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Put your contact info and itinerary INSIDE your bag too

Just helped a friend track down the owner of a bag that she picked up off the carousel in Rome by mistake. There was no tag and she assumed it had come off in transit. The bag was small enough to fit in the overhead but at the gate they made her check it.

When she got to her hotel she was shocked to find someone else's clothes in "her" bag!

Print out a list of your hotels, their phone numbers and the dates you will be at each in case you and your bag are separated. It will be easier for it to find its way back to you.

Posted by
1840 posts

By the same token, I would say that your friend needs to pay attention to what she is doing.

Posted by
4174 posts

This is very good advice that we follow on every trip. I make a spreadsheet with our names, home address and mobile numbers along with all the information suggested by Gretchen. I send it to all of our kids and to neighbors so that they know where we are when. I have it on my phone and print 4 copies that we put in each of our 4 bags (1 each carry-on which sometimes has to be checked and "personal item").

It might have helped 20+ years ago when someone picked up my husband's duffle instead of their own after going through passport control. It was at the airport in Vancouver, BC. The bags were just loosely placed on the floor for anyone to grab with no supervision whatsoever.

We flew on to Montreal for a business/pleasure trip and contacted the airline everyday. There was an ID tag on it, but that apparently didn't help. We were gone about 2 weeks and had to get new clothes and some meds for my husband. (He learned his lesson about putting his meds in his "personal item" instead of the bigger checked bag.) The bag didn't get to us until over a week after we returned home south of Seattle. It had had a more exotic trip than we did. It went to China!

Posted by
23464 posts

Tell you friend to wake up and pay attention. You don't just pick up a bag off the carousel by mistake. Even identical bags are different because of scuff marks, wear patterns, etc. And if "my bag" doesn't have my luggage tag, then I am checking inside to make sure it is my bag. Think of all the problems this little mistake has cost everyone.

Posted by
2581 posts

The cool kids and hipsters don't put labels on their scooters and skateboards -- but I do.
So, this one day I was near Yerba Buena Park and a couple of teenagers chased me down the street
yelling "That guy just stole our scooter!"
They caught up to me and insisted that I had taken their scooter.
I asked what brand theirs was, and showed them that mine was a different brand.
And I said does your scooter have a label on it with my phone number, like this?
They were ready to bring out the torches and pitchforks until they saw the brand sticker and my label.

Another good reason to personalize and identify your things.

Posted by
232 posts

Mistakes happen whether by our own in attention (leaving your bag behind in a cab) or others causing them (someone grabbing your bag by mistake or the airlines sending to the wrong destination)

I was simply saying a way to mitigate the damage and aide in a speedy return is having complete contact information on the inside of the bag as well as your name and phone number on the luggage tag.

Should my friend have double checked at the carousel? Yes she should have. In her defense it's not a typical black overnight bag its a purple bag that usually stands out on the carousel I should know -- it's mine I lent it to her!

Posted by
1068 posts

Also a good reminder to put tags on the outside of all of your bags..... those that you carry on and those you don't. I do put a tag on the inside of all of my bags (a stamped "dog tag" with my name, home address and e-mail) and attach a custom made tag to their outside with very heavy duty single use Cable Ties. I get the ties at a local home improvement store and they come in 6 bright colors. So I can easily identify my bag (on the outside) by a brightly colored tie with my custom name tag. Let's face it, not many suitcases have a lime green, neon pink or blue tie holding on a burn orange label.... if somebody confuses that for their bag........

Posted by
10344 posts

Did your friend get her bag back? And how long did that take?

Posted by
1976 posts

After I bought my red suitcases, I realized the second most popular luggage color after black was red. I have a rainbow luggage tag on my suitcase and if I have to check it, make sure to look for the tag plus the shiny wheels plus other details. I also put a sheet with my contact information and itinerary (dates, cities, hotel names and phone numbers, etc.) inside the bag in case I have to check it.

Posted by
232 posts

Kent she did get her bag back. She said the people at FCO couldn't have been nicer. She went there and had it in hand in just a few minutes.

Which makes me think she may not actually be in Rome . . .

