Given how often, and far, I’ve travelled over the past three decades, I consider myself fortunate that my luggage has only gone missing once; I was on my way home from a trip, and luckily for me, it was quickly recovered. For many people, however, delayed, lost or stolen luggage and possessions can be a disaster. If you’re starting a much needed holiday in Vanuatu, how are you supposed to start winding down and having fun if your brand new bikini, your sunscreen, and your strappy sandals are heading to Los Angeles without you? Lost and delayed luggage is on the increase, with thousands of bags mishandled daily in airports worldwide, some of which are never recovered. So what can you do to ensure your precious possessions arrive safely at their destination – preferably with you? Top of our check list is making sure that any bags you check in for your flight are properly labelled with your full name and all of your contact details. And don’t rely on those flimsy paper ones which the airlines provide; before you travel, invest in a set of strong plastic or leather ones which won’t tear off easily, and which you can reuse.
As many suitcases look similar these days, tying a coloured ribbon or scarf to one of the handles, or adding a personalised tag or coloured luggage strap will help to prevent someone else from accidentally claiming your possessions at the carousel. And to deter thieves, secure all your check-in bags with locks if they don’t already have them fitted, bearing in mind that countries including the US only allow TSA-approved locks which can be opened by customs inspectors – others may be cut off or removed if they wish to inspect your belongings, and will leave your possessions vulnerable. Also give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport or between flights, as checking in late and tight connections will increase the chances of your bags missing your flight. And if you have to travel with valuables such as jewellery or documents, keep them with you in a carry-on bag, and consider using a bag which locks just in case. Finally, purchase travel insurance to cover the loss of, as well as theft of, your belongings. Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but should your bags go walkabout, at least you will be able to replace your favourite things.