How to Survive Losing Your Bag

It’s a traveler’s worst nightmare: the lost bag. If it hasn’t happened to you, consider yourself lucky. In many cases, the bag is not really “lost”, it is misplaced. In other words, you are at your destination, but your bag is somewhere else. The problem is you don’t know where your luggage is. While airlines are doing much better at baggage handling, the system isn’t perfect. So, what can you do?
First, be proactive. I don’t know about you, but I never gave those baggage claim stickers much thought until I experienced my first lost bag. Without that tracking number, you have no proof that your bag was checked, or that it belongs to you.
That leaves the airline with your name, which reminds me: make sure there’s identification on your bag at all times. At a bare minimum, use the complimentary tags the airlines offers at check-in, or better yet, a business card in the ID slot that’s built into the luggage. With Travelpro luggage, the ID information will be hidden under a flap on the outside of the bag, so it is not visible for all to see.
Don’t leave to chance that your essentials will arrive where you’re going. My wife doesn’t subscribe to my cavalier “I’ll just go buy some new clothes” philosophy when it comes to preparing for the possibility that her bag might get lost. She carries all her important cosmetics, toiletries, and some spare outfits in her carry-on. And our product manager, Matt Sill, makes sure his extra contact lenses and any electronics he’ll need are on his person when he travels.
You can even subscribe to a wireless bag tracker service which will enable you to tell airline personnel if you’re in London but your bag is in Munich. That still doesn’t help you deal with not having your stuff, though. So, what do you do when you find yourself without your bag?
Don’t wait to see if your bag will show up at the carousel when the next flight’s luggage arrives. It probably won’t. You want to get the search process started as soon as possible, and even if it’s inconvenient, that means going in person to the airline’s lost and found counter. Once you’ve reported it, then you can get on with your business and pick up what you need later, but don’t waste valuable time waiting around and hoping you’ll avoid the hassle. In most cases, the bag will turn up a later time, when the airline locates where it is and sends it to the correct destination.
Have you ever lost your bag, or had it misplaced? How did you cope? What do you do to prevent loss now? Give us your travel tips and lost luggage suggestions in the comments section or on our Facebook page.
Photo credit: Paul Dineen (Flickr, Creative Commons)