Load Off Your Shoulders: Luggage Tips for Traveling
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
Like all smart travelers, you pack light so that your carry-on can avoid the airline’s ever-growing baggage charges. But despite your best intentions, sometimes a long trip such as a cruise requires that you bring luggage. This increases the chances that your possessions may be lost or stolen. Here are some tips to minimize those disasters.
Buy garish, wildly decorated luggage.
Durability and visibility should be your main concerns when choosing a bag, not fashion. A sturdy hard case colored in shocking pink with purple flowers will stand out in a sea of black and dark brown bags on a carousel. Such bold colors minimize the chance that anyone accidentally picks up your baggage. Thieves also avoid such pieces as being too noticeable.
Decorate your drag bags with stickers.
You can buy stickers at a craft shop or educational store. They can make your drab bags stand out so you can easily find them. Look for patterns that are large, simple, brightly colored and reflective. Cover all areas of the bag because you never know what side will be visible.
Keep a copy of the receipt.
Put copies of the bag receipt with your bag, with your travel documents, and with a friend or relative. Also put digital versions on your smartphone or in a public filespace that you can access with the Internet. If your carrier damages your bag, they need that receipt to reimburse you for the cost of the bag. Otherwise, they pay you a fixed amount that may not cover the cost of replacement.
Check replacement policies.
Browse the replacement policies of your carrier, which are listed on the ticket or on its websites. You may be surprised to learn that they cover only the depreciated cost of your possessions if you have receipts for them, or pay a few cents per pound of luggage weight, if you don’t have receipts.
Check with your homeowners insurance to see their replacement policies. Most cover items lost or stolen on trips, but only after you pay your deductible. If none of these coverages prove adequate, you can also buy trip insurance, which is typically offered when you buy your ticket.
Put identification inside and outside your bag.
This increases the odds that your bag eventually gets back to you. But never put your home address, or thieves may take advantage of your absence to travel to your house. Instead, put the address of your workplace, or of a friend or relative who will still be at home during your trip.
Put a copy of your itinerary inside and outside your bag.
This information should include the addresses and phone numbers of where you are staying, and the dates you’re going to be there. If your carrier recovers your bag during your trip, they can try and send it to where you are, so you can still use it.
Take pictures of all the items that you pack.
Leave copies of with trusted friends or relatives. Also keep copies with you, separate from the bag, and upload digital versions to a public file space that you can access from your smartphone or an Internet cafe. Not only will these photos help you track your possessions, you can use them as evidence of what you own if your luggage is lost or stolen.
Watch your bags.
Do not leave your bags unattended even for the few seconds it takes to make a phone call or buy a snack. If you eat a meal at the airport, keep your luggage on a chair away from the public path. As an additional precaution, loop the shoulder strap around a chair arm or table leg.
Until your carrier takes physical possession of your belongings, you are responsible for them. If they get lost or stolen before you check them in, then you have no recourse except with your insurance.
If you have additional luggage tips, please put them in the Comments box below.
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