Stop me if you’ve heard this before… it’s a good idea to differentiate your luggage by tying a brightly-colored object to the handle… oh, you’ve heard that one? Here are some tips that may not be as common, based on experience and mistakes I have personally made or have learned about from my frequent flier clients and colleagues.
Don’t travel with gel pens. One time I fell asleep on a plane while holding a gel roller-ball pen in my hand. I woke up with a pool of black ink all over my notebook, my hand, and very nearly on my pants too. Evidently the air pressure changes caused the ink to burst out.
Bring some of your pre-printed return address labels with you. You can quickly slap one of these stickers on a paper airline luggage tag or use them to fill out a form. A few of these labels are good to always keep in your wallet, not just while traveling, to use conveniently if you buy a bunch of raffle tickets or have to fill out school forms.
ALWAYS take a second to look at the airline luggage routing tags that the ticket agent is putting on your checked baggage, and look at your claim stubs too. Don’t just assume they are putting the right tag on the right bag. My son’s bag once was tagged as belonging to some other guy going to Memphis (we were going to Puerto Rico… not good).
Take note of something interesting about the contents of your bag so you can better identify it. Once when my luggage was lost, the paper ID tag was torn off in transit, and the baggage agents asked me to tell them about something unique inside my bag to help identify that it was mine. I was able to tell them about my tiny orange travel hair dryer and that did the trick. Of course, it’s also great if you provide your contact information on the inside of the bag (I did, but they didn’t find it… do make sure it’s clearly visible).
Do travel with Sharpie® markers and zip-closure plastic bags. They are great for marking and identifying things quickly, like which child’s identical souvenir rhinoceros toy belongs to whom… or whose bottle of half-consumed water that is in the back seat. You can use the plastic bags (gallon size is great) to store open snack food packages, seal up a leaky toiletry bottle, or contain wet clothing.
If your flight is cancelled, don’t wait in the long line in front of the ticket agent to get on another plane. Just step aside and call your airline directly from your cell phone. It’s just like cutting in line, but nobody will get mad at you. (Bonus tip: have the airline number with you!)
Love your Bucky®. I have a Bucky travel pillow, the neck pillows that are filled with buckwheat hulls. Mine has a protective travel case that you can take off and stuff inside the pillow while you’re using it. There is nothing worse than giving yourself a neck injury while trying to sleep!