Last Updated: September 10, 2023

Can I Check A Cardboard Box As Luggage?

Curious about cardboard boxes as checked luggage? You’re in the right place then! This guide will tell you if it’s possible to check a cardboard box, as well as everything else you need to know about using boxes as luggage.

Read on to see if you can check a cardboard box as luggage, but also to get some tips on traveling with unconventional luggage!

Can You Use a Cardboard Box as Checked Luggage?

Yes, you can check in a cardboard box as checked luggage. Just keep in mind that you have to comply with airline rules and regulations just like with any other piece of checked luggage.

The same rules apply as with normal luggage, which means that:

  • Number of checked items: the number of checked items is only one or two depending on your route
  • Weight Limits there are weight limits for each piece of checked luggage, usually 50 lbs
  • Size Limits: size limits also apply, usually 62 inches linear (sum of all dimensions L x W x D)
  • Excess Weight Charges: excess size or weight will likely incur extra fees

The airlines really don’t care what you’re carrying your things in, as long as you follow their rules. In fact, this is a common occurrence in Asia – students and ex-pats ship cardboard boxes across the country all the time, and airline personnel is used to handling them gently. But it’s not that common in the rest of the world.

Oversized or Overweight Luggage Fees

The exact restrictions and fees depend on the airline, but in most cases, the maximum size of checked luggage is 62” linear. This is usually a 27” x 21” x 14” suitcase, and bigger bags are often subject to oversized baggage fees. In addition to that, most airlines will accept luggage that weighs up to 50 lbs – anything heavier than that and you’ll also need to pay an overweight baggage fee.

On the other hand, this also means that you can check as big a box as you want, as long as you pay for it.

Will A Cardboard Box Survive as Checked Luggage?

Torn Cardboard

It’s not as likely as a normal suitcase. Baggage handlers are notorious for destroying hard side suitcases that cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars – do you really think a piece of cardboard has any chance against them?

The box may not survive the trip intact, but the items inside must. Don’t pack anything fragile or valuable in a cardboard box. Instead, use it for items that are bulky but not breakable. Clothes, pillows, towels, and anything else that won’t shatter into pieces if it lands on the wrong corner.

Also, you may want to wrap or protect more fragile content inside another box and inside bubble wrap or clothes.


How do you pack a cardboard box as checked luggage?

There are some things you can do to make that cardboard box a little sturdier and help ensure that the box shows up in one piece on the luggage carousel.

  1. Line the interior of the box with bubble wrap to protect against impact
  2. Potentially pack more fragile items inside a smaller box.
  3. Fill the cardboard box completely to stop items from moving around
  4. Wrap the box in plastic wrap to make it studier
  5. Or use a box that is double-walled, or put a slightly smaller box inside a larger one

However, keep in mind that the TSA still reserves the right to open your checked luggage – even if it’s a box – and see what’s inside. If you want to wrap the exterior of the box with plastic, your best bet is to consult someone at the airport. Let them look inside the box and then wrap it, otherwise, you’re just wasting plastic wrap.

Use A Plastic Box Instead

Polycarbonate Box

Consider using a plastic box instead of a cardboard one. You can buy polycarbonate boxes with insane capacities that are a hundred times more durable than cardboard boxes.

Polycarbonate is the most popular material for hard shell luggage. It’s also the priciest and most durable type of plastic out there due to the flexibility that allows it to bend upon pressure. And you can get a high-capacity polycarbonate food box! Sure it’s a lot more expensive than a plain cardboard box, but it significantly reduces the chances of your belongings getting damaged in transport.

One thing worth noting is that you’ll need luggage straps or something similar to put on the box. This secures the lid and if you add TSA-friendly locks, your box is just as functional as a suitcase!

Can You Use a Cardboard Box as Carry-on Luggage or a Personal Item?

Yes, you can take a cardboard box as a carry-on. Airlines do not restrict the material your carry-on or personal item can be made of.

They only restrict the size and weight of your carry-on. So, you have to comply with those rules. This means it should be able to fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins.

What size box can be checked as luggage?

The maximum size box that can be checked as luggage is 62” linear, which is the equivalent of a 27” x 21” x 14” suitcase. Linear inches are the same as the length, width, and height of your box.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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