How do I avoid lost luggage, or advice for the extra cautious..
If you ask ten of your friends, it’s likely a couple have had luggage issues – lost or stolen. Two people I asked actually took someone else's luggage by mistake.. This happens more often than we’d like to think, especially in situations when you are not on a direct flight and have to do a transfer or two. Since not checking luggage is not always feasible, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk of this stressful and frustrating problem.
I like to dress up my luggage. In fact, I’ve seen a few people point and laugh at my luggage on more than one occasion as it makes its way around the luggage carousel. But believe you me, no one will mistakenly take my luggage, nor would they attempt to steal it because it would be so obvious. So whose laughing now bitch?
I have four pieces of check-in type luggage. Two hard clamshell type suitcases and two plain black Samsonite type luggage. I dress up the clamshells with colorful luggage straps and stickers. I use In-N-Out burger stickers, or any other stickers I get for free. I dont' use any obnoxious type stickers though, cause I don't want the baggage handlers to not like me based on my stickers..
Most of my travels I use the black Samsonite type cloth suitcases. I think if you decide to get the unique orange suitcase set at Costco, it’s not the best idea, cause several other people will have that same idea and they might not think it's not as necessary to check the baggage cause they think no one else has luggage like them.
What I do to differentiate my common black bag is, I buy colored duct tape or electrician’s tape in different colors. You can get these at any dollar store. If you use electrician tape, make sure you tape it all the way around and tape it together as it sometimes peels off. I sometimes like to do a rainbow pattern. I'm sure the baggage handlers enjoy this too. If you have the kind of luggage tag that is kind of like a snap on belt, put some duct tape around it to secure it. Keep in mind, these often break off. If you don’t like having the tape all around your luggage, even tape it around the handle. When someone attempts to grab your suitcase in error, they will realize they didn’t have red tape wrapped around the handle. Another option is to use those body puffs because they are always attached to a string. Just loop it through the string. I don't use the body puff, but I tie different coloured ribbons around the handle. It looks very festive going around the luggage carousel.
Always keep a copy of your itinerary and contact information inside your suitcase in case the luggage tags go MIA.
Make sure your luggage tags indicate your current contact information. My lazy friend often uses her sister's suitcase, with her sister's information on there still..
How to pack
I first lay a clear garbage bag in the suitcase and pack a layer or two (I put stuff inside the bag.) I then tape it closed with packing tape or whatever, and also put on a label with my name and contact info. I then layer another clear garbage bag on top, and pack another layer. and repeat till I'm packed. I do this in case the suitcase breaks open (it does happen) and that way I won't lose everything. Also, if for some reason my toner or perfume decides to leak, then it won't damage everything. If security happens to open up my suitcase, it will also keep everything together. I'm sure little knicknacks fall out, and you don't get it back.
This plastic bag layering is surprisingly very easy since it doesn't need any special accommodation.
Even if you don't do the plastic bag thing, at least put a copy of your itinerary in your suitcase in case the luggage tag breaks off.
When checking it in
Make sure to check the three letter airport code on the luggage routing tag the airline staff puts on your suitcase.
Oh, and I would really avoid using a "fragile" sticker on your luggage. I know a baggage handler that told me when some people see this, they treat the luggage like a football. Just really pack things very well in clothing, bubble wrap, whatever. in situations like this, a hard clamshell type suitcase is very good.
If you are re-routing, you may even go the extra mile by taping a label on your suitcase that shows something like, YVR to YYZ to final destination: HAV. Yeah, it's a little excessive, but I'd rather not be drinking a mojito in Cuba wearing my underwear inside-out, and still wearing my plane clothes three days later..
This is what happens to some unclaimed baggage.