View Full Version : Check or Carry-On?

01-10-2007, 22:40
So I'm flying to Mississippi to visit my girlfriend, and then she's driving me to the trailhead. I'm worried about checking my bag. I've checked a pack before (luckily, returning from an adventure) and it was lost by the airline. I got it back, but it took a week. I'd really rather not be stranded for a week, but my pack is way too big to tack as a carry on. Any ideas?

01-10-2007, 22:49
What about Amtrak? They don't enforce any carry on restrictions.

You could also UPS your pack, or at least some of the stuff and carry on the rest.

Appalachian Tater
01-10-2007, 23:31
If you fly, make sure they put the proper label on your luggage. Check the destination code yourself. If they get that wrong, it will definitely go to the wrong place and it does happen.

Consider putting it in a duffel or something that is less likely to snag in conveyor equipment or cart and be less desireable for airline employees to dig through looking for goodies.

Don't check your bag at the curb, check it at the counter and tell the person checking it how important it is that it get to where you're going. Don't check it too early or too late.

If they have those plastic tubs, ask them to put it in one.

Put your name and address on the outside, in an outside pocket, and on the inside all on full sheet of paper written in marker with phone numbers and address for your destination, not your home.

Make sure your flight is direct, luggage often gets lost making a connection.

01-11-2007, 01:46
Road trip to Mississippi. That's what I'd do. What kind of restrictions are there reguarding knives/any pointy object in your pack? I know airport security is crazy about carry on luggage, but are they as crazy about check-in bags? And my apologies for answering your question with a question.

01-11-2007, 02:00
I've already got my ticket. I have TWO layovers. I did the roadtrip last fall-- my car broke down and I almost lost all of my money for the trail trying to get it fixed and then finally buying a ticket home (I managed to work hard and earn some new funds). I've carried a pocket knife and jetboil canisters on a checked bag before and had no problems. Thank for the travel tips Tater! That's exactly the sort of info I was looking for.

David S.
01-11-2007, 08:09
I would highly recommend putting your backpack in a large duffle type bag as was stated before. There are just way to many things that dangle off of a backpack that could be damaged or snagged by the automated luggage systems in some airports. Also, If I were a thief, a backpack would to me, be more temping than say a non descript duffel...but of course I'm a backpacker! LOL.

Johnny Swank
01-11-2007, 08:53
I'd ship the thing UPS ahead of time and not deal with all the worry.

01-11-2007, 09:50
I've carried a pocket knife and jetboil canisters on a checked bag before and had no problems.

The jetboil canisters only went through because security f--ked-up. They are illegal as carry-on AND checked luggage. No stove fuels OR stoves that haven't been thorougly cleaned(liquid fuel) are allowed, and the used stoves are a judgement call by security.

01-11-2007, 10:13
Knives are allowed in checked baggage, and the duffel bag is perfect. I plan on putting everything in my crappy-looking-wal*mart-shopping-nothing-valuable-in-here-army-duffel-bag. I threw my ski boots in there for a trip to CO and back over christmas and new years, and despite two blizzards they didn't lose it and nothing was stolen (left the bag unlocked, too). A full backpack, brand name, is just asking for someone to steal something.

01-11-2007, 11:02
Ok great. I'm pretty much asking for disaster with this. Should have done another road trip. In one bag i'll have all of my nice new camping equipment (and the stuff that isn't so new I'm very emotionally attached to) and in the other bag I've got an expensive bottle of wine (for my gf's parents). I'll let you all know how it goes.

01-11-2007, 11:30
If you have TWO layovers and if either involve changing planes, there is an increased chance of your luggage not getting where you want it to. UPS what you can and carry the rest on.

01-11-2007, 11:40
I agree with those who say to put your pack in a duffle bag. That's what I did when I went to Alaska a few years ago and had no problems. Another thing, in the last four years I have taken 20-25 business trips (along with a couple personal trips) and not once did the airlines lose any luggage. I really think that is a minimal concern but with such important stuff it can't hurt to be a little extra cautious with markings and ensuring the airlines tag the bags correctly. Good luck!

