How Not to Lose Your Luggage

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Do you worry about losing your luggage when traveling? It can be a genuine concern. 

By being proactive this could be the year you don’t lose anything to the airlines.

Sometimes taking a few simple steps can lessen the odds of your bags getting lost. 

So let’s press on and read how not to lose your luggage.

*Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission when you make a purchase at no extra cost to you. I only link to products I use or really like and would personally recommend to a friend. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Prevent Losing Your Luggage By Flying Direct

Try to have the least amount of connections possible. Booking a direct flight will decrease the chance of losing your luggage since the airline will not need to transfer your bags to the next plane.

Avoid Short Layovers

While you do want to get to your final destination as quickly as possible, you want your luggage to get there too.

More time in between connecting flights means more time for the ground crew handling your luggage to get it from one airplane to the next. 

Pack Lightly

Travel with carry-on only whenever possible. 

For the times you do have to bring a checked bag, refrain from overpacking.

Heavy, overstuffed bags have a greater chance of being caught up on a conveyor belt somewhere and then possibly redirected.

Make sure not to have any hanging tags from your bag for this reason as well.

Additionally, hang on to that baggage claim ticket until the trip is complete.

Use Identifying Features to Not Lose Your Luggage

Who wants boring black luggage anyway?

Try traveling with bags that sport a bold color or distinctive pattern. It will be easy to spot on the baggage claim conveyor.

Another bonus is, it will be less likely that someone will walk away with your luggage when it is so easily identifiable, whether accidental or intentional.

Check out these luggage pieces with cool textured patterns and this one with unmissable color.

Some folks recommend tying a scarf or ribbon to your bag to help it stand out in baggage claim. While this might be true, it also provides an opportunity for your bag to get hooked or snagged en route.

Use stickers instead. They’re fun! What a great opportunity to show off your individuality or boast about where you have been.  

cat sitting on carry-on luggage
Add stickers to your luggage

Take a Photo 

Snap a shot of the contents of your suitcase for insurance purposes. In the event you do have to make a missing baggage claim you will have visual evidence of what it was you had packed. 

To Not Lose Your Luggage Add ID Inside and Out

Add identification both outside and inside your case.

On the outside have a tag that is flush, not hanging, with your name and phone number only.

If it hangs try to tuck it away. Don’t add your home address.

Place your name and phone number on the inside of your suitcase as well in case the outside becomes damaged and the tag is unreadable.

These Lewis N Clark luggage tags are beautiful, have a strong steel cable, and are designed so the loop will not catch on other things easily.

Remove Old Baggage Tags

Remove the destination tags from the handle of your bags from your previous trip. 

Airport workers can handle thousands of pieces of luggage a day.

They are zoned into that tag and location code.

Make their job easier by not having to sort through multiple destination tags to figure out which one yours is going to today. 

Download the Airline App

To help prevent you from losing your luggage most airlines today have a mobile app.

It is the same app that you use to access your boarding pass.

Many of these apps keep track of your checked bags as well.

Often they are updated as your bag passes through certain checkpoints on your journey.

A nice little feature to give you some peace of mind.

Use Tracking Tags to Avoid Losing Your Luggage

Buy Tracking tags to drop inside your luggage and do your own tracking.

GPS is a wonderful thing. You can use your phone to follow your bags on each leg of your itinerary.

Also, a helpful way to find your bag in the unfortunate event that it is stolen.

Both these Apple air tags and Samsung smart tags are both available in a four-pack.

Losing Your Luggage from International to Domestic

There is an expectation that if you bought your flight all on one ticket, your bag should follow you through each connection. However, this is not always the case.

When your flight connection changes from international to domestic You may be required to re-check your bag in between due to customs and immigration. 

On a recent flight I took from Florence to Tampa this was the case.

There were two connections, one in Paris, and then in Atlanta. As I continued on to Tampa, my bags remained in Atlanta.

I was reassured by airline staff that I did not have to recheck the bag and that it would follow me to my final destination.

No. Untrue. I was supposed to recheck the bag in Atlanta. Luckily, I had used an air tag. I knew exactly where my bag was, and it was sent on to Tampa within a few days. Lesson learned.

I will always double and triple-check this fact from now on.

If you have never traveled abroad before read this for some helpful tips for international travel

Get to the Airport Early

Give the airline plenty of time to get your bag from check-in, out to the tarmac, and onto the airplane.

If you are running to the gate to catch your flight at the last minute you’re increasing the chance that your baggage may not get there on time either.

Not only is arriving early a good strategy for how not to lose your luggage but it will also help you to have less anxiety while traveling.

Board Early to Hang On to Your Luggage

If you have the chance to get on that plane before most people then you should do it.

On full of flights, It is not unusual for the airline to ask for volunteers to check their carry-on.

While this is at no additional cost, most people do not want to check a bag at this point. 

Once the overhead bins are filled though, airlines will insist, and as you board you must leave them to be checked in cargo. 

Of course, if you hadn’t planned to check your bag this could be disconcerting.

Not to mention whatever packing strategy you had for your carry-on is now derailed.

With this in mind, make sure any medications, your toothbrush, or other critical items are always packed in the personal carry-on item that goes under your seat. 

Head Straight to Baggage Claim

When disembarking the airplane head straight to baggage claim. Hint: Use the restroom on board before the descent begins.

Be the first one at the conveyor belts will lessen the chance that someone else grabs your bag by mistake. 

Check with the Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation has recently created an Airline Customer Service Dashboard. It was designed to provide information about the airlines’ commitment to services. They provide a helpful visual table.

Even if you’ve taken every precaution on how not to lose your luggage, the potential still exists.

So if the worst happens despite how proactive you were report it at the airport counter. Keep a copy of the report for your insurance provider. 

In the event, you land up having to replace your luggage, here is a traveler’s gift guide to help get you started.

If you are traveling abroad for the first time be sure to check out this guide for some handy tips.


Airline Customer Service Dashboard | US Department of Transportation. Accessed 2 Jan. 2023.

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