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There is nothing worse than losing your luggage. Men’s lifestyle and travel expert Joe Miragliotta from Joe’s Daily is here to help by sharing eight tips he uses to prevent losing his luggage.

As someone who travels for a living, I know it can be a little stressful at times. Obviously not so much that it makes seeing the world not worth it, but enough that certain thoughts consistently come to mind when packing up for a trip. Thoughts like, “What happens if I lose my luggage?” Knock on wood, I’ve never have to deal with this issue, and I’m sure it has everything to do with a few key practices that I’ve taken up over the years (listed below, for your convenience). Of course, nothing is completely preventable. But if you’ve got a trip coming up, why not set yourself up for the best chance possible?

1. Use Bright & Unique Luggage Straps

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but there’s a chance you could be doing it a little bit better. For years I stuck with just tying a bright bandana around my luggage handles, but there are a couple of things wrong with this. First, anything that dangles a little too far has the potential to get stuck on something … like a conveyor belt. So in actuality, I was almost setting myself up for better chances of having it lost. Second, it seemed like I could never actually see said bandana until I was basically close enough to reach out and touch my bag. This meant that the chances of having my stuff grabbed by someone else and ending up in the “oops, this isn’t mine” section off to the side was also higher than it needed to be. (Happened to an aunt of mine once. It took us two hours to figure out it was only 40 feet away.)

Colorful Scarf

Solution: bright/unique luggage straps. Luggage straps are flush all the way around your bag. So, all at once you can stop worrying about things getting caught AND having someone see your identifier just a little too late. Plus, they come with added benefits. All obviously perform their intended function of keeping your bag from popping open. But there are some out there that also come with combination locks and even tracking devices. Just make sure you get one that’s TSA approved if you decide to go that route.

2. Keep Your Information Inside and Out

For the outside of your bag, attach a sturdy luggage tag with your information. And feel free to skip the address and only supply your name, email, and phone number. On our last trip together, my wife had to use one of the paper tags supplied by the airport and noticed they’d changed them so this was the only information they asked for. The attendant explained that they would never deliver lost luggage to an address without contacting the owner first, so it was really just a security issue. Makes sense.

On the inside of the bag, go ahead and provide addresses with the rest of your information. It definitely doesn’t need to be formal, but throwing a piece of paper on top with your name, phone, email, and a dated itinerary with addresses can only help in the event of misplaced luggage.

3. Remove Old Tags/Stickers

This falls in with the previous bit of advice. Be sure to remove any old tags, stickers, barcodes, etc. from your luggage before handing it over. While leaving them on doesn’t mean the handlers won’t be able to find the right one, why leave it open to any confusion at all? Plus, if for whatever reason the bag IS misplaced, it’ll be much easier to identify where it was supposed to be going, and get it back on track.

8 Simple Tips to Prevent Losing Your Luggage

4. Consider GPS

If your anxiety about lost luggage tends to be on the higher side, you might want to look into a GPS tracker. From long-range to short, it seems like there are new options coming out every day. My main piece of advice for this is to do your research. When perusing a few options for myself, it appeared to be a common problem that people would purchase without realizing they might have an issue with something like the range covered or the phone network it operated on. Just make sure you check out the GPS well and are aware of its functions and limitations.

5. Be an Organized Packer

Not only will this help you out during your travels, it will help out the TSA when they check out your luggage. Be especially sure to keep any wires or things that they might be inclined to check into tidy and together. If everything is neat and easy to see, there’s less need to rummage. Less need to rummage means less rummaging time, so your bags are on their way to the plane that much faster.

Be organized when packing

My wife (Sarah) trying to sneak into my luggage.

6. Double-Check Tag Information

This definitely isn’t to say that the individual printing and applying the tags to your checked luggage isn’t doing a proper job. Sometimes it’s just good to double-check. Before your bag hits that conveyor to be carried off to your next stop, take a second to give the tag a quick look and confirm it has the correct destination airport code. It’ll give you a little peace of mind, if nothing else.

7. Be Timely

I know everyone is aware of this one, but you might be shocked by just how many people I know that still calculate the last possible minute they can get to the airport and still make their flight. I get it; waiting in a terminal can be the worst. But what I think people forget to take into account is the journey their bag takes after it’s been dropped off. It goes through just as much security as you do — maybe more — and then has to rely on a human being to get it to where it’s going. You might have a brain that’s telling you to rush to your gate, but that bag doesn’t. Of course, airports have to deal with late passengers all the time. But, if you’re looking to lose a bag, this seems like it might be a good place to start your endeavor.

Running in the airport

8. Travel Non-Stop or With Longer Layovers

If you’re ever confronted with the choice between a more expensive non-stop flight, a cheap flight with a longer layover, or something in the middle with a short layover, you might be inclined to take the latter. If that layover is less than an hour and you happen to be checking luggage, however, you might want to rethink your decision. Again, you might know you need to rush to your next flight, but your bag doesn’t. Best to pick one of your other options depending on your needs. If it’s time, spring for the more expensive non-stop. And if it’s money, go for the longer layover. As for that pesky issue of waiting in a terminal, maybe take some of your savings and apply it to a lounge pass.

Connecting flights at airport

Just in Case

Fingers crossed that it will never be you, but to say that luggage never gets lost would be a lie. As with anything else, it’s best to be prepared. For that, I will leave you with three recommendations:

  • Always be sure to pack all medicines and other important items, along with a change of clothes and essential toiletries in a carry-on.
  • Take a few quick photos of what you’ve packed and what your luggage looks like for reference.
  • Consider travelers insurance (maybe something to consider regardless).

Safe travels! Looking for more travel tips? See what to do if your flight gets canceled.

Joe Miragliotta is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads, visit travelocitygnomads.com.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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