Skip to main content

Travel tips: One super easy thing you can do to keep your checked luggage from getting lost when you fly

Who knew a sticker could be such a big problem?

A piece of luggage sitting in the middle of an airport.
Michał Parzuchowski / Unsplash

Some of us have a strategy to squeeze everything for the trip into our carry-on, not needing to check it in, so we never lose our luggage. Some of us don’t want to look like a fool trying to get the suitcase into the overhead compartment and would rather grab it at baggage claim. 

But all of us want nothing more than our checked luggage to get to where we are going. To make sure you don’t see an empty conveyor belt where your suitcase should be, remember this travel tip so your luggage gets to the same final destination as you do.

The baggage claim sign at the airport.
Drew Taylor / Unsplash

Don’t find yourself in a sticky situation

You may not have noticed, but when you get to your destination, your checked-in luggage gets there with a tiny addition in the form of a small sticker. The TSA agent checking everyone’s luggage might not catch a leftover sticker from your last trip, so do your duty when flying and look for it yourself.

The purpose of the sticker

Why do they slap that on your luggage anyway? It serves an important purpose for that specific trip. Each piece of luggage that goes through check-in gets one, and the bag tag gets scanned in, so it goes to the right place.

There’s no set place where the sticker goes as it gets from here to there, so check your luggage thoroughly every time you fly. You want to look for a white, rectangular sticker with a barcode. 

The barcode contains the name of the arrival airport, the flight departure time, passenger information, flight number, and more. This ensures your specific bag goes exactly where it is supposed to — to where you are going.

Where things go wrong

You could guess why these would be important to remove once each part of your trip is over. This isn’t like the fun way we layer stickers over our laptops and water bottles. If you have more than one sticker and the wrong one gets scanned, your bag is going to that trip’s destination. Oops. And now all you have to wear is what you landed in. Air travel can be tricky sometimes.

In case you forget about the sticker, take other precautions

There are layers of security to stack up for your luggage to get to the same place you do, and if not, to at least know where it went.

  • Air tag your bag.
  • Add distinctive markings to your bag. That could be stickers, colorful bands, or uniquely colored or patterned fabric.
  • Take a picture of you with your bag at the airport.
  • Make an information card and stick it in your bag. Nothing too personal, but at least your name, number, email, and where the bag should end up.

What a pain a little sticker can cause. Remember, just like when you buy fruit, remove the sticker — after every trip. That means when you get to your destination, take the sticker off. When you get back home, take the sticker off. Make it a fun game if you need to, but that teeny adhesive strip could ruin your trip and leave you with only the clothes on your back.

Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
iPhone photography tips: How to take better travel photos on your phone
Capture your travel memories with these iPhone photography tips
Solar Eclipse above Mount Mansfield

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe Cheyenne Knowles via Unsplash

When I’m in a beautiful setting — like The Chin of Mount Mansfield —  I’ll get out my iPhone and begin snapping photos. Some places are too striking to ignore, and I’ll want to capture the moment to share on social media or reflect on later. Over time, it’s fun to build up a library and look back on those places.

Read more
How to renew Global Entry (and when you should do it)
passport sitting on top of white paper

Global Entry is an expedited screening program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to breeze through immigration and customs checkpoints when entering the United States. The program saves time and hassle by letting members use automated kiosks rather than standing in regular passport control lines.

If you're already enrolled in Global Entry, you know what a convenience it is -- but a Global Entry membership is only valid for five years before it needs to be renewed. Here's how to renew your membership and ensure uninterrupted access to those coveted kiosks.
When to renew Global Entry

Read more
When is the best time to visit Italy? This is when you should go
Want to visit Italy? This is when you should go
Evening light over Venice canal

Venice, Italy Federico Beccari via Unsplash

On a visit to Italy, there’s almost too much to see and do. If you’re a car enthusiast, a guided trip through the Ferrari museums in Maranello or Modena offers a singular experience. For a mix of historic charm and coastal refreshment, the Amalfi Coast delivers in spades. Then there’s the cuisine, from pizza Napoletana in Naples to sweet Tiramisu in Venice. 

Read more