¨People like to think of you as a certain person or a certain type of person, and they do love to give you a label. We like luggage labels, and we like people labels.¨
After five years traveling around the world, I learned many of these baggage tips either the hard way or by watching other Fifty-Plus Nomads.
Baggage Tip #1: Make Sure You Can Find The Right Bag on the Carousel
- Put something on your bag to make it easy to identify. A colorful ribbon, tie, or baggage tag will help ensure you have picked up the correct suitcase.
- If you don’t have a luggage tag, check the long plastic tags that the airlines put on your bags. Your last name will be on the tag somewhere. (Note: it can be hard to find).
- I once had an acquaintance who picked up the wrong bag from a baggage carousel, brought it home, and then had to arrange with the person who picked up his bag by mistake to meet and exchange bags. Fortunately, they both reported that they picked up the wrong bag to the airline and were able to arrange a meeting quickly.
- Keep the baggage claim ticket until you have your luggage at-hand. Occasionally, company personnel will not allow you to get your bag until you show them that you are taking the right suitcase. It also makes it easier to find missing or delayed bag.
Baggage Tip #2: Pick the Right Bag for Your Travels
- When I travel for months at a time, soft-sided luggage falls apart quickly. Before buying hard-sided luggage, I had to buy a new soft-sided bag, once a year. I had the same hard-sided suitcase for five years.
- I prefer to travel with as few bags as possible. I get nervous that I will leave a bag behind or will be distracted and someone will take one of my bags. (Thankfully, I have never left a bag behind by mistake).
- A backpack or duffle bag is usually not advisable for Fifty-Plus Nomads because backpacks and duffle bags are too hard on our bodies. However, you may want to consider some of the backpacks that can convert to a suitcase. (If you do choose to use a backpack, read Nomadic Matt’s book Travel Under $50 a Day)
- On extended trips, I will usually bring one large, hard-sided roller bag. The bag and its content should not exceed 50 pounds when weighed together. (50 pounds or 22 kilograms is the maximum weight allowed by most non-budget airlines to avoid additional fees).
- Airlines are anal about the weight requirements. I have tried a couple of times to pack more than 50 pounds in my checked bags and not take a carry-on. Then, I argued that the total weight is less than the airline’s aggregate weight limits. (Some airlines do not want your carry-on bags to weight more than ten pounds). Arguing this point was a waste of breath. The ticket agent either forced me to pack the excess weight items into a spare carry-on bag or pay an excess baggage fee.
- I take a small backpack or carry-on bag if I am carrying a laptop since it is not legal to pack a laptop into my checked baggage. (Sometimes, usually for short trips, I do not bring my laptop and use my smartphone instead).
- It is a good idea to travel with bags that look a bit worn and are not high end. They draw less attention to thieves.
Baggage Tip #3: Other Useful Baggage Related Tips
- Some experts recommend having locks on luggage. I find locks, more trouble than they are worth. The keys are easy to lose, and sometimes the locks are destroyed if the airline security personnel open the bags and destroy the locks. (Airline personnel can open bags if they believe that you have packed something that could be illegal to transport).
- Do not put your address on your luggage to avoid problems with potential home burglaries. (Airline employees have been known to burglar travelers’ homes when the travelers are away). Instead, put your phone number and email. Also, if airline counter personnel require that you put an address on your bags, put the name of your hotel at your destination. If I am going to a private residence arranged through a language school, I will put the name and contact info for the school instead of the private home.
Some Additional Packing-Related Posts
- Why Pack Light Advice Doesn’t Work for Me (and May Not Work for You Either)I have had more problems because I packed too light than too much. Packing light advice is mainly geared toward people who are going on a whirlwind trip through Europe independently. I usually travel for long periods and stay in only a few places often with great climate variations. I also hate washing my own clothes.
- Some Hard-Learned Packing Tips From My 5 Years Traveling Round the WorldWhile I do not always follow packing light tips, there are many other tips that I use all the time. This post outlines the tips that were most useful during my 5 years traveling around the world.
- 3 Simple Baggage Tips to Avoid Wasting Time, Money, and TroubleA series of simple steps to avoid problems with your bags such as making your bag stick out from the others on the carousel and finding the most durable bag.