If you think the hardest part of a holiday is trying to fit all your worldly clothes and goods in a suitcase with a 20-kilogram limit, then you will be astounded by what some tourists choose to pack. Here are some of the most bizarre, even weird and wonderful items that have been discovered on a plane or tried to smuggle through an airport.

The US Transportation Security Administration highlighted some of its more eye-opening catches from passengers in 2023. These have included replica rockets found in luggage at Minneapolis-St Paul International and a 35-millimetre projectile at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which had to be taken away by the bomb squad.

Other banned items making their way onto TSA's Top 10 list of 2023 included Naruto throwing knives in a carry-on at Boston, a knife found inside a loaf of keto bread at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and even a firearm fully loaded with 163 rounds of ammo.

An inert hand grenade caused a scene when it was found in a carry-on bag at Milwaukee Mitchell Airport, while three cattle prods stuffed inside a passenger's carry-on guitar case were found at Dulles International Airport.

Other eye-openers included a double-bladed knife hidden inside the casing of a laptop, a loaded 9mm handgun from a medical sling and, disassembled parts of a handgun wrapped in plastic and a magazine loaded with ammo inside jars of peanut butter.

Some of the weirder items to get left behind include a Neil Diamond's xylophone, a functional 14-foot-long rocket, a full-size headstone, and a coin purse made from an actual frog. On the more luxurious end was a presidential platinum Rolex valued at $64,000, Versace runway samples, and a 40-karat emerald.

Even more bizarre to be claimed or found are a karaoke set and bongo drums in Australia, rare Rhino beetles left on a plane in America, and a toilet seat complete with the cistern in the UK. Security officials in Ireland were said to have turned back a tourist with a 15kg boulder.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama, once reported an Egyptian burial mask and mummified falcon found in an old Gucci suitcase. It has also received an 18th-century violin, a live rattlesnake and a Barbie doll stuffed with $500 of rolled bills.

A bicycle was one of the many weird objects that appeared at Singapore's Changi Airport. Meanwhile, in the UK, one airport revealed some of the more unusual items to have been recovered – like a suitcase packed with ginger nuts, digestive biscuits, and a bag full of salami. Other surprising items included drills, a guitar, snow globes and even a steering wheel!

In Australia, a single prosthetic leg was left at an airport, mysteriously never to be reclaimed by its owner.

And while they can't be fitted into a carry-on or a suitcase, there have been reports of a baby being left in an airport and a husband being left behind. But those tales are for another time!

Andy Probert - The Wise TravellerAndy Probert is an experienced freelance business travel journalist and PR specialist.