There you are at the luggage carousel, watching it go around as you wait for your luggage to show up. The crowd slowly dissipates. You’re still waiting. Nothing puts a damper on a vacation faster than lost luggage. Follow some simple ways to help prevent losing your luggage.

Lost luggage can happen, even when baggage claim isn't crowded.

Even when baggage claim carousels are not crowded you can miss your luggage. Photo credit: Patty Holliday / Candid TravelingMom

We’ve all heard the horror stories of lost luggage. I’ve been lucky and have never lost my luggage during travel (knock on wood!). But lost luggage is my biggest traveling fear. I have researched and researched ways to prevent it from ever happening to me. Read on for 8 easy tricks to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

1. Plaster Your Name and Cell Number Everywhere

Most use luggage tags or at least those little paper tags available at the ticket counter. But let’s be honest, baggage handlers are not known for being gentle with bags, so outer luggage tags can go missing. We had three tags go missing on our last trip and we only had four bags!

Instead take advantage of that little pocket on the outside of your bag. You know that blank information card that most just discard. Use it!  Write your name and cell phone number on the card.

Slip a business card or piece of paper with your information in one or two of the inside pockets of your suitcase.


TravelingMom Tip: As a safety precaution don’t put your home address anywhere on your luggage. The last thing you want is for the airlines to deliver your bags to your house when you’re visiting Harry Potter in Florida. Besides the inconvenience, it puts a target on your house for thieves.

Lost luggage is a traveling nightmare. Here are 8 easy ways to prevent lost luggage.

8 Easy tricks to prevent lost luggage. Photo credit: Vanessa Prince

2. One Itinerary For You and One For Your Bag

Print your itinerary. Don’t forget your one for your suitcases. Place it on top of your clothes, so it’s easy to find.

If your luggage ends up in the Bahamas while you are stuck in a foot of snow in New York City that itinerary will help the airport staff locate where it needs to be.

3. Strike a Pose

Not you!  Your luggage, silly. Snap a few pictures of your bags including what is packed inside, before you head out the door. Having something tangible to show the airport staff, if your nightmare comes true, will be invaluable.

Not only will it help you remember what was packed, it also helps the staff know what they are looking for.

When you're dealing with lost luggage remembering what you packed can be difficult. So take a picture!

Snapping a picture of what you packed can be a lifesaver when your luggage goes missing. Photo credit: Amy Adams

4. Arrive at the Airport On Time

Or better yet EARLY! Airlines suggest that you arrive two hours before your departure with good reason. And it’s not because of security lines. Yes, I know you have online check in, so no need to get there too early. Remember, loading luggage takes time and if you arrive late, you may make it on the plane but there is no guarantee your luggage will.

So, take that extra time to grab a snack and drink. Check out the gift shops for random items you don’t need. And hop on the plane with the peace of mind your luggage is there too.

5. Double and Triple Check

Mistakes happen to the best of us. Make sure to check the claim check tag that you receive matches the one slapped on your bags.

One little keyboard slip up can cause a big headache. Trust me you don’t want to arrive in San Diego, California (SAN) and find out your bags ended up in San Antonio, Texas (SAT).

The destination airport code should match up to the slip you are given. If it doesn’t match bring it up to the airline personnel so they can correct the problem before your luggage leaves your sight.

6. Avoid Short Layovers

Short layovers are stressful but can cut down on travel time, which is a bonus. Unfortunately, these short layovers also increase the odds that your luggage will miss the connection — even if you do.

If you run through the airport like clowns are chasing you, think of your suitcases. At the same time, the baggage personnel are fighting the clock to transfer the bags from one airplane to the next.

7. Make Your Suitcases Identifiable

There’s my black suitcase! Oops, nope not mine. Oh but that one is mine. Wrong again. How many times has that happened to you? Black and red suitcases are very common so unless you have an R2D2 bag you might want to listen up.

You'll never end up with lost luggage with R2D2 protecting it.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a R2D2 suitcase! Photo credit: Patricia Anne Pichette Jones

After a long day of travel, we are all exhausted. We just want to grab our luggage and go. It’s not surprising that in the hustle to get out of the airport someone snags the wrong bag.

Make your luggage more identifiable without running out to buy new hot pink bags. Add a ribbon to the handle. Slap some Mickey Mouse duct tape on it. For the crafty travelers, grab some paint and go to town. Not your style? Add a colorful luggage strap, and call it a day.

TravelingMom Tip: Don’t pack irreplaceable items, time sensitive materials or medications in your checked bags. Add them to your carry on to ease your stress of lost luggage.

8. Count Your Bags Before Leaving the Airport

We’re a big family. When we travel, it’s not uncommon for us to have five or more checked luggage. Once we’re done at baggage claim, but before we step foot out of the airport, we grab a quiet spot to count all our bags including carry-on. With a larger party, miscounting or forgetting a piece of baggage can happen.

A larger traveling party means more of a chance of lost luggage.

Traveling with a larger party can increase the chances of lost luggage. Photo credit: Maria Sastre

My youngest is a repeat offender of losing his bag or just about anything he insists on carrying with him. Pausing before we leave the airport helps us quickly retrace our steps to locate the missing item.

It also helps give us a chance to give our bags a once over to check for any major damage, such as holes that allow items to fall out.

Having never lost my luggage doesn’t ease my fears, but I travel a little lighter using the above tips. Life doesn’t come with guarantees and neither does travel, but these are painless things you can do to help prevent lost luggage.