#Travel140: Travel Tips via @TravelLatte

#Travel140: Make your bags easy to find.

Make your luggage unique so it’s easier to find at baggage claim.
If a bag does get lost, it’s also easier to describe.

In all of our travels, we have yet to meet someone who loves waiting by the carousels in Baggage Claim. One easy way to cut down the time you spend there is by making your luggage easier to spot your bag. Giving your bags a little custom touch also helps avoid that awkward moment when someone else reaches for the same suitcase. Most importantly, though, it can help reunite you with your belongings if and when your luggage goes missing, and you have to visit the baggage claim office.

Easy Ways to Customize Your Luggage

There are several ways to make your luggage stand out. You can start with a bag that’s out of the ordinary. Solid bags in red, black, and blue are pretty common. So, when you’re luggage shopping, choose something with a pattern that stands out, but is also easy to describe. Hello Kitty is easier to understand – and recognize – than “pink and red paisley.”

If you already have a bag that tends to blend in, try adding a handle pad, bag strap, or colorful tape to make it stand out on the carousel. We do this with every bag we travel with, and it has helped us spot our bags quicker, but also helped avoid disaster with airport mishandling – like broken zippers.

Our bag handles are padded with colorful neoprene wraps that stand out, and double as luggage tags with our contact info. The hook-and-loop closure keeps them from coming off, and lets us switch them out whenever we want. Luggage straps wrap around our bags, almost like seatbelts. Ours are basic, but some have TSA-approved locks built in for an extra layer of protection. We found some inexpensive options for both below, and you’ll find dozens more on Amazon and at travel stores.

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Don’t forget to take a quick picture of your bags, too, just in case you need Baggage Claim to help find them.

More Ways to Personalize Your Bags

Feeling a little creative? Here are some ideas that require a little more effort, but will definitely make your bags uniquely yours!

  • For hard-sided luggage, buy some stickers to decorate your bags.
  • For backpacks, duffels, and fabric luggage, sew on some patches. Here’s a great opportunity to showcase that collection of National Parks patches you’ve been collecting!
  • Paint your own designs! Use acrylic markers or paints for hard-sided luggage, or whip out the fabric paints for your soft-sided bags, backpacks, and duffels. Draw your own designs for a look that is truly one-of-a-kind!
  • Patterned Tapes – this is one of our favorites! You can find duct tape (for hard-sided bags) and fabric tape with a variety of designs. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to customize your luggage in a way that’s uniquely you!

However you decide to customize your luggage, make sure to apply it to both the front and back of your bags. Some baggage handlers stack luggage face down. Others pile bags face up. And then the baggage carousel jumbles them all up. So make sure your customizations are on both the front and back of your bags so you can spot them easily, whichever way they’re facing.

Luggage Bling That You Should Avoid

The whole idea is to make your life easier, but some customizations could do just the opposite. We’ve seen bags with colorful ribbons or streamers tied to the handle. At first glance, this seems like a colorful and simple way to personalize your luggage, but those ribbons can get caught in the machinery that delivers your bags to the carousels.

A couple of other items that are useful when done right, but can be a problem, are zipper pulls and luggage tags. Be careful with custom zipper pulls that dangle a bit too long, too. Though less likely, they can snag in the machinery also. Believe it or not, luggage tags flapping around on the top of your suitcase face the same hazard. Most tags come with a cord or band of a specific length to attach to your bags. Anything longer than a few inches increases the risk of getting tangled in machinery or other bags, or just getting ripped right off your luggage.

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What’s your favorite travel hack to make your bags easier to spot, and harder to lose? Please share in the comments, and we’ll re-post the best. (Be sure to include your Twitter handle and a link to your blog, if you have one!) Or click here for more #Travel140!

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