A Tale of Two Suitcases

It was the best of times for the passenger with the bright orange, polka-dotted suitcase; it was the worst of times for the passenger with the standard issue black suitcase.

It was the spring of hope for the passenger who has been given the joyous news that their luggage has been located and that it is on its way to them; it was the winter of despair for the passenger whose bags were stuck in luggage purgatory because they looked like everybody elses.

One passenger had everything before them, including clean clothes and toothpaste!  One passenger had nothing before them, not even a clean pair of underwear.

Airport Passenger with luggage

Airport Passenger with luggage

My mother in law always insisted that we tie brightly colored bandannas onto our suitcases when we traveled to avoid the hassle of having lost luggage.  While we thought at first that they were kind of silly, we reluctantly complied.

Over the years, those brightly colored bandannas morphed into neon colored duct tape.  While this also sounds a little silly, we were very glad that our suitcases were covered in bright pink duct tape when we were in Rome and they were left behind in New York and they needed to be found and forwarded to us in a hurry.

I work at the airport and I frequently ask  passengers to describe their bags to me to make them easier for us to locate.  The exchange usually goes something like this:

Me: “What does your bag look like?”
Passenger: “It is a medium sized black bag with wheels.”
Me: “Does it have any distinguishing features?”
Passenger: “It has a luggage tag on it.”

For someone trying to distinguish your bag from someone else’s, this is like giving them a tweezers to find a needle in a pile of toothpicks.

Piles of Luggage

Piles of bags. Which ones are easiest to spot?

You might not worry about it because you think that the chances having you bag lost are pretty small, and you would be right about that.  The percentage of bags that are lost in transit are relatively small, but there are other situations where it might be necessary to quickly locate your bags.

Even if you don’t plan on buying new suitcases, there are a lot of ways to make your bag stand out.  Sometimes, a colorful luggage tag, scarf or ribbon tied onto the generic looking bag can make it  easier to find.  You are welcome to take our duct tape idea (in addition to making the bag bright, it acts as a luggage strap to keep your bag from breaking open in transit!)

The moral of this story is that the brightly colored, polka dotted suitcase will always get found before the plain black one.  Make a plan for how you are going to make your bag stand out next time you travel!

What are your favorite ways to make your luggage stand apart from the rest of the crowd?

 

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A Tale of Two Suitcases

7 Responses

  1. I usually put duct tape loops around the handles- doesn’t come off as easily as a scarf/bandana but is easy to tear off and won’t leave any stickiness from the tape on the suitcase while allowing me to keep my suitcase as boring as my wardrobe 🙂

    Erica June 14, 2012 at 6:39 am #
    • Sounds like we have a duct tape theme going on! I thankfully don’t have to worry about it very often, as we TRY really hard not to check luggage (checked luggage and standby travel don’t usually go very well together 😉

      Shanna Schultz June 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm #
  2. We’ve never used duct tape (I’ll have to try that!), but our plain black medium suitcase has blue ribbon tied to the handles. It’s not that obvious, though… =/ Clearly I need a suitcase with polka dots!

    Christy @ Technosyncratic June 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm #
  3. We have a great way to avoid lost luggage. We NEVER check our bags! 😉

    Bret @ Green Global Travel June 17, 2012 at 1:56 am #
    • I agree with you 100% about the not checking bags things…we generally don’t, either. I think the last time we checked bags was when we were leaving on a 16 day cruise (I needed a little more to get by for 16 days than would fit in a carry on bag).

      We fly standby, so checking bags for us is even more complicated (because we never know which route we will take, our bags could end up just about anywhere, Possibly without us.)

      Shanna Schultz June 17, 2012 at 2:43 am #
  4. How did you know I had a pink polka dot bag? In all seriousness I too go the duct tape route.

    Alexandra June 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm #
  5. I remember as a kid I thought my parents were off their rockers for putting a huge M in tape on both sides of their hard sided brown suitcases. But when I started travelling on my own I used the tip I learned from them. I don’t put a big M though, I just put green painters tape around the outside of my bag. Every time someone at the airport tells me it’s a good idea as they search through all the other identical looking bags to find their own.

    Anne McKinnell June 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

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