You’ve arrived on vacation, but your luggage decided to go its own way. How do you keep from panicking at the thought of a vacation without your clothes and essentials? This happened recently to someone on a trip with us and I was amazed by how calm she was. This lady was without her luggage for the entire river cruise and she went shopping each day at a local thrift shop.
First and foremost, losing luggage happens more than you might think. Every single day, people and their luggage are separated. Sometimes only for a few moments and other times they’re never reunited. The key to staying calm is to know what not to put in checked luggage and what to keep in your carry-on. In the end, a well thought out carry-on is the key to ensuring your vacation isn’t ruined by a lost piece of luggage.
Your carry-on should include ALL of your valuables. That is everything that is irreplaceable- electronics, medicines, and any jewelry or other expensive items. While it’s not a guarantee that you get to take your carry-on with you, ensuring you have packed it correctly will help alleviate some of the stress. In addition to your valuables, your carry-on should also follow what's referred to as the “24-hour rule.”
The 24 Hour Rule says to pack everything you would need at your destination for the first twenty four hours. This includes a change of clothes, something to sleep in, your toiletries, makeup, and hair products. If you’re headed somewhere hot, make sure you’ve also got your swimsuit in the carry-on. Depending on your travel style, having a great outfit for dining out is a bonus as well. When you pack this way, you have something to wear, something to wash, and something to still enjoy life with. Some destinations aren’t as easy for grabbing additional clothing, so a great 24-hour rule carry-on makes sure your vacation is not too unpleasant. Medication absolutely needs to be in your carry-on, for many reasons. Anytime you are separated from your belongings, you risk things disappearing, and nothing can make a vacation worse than worrying about trying to fill a prescription in another country.
What to do if your luggage is lost or delayed
Report it to the airline immediately. Do NOT leave the airport without filing a report. The airlines will assist you in getting reunited with your luggage, often even delivering it, but you need to have a report. You also need to remember what your luggage looks like; make sure you can give a good description. Consider taking a picture of your bag on your cell phone just before you leave home. Take a picture of it open with all of the contents showing, and one with it closed. This will help you better list the contents for your insurance company should you need to file a claim. As soon as you’ve filed your report with the airline, make contact with your insurance provider for your lost/delayed luggage and get a claim started there. I can’t recommend travel insurance strongly enough. Insurance is not for the things you plan, but rather the things that go wrong when you least expect it.
Here are a few other valuable tips...
Do NOT place your keys in your checked luggage. This happens, and if your luggage never turns up, it complicates the drive home from the airport.
When you have a 24-hour carry-on, make sure you keep it set up that way all the way through the trip because anytime you switch travel methods, the potential that your luggage could be lost or misplaced is there. Make sure you tag your luggage and be certain all the information on the tag is correct. Double-check the tags every time you take a bag off the belt. Even if you have a unique bag, you’d be surprised how many others now have that same ‘unique’ bag that you do. I’ve heard of instances where someone has taken the wrong bag and didn’t notice until later that night when they were in the hotel room. Always look at the tags!
Travel isn’t meant to be stressful, yet somehow it tends to create some of the most frustrating moments- often before we ever leave the airport. By taking just an extra minute or two of preparation and planning, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress.