The moment when the luggage carousel has seemingly dropped its last bag and yours is nowhere to be found…
[insert sinking stomach feeling here]
The worst thing that can happen to your luggage while traveling is that it gets lost by the airlines, bus or even train company. When this happens, you’ll be asked to file a report, but that doesn’t promise anything. It’s also tricky if they find it but you’ve already moved to your next destination, or they won’t deliver it.
Lost luggage could change your whole trip if all of your clothing and essentials were inside. So how do you check luggage without constantly worrying about whether or not it will make it to your destination?
Luggage Tracking Services
You can register your bags with a third party company before you go that track your bags for the entirety of the journey. If it goes missing, they can pull it up on the computer and get it back to you faster than the airline might be able to.
Please note that we haven’t personally used these services at HPL, but wanted to share that such possibilities are out there. If you use one of these, please let us know the process and experience in the comments!
I-Trak gives you a sticker label to put on your bag and a number to add to your account online with a listing of information on your bag. When your bag turns up, the finder can contact I-Trak via phone, email, website or through the airline. Then they’ll contact you by text message, phone call, email or on your online account and arrange a way to get it back. A subscription is available per year.
Trakdot is a small device about the size of a smartphone that is tossed into your checked bag. You can track the bag yourself on their smartphone app, which will tell you the bag’s approximate location. The Trakdot takes AA batteries and can be tracked with a normal cell phone as well using GSM.
LugLoc works in a similar way, for less than $100, by tracking your luggage with your smartphone over GSM. The battery life lasts 15 days and the device fits into your palm. It sends you notifications and even has a map feature. It comes with the option of tracking five items with additional traces available for purchase.
You can also use products meant for other things, like the PocketFinder. It’s marketed to find people, your vehicle or pets, but could also be attached to your luggage. The device costs around $130 and is slipped into your checked bag. It locates your bag, checks to see if it is stationary or in transit and sends the information to your iPhone app. It’s rechargeable and has a map view.
Okoban is a Japanese company that adds a serial number and phone number to your items, whether it be a bag or your laptop. From there, the finder can call the Okoban number to have it returned to its owner. The owner then receives a text message alerting them that it’s been found. Unfortunately, this system heavily relies on the honesty of others.
6. Global Bag Tag
There are also trackable tags for your luggage. Global Bag Tag has been operating since 1999. Members receive a login code for their website, which allows them to register the tag or sticker with their unique serial number. The company tracks the bag for you and can send you a text message alerting you to the details. This works not only for airline loss, but if you leave a bag anywhere.
Make sure that your travel insurance includes delay and loss of luggage. Some credit card companies include this in their features as well. Insurance should provide you with compensation if bags are more than 5 days delayed in order to purchase new clothing in the meantime. If the bag is lost permanently, it should cover at least 50% of your items. If you’re packing large electronics, make sure these are covered as well.
Carry On Only
The best way to avoid lost baggage is to carry on your bags instead of checking them. That way, they’re constantly in view and not handled by strangers. For some trips this may be next to impossible, but it’s worth it if you can manage. You’ll save money and plenty of hassle.
Some Additional Notes to Keep in Mind:
- If you do have to check a bag, don’t pack anything you can’t live without. Leave the sentimental or expensive pieces at home whenever possible. Electronics should stay on your person.
- Have a luggage tag with up-to-date information on it. I was always told to put someone else’s address on my tag, but make sure there’s an email address or phone number that can be reached immediately.
- Have a photo of your bag on your smartphone to show the baggage handlers.
- Make sure the name and destination on the supplied tag are correct before you give your bag to the desk.
- Save your packing list to check off items in case something was taken.
Have you used any of these luggage tracking services/devices? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!