Given how often I’ve travelled over the years, I consider myself truly fortunate that my luggage has only gone missing once and 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 Fiji, for example, how are you supposed to think of winding down if your new bikini and sunscreen are heading to Los Angeles without you? Lost and delayed luggage is reportedly 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? Top of the list is making sure that any bags you check in for a flight are clearly labelled with your full name and all contact details. And don’t rely on the flimsy paper ones which the airlines provide; take the time to invest in a set of strong plastic or leather ones which won’t tear off easily.
As many suitcases look similar these days, tying a coloured ribbon or scarf, or adding a personalised tag or coloured luggage strap will help to prevent someone mistakenly claiming yours at your destination. 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. Give yourself plenty of time when travelling, as checking in late, or attempting tight connections, will increase the chances of your bags missing a flight. And if you have to travel with valuables such as jewellery or documents, keep them with you in a carry-on bag. Finally, purchase travel insurance which covers loss as well as theft of your belongings. Hopefully you won’t need to call on it, but should your bags go walkabout, at least you will be able to replace your favourite shoes.