Monday, July 30, 2012

Best Tips for Keeping Track of Checked Luggage

Photo by Russell Lee via Library of Congress website []

It hasn't happened to me yet, but I am slightly paranoid about losing a bag while flying, especially internationally.

I take all sorts of precautions to try to prevent it from happening:

  • Before packing for a new adventure, I remove any stickers/tags that the airlines have placed on my suitcases on previous trips, since these direct baggage handlers where to send my bag. I really don't need my luggage going to Mazatlan when I'm now going to India!  Also, I always double check the new tags that are placed on my bags at check in, as well my claim stubs, to make sure they both have the correct destination listed.  
  • This may be overkill, but I place at least 3 identification cards in my bag, one visible from the outside in the little transparent pocket and another two inside.  Instead of listing my home address, I list my email address, a phone number--either my cell phone if I will have it available or a phone number at my destination, and the address of my destination (e.g. a hotel).  
  • I pack all essentials (medications, expensive items, a change of clothes, etc.) in my carry on.  Doing this is pretty much a given these days, but I continue to hear stories of people whose bags have gone missing and then they are left scrambling to get new prescriptions and clothes.  Not a fun way to spend the first day of vacation!   

I've seen lots of crazy ways of differentiating one's suitcase from everyone else's and I've tried a number of things myself, some with better luck than others.  A baggage-handler friend of mine cautioned me against tying anything like a scarf or bandana onto my bag, since apparently these are a frequent cause of luggage getting lost due to the fabric getting stuck in the conveyor belts.  

Some ideas for those who, like me, have black/dark colored luggage:

  • Write on the outside of your bag with chalk--wipes off easily once you arrive
  • For something more permanent, draw all over your bag with a silver Sharpie  
  • Stick colorful duct tape across the bottom or other hard surface on your luggage and write something creative on it 
  • I like to get my bag "shrink wrapped." for international flights and place a bright neon paper with my last name written on it in between the last few layers of plastic.  I first had this done when coming home from India and thought the idea of wrapping bags was genius!  I also put other identifying marks on the bag in case the plastic gets torn or removed.

I'd love to hear from you!  Please share your best ideas for identifying your checked luggage or preventing it from getting lost in the comments below.

Please visit Walkingon Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups for more great travel tips every Tuesday!