Posted by
5052 posts

Several companies sell "retriever tags" that are yellow, grey, or red and say something like "Here is my itinerary if my bag is lost" in about eight different languages. You put your itinerary / contact info inside the envelop tag and secure it to the bag handle. They come with a plastic reusable strap for attaching to the bag, but heavy duty wire ties work better. As others have suggested, it is also a good idea to have the same info inside the bag.

Posted by
412 posts

By the same token I would say that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Seriously, the friend made an error and tired to fix it and posters on here are "preaching" LOL! Must be nice to be perfect and have never made any errors in your life, but most of us are human and have done a dumb thing once or twice.

Having done this and had it done to me, stuff happens. Business travelers like me have tons of matching black bags LOL!

Posted by
2349 posts

We haven't picked up the wrong luggage yet, but that's because I watch my husband like a hawk. He seems to have no memory of fabric, pattern, or color. And when he's in a hurry- watch out.

Twice I've seen him walk to a beach chair, pick up someone else's towel, and start drying himself off. Yeah, yuck. When I stop him he says, isn't this our towel? No, we've never had a Hello Kitty towel, or put it on this purple lawn chair, with this yellow cooler. One of these days he's going to dry off with the wrong towel from the wrong guy.

Posted by
3259 posts

I make my bag colorful. Each handle has a bright label or fabric tie so that no matter from which angle it comes out of the carousel or the gate check, it is obvious which bag is mine. Some one would have to be blind to grab a handle that has my 'markings' on it. It also makes it much easier for me to recognize from a distance to make sure someone else doesn't accidentally grab it. It has worked so far.

It also would make it easier to describe to the airport personnel for them to find if it didn't show up on the carousel.

Posted by
14241 posts

I do what Wray does to help my luggage be more easily identifiable. I found some hot pink neoprene luggage handle covers at KMart and use a hot pink luggage strap around my suitcase so if I check it I can easily see it on the baggage carousel. It also helps on the RS tours I've been on where many had RS bags, making it quicker to get to as the bus driver off loaded luggage at the hotels.

I also did as Gretchen suggests and put my itinerary in a sheet protector fastened inside my bag. Now we need to get Rick's luggage designer to put a small clear pocket on the inside top. I did see a neat demo a few years ago at a AAA packing seminar. The person used a piece of foam core in her bag to separate stuff and had stuck clear pockets on it to insert her itinerary, hotels, etc.

Posted by
2127 posts

I agree with Carol's post...........we ALL make mistakes. Gretchen's post is to remind us to put contact info within our bag, so if someone makes a mistake they can find us. Her post is not intended to open the flood gates for people to criticize her friend who made the mistake.

I am a very careful traveler. My husband and I have matching RS rollaboards, mine has a big pink ribbon on the handle, his has a big blue ribbon on the handle. When I first put the ribbons on the handles years ago, he rolled his eyes (I offered to let him use the pink ribbon instead...end of eye rolling).

BUT...........even I almost made a mistake. We were in a van going to the airport at the end of a Rick Steves' tour. The van was stuffed to the max with other Ricksters. And, guess what? Yes, as might be expected, and I soon later found out, others had the same model luggage.

At the very crowded airport, as we were quickly hopping out of the van, I reached for my bag from the place where I had positioned it in the back of the van. But, a young man who was still seated in the van stopped me......I was grabbing his bag by mistake. Seems, the luggage had been rearranged, and my bag was scooted over. Would I have noticed it did not have the pink ribbon on it? Maybe. But, you know how it is when you are grabbing your luggage (from where you knew you put it) and making sure your tote bag is zipped, that you have your boarding passes in a close/safe place, and you are saying good-bye to your new friends.

I wanted to HUG that young man for keeping me from making a potential mistake. Had I quickly discovered my pink ribbon was missing from my bag, everyone was unloading so quickly and the van took off so quickly, likely I would have had to chase after it to the next drop-off point.

So, stuff happens......yes, even to me. "I am Margaret; I almost took the wrong bag." ......(all): "Hello Margaret."

Let's cut Gretchen's friend some slack. And, let's thank Gretchen for her helpful, reminding post.

