We all know traveling is fun most of the time, especially if you like to discover new things, people, and places. Reaching out of your routine can give you a chance to learn something new, and that helps you to grow.
The one thing that can wreck your whole trip, whether it’s for business or pleasure, is losing your luggage. This usually means you have lost all your clothes, shoes, possibly even cables for your electronics, and medications, among other things. On the whole, it may not be of too much monetary value, but one’s belongings always hold sentimental value in some way and ensure you are comfortable wherever you are going.
Always assume your luggage will get lost and make provisions for the same. It might sound irrational, but in this way, you are preparing for the worst case scenario, which actually happens to people quite often.
There are some things you can do to avoid losing your luggage, although they are not necessarily fool-proof and will not guarantee that you never find yourself in this situation. Here are tips to help you avoid losing your luggage.
1. Take pictures of your bags.
Going by the assumption that you may lose your luggage, it’s always good to have picture evidence of how your bags look so that whoever is helping you search for them has an idea of what to look for. This will greatly help airport employees in charge of baggage to assist you in your search.
2. Tag your bags.
You can go with the expensive tags with microchips installed for tracking purposes, or if you prefer, you can use home-made tags (best for short road trips). Ensure your tag is well labelled with your name, address, and a reachable phone number. Put two tags in different places on your luggage. Also, check the airline/bus tag when it is put on your bags to ensure the details are correct.
3. Avoid short stopovers.
By all means, avoid short layovers, because they increase the likelihood of your luggage getting lost. If you are unlucky and your flight becomes delayed, airport staff will have to transfer your bags from one plane to another in a hurry, and in the process, some luggage might go missing.
Always pay attention to the length of your stopover when booking, especially when using online travel agencies. Most of them sell domestic, multi-leg itineraries of layovers that are less than an hour. Furthermore, if you have an international connecting flight, keep in mind that you may have to pick up your checked luggage, clear customs, go through the airport security, and after that recheck your luggage before you board.
Now, all these things cannot be done within an hour. Because of this, it is essential to allow yourself some time in between – say, two to three hours on international stopovers. If all this sounds confusing, ask any airline staff if you might have to recheck your bag at your connection.
4. Try to get to the baggage claim area as quickly as possible to ensure no one mistakenly picks up your bags.
If you are traveling by bus, keep an eye on all the areas people alight and what they take off the bus. When traveling through an airport, you’ll want to reach baggage claim as soon as possible, hopefully as soon as you exit the plane. Getting to baggage claim before the bags arrive ensures no one else can mistakenly snatch your luggage before you find it.
5. Keep your electronics with you in your handbag.
These include laptops, phones, and any other devices that you may be traveling with. Unfortunately, not everyone you come into contact with will be honest, so it’s easier to avoid the temptation and make it harder for them to get a hold of your things.
6. Ship your luggage instead of checking it in.
I know, you must be thinking this is crazy, right? But with this strategy, you will be killing two birds with one stone. By shipping your luggage, you are doing away with the possibility that it will get lost.
Look at it this way: American Airlines charges $100 for checked-in baggage weighing above 50lb on local flights. If you are to compare with UPS, it costs $66.24 to ship a 55 lb luggage just from L.A. to Chicago (four-day shipping).
Yes, your luggage will take longer to arrive, but if you plan well in advance, you can send your luggage ahead of you. This way, you can keep track of your luggage with an online tracker and not have to worry about it getting lost or ending up in some warehouse in a random location.
7. Finally, try to pack as lightly as possible.
If you can work with only handbags, this may be a stretch for most people, especially women. So in that case, you should try to limit your packing to one or two bags at most. Pack clothes and shoes that are versatile, and make good use of the laundry facilities where you are going.
Some airline and bus companies offer insurance for luggage, too. This is usually not well known, and you should always ask before you travel if it’s available. If it is, and you lose your luggage, make sure to get a refund of the same cost you spent to send it.
Although losing your luggage may seem like the worst thing to happen, take heart, and file a claim as soon as you realize your bag is lost. Then reorganize yourself, and either buy new stuff or find a way to live on what you had packed in your hand luggage.
Traveling doesn’t have to be excessively stressful. By following these tips, you can rest assured that you’re taking all necessary measures to reduce the possibility of losing your luggage while traveling.