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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.
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.”
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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.
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?