Yep, First World Problems pretty much sums it up! You’ve arrived on vacation and your luggage thought they knew a better location and decided they would go their own way. So how do you keep from panicking?
First and foremost, it happens, so just take a breath. Every single day, people and their luggage are separated. Sometimes only for a few moments and other times, well, honestly they’re never reunited. The key to keeping your calm is to know what not to put in checked luggage and what to keep in your carryon. In the end, a quality packed carryon is key to ensuring that your vacation isn’t foiled by a lost piece of luggage.
Your carryon should include ALL valuables. Yep, everything that is irreplaceable, electronic, medicines (for absolute sure) and any jewelry or other costly items. While it’s not a guarantee that you get to take your carryon with you – as full flights will force you to check some carryons, depending on what zone you are in, ensuring you have a quality carryon will help alleviate some of the stress. In addition to your valuables, your carryon should also have what I call the “24-hour rule”.
The 24 Hour Rule is to pack everything you would need for twenty-four hours. This includes a change of clothes, something to sleep in, your toiletries, makeup and hairstyling accessories. If you’re headed somewhere hot, make certain that you’ve also got your swimsuit in the carryon. 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 carryon ensures the vacation continues even when hiccups happen.
Medication absolutely needs to be in your carryon, there is a multitude of reasons. Anytime you are separated from your belongings, you risk things disappearing, and nothing can send a vacation sideways faster than worrying about trying to fill a prescription in another country. Medications are a hot commodity to be stolen from luggage so keep it close at all times.
What to do if your luggage is lost or delayed.
Immediately report it to the airline. Do NOT leave the airport without filing a report. The airlines often times are happy to assist in getting you 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, the better the description the better. A great tip I’ve heard from colleagues is to take a picture on your cell phone (which you carry with you – never check) of your bag just before you leave. Take a picture of it open with all of the contents showing, and one with it closed up. This way you will also be able to better list the contents for your insurance company should you need to put in a claim. This brings me to the second one, as soon as you’ve filed your report with the airline, you will want to make contact with your insurance provider for your lost/delayed luggage and get a claim started there. I’m happy to chat insurance with all of my clients. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. Insurance is not for the things you plan, but rather the things that go wrong when you least expect it.
Some of the weirdest things I’ve heard of happening…
The travel industry is a tight industry, and just as I’m sure happens when you get together with colleagues, we discuss the things we’ve heard of happening to other people’s clients so that we can all help out our own clients.
Do NOT place your keys in your checked luggage. For real, this happens, and to those whose luggage doesn’t make it home, it complicates the drive home from the airport. Don’t check the keys.
You can’t take animals in your checked luggage. While there is the ability to transport some animals in the checked cargo hold, they are in special carriers with additional precautions. There have however been people who have decided that they are going to “rescue” an animal while on vacation and to avoid scrutiny have placed it in their check luggage – I can’t say strongly enough — don’t do that.
When you have a 24-hour carryon, ensure that you keep it set up that way all the way through the trip. A friend of mine went on a family cruise to the Caribbean. Once on board the ship the one son was missing his bag. Not to worry she thought, she had packed him a great carry on. So she told him, until we locate the bag, wear the clothes in the carryon. To which he replied, “those are all the dirty clothes from my time with Nana and Papa before you got here”. Yep, he had a whole carryon of dirty (14 years old, forgot to wear deodorant, boy) clothes.
Anytime you are switching travel methods, with the potential that your luggage could be misplaced, ensure that you still have that great carryon with you. Double-check the tags. We’ve all been standing at the luggage carousel where we have seen what looks like 35 of the exact same bag come off the belt. 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 too many times before where someone has taken the wrong bag and didn’t notice until later that night when they were in the hotel room, or even for days after, because they were at their final destination – even if you’ve just arrived. Always look at the tags and make sure you have your own bag.
Travel isn’t meant to be stressful, yet somehow 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.
Here’s a great bonus tip for you – when you are traveling with additional people, shuffle one outfit from every person into another bag. That way if one bag is lost you will still have other clothes for enjoying the vacation until you can go shopping for some new clothes. And when you do go shopping – save the receipts for your insurance claim. Who doesn’t love a free shopping session?!