, we think it’s a wise move to do so.

What’s more, a well-chosen carry-on bag can give you extra space to pack efficiently and avoid annoying fees and restrictions with checked luggage.

Overall, bringing a carry-on bag along may take a little extra effort, but it’s definitely a smart choice for any traveler looking to make the most of their journey.

Have travelled without a carry on before? Would you consider getting a carry on the next time you travel. I’d love to hear your experience in the comments section below!

And for any other general questions on carry-on luggage, you are sure to find answers in my ultimate guide to Carry-on luggage post.

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