Whenever I check my luggage before a flight I secretly say a small prayer that I’ll be reunited with it as soon as I land at my final destination without any mishaps.Sometimes though, the wait at the carousel becomes an eternity. I’ve had to scan through a mountainous heap of black bags dumped in a corner after immigration took 2 hours. My suitcase was misplaced once and I had to fill out a report complete with identifiers on the bag to make it easy for airline handlers to know how to identify your suitcase.
These days I take every precaution, first by taking these measures to minimize the chances of losing my luggage, but also by personalizing my bags to identify them in case it does get lost in a sea of black bags or someone with sticky fingers takes it. Most of my tips are easy to follow and cheap too so there’s no excuse next time! After I list all the ways to identify luggage, I’ll tell you how to pick the best one for you, so keep reading to the end.
- Buy colorful and/or bold print luggage
If you’re in the market for new luggage, consider buying something that pops better than a plain and subdued bag. You’ll spot it from far away and you’ll make a nice statement to boot. These days, you can find a lot of options in a nice color or print that doesn’t look ridiculous or juvenile. Hardside luggage is best for fun prints and vintage designs look really elegant.
- Luggage tags
While your name, phone number and address should not be in plain view, tie a luggage tag that pops and has a unique label or special text to let anyone know it’s yours. You can even get a nice tag with a cute saying, a graphic or photo.
- Luggage handle wraps
- Travel Stickers
- Tie a Ribbon
- Sew on or iron on patches
If your luggage is softsided then a patch that you can sew or iron onto the fabric or trim is better than a sticker.
- Zip ties
Zip ties aren’t just for securing a bag closed. A colorful one can serve as an identifier too and they’re tough to break if you don’t have a pair of scissors or clippers.
If you’re tired of your plain bag but it’s still in good shape, stenciling a pattern on the body is a good way to revitalize and personalize it. Take the stencil to the surface of the bag, cover the areas around it that you have to protect, and use a spray paint in any color to create the pattern.
- Luggage straps
If you pack bag until it almost bursts at the seams, you may want to secure it further by using a luggage strap to go around it. This reduces the stress on the zippers and prevents it from accidentally bursting open. Luggage straps are also great identifiers as they can be in a bright color or in a good print.
- Duct tape
This is my least favorite method but in a pinch, regular duct tape can be used to mark the side of a bag. Use it to monogram it but make it neat or it could look like it’s used to patch up a hole.
Of course, just in case someone else had the same idea as you, add another small identifier to it.
A handle wrap with a monogram, picture or logo not only helps identify your bag, it also gives the grab handle additional padding to make it more comfortable to carry if necessary even if it’s very heavy. They usually come with a Velcro closure.
If you have hard sided luggage, get round or square travel stickers with an easy to peal-and-stick back and a scratch resistant front. Pick from a variety of designs available on Zazzle.
A ribbon around the handle of the bag is the easiest option but don’t use just any ribbon. Chances are that someone else could be using a plain yellow one so a printed ribbon is better. You can use the remaining length for gift wrapping or other decorating.
So you have all the options but do you know which ones are the best for you? Let me help with that.
1. Make sure that the identifier is unique or at least special enough that no one else around you is likely to have something that looks the same.
2. It should be big and/or bold so that you can see it from afar.
3. You should be able to see the identifier from all sides because it may be hidden from your view in certain positions. Even better is to use two different ones on two different places.
4. While you don’t want to damage the bag with an identifier, it must be difficult for someone else to remove.
5. It should not be something that dangles and gets caught on the edge of machinery, as it can be ripped off and cause damage to the bag.
6. It should ideally be a cheap object that won’t scream “rich person” and attract thieves.
7. It must be easy to describe in a lost luggage report or when you tell authorities what the identifier is.
8. Above all, it should not make your luggage look ugly or silly!
Now that you know how to identify your luggage at the airport, hopefully you can rest a little easier while checking it in.