Checking-in your luggage is a physical representation of the trust you place in airlines. But what happens when that trust is misplaced? Ask Stephanie Hower who’s had first-hand experience.

Arriving into Naples, the second stop into a four-month adventure (the day before a friends’ wedding on the Amalfi Coast), I had the pleasure and pain of having my checked bag go missing.

Here is what to do, and what not to do, if you find yourself in the same situation:

 

1. DON’T PANIC

You’ve waited anxiously for your bag to appear on the carousel and watched the roller door shut as the belt comes to a halt. Take a deep breath and read on.

 

2. DON’T ABUSE AIRLINE OR AIRPORT STAFF

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Yes, it’s a stressful and often frustrating time, but letting your thoughts run loose is not going to help. Instead, empathise with them – they’ve got the tough job of telling you that they’ll do the very best they can to help you (and more often than not, they will), without any guarantees.

It wasn’t their fault after all and they’ll be more willing to assist if you’re compliant.

 

3. DON’T REPLACE EVERYTHING IMMEDIATELY

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The thought of using the opportunity to go on a shopping spree is tempting, but it can also be a hindrance, particularly in the case that your bag is eventually found and returned. Instead, make a list of essentials that you may need over the following 2-3 days to start.

Always check your travel insurance policy for the fine details so you know what can be covered.

 

So, here are your Do’s.

 

1. DO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL INSURANCE

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Travel insurance is often overlooked in the lead up to a trip amongst other, more exciting, factors that often take priority. In the case of lost luggage, some policies will provide compensation for the inconvenience of missing your bags for a set period of time, so be sure to know what you’re covered for.

Keep a copy of your policy with you at all times so you can refer to it when required, and make sure you ask for a copy of any paperwork throughout the reporting process to keep for your reference.

 

2. DO PACK ALL VALUABLES IN YOUR CARRY-ON

Pack all valuables, a spare change of clothes (perhaps a few additional pairs of underwear too) and essential travel documents in your carry-on. The weight of losing your checked baggage will seem a whole lot lighter, knowing that you effectively have everything you need right with you at this point in time.

Having your accommodation details handy will also mean that you can easily provide an exact location and timing of where you will be staying, in the case that your bag is found and can be delivered to you.

 

3. DO TAKE A PHOTO OF YOUR LUGGAGE

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Take a photo of your luggage prior to your trip. This will help you to describe any prominent features of your belongings that can assist in easily identifying it, including its colour, bag type (backpack, suitcase etc), and any notable tags or locks.

 

4. DO FOLLOW UP WITH THE AIRLINE REGULARLY

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If your belongings have not been returned to you within the estimated time period, call customer service to follow up (or ask your accommodation concierge staff to, especially if you don’t speak the local language).

 

5. DO KEEP CALM

Keep calm and “que sera sera”. Whilst it’s a bit of a pain having your clothing and other personal items disappear, ensure that you keep some perspective and positivity. It’s all part of the learning experience and you’ll be a stronger and more confident traveller after overcoming a bit of misfortune.

 

Where have you lost your luggage?