Ever traveled? Yeah, me, too. Ever experienced the airline losing your baggage? Yeah? Well, not me. Ever freak out over lost baggage? Yeah? Well, not me. And here are the tips to avoid that potential freak out by never going through the baggage loss nightmare again.
I don’t know about you, but when I travel I have a travel “budget”. I am not independently wealthy so it is very important that I try to stay within my budget. I have made a financial plan to make sure I have enough money to cover my fun adventures, a bit of an emergency reserve, and sufficient cash in the bank to make up for my earnings lost while using vacation days that are unpaid leave. When you are self-employed (like me) or work for a small company, a paid vacation benefit does not exist.
If the airlines lose my baggage, right off the bat, and if I did not plan for such a possibility, my vacation budget is blown. There is no guarantee my bags will be located and returned to me. So, the first thing I have to do is purchase everything to replace the necessities lost in that luggage. Now, if I had to replace everything with my cash on hand, there goes any emergency money.
I then have to sweat it out the rest of the vacation and make sure that, financially speaking, everything goes as planned. Because, if it does not, I will then have to break out the bank card and make a withdrawal to cover my you-know-what. Then my covered wages budget is blown. Lost baggage can become a small financial disaster for someone like me. The smart thing to do, then, is to pack as if you are expecting the airline to lose your luggage. If you are clever, like me, you may even be able to get away with no checked baggage.
The Carry-On: First, opt for soft carry-on bags. The flexibility of soft fabric is forgiving and allows for more stuffing. Airlines usually allow for one carry-on bag and a personal bag. If you are smart, you can actually make it three or four.
- Small purse-size messenger bag slung across your body (purses are not just for women, and, keyword to get away with an extra bag is to keep it small, no larger in dimensions than a spiral notebook)
- Fanny pack
- Backpack (personal bag)
- Soft Duffel with rollers (official carry-on bag)
Designate a purpose for each carry-on bag so you know exactly where everything is. Essentials you may need in flight should be in the messenger bag and fanny pack:
- Messenger Bag – This is where you pack your everyday essentials. For me, I pack a book, travel itinerary and brochures of where I’m going, electronic tablet or notebook (my laptop stays home), emergency toiletries (over the counter meds for nausea and headache, toothbrush and toothpaste, first aid kit), inflatable travel pillow, anything else that fits. NOTE: In this bag I have copies of all of my travel identifications and tickets, the originals are carried in my fanny pack.
- Fanny Pack – This contains my identifications, tickets and boarding passes, emergency contact list, keys, cellphone, and the ever-important, don’t-leave-the-house-without-it lipstick.
- Backpack – Clothes, shoes, toiletries (roll up clothing tightly & secure with rubber bands)
- Official Carry-On Bag – Clothes, shoes, toiletries (best travel shoes: canvas sneakers & flip-flops; also, stick with one color scheme for outfits-you’ll pack less because clothing items are interchangeable from day to day, giving you multiple looks with less packing)
There are certain items I always purchase at my destination and never bother packing: razors, shampoo and hairspray. I also don’t pack a hair dryer. Most hotels either have one in the room or will provide you with one if you inquire at the front desk. If you use an electric hair styling device like a curling iron or straightener, check and see if they are allowed in carry-on baggage. If not, purchase a cheap one at your destination. Trust me. It is cheaper to buy a few items than to purchase everything to replace what was lost in an entire suitcase.
Another trick to traveling light actually means traveling lighter on the return trip after performing a charitable act at your destination. Travelers usually dress casually and comfortably. Long flights and endless walking about and touring places are best done in comfortable clothes. Many of my most comfortable clothes are well broken in. What I do is pack as much clothing as possible that I am willing to leave behind.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not on vacation looking like a homeless person. I have plenty of clothing that is suitable to vacation in and then donate to a charity before I return home. I usually have an empty carry-on bag that can be rolled up and stuffed into another when I head home. Sometimes I return with two carry-on bags stuffed into my backpack, unless I buy lots of souvenirs. By leaving behind most of my clothing and shoes, I have plenty of room to return with goodies and memorabilia from my trip. And, if I’ve been a responsible traveler and not used my emergency fund, that means I have that much more to spend on souvenirs on that very last day!