Dude, where’s my luggage?

November 6, 2015

avoid-lost-luggageHoliday travel looms on the horizon and every flyer is concerned with and anxious to avoid the hassles of  lost luggage. Of course, you can’t avoid human error completely, but there are some things you can do to increase the odds that you and your luggage will celebrate the holidays together. Here’s how to avoid lost luggage:

Don’t fly with overtly expensive luggage.

Oh, I know you don’t want to part with your gorgeous leather Tumi, but you may pay more than the hefty price of the bag for your brand loyalty. That’s because expensive luggage seems to disappear more often. High-end luggage is a hint that the contents may be worth stealing. Not to mention that nice bag. Save your gorgeous, expensive bags for road trips.

Tag your bags inside and out.

Make sure your contact info is on tags–I always have at least two attached to the two handles on my bags in case one gets destroyed. Yes, that’s happened.  I also throw a business card in my luggage, right on top. It’s also a good idea to include your itinerary inside your bag, easily found by airline personnel if necessary.

avoid-lost-luggageTie a colorful ribbon around the handle

Many bags look like, but an obnoxious ribbon will help prevent someone from accidentally taking your bag. After all, it’s not their ribbon.  A couple years ago we bought obnoxiously purple bags to take to India, figuring they would be easy to identify. Apparently, it wasn’t an unusual idea because darling hubby walked off with someone else’s purple bag. It was 1 a.m. in Mumbai. Fortunately, all parties were reunited with their luggage a few hours later, but only because the concierge at our five-star hotel got it all figured out. Left to our own devices, the story might have had a different ending.

So yes, tie a colorful ribbon on the handle. We do that now.

Check the airline tags as they are being attached.

Make sure it’s your destination on that tag and not the customer ahead or behind you. It’s easy for airline personnel to make a mistake, especially when they are helping clueless passengers at “self-service” kiosks.

Airlines are testing digital luggage tags that include tracking devices inside a bag but they’re not in use, yet.

Buy your own GPS luggage tracker.

I’ve seen several interesting options now available. Trakdot gets great reviews and is around $80.  Here’s what they claim:

Trakdot Luggage™ provides airport-specific location information for your checked luggage by constantly monitoring the cellular network to determine its city location. When you fly, Trakdot™ Luggage knows and goes to sleep. Upon arriving at your destination, Trakdot™ Luggage wakes up and reports its new location. Depending on your preferences, a text-message or email is sent to you confirming that your luggage has arrived with you.

I’m going to get at least one of these to try it out.

avoid-lost-luggageDivide your belongings between your bags.

It would be unusual for more than one bag to get lost on a trip, although it’s happened. In any case, my husband and I divide our belongings between our bags so that even if one gets lost, we’ve got some things to carry us over until it’s found. Of course, my gay husband was on our Sicily trip last year and his luggage was lost for weeks. All of it. Weeks. In any case, if you are traveling with another, splitting your stuff between your bags is still a good idea.

Carry on a few days of clothes.

Alitalia lost my bags for three days one year. Since then, I always carry on at least three days worth of outfits and maybe more, plus underwear. Oh, the blessing of clean underwear!

And just in case:

Bring along airline contact info for lost luggage just in case you are stuck somewhere. Normally, there is a lost baggage counter, but it’s helpful to have with you a phone number for lost luggage claims.

So that’s my best advice to avoid lost luggage. Got some advice of your own? I hope you’ll share it in the Comments so everyone can benefit.  Happy trails!


53 comments on “Dude, where’s my luggage?
  1. Great tips and a fun read! I love the idea of a GPS luggage tracker.

  2. We learned our lesson on our honeymoon. Going from the dead of winter wearing heavy clothing to a tropical island we foolishly packed all our clothing in our suitcases. Jokes aside from needing clothes on a honeymoon I needed the luggage. We stayed on an island with nowhere to shop, so a suit or a hairbrush for my (then) long hair was definitely necessary! Now we follow all of your instructions.

  3. There are at least 5 great tips here that I never considered. Pinned this to my travel board.

  4. Love these, especially don’t travel with expensive. We travel all over the world last minute and our luggage looks it. Looters don’t tag them for quick theft. I don’t care if they get tossed or scraped. We also use bright luggage tags to grab them easily

  5. Shellie says:

    Wow Carol, I have stood at the luggage claim more than a few times! These are some great, practical tips. Hopped over from MBA!


  6. Cori says:

    All very good tips. We use military surplus Marine and Army daypack backpacks. Those are difficult to confuse that with standard luggage. Also, being backpacks, it’s sooooo much easier to get through train stations and airports.

  7. Love this..seems like everyone has a lost luggage story. Mine is too long for here…but I’ve still learned lessons from you. And that GPS tracker is a great gift for some of my family members who travel. Thanks, Carol!

  8. Carol Graham says:

    I always follow these instructions but never thought of a GPS tracker. Good one!

  9. Fantastic tips, Carol. I do most but thanks to you, I’ve got some more tricks!

  10. Laurie Oien says:

    Great tips! I love the ribbon idea. Dividing clothes up in different bags…brilliant! Pinning as a reminder for, hopefully, the next vacation. 🙂

  11. Gary Mathews says:

    What are the odds of two people with obnoxiously loud purple bags!

