Don’t let lost baggage get in the way of your perfect international trip. Prevent potential problems in the first days of your trip with these 5 key steps.
After 28 hours a flying, the last thing I wanted to hear in the Addis Ababa airport was that my luggage was lost. In my carry-on I had a laptop, a few books, and snacks.
I made the mistake that a lot of seasoned travelers sometimes make. I fell into the trap of thinking I would never get caught by the roulette wheel of airline travel. If this were Las Vegas, you could say that I put all my money on red and lost out big.
How to not ruin your vacation with a lost bag
Don’t be like me. Don’t put all your most important items in your checked baggage and then be stuck holding a backpack full of trail mix and bootleg dvds to keep you company. Lost luggage often determines whether your trip is off to a good start or bad.
Unless, you have a deep love of filling out forms and nothing makes you happier after 24+ hours of flying than describing the exact height, width, and depth of your bag and listing out to an excruciating detail all the items in your lost luggage. If that’s you, then you can stop reading this article.
I’ve traveled to over 36 countries and have learned a few things from my travels. Here’s a 5 steps you can take to continue to live life after loss (ahem!) lost luggage and still enjoy the first few days of your trip:
- Expect that the airlines will lose your luggage
- Always bring some type of food
- $50-$100 crisp fresh dollars
- Pack underwear
- Carry on a long-sleeved shirt and leggings
Expect that the airlines will lose your luggage
Have you ever played the deserted island game? It’s the one in which you live on a deserted island and you have to say what items you would bring with you, or the songs that you would want, or 3 people you’d want to be there. Treat your international trip like you’re about to go on a trip to a deserted island and only have one carry-on bag. What are the daily essentials that you could absolutely not do without? Before you go check your airline’s lost baggage policy and find out what level of proof do they require. Do they have forms, will they reimburse you, do they need you to take a picture, DNA sample of your merino wool sweater? If you go into your international trip expecting that the airline will lose your luggage and they don’t then everybody wins! Yay yay yay. If they do lose it at least you’re prepared and anticipated it.
Always bring some type of food
I don’t know what it is about traveling, but I always get super hungry when I travel. My husband is the polar opposite. He becomes a camel when we travel. If you’re like me, then you’ll want to pack snacks.My go to snacks are Cliff bars, dried fruits, and nuts. Often several hours go by from the time you’ve eaten your last airline meal and when you actually check into your final destination. The last thing you want to do is anger a border and customs patrol agent because your blood sugar is low and you’re having a Betty White Snickers moment. Do yourself a favor, pack some snacks.
$50-$100 worth of crisp fresh dollars
– or euros or whatever your home currency is. When you lose your suitcase you realize that you’re going to need to spend money buying stuff. It’s always helpful to have some money on you that you can change at the airport. Please note that the emphasis here is on having crisps new money. Why would I need newly dollar bills? The reason why I’m saying that is because overseas vendors are very concerned about counterfeit money. And for good reason. I have been to places in which a bank or a money house won’t exchange money because my currency had a tear. Having new money 2012 or later is the best way to ensure that you’ll be able to get money changed. Before I depart I call the closest bank branch. I tell them 3 things: 1) I am traveling overseas, 2) I will need money printed 2012 and later, and 3) I will need new bills in 20’s, 50’s and 100 denominations. I then ask them to “hold” the new bills for me. I will generally give them a one or two day’s notice. When I get in country, I normally change a small amount of money at the airports and then will change more money once I get to my final destination and figure out what the best exchange rate is. You will definitely want local money to get you through if you’ve lost your suitcase.
I know this is a no-brainer. After having to go days without clean underwear and hand washing the one pair that I had WHILE going commando waiting for it to dry, you can say I’ve become a convert. The second piece of this tip is make sure your underwear is in a zip lock bag. I’m also embarrassed to tell you that one of the time I remembered to bring underwear it attached itself to my passport at the moment that I’m trying to pull it out for Customs.
Carry on a long-sleeved shirt and leggings
I always pack an extra pair of leggings and a long-sleeved tunic style -shirt. These items pack fold well and take up very little room. If you’re going to a hot climate , long sleeves and long leggings come in handy to deal with pest like mosquitoes and all sorts of creepy crawly things that find your ankles and wrists delightful. If you’re going to cold weather place these items are helpful for layering. These items are generally acceptable in countries that have a more conservative dress code. That’s why I prefer tunic style top.
I really hope that you don’t have lost luggage on your next trip but if you do, I hope these tips help you rethink your carry on strategy.
What strategies have worked for you? Share below in the comments box below.