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11 tips to help you avoid losing your luggage

September 4, 2017
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We’ve all been there, some more than others.

Nothing can prepare you for that wrenching feeling of in the pit of your stomach when you’re the last one at the carousel and the penny drops that, unlike you, your bag hasn’t quite made it to the same destination.

It’s hardly the ideal way to start any trip but there are ways to combat the impending sense of frustration and anger. Remember to take that deep breath, remain (or return to being) cool and follow these handy steps for next time.

Check-in early

One of the most common reasons for people being divorced from their cargo is through check-in. Whether it’s a last-minute sprint to the desk a la Home Alone or you’ve lost track of time at the airport bar, tardiness at the check-in desk massively increases your risk of losing luggage at the other end of your journey. Leave yourself 30 minutes at the very least but in this instance the more time you have, the better.

Stand out from the crowd

Another huge contributor to lost luggage is a case of mistaken identity. There might be a lot of options for suitcases out there but you’d be surprised by how many folks have the same ones as you. It’s always useful to get to the carousel and spot yours out from the crowd and there are several ways you can achieve this. One option is a colourful luggage strap or you could go for a sticker or something tied around a handle to quickly identify your suitcase.

Simple is best

Despite us saying in the last point to put something on your luggage to make it stand out, you only want it to stand out to you. Not the whole airport. This means no diamond studded outer casing or outlandish prints and colours. All you’ll do in this instance is attract the wrong kind of attention. Carousel areas tend to be a pick-pockets playground so any luggage that looks like it came with a hefty price tag could be ‘picked up’ by the wrong person.

Avoid short layovers

As well as late check-in, most airports state this as being one of the principle reasons for your luggage going missing. Remember your bag has to be transferred from one airplane to the next so delays on your first journey could put you in a precarious position. On top of this, you yourself might need to check-in again to any connecting flight so it’s best to leave yourself a couple of hours if you’re adding another leg to your journey.

Be phone-y

You might think a clean break at the carousel and getting in a taxi means you’re out of the woods. Wrong. Long-haul flights, different time zones and travelling in general bring on unwanted fatigue – which often makes us drop our guard. If you’re feeling sleepy in the back of the cab we suggest setting an alarm for the duration of the car journey. Make sure the alarm says ‘luggage’ to remind you to collect at your destination so your drowsiness doesn’t get the better of you.

Remember to take that deep breath, remain (or return to being) cool and follow these handy steps for next time.

Flashy padlocks are a no

Making the association between a big fancy looking padlock and valuable contents isn’t too uncommon. Don’t forget once you’ve checked your luggage in it’s completely out of sight to you for hours but it passes through several other people who may have prying eyes. Having an ostentatious padlock may even result in people trying to break it to see what’s inside. A nice durable, understated padlock is exactly what you need for the job at hand.

Share your load

To paraphrase the popular saying, ‘two suitcases are better than one.’ If you’re going away as a couple or even a family it might be prescient to split the packing before you board your flight. If you share out your clothing and accessories between two suitcases rather than having your own, it might prevent you from landing with nothing. Just remember not to put all your shorts in one basket – there’s not much point arriving somewhere with 5 pairs and no t-shirts.

Suitcase selfie

No, we’re not trying to start a new Instagram craze here – and it may seem a little OTT – but taking a photo of your luggage to show the airline desk at your destination can prove handy. If your luggage does go AWOL you might find the language barrier at the airport could cause problems when trying to retrieve it. Having a photo of your case gives the airline a strong idea of what they’re looking for.

Get tech savvy

Losing your stuff is the worst. Losing your luggage is a whole other ball game. Luckily we live in an age of new-fangled technology that makes it easier than ever to keep tabs on all your clobber. There’s a wealth of apps and gadgets now available that you can attach to your suitcase – some will even come with built-in security – to help prevent loss. Luggage trackers like TRACE ME link to the worldwide airline baggage system to help identify any lost items. Then there’s the sophisticated Bag2Go – this system embeds a satellite tracker into your suitcase that links to an app on your phone so you can track your belongings should they go astray.

Tag your bag

Probably the simplest sounding direction on this list but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t do this. Make sure you tag your bag. Attaching a tag to your suitcase with all your vital contact information can be a saving grace if your luggage wanders on a different path to yours. For extra insurance you can also include a duplicate of your contact info in one of the side pockets.

Manners cost nothing

It’s no secret travelling can be stressful, particularly longer flights and especially if you arrive at your destination only to find out your luggage is nowhere to be seen. Catastrophe! Situations like that can make your blood boil but you have to remember the staff at the airline’s desk are probably just as stressed, if not more so, and they don’t need you charging all guns blazing looking for someone to vent at. Take that deep breath – you can even count to 10 if you’re really ticked off – remain polite and you’ll find a calm demeanour will make them a lot more inclined to help your plight.

Jack O'RiordanView all posts

Jack is the editor of The Leisure Lounge. Expert in the art of writing things and putting them online. Loves travelling, especially anywhere in southeast Asia. Hates mushrooms.