Luggage Tips and Remindersby Dave Marx, Author of PassPorter Travel Guides
Call it luggage; call it baggage -- suitcases, duffels, trunks, carryons, checkthroughs -- every traveler has bags to lug around. Here are some tips for happy toting, no matter where your journey leads.Too many bags, or too few? The more items of luggage you have (and the smaller they are), the easier it is to lose track of one or more if them. On the other hand, if you jam everything into a couple of huge bags they'll be impossible to lift, and the loss of one bag could put a big dent in your vacation. Try to find a happy medium.
Carryon luggage. Even though your carryon may fit the scanner at the security checkpoint, it still may not fit in the overhead or under seat storage areas. Check with your airline before you fly for specific maximum dimensions -- some aircraft fit larger bags than others. You are usually allowed one carryon bag plus one personal item such as a purse or briefcase, and shopping bags do count towards your allowance. The Federal Aviation Agency has useful information on this and other related topics at http://www2.faa.gov/index.cfm/apa/1079
Stowing strollers. Parents often ask about checking strollers before they fly. Strollers and infant carriers can be taken to the gate, and checked as you board the plane. The item(s) will be waiting for you when you disembark.
Visibility at the carousel. Sometimes it seems that everyone buys their luggage at the same store, and half a dozen people scramble for the same bag when it emerges at baggage claim. Distinctive luggage tags, stripes of colored adhesive tape, and/or colored baggage straps (available at all luggage stores) all help make your bags unmistakable.
Label your luggage inside and out. Every bag should have a luggage tag. The airline will supply a paper tag if you need it. Include some form of identification inside the bag, too, in case you lose the outer tag. You can make a personalized luggage tag and log at http://www.passporter.com/wdw/luggagelog.htm. You'll also find fun luggage tag templates to customize at TheMouseForLess.com.
Checked baggage inspection. As we mentioned in a recent article, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) now inspects all checked airline luggage. In many cases, the luggage goes through a scanning device, but at some airports all luggage must be hand-inspected. The TSA asks that you not lock your bags, as the locks will be removed if they have to inspect your luggage by hand. If you just want to hold the zippers closed, even a simple twist-tie will work. To reduce the possibility of casual theft, buy plastic cable ties at the hardware store -- you'll need a stout scissors or clipper to open them, though (round-nosed scissors are now allowed in carryon luggage). To read more, visit the TSA's consumer web site, at http://www.tsa.gov
Split your contents between several bags. If you lose a bag, the airline usually returns it to you within 24 hours, but what happens if your cruise ship departs a few hours after you land? Divide your belongings between several bags, so if one bag is lost, everyone still has at least a few items to wear when your ship sails.
Create an inventory. Make a complete list of the contents of each bag and carry the list on your person as you travel. If a bag is lost or items are missing, the list will make a loss claim much easier. To be even safer, leave a copy of the list at home, too. You can also make a list of your luggage contents at http://www.passporter.com/wdw/luggagelog.htm
Rolling; rolling; rolling. How
did we travel before the days of wheeled luggage? A new set of wheeled bags may be one of
your most savvy investments. Tall people should beware of short wheeled bags with short
handles, though -- they can be murder on your back.