Posted by
3941 posts

Last year while waiting for bags to come out...one went by that had all kinds of colourful curly ribbon on the handle...it was otherwise a plain black suitcase. We were standing by the lady who did this and I said what a good idea it was...she said she did that with all her suitcases...it really made it stand out (as long as the ribbons aren't to long and bung up the conveyor belt).

I always have our itinerary in our bag for this reason (as well as to remind me where we are supposed to be when...lol)...tho we do carry on only most of the time and generally only check a bag when we are coming home.

And as for making mistakes...we had until recently a Mazda Tribute in an uncommon copper colour. We had to get rid of it and got a Ford Escape that is red...like about 300 other Escapes in town. I was coming out of the local mall to drop some bags in the car...am hitting the key fob, get to the car, wonder why the doors aren't opening...and realize that it's not mine - and the lady who owned it came out of the mall behind me (of course) and saw me trying to get into it. My car was two rows over in almost the exact same spot in the row. She probably thought I was trying to steal her car...embarrassing!

Posted by
518 posts

This is very common and I've done it before myself, not with luggage, but with other things. In a grocery store parking lot I once put my groceries in another car that look just like mine. It was unlocked because the owner also happened to be returning to her car. I thought it was strange that the interior looked a bit different until the owner shouted, "you've got the wrong car, you've got the wrong car!"

As for travels, luggage tags and patterned or brightly colored luggage is helpful. People might not like to be flashy but that's the best way to make your luggage unique and stand out and lessen the chances of someone else taking it (whether intentionally or unintentionally). I also keep e-copies of all my itinerary info on my phone, in my e-mail inbox, hard copies on my person and in my luggage, and with folks back home. That way, even if you do lose your phone, wallet, luggage, bags, you can still get to your information at any computer terminal.

Other helpful information to keep in all of the aforementioned places include: phone numbers to all your banks and credit card companies, should you need to cancel a card upon theft or clear any purchases.

Lastly, the OP said her friend opened the bag to find someone else's clothes in "her" bag. My question is, why wasn't this other person's bag locked? It's good practice to not only lock your checked luggage (albeit w/ TSA approved locks), but even your carry on.

Posted by
412 posts

I drive a BRIGHT BLUE car with a blue convertible top. I honestly thought it was the only one around like it until I saw a man very frustrated the remote would not unlike his door... His IDENTICAL car was one row over at the grocery store. We both got a laugh because the car is so unique we would both just assume "that one is mine" never dreaming there are two of them in the parking lot. (And his is the ONLY other one like mine I have seen and I live in Atlanta. it's a big city)

People are human. Attacking them for honest mistakes only makes you look petty

As for locking your bag. Why? Seriously those locks are USELESS. IF the TSA can open them so can everyone else in the world. I figure they just give the dishonest clues as to which bags might have good stuff in them. I don't lock mine and I don't pack valuables and 20 years of weekly travel I don't recall having anything stolen. (Lost is an entirely different manner, but it's no ones fault but my own if I leave something someplace :) )

Don't believe me about the locks?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwN3IMXJiQ4

Or just google "how to open a TSA lock" LOADS of info! I once got a jammed one of f a friends suitcase by just sticking a screwdriver under the "hoop" and giving it a good hard shove. It bounced across the room

Posted by
518 posts

Those baggage locks are more akin to a toy than a legitimate lock. But they do come in handy for preventing your day bag's zippers from falling open and in addition, they can prevent someone from picking through your bag as you stand there on a bus or in line somewhere, with it strapped to your back. To pick/open a lock that's either on your person or above your head in a rack/bin on bus/train/plane, there'd have to be sufficient movement and jiggling around and of course, time involved, whereby you'd see or feel something.

As for actual baggage that's checked and/or accidentally taken by someone else, I'd agree, once in the possession of somewhere other than yourself, that lock is going to be useless.

Posted by
232 posts

Neither bag was locked because both my friend and the other luggage owner were planning on taking the bags in question as their carry on item. The plane was full and they had to check them at the gate. So no locks.

Please cue the floods of people saying they carry extra locks in their pockets just in case this happens and my friend was an idiot for not having one.

