All thoughts of a stress-free, relaxing vacation have vanished. The luggage carrousel spit out the last piece of luggage ten minutes ago and you are the only one left watching the last few baggage items circle for the hundredth time. The representative at the lost luggage counter expects you to know the colour, dimension and brand of your suitcase. Your mind drifts to the possibility of mixing and matching the few items you are wearing (does inside-out count as a different outfit or just a different look?).
In Canada, over a million people lose their luggage every year, never to see it again. Knowing this imperfect system, you have to learn to prepare for the best chance of enjoying your trip if Murphy’s Law strikes you.
First, ensure your bag stands out in the crowd, even if you usually melt into the woodwork. Give it pizzazz!! Add stickers or colourful fabric tied to the handle. You may get some amused glances when pulling your stylish suitcase (or are those for your complete tourist look?). But no one will take your bag by mistake. Also, if lost, it will be a beacon amongst the other clone-like lost luggage. Bedazzling your luggage could mean the difference of getting it returned quickly or never seeing it again. It doesn’t hurt to take a cellphone photo of it so that you can make a reward poster. Just kidding…you can show the photo to the customer service representative, to help with the description.
Second, do not depend on one flimsy address tag from the pile that the airlines provide at the check-in counters. They are low-budget and don’t withstand handling too well. Often tags are ripped or lost during a flight. Use multiple address tags and put your contact information inside your luggage as well. If it disappears, you may actually get it back because you made that effort.
To ensure your luggage enjoys the same journey you do, you should book your entire trip with one airline and avoid tight schedules with multiple connections. Also, try to board the plane as soon as possible, to guarantee space for your onboard luggage. Sometimes there is inadequate space and onboard luggage has to be checked. Yikes! This is especially true since airlines are adding extra seats to their planes and passengers, to avoid baggage charges, bring everything but the kitchen sink aboard.
To lessen the cost of any total loss, you should keep a list of all items you pack in each bag that you can produce for insurance purposes. If you are traveling with a companion or your whole family, don’t pack all of one person’s items in one bag. Divide everyone’s belongings among all bags so the loss of one bag doesn’t ruin the trip. Never put valuables or prescription medication in your checked luggage or in your onboard luggage –remember how sometimes it gets checked? Keep them with you and, once you are sure you have a spot for your onboard luggage in the overhead area, you can slip your items safely inside.
Finally, if all else fails and you ultimately lose your luggage anyway, don’t panic. The front desk of many hotels offers an amazing selection of items for guests to help a lost-luggage crisis. They have many toiletries free-of -charge and other items for purchase. My husband once bought a tie for $12!
Perhaps we will one day conquer Murphy’s Law when traveling. There’s hope with innovative gps technology available for smart luggage tracking. Until then, here’s to happy travels with your luggage enjoying the same route and schedule as you do!