What Information Should You Put On Your Luggage Tag?
Do you have your own luggage tags or do you just use the paper ones the airlines provide? Have you ever thought about the specifics of what information goes on your luggage tag? What is too much information and what is too little?
Regardless of how or where you are traveling it is essential to have luggage tags on your suitcase. Should you and your suitcase become separated there has to be a clear and easy way to get you reunited.
Why You Need Luggage Tags
So many suitcases look the same or very similar, making it very easy for tired travelers to make mistakes and leave with the wrong bag. The easiest way to make sure no one walks off with your suitcase is to put something very distinctive on your bag, such as a sticker on a hard-sided case or a bright handle grip or strap on a soft sided case. You also need a covered luggage tag.
When you travel by plane you know there is a chance your suitcase won’t arrive with you. Surprisingly it doesn’t actually happen that often and 97% of bags are returned to their owners within 2 days.
Airlines provide paper luggage tags and they also attach their own barcoded tags to ensure your bag gets on your plane. But. Things happen. Paper can rip off, leaving your bag tagless. Earlier this year I sat on a plane and watched 2 suitcases marooned on the tarmac in the pouring rain. I imagine the baggage guys rescued them before we took off, but heaven only knows what state the paper tags were in by the time the bags were rescued?
I had a traveler on one of my tours whose suitcase arrived in Rome 8 days after she did. She was on an eleven day tour, so having no suitcase was quite drastic.
While she flew from JFK in New York to Rome, her bag did its own little tour, first stop Boston, then La Guardia New York, then Amsterdam, then all over the place before heading back to JFK, and then coming back to Europe and ending up in Rome on day 8.
One of the things that contributed to her bag being gone for so long was that she didn’t have a luggage tag on it. At no point along the way could anyone reach out to her and say they had her bag. When I asked her why she said because her suitcase looked different from everyone else’s.
Although that is a definite advantage at the baggage carousel it is no help at all when a bag goes missing. Your suitcase must have a luggage tag on it. A covered tag that secures by looping through itself instead of buckling on. Buckles break under stress.
Have you noticed yet that I keep saying you need a covered luggage tag? There is a safety reason for it.
Several years ago I was on a flight home from a makeup job in Nashville, sitting in the dreaded middle seat. The fellow sitting next to me was chatting with me during the flight and suddenly asked me if I ever went to restaurant X, which was not far from my house.
I hadn’t said anything about living in Phoenix, let alone where in Phoenix I live. When I questioned him on it he told me that he had been standing behind me at check in and had read it on my luggage tag.
I thought I was going to throw up.
I wondered if I was sitting next to a serial killer or a madman. I was stuck in the middle seat on a full flight, next to a stranger who knew too much about me. And he knew too much because I had made a careless, thoughtless mistake. Two of them actually.
(The end of that story is that he was probably just a nice enough fellow who thought he had something cool that we could chat about. So I lucked out.)
Covered Luggage Tags
My first mistake was not having a covered luggage tag. When you buy a luggage tag it is essential for personal safety that your information is covered up. If someone needs to find out who the suitcase belongs to they can open the tag to read it.
You seriously don’t want strangers knowing your personal information. That includes the strangers you may encounter as you maneuver your bags through the airport and also the strangers handling your bags one you have checked in.
What Information Should Be On Your Luggage Tag?
The information on your luggage tag should be printed clearly so that it is easy to read. Don’t write in script or in goofy, swirly letters. Keep it simple and legible.
Your name. Use your first initial and your surname. That’s all. Using your Christian name can make your gender easily identifiable. No one needs to know that.
Bill Smith becomes B. Smith. Barbie Smith becomes B. Smith.
Your Phone Number: Either your phone number or your work phone number. The fastest way to connect you to your suitcase should it go missing is to be able to phone you.
An Email Address: Yours or someone you can trust to stay actively on top of reuniting you with your suitcase. I just use my own because no one is going to be as proactive as me when it comes to tracking down my suitcase!
No Street Address: You don’t need to put a street address on your luggage tag. The airline can track your address easily enough because it is part of your booking information. When they see a suitcase that has a tag saying B. Smith with a phone number (555) 123-4567 and an email address of BSmith99@yahoo.com, they can connect that to B. Smith’s flight info and get all the details they need.
Don’t Notify The Burglers:
Your address on your luggage tag is everything a burgler dreams of. They can read that and know with certainty that you will not be home for the next however many days.
Some suitcases have a sleeve for a business card. So long as there isn’t an address on the card, or the address doesn’t lead a stalker to your door or your office door, slip your card in there. Its an easy way to reach you.
Having your country’s flag on your suitcase although patriotic is not necessarily a good idea. I am all about being an individual, but when you are traveling you don’t necessarily want to draw that attention to yourself.
The flags of countries that are everyone’s friend such as Canada, Australia and my country, New Zealand, are pretty harmless, but you may want to think twice about having the flag of a country that is considered hostile or problematic or the enemy of another country. Most of the time you won’t have a problem, but why take the risk?
Getting ready for a big trip can be quite stressful – there are so many details and important things you need to take care of before you fly out. From having a hold put on your mail to ordering foreign currency to not leaving your passport on your bed – the list is long!
I have made a Pre-Travel Checklist PDF that you can download and print off before each trip. Broken up into 3 months before you travel, 2 months , 1 month, 1 week, 1 day and the day you leave, these checklists take the stress out of getting ready for a trip to anywhere. You check off items as you get them done and can see clearly and easily what is next on the list!