How To Prevent Lost Luggage – Follow These 9 Steps

How To Prevent Lost Luggage – Follow These 9 Steps

After a long flight you have finally arrived at your destination – but your luggage hasn’t. Here’s how to prevent lost luggage in some easy to follow steps.

Losing your luggage could be cause for a stressful start into a well-deserved vacation.

Just imagine standing at the baggage carousel, everyone has successfully grabbed and lifted their suitcase off the belt and now it’s empty, except that you’re still without your luggage.

Not something you’d like to imagine? Follow these tips to make it less likely for your luggage to go missing.


Pack Everything Into Carry-On

If you are a champion for packing light, this might be the easiest way to never get separated from your luggage.

Many times you can fit enough into a carry-on for at least a few days stay, but if you’re anything like me, as soon as it’s a longer stay of two or three weeks, I’ll have to take a checked bag.

And if you’re traveling with kids, you’re probably not going to get away with just a carry-on either.

But, having said that, many people have traveled with only a carry-on for all of their long vacation needs. One thing to make sure of is the airline restrictions on carry-on bags.

Usually you can take one carry-on sized bag which goes into the overhead and one personal item such as a purse which goes under the seat in front of you.

Label Your Luggage On The Outside

This might be an odd thing to remind you of, but I know plenty of people who don’t put their own label on their suitcase anymore, because the airlines put labels on them when you check your bags.

That is just not enough for an airline to get in touch with you or identify your luggage should it be lost. Labeling it will make it much easier for you to claim your luggage back.

Label your luggage clearly, but limit the amount of information you put on the label for privacy reasons. Your name needs to be on the label as well as a phone number where you can be reached during your holiday and an email address.

If your suitcase comes with a label, use it and also use one of the labels provided for free at the airport.

If you want to be really sure, you can use a label with a code or microchip which make it easy to track them.

Tear Off The Old Tags

Make sure that the only tag on your luggage is the one from your current flight. (You will get those put on to your luggage when checking it in. They wrap around and stick together.)

old tags
This is what the tags from the airline will look like.

If there are no other tags from old flights on you luggage there is less chance of confusion.

Also use a bag tag from your current airline for your address. These should be free for you.

Label Your Luggage On The Inside

In case all of your luggage name tags and airline tags get ripped off, the airline might try to open your luggage to identify who it belongs to and where to find that person.

An easy way to help the airline employees is to have an itinerary with your details (maybe even a copy of your airline tickets) printed and put on top of your belongings, so when the suitcase is opened, it’s right there.

If you want to make sure the address and details stay in place, you can tape it on the inside.

Use Luggage Strap Or Suitcase Cover

Sometimes luggage can get lost because someone else mistakes it for their own. Happens quite easily if you have a plain black bag. To avoid this, you can use colourful luggage straps or even better, a unique suitcase cover.

It will make it easier for you to find your luggage at the conveyor belt or to identify it in case someone might be walking around with your bag. It will also avoid you picking up someone else’s bag.

It will also work as a way to identify it for the airline in case they have to go looking for it.

Luggage straps are also great to prevent your bag from accidentally open. Suitcase covers protect your bag from scratches during transit.

If you don’t want to invest in a luggage strap or suitcase cover, you can simply use some bright ribbon or tape.

Lock Your Luggage

Luggage doesn’t just get lost by airlines or during transit, but unfortunately it gets stolen by opportunists. Always make sure to lock your luggage and if you’re traveling in the US or Canada, make sure it’s a TSA approved lock so it can be opened and closed by the authorities.

TSA approved locks are an easy and mostly cheap way to avoid your bag being stolen as it makes it much harder for thieves to get to the content.

TSA approved luggage
TSA approved lock – integrated into your luggage

You can also buy luggage with integrated TSA locks, which will make it even easier.

Take Some Photos

Before you go and check in your luggage, take some photos. Make sure you take photos of your labels and the outside and any identifiers such as luggage straps, colourful ribbons or tape or even suitcase covers.

Keep those photos handy (on your phone) in case you have to show them at the lost baggage counter.

Check In Early

To avoid having your luggage take off later than you do, make sure to arrive early at the airport for check in. I’m always making sure to be at the airport 3 hours before an international flight and for a domestic connection at least 1 hour before your flight.

The earlier you check in your bags, the better the chance your bags won’t be left behind because there is just no more room.

And yes, that happens quite frequently.

After you have checked your bags in also take a photo of your baggage check in receipt in case you need it to claim it.

Make Sure Your Bag Gets Checked Through To Destination

When you’re going on an international flight always make sure that your bags get checked through to your destination. This means in between flights, at the stop-over, your bags get transported automatically to the next airplane without you having to collect them and re-check them.

This is many times the case, but sometimes you will have to collect your luggage and re-check it, including going through security. In that case make sure you book a flight that has at least 2 hours in between flights.

Not only do you have to get off the flight and collect your luggage but you also have to walk to the next check in etc, and all before your next flight leaves.

Not only do you want to make sure that you are on that flight, but also your luggage, so leave enough time for a stop-over. This could quickly become a stressful time for your otherwise.

I hope these tips will help you to avoid ever losing your luggage and make it easier to re-claim your luggage at the baggage carousel or, if it did get lost, make it easier to find it again.

And if you really can’t find your bag, find out how to track your lost luggage.

Safe and happy travels!

4 Replies to “How To Prevent Lost Luggage – Follow These 9 Steps”

  1. Wow, I’ve never heard about some of these tips.

    I do love to travel around the world and I really don’t want to lose my luggage again.

    Well, I guess this happens because I got so much luggage when I go abroad.

    I never thought that the old tags can cause trouble. I think I have to tear off all the old tags on my luggage.

    Also, taking a picture of my luggage before the flight is a good tip.

    Thanks for the good tips! I’m looking forward to my next trip 🙂

  2. Thank you for the information. It was a nightmare when I arrived at my destination without my luggage. It happened to me once.
    I like the idea of having contact information inside the luggage and taking a photo of the luggage. It is definitely important to tear off old luggage tags.
    Happy travelling!

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