(Strange Luke, flickr.com)

(Strange Luke, flickr.com)

If you’re anything like me, the idea of checking your luggage at the airport might terrify you. Even though airlines have become highly efficient in handling baggage, I’m always paranoid that I’ll find myself at the baggage-claim carousel, watching in despair as everybody leaves, until I’m finally standing alone with none of my bags. To combat this, here are some tips to either prevent losing your luggage or track it down if it does get lost.

Luggage ID

It’s simple, but helpful. Buy some quality luggage tags, and make sure your contact information is up to date—especially your phone number. If luggage gets lost, then either an agent, worker, or good Samaritan can give you a call and let you know where it is.


Airlines have a cut-off time for checking in luggage, so make sure you get there before that deadline. Try to be early to the airport, because arriving too close to the cut-off time will increase the risk of your luggage missing your flight.

Nonstop Flights

A nonstop flight lowers the chance of losing your bags. Without all the layovers and connections, your luggage goes right with you.

Luggage Tracker

These amazing devices are a cheap solution for peace of mind. First, you attach them to your luggage. Then, they notify you when you land with your luggage, or they let you know the location of your bags if they aren’t with you. This is definitely a must-have for the frequent traveler.

Travel Insurance

If you travel a lot, this is a great option. Lost or damaged baggage is covered under travel insurance, so it may be worth the monthly premium to ease your concerns.

Tell the Airline

Your airline agents will get you in touch with their lost baggage departments, and then they’ll do what they can to help get your bags to you. Make sure you tell the airline before leaving the airport, and remember to be nice.

Overnight Kit

While you’re talking with your airline agent, ask them for an overnight kit. Airlines are required to give you at least enough supplies to get through the night, and some airlines may offer more. That way, you can save yourself an emergency trip to the store while waiting for your bags.

Last Resort

If all else fails, and you can’t find your luggage, there is one last place you could look: the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. They receive unclaimed lost bags every day, and they sell the items at a discounted rate. You probably only have a few days before your stuff is sold, so you’ll want to move fast. But if you can’t find your luggage at all, maybe give them a call.

— Kimball Gardner