Gather near and learn from my troubles. Some of you followed the Great Journey to London saga. Yes, the one that started with the ELEVEN AND A HALF HOURS DELAY. (Sorry, I have become so accustomed to writing that in capitals.) Well what followed that great saga was the next saga, known as, The Great Luggage Hunt. (Short version: I arrived, bags did not follow until almost 2 DAYS later.) I learned a few lessons from these two debacles and will share some of the luggage tips so none of you need to buy my, “101 Fab Outfits with just a Scarf, T-shirt & Sweater!” or its companion guide, “How to fashion fresh socks from tissues!”
Firstly, when you buy a suitcase, buy the most unusual, strange patterned one you can find. If you need sunglasses and 2 Tylenol to even look at the pattern-grab it!! During the Big Sagas, I made a new BFF, we will call her L. Now when we went through the rigmarole of changing flights, we also jumped through hoops to ensure our luggage followed us. We were closely questioned as to the appearance of the actual suitcase. Mine: plain black but (yippee) it had a lime green strap fitted around the length of the case. Naturally, I had the standard bright pink ribbon through the handle (doesn’t everyone?) and (second yippee) a sky blue luggage tag that featured Barbados in big letters. Surely, these clever identifying items were bold enough to gain the attention of the luggage locater people. Well the answer is a big fat NO. The moment you say “black suitcase” a shutter drops down behind the customer service person’s eyes. Now, my buddy, L, had no identifying markers (tsk tsk) however, her suitcase was quite the ugliest paisley mess of greens, pinks and purple. Well, guess whose luggage was located and arrived in London with her and guess whose wasn’t. Lastly, take a pic of the gawd-awful, ugly, suitcase!
Tip 2: if you travel with a companion, share the clothes between the 2 suitcases. This way if one goes missing you at least have something to wear until you resolve the issue. Some Don’ts: no matter how ugly your wife/husband’s bathing suit, do not under any circumstances say anything during the shared-packing process, or you may be traveling alone. Which brings me to the second Don’t: if you are traveling alone, you may not under any circumstance approach random strangers at the check-in and suggest you “share suitcases”. This is frowned upon.
Then before you close the case, place an Info Sheet on top. State your name, home address & your cell number as well as the destination address and a number for them. If you are traveling with a partner add their cell number as well. (Put a copy in an outside pockets if your bag has one.) Note: Even if you are staying in a less than luxurious establishment, refrain from writing down the name of the top 5-star hotel in that town. No one is going to believe you are staying in Buckingham Palace or on Richard Branson’s private island so be honest!
Luggage tags: complete the info card! I was always told that it is dangerous to put your full info on the tag (yes, because we all know what a hot bed for kidnappers airports are!) so all I had on my fancy Barbados tag was my name in an elegant script—fat lot of good that did me. (Below my name, I had written, “PTO” and drawn an arrow indicating that full info was on the reverse of the tag.) Did I really think that anyone who was madly scrabbling to locate 1 bag in an ocean of ten thousand black bags would say, “oh we should stop and take 5 minutes to extract and flip over this dear little slip of paper?!! Even with my sweet handwriting, the answer is an even bigger, fatter no!
For your ease, a link below: I like these bright, easily spotted tags the best. They are made of that ‘jelly’ material so they flex and bend during the (man)handling of the case. I found the stiff tags tend to snap off. Avoid ones with those steel attachment cables! All that happens when cases are yanked about is that something has to give and you end up with the cable attached to the handle but the tag ripped off. Now if you are like those guys who are trained to write on a grain of rice, then go ahead and engrave your name on the cable, otherwise avoid.
Happy travels and may your suitcase always arrive with you.