So there you are. Waiting at the luggage carousel after a long, long flight. All of the pieces of baggage seem to be finding their respective owners in a matter of minutes. But not yours. After an hour, the situation doesn’t look good at all. Has your luggage been lost? Maybe. Or perhaps somebody accidentally picked up your bag! Which means someone else has your embarrassing SpongeBob boxer shorts. Oh, barnacles!
In an age when nearly everyone could buy the exact same piece of luggage online, these kind of annoying situations are, unfortunately, on the rise. So, how can you avoid the ol’ switcheroo or your bags arriving at a different destination? Here are a few tips on preventing lost luggage so you can focus on enjoying your trip!
Tie Some Ribbon on to Your Bag
A colorful piece of ribbon or fabric tied to the handle of your generic-looking bag will help avoid any awkward, and perhaps unpleasant, incidents. Make sure you go bright as possible and look for shades that are a bit out of the norm.
Remember your parents insisting you should always have your name and address on your bags? Well, it’s not an outdated idea at all. You can find luggage tags nowadays that are trendy, colorful, and practical at the same time. Get some plastic name tags in bright, contrasting colors so you can easily spot your luggage the moment it appears on the carousel. To that end, it might be a good idea to invest in a hard-sided suitcase in a bright color that is easy to spot immediately. Mint green, bright pink, and intense orange are easy to spot and less likely to linger on the carousel!
Use Luggage Handle Wraps
You can also get some colorful wraps for your luggage handles. These neoprene and nylon wraps come in a wide variety of colors, and you can even personalize them with your name, a funny message, or even a favorite photo printed across the face of the wrap. As a bonus, they also make your luggage handles softer making for a more comfortable carrying experience.
Get a Colorful Luggage Belt
Bought too many clothes and souvenirs on your trip? No worries. Just use a luggage belt to keep your tightly bound bags from bursting open when baggage handlers are throwing them about. These belts can also be personalized with your name or other information that’s specific to you, giving your bags a unique flair that makes them unmistakably yours.
Stick with Tape
A slightly more budget-friendly option is to get some colorful duct tape, maybe with with neon colors or colorful patterns. You can put the duct tape just on your handle or go wild decorating the entire bag. It may look gaudy, but wild decorations make it a lot less likely that someone is going to pick it up thinking it’s theirs. Be sure you place tape on all the sides of the bag so that you can spot it no matter what angle it comes out on the belt!
Unleash Your Inner Artist!
Feeling artsy? Go to town on your bags! Use spray paint or water-proof acrylic to customize your cases with a painting, a pattern, or a figure that just screams your name. If you have a suitcase with a hard covering, you can also use stickers. Just keep in mind that hard-cover suitcases might need a paint touch-up after a few miles back and forth.
Iron, Sew, or Pin on Patches
If you have cloth-covered luggage, you can festoon it with some patches celebrating your home town, or your favorite band, TV show, or superhero. You can iron, sew, or pin them on in whatever configuration your artistic heart desires. They’ll make for eye-catching accessories to your luggage, and who knows… maybe even act as a great conversation starter with fellow travelers!
Go High Tech
You can also purchase some Bluetooth tags, such as Tile or Apple AirTag, to help you locate your bags within 100 feet. All you have to do is place a small hardware device as a baggage tag or even on the inside sleeve of your bag, and you can track your bags through an app on your phone. Remember to charge these tags between destinations.
Keep Your Information Inside and Out
Put a copy of your itinerary inside the bag to make it easy for the airport personnel to reach you. And dropping a few few business cards certainly couldn’t hurt. On the outside, of course you’re going to use a baggage tag with your name, address, and contact info. If you’re not comfortable putting your address on the outside of your bag, at least make sure that the exterior tag includes your email address and phone number.
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Always Remove Old Airline Tags
To make sure that your luggage finds you instead of a random dude living on the other side of the country, it’s always advisable to remove old airline tags as soon as you can. You now, those pesky black and white stickers with stripes and all that outdated information about that trip you took six months ago. Baggage handlers are usually working a a fairly fast clip, and they might get confused by multiple destination tags. Yeah, that trip to Hawaii was great, but that’s no reason to send your bags back there while you’re off to ski the Alps.
Take a Picture of Your Bag Before You Take Off
Use your phone to take a photo of your packed bag, preferably including any distinctive marks or scuffs. You can also take photos of any tags or tape you’ve added for easier identification. Be sure to also take a picture of the barcode sticker added during the check in. If you wear something with pockets, you can keep your copy of that sticker so that it’s immediately accessible when you land.
Allow Enough Time for Your Bags to Make Connections
Long layovers give you time to get to your next gate, take a bathroom break, and grab a snack. But they also allow time for your bag to catch up to you. Short layovers, on the other hand, can lead to drama caused by missed connections. Be sure that, when you book your flight, there’s plenty of time between legs so that you and your luggage can both make the connection. Sure, longer layovers are a hassle, but so is embarking on a lengthy vacation without your luggage.
Check in Early if You Can
No matter the security requirements involved, try to get to the airport early enough so you can check in and relax before making the most out of those travel deals you scored! Yeah, you might need to wait around at the gate for a while, but arriving early will give your bag plenty of time to get through security and into the luggage compartment.
But if, despite all of your careful planning, your bag still gets lost, make sure you have a change of underwear and a fresh shirt in your carry-on!
Got any tips to help easily identify your bags? Let us know in our comments section below!