The dos and don'ts of filling out and attaching luggage tags

Anyone who's ever lost luggage when traveling will tell you just how important it is to have a luggage tag on each piece of luggage you use, whether it'll be checked or carried on. Many people rely on the paper tags airlines provide. They jot down the information on the lines provided, wrap the stretchy cord around the luggage handle and don't think about it again.

Not only is misplaced or lost luggage an inconvenience, but it's also expensive. You have to replace the contents, from sweaters to expensive laptops, and the luggage itself. Many people mistakenly think that airlines will simply write you a check for the entire replacement cost. Think again. So what type of tags should you use and what information should you include?

Types of luggage tags

Many types of luggage tags are available: paper, plastic, cloth and leather. Airlines provide paper tags at the check-in counter and at the gate for carry-ons that won't fit and will have to checked at the last minute. You can use a luggage tag template to create your own. Personalized luggage tags are popular because they're one-of-a-kind and easily to identify as hundreds of bags make their way around the carousel.

There are two basic types of plastic luggage tags. Some tags are made of plastic onto which you can place your contact information on a sticker. Other tags are plastic covers into which you slip a piece of paper with your contact information. Though they are sturdier than various cloth tags, they are also more generic. It's much harder to personalize a plastic luggage tag.

Cloth tags are often made by those with artistic skills and some cloth tags can be ordered online. Leather luggage tags are the best, due to leather's sturdiness and flexibility. That means a bad throw won't snap the tag, as it would if it were plastic. Just make sure the clasp is made of thick metal; thin clasps don't last as long. It's best to place a tag on the exterior and interior of each piece of luggage. During the handling process, even leather tags can sometimes be torn loose.

Information to include

The great thing about a large luggage tag is that it's easy to see; the bad thing about a large luggage tag is that it's easy to see. Pretty much anyone who wants to can see the information on your tag, so think about what information you don't want others to see. Jot down your work address or PO box instead of your home address. If you are separated from your luggage, people will know you're on vacation and your home is likely vacant. You'll be a target for a robbery. If you include your home phone number, a quick reverse-lookup will provide a thief with your address; use a cell phone number instead. After all, when you're traveling, that's the phone number where you can be reached by airline officials trying to get your luggage to you. When traveling to another country, avoid using tag designs, colors or information that identifies your nationality. It marks you as a tourist, which can open you to a host of dangers.

The better option is to choose a luggage tag that covers your information. These pieces can be extremely large and visible but still protect your information from prying eyes. Many plastic luggage tags will have a small window to display a name, then scissor open once it is removed to show the address, phone number, etc. That means a stranger can't jot down your information on the fly as you pick up your luggage. Some other luggage tags, of either plastic or leather, have a flap that covers all the information. It is less secure, as someone can simply lift the flap to get the information, but it still protects it while the luggage is in your control. 

When traveling, always use luggage tags to make sure your bags arrive when and where you do. Come to Sears for a great selection of tags that will help you feel secure no matter where your travel takes you. 

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