The Ultimate Guide For Using A Backpack As Checked Luggage

Why use a backpack as checked luggage? With so many wonderful options for luggage, it may not seem practical to use a backpack as your main luggage. But using a backpack as your checked luggage can be a great advantage for several reasons. 

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Flexibility and Mobility

Backpacks are simply easier to maneuver, especially in crowded spaces and when traveling and moving between gates during a layover. Once you reach your destination if you exclusively use public transportation to reach your accommodations, it’s much easier to get around when you pack light and have your hands free.


A good backpack will not only make it easy to carry all of your stuff but will keep you organized and feature multiple pockets and compartments. Things such as documents are also easily accessible when stored in your backpack. 

Outdoor and Adventure Travel

Of course, for outdoor and adventure travel a backpack is the way to go. It’s best for carrying your gear like hiking boots, camping equipment, or other supplies and is a must for when you’re on the go. 

Protection of contents

If you’re carrying fragile items and you’re afraid that they may be damaged when handled, then perhaps a hard case is better to use. Even though you can find a good durable backpack, they simply don’t provide the same protection that other cases can, especially when you’re not going to be the one handling it the whole time.


While having a bunch of little compartments and pockets is ideal for storage and organization, it’s not so much for security. An effort to thoroughly screen your bag may be a bit more difficult and may require a physical search.

Space restrictions

If you’re using a backpack as a checked bag and you have a good-sized backpack, be sure that it fits within the airline’s size and weight requirements. You may end up packing more stuff in your backpack than you realize.


Check airline policies

As mentioned, make sure that you’re familiar with the size and weight regulations of the airlines that you’re taking. If you’re taking multiple airlines don’t forget to check with each one.

Use a durable backpack

Your backpack will have a bit of a rougher go of it than checked luggage, so make sure that you purchase something that is made of good durable material that will stand up to some abuse. 

This is a great choice for its sturdy material and great quality.

Pack efficiently

Make the most of your space by rolling your clothes and even using packing cubes. This helps you to stay organized and saves a tremendous amount of space. Also, make full use of the many pockets and compartments that you have.

Check more essential space-saving packing tips here.

Protect fragile items

Pack your most fragile items in the middle of your pack so that you have some sort of cushion to protect them. You can also use bubble wrap for added protection.

Secure zippers and straps

You want to prevent accidental opening or damage so be sure to secure them properly. Some backpacks will come with zippers that lock so keep that in mind when selecting your backpack. 

Use TSA approved locks

Speaking of locks, you’ll want to use locks approved by the TSA to ensure that the security agents can open the locks if needed without breaking them. 

You can purchase your TSA-approved locks here.

Remove essential items

Some items simply don’t go in checked luggage such as important documents, prescription medication, or valuables. You can bring them in a carry-on or personal item instead.

Also, check airline guidelines because other items such as certain batteries or chargers are not allowed in checked luggage.

Label your backpack

Adding your name, contact information, and destination address to your bag will help it to be returned to you in case it gets lost.

Use a rain cover

If you plan on using your backpack a lot for outdoor or adventure travel you especially want to bring a rain cover for your pack. A rain cover can also help keep your pack dry when it’s being loaded and unloaded from the plane.

Photograph your packed items

Taking pictures of your items, especially important items, can be important if your bag or its contents are lost or damaged and you need to file a claim.


By following these tips, you can pack all that you need and be flexible with your backpack as your main piece of luggage. Before you head out, make sure to check out our essential travel checklist as well as our ultimate guide on how to plan your family trip so that you’ll be certain to have everything that you need for an awesome adventure.


  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog,, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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The Ultimate Guide For Using A Backpack As Checked Luggage
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