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carry on luggage vs checked

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counting the days down to my trip to Tanzania in May!
Here is the nitty gritty:
flying Delta/KLM from Phoenix-Detriot-AMS-JRO

Have started packing and am running into a dilemma's/questions.

1. sounds stupid - but as the Detriot flight will be the first international leg - will I have to go claim my checked luggage once I land in Detroit and then go through security or whatever you go through when leaving the US? or will it (the luggage) switch planes like normal US flights with connections?
2. That same question then applies for the plane switch in Amsterdam - do I have to go claim luggage and go back through security/customs/whatever it is there if I am not leaving the airport? or again, will it automatically change planes.

3. KLM has 26 lb weight limit for carry on's. I am currently at about 29 lbs. Am I better off (safer) taking everything as a carry on and if they say too heavy - having them check it at the gate so I know it gets on the plane (and paying a fee I am sure for doing it that way)
OR
packing small carry on with essentials, packing one checked bag and hoping it makes to Tanzania and then back home? (on the trip back home we have 1 hr 10 minute layover in AMS to make our connection - is that enough time for checked bags)?

I feel like this is a rambling post/question, but hopefully someone can help guide me a bit!

thanks for your time
:)

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