Travelling can be risky business if you don’t consider all the possibilities. Nobody wants to imagine losing their luggage during vacation, but preparing for the worst is the best defense. Losing luggage isn’t fun, but it can be a rewarding experience if you learn from it. Luckily in the case of losing my own personal luggage, it was returned to the resort two days before I headed home. Wearing my girlfriend’s swim shorts during the first few visits to the beach was a humbling experience. Here are some guidelines when packing to travel, and some advice to get through the process.
1. Buy travel insurance
Always buy travel insurance! If your bags are delayed, you can purchase some essentials and get compensation. Don’t let lost luggage ruin your holiday. You need to call the insurance company first and register the claim as soon as possible. If your luggage is completely lost, which is a rare occurrence, rest easy knowing that the claim amount will restore any financial losses—but it will not fully replace the value of lost articles. This is why it is always best to dress modestly when traveling, and never take expensive things with you.
2. Label your luggage
Clearly print your address and phone number on the luggage tag. It’s also a good idea to have more than one tag with this information just in case it gets lost. If you have anywhere to slip in a business card, spare one just in case. Use the airline tag at check in to hand write your hotel name, hotel phone number, cell phone, and the dates you are staying. For security reasons, always list your business address and cell phone. It’s no good if someone calls you at home and you aren’t there! It’s even worse if a stranger knows you are on vacation and has your personal address. Keep things obscure enough that they are helpful to you, and not a potential criminal.
3. Be unique
Put a unique identifier on your bag – some people tie a bright and unique scarf to the bag. The more unique, the better. This will avoid people grabbing your luggage by mistake. Consider a bright colour when purchasing or selecting which luggage container you want to take on vacation. Black and grey are common, and probably a bad choice!
4. Cross pack your belongings with your travel companions!
Have you ever heard of the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? This applies to luggage as well! Share the load between you and your travel companion and if one of you loses luggage, you will have the other person to count on. If you both lose luggage, at least you planned ahead. It’s easier knowing that you’ll be in the rough together! Which leads into the next point..
5. ALWAYS bring a carry on!
Fill it with:
- Bathing suits, cover up for the ladies, one nice outfit for a la carte restaurants at night (men require long pants and a collared shirt), essential medications, and a good book can make all the difference
- Any electronics / items that cannot be replaced
- Passport, currency, phone, and any essentials that you wouldn’t put in the trunk of your car if you were taking a road trip
6. Follow procedures instead of panicking
Report lost luggage at baggage claim well before leaving the airport. It is easier to deal with these issues proactively than going back and asking later. Once you have your luggage reported and a claim check number, you can often monitor the status online. If you are not far from the airport, you may consider returning to fetch it yourself, otherwise they will have a courier deliver it. Make sure your concierge and front desk know you are missing a bag and expecting it – they will have it delivered right to your room when it arrives.
7. Don’t bring expensive items, period.
Assume everything you bring will be lost—this is the mindset that will help you prioritize what shouldn’t be packed in the first place. If it’s irreplaceable and unnecessary to the experience of your vacation, don’t bring it. Anything worth being stolen, can easily be lost, or irreplaceable goods- leave somewhere safe! Get some cheap glasses for the beach so it won’t matter if you lose them in the water – you’ll have the Gucci glasses at home.
8. Stay positive
A positive attitude makes all the difference when dealing with the airlines, hotels, and travel companions that have to endure any moodiness that will likely come from lost luggage. Everyone understands that you are going through a travel hiccup—it’s more common than you think, so it’s important to stay positive and not let the experience ruin your vacation! Check our FAQ page to make sure you are fully prepared.
In the case that you do lose your luggage, we explain what you should do.
Have you ever lost luggage? Share your experiences in the comments below.