Kevin A. Boyce
01-11-2007, 12:01
Give yourself some piece of mind and ship stuff... especially the items that can cause confusion at the airport... Between the TSA and the airlines and the people at the counters, one may allow an item to go through, the next person may not.

When I went to Alaska this summer I mailed ahead all of the things that may have raised a concern, stoves, knives, etc, used some of my clothes as packing material, and saved myself the headaches.

If you get the weight down enough by shipping, you may end up with just a carry on...

Good luck on your hike!

01-11-2007, 12:44
When I did my hike in 2001, before things were so strick , I was concerned with shipping my pack also. I went to a boat yard and got some of that white shrink wrap that they put on boats to store them. They gave me a piece free. Wraped the pack and used a hair dryer to shrink the plastic. Added some rope for a handle and it worked fine.

Old Grouse
01-11-2007, 13:36
There are several baggage forwarding companies that will pick up and deliver your bag(s) to any destination you name, including your hotel, etc. Among these are Baggage Direct, Luggage Forward, Luggage Concierge and Luggage Free. I haven't used any of these - just passing on the fact that they exist.

01-11-2007, 14:39
Your bag probably is just small enough to fit on a carry on. I would not check the luggage. And when you get to the terminal if they say your bag is too big, they'll check it there and it will go on the planes luggage right when you board and you'll be able to pick it up right after you get off the plane. This way it's with you the whole time.

My last flight with checked luggage my luggage never made it and I didn't get it till the next day.

Good luck.

01-11-2007, 16:26
My recomendation:

Never check anything that you absolutly need within a day or two of landing. I just don't do it anymore. On my first thru attempt they lost my luggage on the way to Maine. Seeing that my mother joined me for the first 100 miles we had a schedual to keep and didn't have time to wait around for luggage. Ended up comming last minuete, and we had a great shuttle driver that drove us around town until the plane with my luggage landed. I had two bags, and only one guarented, so we had plans to buy everything new in Bangor if we needed too. Not a fun plan. As things went I ended up sorting and dealing with everything at baxter state park while fighting the blackflies. Our shuttle driver was picking my mother up from Monson, so he was bringing me my next food drop, so I had a fair amount to sort. No one should have to go through all that at the start of a thru.

Since I believe you are leaving tomorrow you don't have time to mail all the things you cannot check (I have flown with tent stakes before, but it really freaks out security, so I don't recomend it. Who knows, mabey I'll hijack the plane with tent stakes) to your destination. I would recomend therefore only checking the items that you absolutly cannot carry, and carry the rest onto the plane. Have a complete list written down and carried in your pocket of what you have in your luggage, that way incase your luggage doesnt make it in time you can make a rush trip to the outfitter and know exactally what you need to buy. Most likely you luggage will make it, but I had my luggage lost three times the summer I attempted my thru.


01-12-2007, 09:21
I used to use the duffel bag but always had the problem of where to store it, how to get it back, when I arrived at my destination. So far the airlines have never lost one but I ship ahead when I can.

Instead of the duffel bag, pack your pack then put it inside a GOOD (read heavier mil) plastic garbage bag, the kind for leaves. Then commence to wrap it all up around and over with duct tape to make it as small and as tight a package as possible. Then, take some of your cordage that you always take on your hikes, and that you kept out of the pack just for this purpose, and begin to wrap it all around that. Now you have a built-in handhold to carry your packed pack, some place for the airlines to affix their destination/name ribbon, and someplace to affix your name tag in a few places...just in case. Believe me, nobody will want to steal your stuff now. Wrapped up like that, anyone seeing it will assume its worthless.

When you arrive at your destination, and you pick your gypsy-like bundle from off the luggage carousel, undo the cordage in one piece and stow in your pocket. Unpeel the duct tape and plastic, throw in trash, shoulder your pack and off you go. Reverse procedure for flying home.

Some thoughts on UPS & USPS. Surprisingly the latter one is now, apparently, much faster. In July I mailed resupply boxes from here, a small town in central Florida, to Chama, NM & Pagosa Springs, CO. They both arrived at the post offices in just two days. Now Chama is really off the beaten path and i mailed them two weeks early "just in case".