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Load Off Your Shoulders: Luggage Tips for Traveling

Updated on January 31, 2012

© 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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    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 

      6 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Great hub about our luggage. I do so miss southern California. I never thought of tagging stuff on the inside. Thanks!

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 

      6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Alocsin, great tips, I particularly liked the first one, it would never occur to me to buy a pink bag wildly decorated, but it does make sense, I see your point. Voted up, useful and interesting and sharing! Stay well!

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      Aurelio Locsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      That was very kind of you, coffeegginmyrice. Your mom's idea to tie up neon ribbons is an excellent one. But just be sure they don't get knocked off by rough baggage handling.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Great advice, alocsin! This made me recall how my ma tied up neon green and pink ribbons on each of my huge, heavy bags to get them uniformly and visibly marked for easy identification on my migration to Canada. Also, I put my home residence (Phils.) and destination address (Canada) on each I.D. tag. For my little girl (she was 3 when we left for Canada in 1993), my ma also made her a laminated I.D. necklace with her photo, name of parents and contact number (my aunt in Canada). So it wasn't just for our luggage, but also for my 3 year old. :)

      At our port of arrival, there was a couple who had an oversize box damaged and ripped. Their stuff were flowing out, broken souvenirs and beer bottles and the custom officer had no care whatsoever. The couple were so helpless and we approached them with a packing tape and a few of my neatly folded extra plastic bags we had checked-in with our luggage (for emergency use like this one). They were really thankful and we were glad to be of help.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Excellent trip for all kinds of travellers. This work is worth the effort if the luggage is misplaced. I agree that the bag has to be sturdy enough to handle the tosses and throws it is subjected to at airports. so get a strong bag not a fancy one- great tip. Thanks for this list.

      Voted up and useful. Shared for the benefit of readers.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett C 

      6 years ago from Asia

      Excellent tips. Although I already do much of what you say, seemingly having been moving almost constantly these last few years, the one I liked was to take photos of the bag being packed. It is a great idea, as I recently did this with a motorbike I posted and the post office caused a lot of damage ... without the photos I'd have been stuck to prove anything.

      Sharing, up and useful. Posting on Pinterest for travelers too.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      7 years ago from Peru, South America

      These are great luggage tips. I've always believed in brightly colored luggage. My first suitcase was bright pink and hard-sided but when I married, my husband felt a pink suitcase was a threat to his masculinity, so we gave it away. : ) I need to improve on some of these tips...thank you for the reminders!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      I love the idea of photographing the contents--Thanks!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi, perfect hub for this time of year when people are beginning to go on their vacations, great tips, I especially like the multi colored bags that nobody are likely to steal, voted and shared! nell

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I hope you write a hub about your PR trip.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This hub will come in handy for my trip to Puerto Rico!!! Voted up!!!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      These are great tips. i have been decorating my luggage so I can find it, but I hadn't been taking photos of my belongings. I will from now on.

    • cebutouristspot profile image


      7 years ago from Cebu

      Nice tips. :) I always travel light after the incident with my mom luggage which was loaded on a different plane. She did got it back after 3 weeks. I have this mentality if you can buy it easily (affordable) then there is no need to pack it.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Very informative hub. As a traveler, I second the tips of yours. Voted up and SHARED.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      7 years ago from India

      Brightly coloured bags with stickers on it. It is a bright idea. I encountered some problems while travelling with kids becuase of too many pieces of luggage.

      Thanks for the tips

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • traveltoinfo profile image


      7 years ago from U.S., Costa Rica, Mexico, Central America, Thailand, Russia, traveler.

      Love your ideas AND your photos!

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks to everyone.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      All of those who commented already praised your useful I will just second them. Great advice for those new to traveling, or a good reminder for those who may not have thought about all of these things. Better to be safe than sorry! Up, useful and this one needs to be shared! Also tweeted so that more can learn from this.

    • formosangirl profile image


      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Alocsin, these are great tips. I see that you are truly a savvy traveller. Voted Up and useful.

    • traveltoinfo profile image


      7 years ago from U.S., Costa Rica, Mexico, Central America, Thailand, Russia, traveler.

      Alocsin great advice! I have similar cautions on my page but never thought of brightly colored luggage. I tend to be a bit conservative and stick to animal tags. I love your idea I will look for colorful bags from now on and like the RealHouseWife says "Save the pennies and go for durable and different:)" Thanks everyone for sharing.


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Advice we can all use when we travel. I like your idea of purchasing wild crazy looking luggage that will identify your belongings quickly in a sea of bags, boxes and luggage coming off a conveyor belt. I tie bright shoestrings around our luggage handles which make them easy to spot. I also would suggest buying durable but inexpensive luggage. They do get tossed around and are quickly damaged.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      7 years ago from Planet Earth

      Great advice! I also learned the hard way that you need to file a claim for damage or loss BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE AIRPORT! Do they think we unpack our bags right at the carousel? An airline destroyed a bag I had (it was crushed), but it didn't disintegrate until I got it to the hotel & opened it.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Great advice. I would keep a copy of your important stuff (passport, credit cards, etc) hidden in some pocket in your main luggage since, when you check in to your hotel, it's the least likely thing to get stolen. If your backpack/handbag gets stolen, those copies will come in useful for cancellation and replacement.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      Voted up, useful, and interesting. Alocsin, these are some great tips for sure. I never thought about buying bright colored luggage, but when I now think about it, it makes sense. Valuable tips and a great informative article. Well done. Enjoy the day my friend and see you around.

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      7 years ago

      Walk down the hallway of a cruise ship about the time everyone leaves their luggage out to be picked up at the end of the cruise. Are you kidding? Look at all the black and blue luggage out there. I love the color red, but now red is a standard luggage color, too. Besides crocheting,knitting or just plain tying a strip of colorful, fuzzy yarn and attaching it to the handle of your luggage, put a big "X" of duck tape on the back of the luggage. The tape comes in all kinds of colors and designs, now, so you can spot your luggage as it comes onto the airport carousel. How many times have you grabbed a bag that you thought was your own?

    • Ardie profile image


      7 years ago from Neverland

      I havent traveled long distance before but I am planning a trip cross coutry this summer...I will need luggage and hopefully I wont lose it! You can bet your paycheck I will buy the most colorful garish luggage possible (because thats just my personality) AND I will put my itinerary inside and outside my bags - so THEY can find me if we get parted :) Awesome Hub!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      I'll have to remember this the next time I travel. Though I admit I've actually contemplated wearing 5 outfits at once just to avoid the baggage fees. :D

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Superb traveling tips!! Impressive lay-out with your hub!! Voted UP!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have a bright pink bow permanently tied to my suitcase so it's easily identified on the luggage carousel.

      It has served me well - when my suitcase was mis tagged on a flight and ended up on a later flight, it was the bow that later helped me to identify it with the airport baggage handlers and get it returned to me, albeit two days later :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      7 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I think this is great information. Haven't traveled in a while but when I do, I'll know how not to be the new sob story on the news. Thanks for sharing!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      All great advice - and I learned it the had way! Lol I travel as much as I you hit on a few nerves because I've encountered a few issues!

      I wanted to add one thing if you don't mind!

      Do not spend a ton of money on fancy designer luggage! The handlers throw it around - it gets tossed during the flight too! I can always tell when someone isn't seasoned and they show up with their fancy light colored bags that look beautiful. After one trip - the grease and grime begins to show! Lol. Save the pennies and go for durable and different:)

      I'm going to TX is a couple weeks so this time I'm going to make a big X with the new fancy colored duck tape;)

      Excellent hub for travelers!


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