  12. Naina Paris says:

    My mom told me the ribbon idea; I’ll tell her the GPS tracker idea.!
    Thanks for the post. 🙂

  13. My housemate obeyed all the airlines rules and they lost his luggage. He had to buy all new clothes and toiltetries. His luggage arrived home before he did, ha!

  14. I love all these trip tips! I am saving a pdf of this post so that Thanksgiving travel will be less of a hassle, I hope. I had wonderfully spunky Disney bag tags and they, not the luggage, kept getting stolen! I now use a bright one and a dark dull one on my bag.

  15. I’ve had my share of nightmares due to lost luggage. I never knew you could buy your own luggage GPS. Good to know.

  16. I don’t fly anymore but these are all good tips. I did lose my luggage once, so I can feel your pain 🙂

  17. Tara Reed says:

    I’ve traveled a lot so I do many of these things but the GPS is a new idea I’m liking! Off to investigate – thanks! (I just love all the things I learn from fellow MBA FB people!) 🙂

  18. Katy Kozee says:

    This is one of my random fears even though it’s never happened to me. I’ll definitely be implementing your tips – particularly dividing your belongings between luggage (duh!) and checking out the GPS luggage tracker.

  19. Ellen Dolgen says:

    I lost my luggage once 13 years ago. When they finally found my bag. It had one boot in it. Everything else was stolen. They airline offered me a few $100. I was so upset! It was a huge suitcase full of some special purses etc. I have not checked a bag since then. I learned the best way not to lose a bag is to never check one! I only take a carry-on bag!

  20. Estelle says:

    Great tips Carol. However, based on what happened in Russia, I think the future is carry-on only.

  21. These are all great suggestions Carol. I try my hardest to only take a carry on bag when I travel by air. I seem to be the queen of lost luggage. Last year when my Dad was put in Hospice care and I flew down to Florida to be with him and my mom, my luggage was lost for over a week. Hospite provided me with scrubs.

  22. Good tips, Carol. I found on my most recent trip that the carry-on bag I brought (which was a few inches smaller in all dimensions than the limit) did NOT fit in the super small cabin bins. It had to be checked in flight, which was frustrating because I needed to pull things out to keep them safe as I had planned on them being just above my head.

  23. Sheryl says:

    I had NO idea that GPS trackers existed – very cool! Losing luggage is among the top 3 travel aggravations…don’t you think?

  24. Great tips. I want to try that Trakdot. It sounds like a life saver – and something the airlines should attach to each bag!

  25. I don’t remember the last time I checked a bag, but I do like your GPS tracker suggestion. Thanks!

  26. Mary says:

    I love the idea of a tracker, I’ve have never heard of it before. Thanks for the great tips, Carol.

  27. Kathleen says:

    I love these tips, especially the GPS tracker and ribbons. One thing, especially going to 3rd world countries is to take some cash in the destination currency. Minimum amount to use a public phone up to enough money for a vehicle ride to your destination. Communication and times frequently get confused and you don’t want to be stranded at the airport.
    I am going to FEATURE the pin to this great post in Fridays Pinterest Game.

  28. Wendy says:

    Congratulations on being featured in #ThePinterestGame! Divide your stuff between bags: brilliant! 🙂

  29. Erick Obe says:

    Hi Carol , I think your tips are very good.

    However being a Hotel Concierge in London, I have handled a few of these situations.

    The majority of people’s excuses are e.g.The Porter took up the wrong bags or that didn’t come out of the Taxi! and they don’t admit to making such a mistake!

    the worst one’s are the people that take more bags than they should have, but cctv always wins.

    Usually these bags are very distinctive in colour, ribbons, belts and the owners contact info, and yet still doesn’t stop people from taking them.

    People just make mistakes! Jet-lag and a lack of concentration.

    Our hotel policy is to take it back to the airport and to let the Airlines handle it.

    I would say your GPS tracker is the best solution and should be fitted in all travel bags.

    My advise for travellers staying in hotels, Please write down the hotel where your staying on your bags, so the person who takes your bags knows where you are. because most of time you could be just around the corner! Safe travels

    Thank you

  30. Very good advice indeed, especially for people coming on retreat to us. Lost luggage causes such distress, the exact opposite of what we aim to provide them with. And I am getting the GPS tracker for myself. Pinned.

  31. Faye says:

    Ohhhh, what a great idea – GPS luggage tracker! Going to look into that.

  32. Silly Mummy says:

    Great tips. & I really like the idea of a GPS luggage tracker. Admittedly mostly because, if something really exciting happened to your lost luggage, it would be nice to know about it!

  33. I am so due for having my luggage lost or delayed. Great list of things to consider. I do carry all my electronics with me, I’m sure I can room for underwear and and another blouse 🙂

  34. Liv says:

    I never thought about putting my name inside my bag – but you’re right, that’s a fantastic idea!

  35. Anna Palmer says:

    Packing for Italy right now. Will try these ALL except the GPS tracker. I don’t think I have time to order it! Thanks. Pinned to my travel board.

  36. Vera Bradley says:

    Oftentimes bags are mishandled simply because the tag gets disconnected from the bag. As it was pointed out to “make sure your contact info is on tag”, with at least your name and phone number (though for privacy reasons it might be advisable not put ALL your personal information on it), and I also suggest putting a sheet of paper in the front pouch of your bag with the same information. It’s always possible that the tag gets disconnected or the outside of the bag is damaged, so having a backup inside the bag can prove invaluable.

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