I admit traveling is a passion for me, but for some people I know, it is a hectic experience. The thing that makes it even worse for them is when the airport carousel rolls around . . . without their luggage. And of course missing even one bag is a miserable feeling and can ruin the whole trip. If one’s personal essentials like medication, important papers and wallet were in the missing bag, don’t ask! Super-stressful, if the trip involves attending a meeting in formal attire, within two hours of arrival.
And yes, I was talking about my nephew—the same Mr Forgetful who misplaced his stuff all the time. He has gone through just about everything you can imagine. Sometimes I wondered if Murphy’s Law was made especially for him—and his baggage. So irritating each time he forgets to collect his baggage at the airport, and remembers only when he’s half way home in the cab!
Even though we always prayed for a safe and happy journey, some situations were just beyond our control. The authorities may have been responsible for the baggage being loaded on to the wrong airline, nevertheless, until the baggage was traced and recovered, the waiting part and stress couldn’t be avoided.
Over time, we have tried to find ways to take precautions to avoid this from happening, rather than feeling helpless. I am a list-devotee and start making mine long before the trip. I also have a master list for trips, which can be tweaked to suit each journey.
So what can one do?
First tip I can offer is being in time for check-in, so that the baggage can safely stored in the correct airline. Oh yes, mistakes happen, but fewer is better, no? Next thing is, if the baggage is missing, staying calm. Be ready with all the details about how your bag looks and what’s in it. Get the contact number or web address of the airline to track the progress of the lost luggage.
I’ve worked out 5 tips to avoid a case of lost luggage.
Choose baggage that doesn’t tempt people to make off with it
Wait, wait. I am not saying you shouldn’t buy baggage you like—but I’ve seen people eyeing some passengers’ suitcases or on the carousel. Particularly when you travel overseas, even if you pick a branded bag, keep it simple. Baggage that looks great feels good, but not so great when someone walks off with it. Ugh, I am still smarting over one of my leather backpacks stolen during a trip.
Add a personal mark
It freaks me out sometimes when my son, who studies on campus, always worries about not being able to recognize his luggage after he lands at the airport. Imagine watching your suitcase go by without realizing it is yours! To avoid confusion and the bag swap simply because your suitcase looks similar to someone else’s, do something that makes it easy to identify. My bright idea for my son is to write his name in block letters with chalk—easily accessible, stays through the trip and can be cleaned easily, too. You can also add a tag with your name on it and snap photos of your bag. I’ve seen suitcases where people add their poster sized photo to it.
If you are traveling as a family or with a bunch of friends, take advantage of the situation. True that each one has her own bag, but consider packing a set of your clothes in a friend’s or relative’s bag. This way, even if one piece of baggage goes missing, you’ll have something to wear. What if you are traveling alone? I always pack an extra set of clothes in my hand baggage—including innerwear. Not fun to be stuck with just the clothes you’re wearing. Because sometimes it is not a case of missing baggage, but an airline’s stupidity in sending your luggage to the next destination, after you get off the flight. For example, Bangalore-Chandigarh-Srinagar. I get off at Chandigarh and my luggage gets off in Srinagar. Not funny at all!
Keep personal belongings in your bag
Sounds like common sense, eh? But we all tend to overlook the simplest of things. Reminds me of my aunt who is quite organized, and will gather all her important stuff in her suitcase, but forget to put the important stuff in her handbag. So, pack wallets, passport, medicines, and important documents in your hand baggage and close to you at all times. NOT in the check-in baggage. Especially your passport and wallet—don’t ever leave them anywhere! Losing these things can be traumatic and miserable, especially when you travel abroad. Not to mention the expense!
If you are frequent traveler consider using an electronic tracker device—luggage tags with microchips which can be fitted into your luggage. These will help you to track your luggage even if it is missing and make it easier to retrieve it.
Besides the above tips, one of the most important things that can save you or reimburse you financially in case of lost baggage is a comprehensive travel insurance policy. Most airlines do have their compensation policies for loss of baggage, but it may not adequately cover the loss. So it is better to go in for a travel insurance policy which can protect you from all types of unforeseen situations, including loss of passport and loss of baggage.
Next time you set off on a trip—business or vacation, you know what to do!
Travel safe, travel happy!
Got tips to share? Tell me in the comments!