With the new year and new adventures on the horizon, I’d like to share a few tips I’ve learned about taking care of, and keeping track of, bags and belongings during air travel. So pack your bags, because “adventure is out there!”
- Give your bags some personality! – Lots of luggage looks the same…When every other bag tumbling onto the baggage claim belt looks the same it’s really easy for you to grab the wrong one…or have someone else take yours. I add a tassel of yarn (bright yellow) to my bags. I’ve seen luggage adorned with ribbon and colorful duct tape as well. (Or was that tape keeping the bag together?) Just make sure, if you attach ribbon or yarn, that you cut through any loops. You don’t want anything that could snag and catch your bag on something.
- Luggage tags aren’t just cute accessories for the outside of bags. – I’ll admit to having more Walt Disney World Resort luggage tags than I know what to do with. I put those extra tags to good use, where no one will likely see them. I include a tag inside my bag, so if the one outside gets broken off, or otherwise damaged, my information can still be found.
While I’m thinking of it…try to find luggage tags that hide most personal information. You don’t want to broadcast to the world that your home is vacant while you’re partying on vacation.
- Track your bags like an international spy! – For around $100 on Amazon.com, products like Trakdot and LugLoc promise piece of mind by allowing travelers to track their checked bags at any airport in the world using an iOS or Android mobile device. Slip one of these products into your checked bag and look like a tech genius when you show the customer service representative exactly where they can find your lost bag.
- Don’t get stuck in the rain! – I’ve learned, the hard way, that bags can spend a significant amount of time in the elements before being loaded on the plane. If you have fabric luggage, especially, extreme temperatures or rain can damage your belongings. Keep this in mind when packing things like chocolates or liquids. Now, I always pack items that might suffer water damage in large and extra large Ziploc bags.
One vacation we lost my son’s birthday gift from Mickey Mouse to the elements. If damage (as demonstrated above) does occur, take pictures…lots of pictures. And, waste no time reaching out to the airline. Although they claim no responsibility for damaged items, if you present a good case they will usually work with you to come to some sort of agreement. We were given a $250 Southwest Airlines credit for the damage to our belongings. Also, bringing out the sugar instead of the vinegar often helps when working with airline customer service personnel.
- Not all locks are created equal. – I’m surprised how often people tell me that, “because of security precautions, you can’t lock your bags anymore.” It’s true that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers may sometimes require access to passenger bags when the passenger isn’t present, so not all locks are accepted. However, the TSA, working with Travel Sentry and manufacturers, has found a solution in TSA approved locks that can be opened if needed by a “master key.” While a recent hack, using a 3D printer, has made these “master keys” more readily available to those who are not TSA officers, I still feel these locks are better than nothing at all. All locks with the Travel Sentry identifying mark (red diamond) are accepted by the TSA.
I hope some of these hacks and tips will help you and your family keep track of suitcases and souvenirs the next time you take off into the wild blue yonder! Happy flying!