Here are a few tips to increase the chance of keeping your checked-in baggage safe and sound.
PREVENTING LOST LUGGAGE
IF YOUR BAG IS LOST
1. All the airlines have cut back on weight allowances¿if you check more than 50 pounds in a bag, you'll have to pay a fee (except for JetBlue, where the limit is 70 pounds), so pack light!
2. Pack chronologically. If you know you're going to be golfing on your last day, pack it at the bottom.
3. Put at least one outfit of yours in your companion's bag, and that way, if the airline loses your bag (or your companion's), you each at least have something to wear.
4. Share the luggage load in general. When you travel with a group, decide ahead of time who's going to bring what. If you're sharing a suite or have adjoining rooms, you don't need multiple hair dryers and umpteen bottles of shampoo.
5. Dry-cleaning bags stop clothes from wrinkling. Slide each garment into its own bag (leave the hanger at home) and place them flat on your bed, one on top of another. Then carefully fold the entire stack to fit it in your suitcase. Once you get to your hotel, hang everything up as soon as you reasonably can.
6. Put shoes inside those plastic bags that the newspapers are delivered in. They're sturdy, just the right shape (long and thin), and at the end of the trip you can just throw the bags away. In fact, regular household items like soap dishes, film canisters, and contact lens cases can be used to hold delicate things like jewelry and small doses of over-the-counter medications.
7. Place heavy items at the end of the suitcase that will be at the bottom when the suitcase is standing on end. This way the weight will hold the bag upright and it won't tip over.
8. We love Ziploc bags! We use them for everything. To hold toiletries prone to ooze, to hold cell phones and wallets when we're on water rides at amusement parks, to hold umbrellas when they're wet but we don't want to carry them.
9. Pack things inside of other things. Women's shoes inside of men's shoes, a camera inside a pair of shoes, etc.
10. Pack a swimsuit in your carry on. If you're going on a cruise, you'll be able to hit the pool when everybody else is waiting for their baggage to be delivered to their cabins. And if your luggage is lost, you'll at least be able to swim.
11. Consider shipping stuff ahead, especially baby supplies. You can order them from a company called Babiestravellite.com and they'll be delivered to your hotel.
14. Write a master packing list on your computer; it should include everything you might pack for any given trip. Then, when you're going on a specific trip, you can cross off the stuff you won't need¿and you don't have to write up a new list for the next trip.