I have been reminded recently with the new TSA rules and people commenting on my 7 Reasons to Go Carry-On, that not everyone can travel with only a carry-on bag. It’s true that in some circumstances, you’ll need to check a bag.
There are many things to consider if you will be checking your luggage. Last week we went over what NOT to pack in your checked-bag. Here are a few things that you can do to prevent lost, stolen or damaged luggage.
1. Start out by buying a quality piece of luggage. First, it can make traveling a bit more pleasurable, and second it can mean the difference from seeing your bag come down the carousel in one piece…or several pieces. Whether you are in the hard-case-camp or the durable-denier-fabric-camp it’s important to do some reasearch, read some reviews and remember that cheap doesn’t always mean better. Treat it like your baby, a good bag can last you many years as well as stand up to the harsh beating airline employees and luggage conveyors will give it.
2. And speaking of buying that bag, don’t by black if you can help it. Sure, it hides dirt and scuffs, but I bet you’d rather search through a pile of misplaced bags at the airport if you owned hot pink luggage. It would stand out like a sore thumb against a sea of black bags. If you must buy black, mark it with something unique to set it apart and spot it ease – a colorful tag or ribbon tied around the handle.
3. Always clearly mark your luggage inside and outside with your full name and address, phone number and email. Use a large luggage tag and print legibly with permanent marker. Make it easy for someone to contact you, in the event you’re separated from your bag. Perhaps even include the name of the first hotel you’ll be staying, so the airlines can deliver it, if they misplace it.
4. Though many people like to keep stickers from previous trips on their luggage as a cool travel badge of courage, it is sure to be a recipe for disaster. Always remove stickers and labels from previous trips – it can confuse baggage handlers.
5. Arrive early enough to the airport to ensure enough time for your luggage to make it on the plane. Running up to the gate to check luggage five minutes before boarding ends is a sure-fire way to assure bags won’t make it on your flight.
6. Try to avoid connecting flights by flying direct. Connections just increase the likelihood that your bag will be lost. If it can’t be helped, make sure you factor in at least one hour between connecting flights.
7. Head right to the baggage claim when you deboard the plane. Don’t dilly-dally. The sooner you get there, the sooner you watch the bags come in. The longer you let your luggage rotate on the carousel, the better chance that someone picks yours up accidentally or just decides to just walk off with it.
Stay tuned! Next week we will discuss what to do in the event that your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged.
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