Posted by
14241 posts

No, none of that from me! I come down on the no lock side of the question. I was traveling with my brother and SIL when SIL had a catastrophic lock failure in the Seattle airport (the double loop kind of lock, could not get either side open, TSA did not have keys at the security checkpoint, no stores had scissors except the absolutely wonderful folks at the Ex Officio store who worried the lock open for her), then brother had the same failure after our international flight at the hotel in Dublin. Mine was still working at that point and I took it off and threw it away. I now just use a small carabiner or twist tie to keep the zippers from coming open. I don't pack valuables in any luggage I might check or have to gate check anyway.

Posted by
108 posts

I definitely agree that it's worthwhile to put a copy of your itinerary and contact info in your checked bags, because you never know what could happen. Someone could grab the wrong bag from the carousel or sometimes the tags the airline puts on the bag to route it come off, and then having the copy of the itinerary inside can help the airline get the bag back on the right track.

For checked luggage, I actually have LL Bean rolling duffles in a very bright print, which makes it harder for someone to mistake my bags for theirs, but I'm not the only one with those bags, so it's certainly possible someone else with those types of bags could be on my flight, too. I usually only use those when moving for work, or on trips home where I'll be doing tons of shopping, etc, lest any Ricknicks get worked up about me checking a bag. ;) Sometimes you just need a checked bag (or two).

I travel enough for work, that I do actually carry a TSA lock for my carry-on, because I've been on enough flights where the overhead bins got full and they had to gate check carry-ons. I do try to pack anything of value in my personal item and fortunately have only ahd to gate check my carry-on once, but I do like to put a lock on any bag that I'm checking, just to keep it from opening randomly and my stuff spilling out. I have no illusions that a TSA lock would actually prevent theft by anyone with enough time/motivation.

Also, while not super-common, I have heard of instances of theft from carry-ons on long flights, especially overnight flights where the bags' owners may be sleeping. Again, a TSA lock isn't guaranteed to keep anyone out, but it could help some since a thief is unlikely to want to mess with a lock and will just move on to the next bag, so I generally keep my carry-on locked during the flight and have everything that I'll likely need to access during the flight in my personal item under the seat in front of me.

Posted by
1840 posts

Here's a little advice for those who may need it. We use small caribiner-like key rings to keep our zippers, on the bags, from opening. They are oval, about two and a quarter inches long and have a screw nut closure. You can usually find them where keys are made. It would take a neferious person longer to open one of them than to open a TSA approved lock. We piddled around with locks on one trip and decided they were more trouble than they were worth.

One time while walking up the steps in SeaTac I saw a small key on one of the steps that looked like it had been there awhile. A few steps upwards there was another key that was identical to the first one. There must have been an interesting story there.

Posted by
518 posts

"Please cue the floods of people saying they carry extra locks in their pockets just in case this happens and my friend was an idiot for not having one."

I actually do carry spare locks and other such supplies but of course, I would never chastise the next person for not doing so.

"I now just use a small carabiner or twist tie to keep the zippers from coming open."
"We use small caribiner-like key rings to keep our zippers, on the bags, from opening."

Absolutely, I forgot this as an option in my prior post regarding keeping bags locked outside of checked luggage, such as in transit, on buses, etc.

Posted by
67 posts

I like to use these little Nite Ize s-biners to keep my outside zippers zipped and to attach the 3-ring plastic sleeve containing contact information/itinerary to a zipper pull inside my bag. I also use one to attach a nano flashlight inside my day bag.

Posted by
44 posts

I just returned from 5 weeks in and around Italy. Before I left, I went to the store Sports Authority and looked at all their travel gadgets and those looked like the most convenient and lightweight of their many choices. I used the little s-biners to keep my outside zipper on my little cross shoulder bag shut whenever I was off the tour bus. I never did lock the s-biner, but it would have been difficult for someone to open the zipper on my purse if they tried even though I had not turned the little lever in the middle to lock it. We were packed so tightly on the Metro in Rome that I was glad to have that extra sense of security. I always had a copy of my hotels and itinerary in the purse and suitcase. I used the s-biners on my carry-on luggage to keep the zippers closed. My husband used medium weight zip-ties on his luggage and was just as happy with them although they required scissors to remove. The key seem to be to always, always be aware of what's going on around you. I know to be extra cautious when I am jet lagged, tired or stressed.