Have you ever stood at the baggage claim carousel on your tip toes, squinting your eyes to see if the bag on the opposite side might be yours? Perhaps that was just me once upon a time.
Unless you’re traveling with a backpack, which tend to come in a variety of colors, chances are your bag looks very similar to mine. And when you’re eyeing the dozens of bags circling the carousel, you probably hope that it took the same flight as you and that you find it as quickly as possible.
- Speaking of hoping your luggage took the same flight as you, check out these 20 cringe-worthy luggage nightmares.
Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you can make luggage identification an easy process. And making your luggage easy to identify is oh-so-smart for several reasons:
- It can speed up the wait at baggage claim – especially good news if you have a short layover at an international airport or you’ve just landed after a long flight and can’t wait to get home!
- ID-ing your luggage helps make sure no one mistakenly picks up your bag. This helps whether you check a bag or not!
- You help make it easier for airlines to identify your bag should it be misplaced (like the time an airline sent my bag to Vancouver when I was on my way to London).
- Or if you’ve ever made a ridiculous luggage mistake like me (why yes, I’m the gal who once left a bag at baggage claim on a layover at an international airport), it helps airport staff identify your bag more quickly amongst a crowded behind-the-scenes storage room.
- You can have peace of mind that your bag is unique and stands out!
If you’re looking for ways to identify your luggage more easily, check out our easy, colorful ways to add luggage identifiers to your bags!
What color is your luggage? If I was a betting woman, I’d say black. All of the bags that I own are black. Most of the ones circling the baggage claim carousel are black. Some dare to be different with gray and a few stand out from the pack with reds, greens, or blues.
If you’re going for soft luggage, select a solid color that’s anything but black or gray. Though someone else may have a pink or green suitcase circling the carousel, chances are it’s yours!
If you prefer a hard shell case, a wide variety of colorful, feminine patterns are yours for the choosing, in addition to more traditional solid colors.
As you’re watching the black bags make their way around the carousel, you’ll notice that most have some type of luggage tag, whether it’s the one provided for free by the airline or a more unique one. They’re easy to find at most any store and relatively inexpensive.
I travel with black suitcases, and at some point, I decided to decorate my bags with one or two colorful, unique luggage tags to make them easier to identify. Why use more than one? I assume that I’ll be the only one with two very different tags!
My clown fish tag stays on the small carry-on size bag that I take from time to time, and a blue “Hasta la vista” tag always stays on my favorite checked bag. I also have a light pink rectangular tag with an “H” on it, a tag featuring the London Underground map, and tags I’ve snagged at business conferences simply because no one else will have them.
Whether you call them luggage belts or straps, you’ve probably seen a few people on any given flight use these.
They resemble a belt you would wear around your waist but are designed to wrap around luggage and stay put with a snap of a plastic buckle.
You can find these in just about any color, and I tend to see individual ones featuring the colors of the rainbow. Select your two favorite colors to make your luggage easy to spot!
Bonus: If your bag happens to get damaged in transit, the luggage strap will help keep your suitcase from spilling open and the contents from getting lost.
- Buy unique luggage straps on Amazon
Fabric and ribbon
The first time I noticed a bag with a colorful ribbon or piece of fabric tied to one of the handles, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that!
You can find ribbon or fabric at any craft store, but I prefer to recycle the ribbons I receive with wrapped presents, gift baskets, or flowers! On my go-to bags, I currently have red, gray, or orange tied to a handle.
I recently traveled to London and packed an extra suitcase to begin moving my fiance’s belongings to the States. I think he was surprised when he saw that I had packed ribbon from home to tie to his bag – it certainly helped me spot his (new to me) bag more quickly when I returned home!
If the ribbon is too long, tie it in a bow or consider trimming it – you don’t want it to get caught on a belt as it’s traveling behind the scenes at the airport or at baggage claim itself!
- Buy strips of ribbon on Amazon
Luggage tracker tags
Luggage tracker tags are another form of luggage identifiers. These GPS-enabled tags work with an app on your smartphone or a specific website to track where your luggage is, which can be useful in the case of lost luggage, although some report that the tracking does not work well if the bag is moving.
Tracker tags are usually placed outside the bag, like a regular luggage tag, but some are designed to go inside the bag. Shop around, read reviews, and see what best suits your travel style!
If you chose to put a tracker inside your luggage, you’ll still need a luggage identifier like in this article on the outside of your bag.
There are many luggage tracker tags on the market. Some make a specific sound when you activate the tracking app and get close to your bag. Some have a QR code that airlines can scan and get your contact information. Some require a subscription; some are free to use after the initial purchase.
One thing to be alert to is which operating system a tracker tag works with. Some only work with Apple products, some only work with Samsung Galaxy phones, etc. Also, be sure that you’ll have access to your apps and data use while traveling.
Tracker tags are more expensive than normal luggage identifiers and they come in fewer color and design options. At the moment (winter 2022), tracker tags are designed for function more than for personalization.
Tracker tags typically are allowed on airplanes. The lithium battery most use is small enough and the bluetooth signal weak enough that many airlines permit the use of luggage trackers. Still, be sure to check with your airline. Some airlines may only permit tracker tags on checked baggage, so be careful to understand what is allowed with your carry-on.
- Learn more about luggage tracking devices
Colorful and unique combination
Use at least two of the ways above to add luggage identifiers to your bags to help make sure no one confuses your bag for hers!
I love using both luggage tags and ribbons on my bag. Fellow travelers know that my bag does not belong to them, and I know that their bags, sans tags and ribbons, are not mine.
How do you make your bag stand out from the rest?
Want a Better Way of Tracking Your Luggage?
When you are able to pack light, you can travel with carry-on luggage only – or even just a personal item! Being in control of your luggage will lessen the need for luggage identifiers. Get started with the Carry-On-Only Crash Course.
Another way to make softcover suitcases stand out is with fabric paint. I painted my black one last year before I went to Europe last year. It was a tonne of fun to do, and led to some interesting conversations in transit 🙂
Lindsey, that’s a great idea! Definitely a unique solution!
I bought a bright-red “Not Yours!” luggage handle wrap from a vendor on Etsy. I used it twice. The second time… the handle wrap vanished during transit between Victoria and Portland. I guess someone found it as irresistible as I did! The lesson, I guess, is to have something that’s cute, but maybe not TOO cute 😉
I’ve seen similar tags but never bought one 🙂 Bummer that someone snagged it!
Denise Kelley says
I inherited my sisters hard sided “big blue” American Tourister suitcase when she died. It’s a first generation wheeled suitcase and to help it stand out even more, I purchased a bunch of funny stickers (mostly bumper stickers) and applied them to it. I try to get at least one sticker from each place I travel for my suitcase. You can’t miss my sister’s “big blue” for anyone elses suitcase, it stands alone.
Denise, I’m so glad you get to take your sister’s suitcase with you when you travel. Thanks for sharing, and let’s keep adding stickers to that bag 🙂
I always buy non-black bags. A really good idea though is to also put a luggage tag on the INSIDE of your bag in case the one on the outside comes off. This is especially helpful if the outside tag comes off, and you have to prove your bag is really yours.
I’ve made fabric luggage tags for each of my & my family’s bags with a matching one on our carry-on bags. If someone tries to argue with a bag being theirs, I can show them the matching tag on my carry-on. Since I made them, nobody else will have the same ones.
On my suitcase which was a black fabric bag, I I used no sew bond and found some bright color fabric and ironed it to it, then ironed it on to the front and back of the bag very carefully, works great, I always know my bags when they come down the carousel.