Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Better safe than sorry: 10 luggage & packing tips

 I'm getting ready for our trip to Sweden later this week, and will soon be getting the suitcases out of the storage room. Being a worry-wart, I do worry about my luggage a) getting to its destination, b) getting there safe and sound, and (hopefully) c) with everything still inside.

Here are 10 tips on how to make your luggage safer and also more identifiable, so it's easier to grab it from the luggage carousel at the end of your trip:

Timbuk2 Luggage Tag, Black, MediumBucky Identigrip Luggage Id Tag,Peridot,5- x 2- Inch

1. Use luggage tags
This is the basic safety precaution. Make sure your luggage has your name and contact information on it, preferably on a tag that doesn't openly show all your information. In addition to my own luggage tags, I always put one of the free airline luggage tags on each of our bags before checking our luggage. On the airline tag, I usually put our temporary as well as our permanent address. I've also started adding an email address to the contact info.

2. Put your contact information inside your bags as well
Write down the same contact information you put on your luggage tag on a piece of paper or sticker and place it inside the suitcase. That way, if the luggage tag is ripped off or otherwise lost, there's still a way your luggage can be identified.

3. Put unique stickers on your luggage
This is how I recognize our suitcases quickly at the luggage carousel: they're the only ones covered in sparkly stars and Star Trek the Next Generation stickers!

Luggage Security Strap from Marshal- 517Samsonite Luggage Strap, Neon Green
4. Secure your suitcase or bag with a luggage strap
Luggage takes a beating when you're traveling by plane. I usually don't bother with a luggage strap on my Samsonite hard-sided suitcases, but I usually wrap a luggage strap around my soft-sided bags. I figure it helps take some pressure off the zipper. Bonus: it also helps make your bag more easily identifiable at the luggage carousel.

Smartraveler TSA Approved 3 Dial Combination Luggage lock (With Instant Alert Red Tab Indicator If opened By TSA) 2 PackMaster Lock 4683Q TSA-Approved Nickel Keyed Alike Luggage/Baggage Lock, 4-Pack, colors may vary
5. Lock it
Sadly it's not unheard of that stuff goes missing from luggage. Use the locks on your suitcase if you have them, and if you don't have locks, consider getting a small padlock with a key or combination to make your luggage somewhat harder to open. Your suitcases will still be opened for inspection if the authorities want to, but at least a lock might slow down a thief who is just looking to quickly grab something valuable from your luggage.

Ardi 105LM2 Luggage Tracker 1 Master and 2 Luggage UnitsGarmin GTU 10 GPS Tracking Unit
6. Get a luggage tracker
These new-fangled GPS tracker gizmos are the ultimate in keeping tabs on your luggage. Place one in your suitcase, and if it's lost, you might be able to locate it. There are short-range locators that help you find your luggage if you're in the vicinity, and then there's the long-range ones (like the Garmin GTU 10 GPS Tracking Unit) that enable you to see where your bags are at all times, worldwide. Pricey, but if I had the money, I might just spring for one of those.

7. Mix it up when packing
Just in case one or more of your bags goes missing, it's a good idea to mix up the items when you're packing. Don't put all of your own clothes in one bag, and all the kids clothes in another for example. Spread things around and mix it up so you at least have something for everyone in every bag.

8. Keep your jewellery and electronics in your hand luggage
Jewellery and small electronics like cell phones, cameras, audio players, e-readers and the like are easy to steal and valuable. I keep my phone, my camera, and my jewellery in my hand luggage. It doesn't take up too much space there anyway, and it makes me feel safer.

9. Take pictures of your luggage
I've never done this myself, but I've seen the tip mentioned a few times on the web. Just snap some pics of your luggage with a digital camera or your phone before checking the bags. Then, if they should get lost, you can describe them quite easily and accurately.

10. Keep your luggage receipts
When you check in your luggage, the bar-code stickers from your checked bags will be given to you. Usually they're placed on the back of a boarding pass holder, or on the back of your passport. Don't lose these tags. If your luggage does go missing, they can help locate and identify your bags.

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