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We all know that traveling with carry-on only is so much easier (and cheaper) than checking bags. But sometimes, it’s just not possible. If you do have to check bags when you travel, there are lots of tips to help you have the best experience. I’ve written dozens of articles about traveling with checked bags and below are some of my top tips. RELATED: 6 expert tips from the Unclaimed Baggage Center for avoiding lost luggage

Suitcases on an airport baggage carousel.

1. Use Apple AirTags

Apple AirTags were last year’s most popular travel gadget and for good reason, they continue to be this year. They help track down belongings (especially suitcases) so you know if your bag made it to your destination or not or worse, inside some thief’s house. Just this week there was a story of a passenger busting a Spirit Airlines worker for stealing his bag inside Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. In fact, according to an airline executive, Apple AirTags or other similar tracking devices are his number one tip for avoiding lost luggage.

2. Don’t put your name and address on the outside of your checked suitcase

An American Airlines flight attendant recently warned that putting your name and address on the outside of your luggage tag could put you at risk. You don’t want thieves who are sitting next to you in the airport or on the train to see your home address. Instead, use a luggage tag with a privacy flap so your information is hidden. But even in this case, don’t write your home address on the inside card. Just write your name, phone number and email address. And remember to put the same inside your bag, just in case the outer tag gets ripped off.

3. Remove old tags

Baggage handlers recommend removing any old baggage tags and stickers from previous trips as they can cause confusion for both computer scanners and baggage handlers. If you want to make sure your bag gets where it’s supposed to go, remove them as soon as you get home so they don’t sneak by the next time you travel.

4. Take a photo of your bag

I always take a photo of my bag so if, God forbid, it gets lost, I can show the lost and found agent on the other end exactly what it looks like.

5. Don’t travel with a black suitcase

A baggage executive once told me: “Don’t check-in a hard sided black suitcase. It’s the most common type of suitcase in the world. In the baggage industry, it’s 22HW type and almost regarded as the default bag type.” My family and I travel with our own custom-designed ROAM Luggage suitcases, which are completely unique so we know no one will ever have the same one. Here’s our full review of our ROAM Luggage and if you decide to try it out, use this link to get $50 off your purchase

6. If you have a black suitcase, do this

Of course, if you don’t want or need to invest in all-new luggage, a colorful luggage strap will also do the job to help you quickly identify your bag. Plus, it can also add another layer of protection, making it more difficult for someone to get into your bag. Buy the red straps pictured above here.

7. Don’t tie a ribbon to your suitcase

This is a tip I just learned thanks to an Irish baggage handler named John, who was interviewed by Dublin’s RSVP Live. To make sure your luggage makes it to your destination, John offers up a surprising reason to remove those ribbons from your suitcase. He advises travelers to “remove the identifying ribbons often fastened onto luggage, as they can cause delays in your bags getting to the plane. Ribbons that people tie onto their suitcases to help identify them can cause issues with the bag being scanned in the baggage hall,” he said. “If the bag can’t be scanned automatically it can end up in manual processing, which could mean your bag doesn’t make it to the flight”.

I haven’t heard of this before, but then again, I’ve never tied a ribbon to my bag. I’ve heard of people tying old neck ties to the handle of their suitcase but have also heard that they, like long ribbons, can get stuck in the automated baggage machines while making their way to the plane, causing more problems and delays.


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2 Comments On "The surprising reason baggage handlers warn passengers not to tie a ribbon to their suitcases"
  1. patrick|

    ROAM? Good luggage but expensive as all get out.

  2. Carol Wolters|

    I have a variety of black cloth suitcases, not all the same brand. But I have stenciled GOLD METALLIC stars onto front, back & sides of all suitcases. Usually a stack of 3, depending on height of suitcase. You can see those stars easily on a luggage carousel, or if someone else walks away with YOUR bag. Nobody wants to steal such an obvious suitcase. You could use circles or hearts or other shapes, with fabric paint. Makes my trips with checked luggage more relaxing!

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