Travel Survival Strategies: Coping with Lost Luggage

Missing LuggageFortunately, it doesn't happen often, but event planners who travel regularly do, on occasion, arrive at a destination and discover that all or some luggage has not been delivered. The good news is that the airlines usually find it. Still, it can take several days before missing luggage is located and returned.

Stocking up in some parts of the world is not without its challenges. After a long flight, no one wants to spend many tiring hours shopping for basics. Prices can be high and many retailers may not accept ATM cards from outside the region. In Southeast Asia, finding clothing and shoes that are large enough to fit average or large Western travelers can be a challenge. It can take the better part of the day to find affordable clothing that fits.

Here are some tips that I picked up during a recent trip when my largest suitcase did not arrive until 2 1/2 days after I landed (waiting it out was not an option as I had business meetings and team building to facilitate for a large group of executives).

Prevention

  • In your carry on bag, pack enough liquids and toiletries to take care of your needs for a few days (especially deodorant, toothpaste, soap and skin cream).
  • When you pack for foreign events, be sure to put at least one business suit, one pair of business shoes and one pair of flat shoes in each piece of luggage. That way, if only one suitcase arrives, you'll be prepared for presentations and important meetings.
  • Remove all old airline tags. Tag all luggage clearly with your name, destination, contact number at your destination and hotel.
  • Make a duplicate of visas and important documents and put a copy in your passport folder and each piece of luggage.
  • Clarify the airlines policy for dealing with lost luggage and, if possible, bring a copy of it with you. You'll find that if a crisis does occur, you may get conflicting information from various airline employees about the compensation to which you are entitled.

Corporate Event Planners

Be sure to help members of your party report missing luggage to the airline as soon as possible. Keep a copy of the reports for your records and supply a copy for concierges at luxury and business hotels. They will help you follow up with the airlines.

Corporate event and conference planners should prepare a list of local places where participants can obtain basic supplies if their luggage is missing. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Best Places to Stock up

I have traveled to 24 countries for business and pleasure. I have noticed that some retailers have locations in just about every major city on almost every continent. They also tend to carry a wide range of sizes.

  1. Clothing:
    You can always count on Marks & Spencer or Zara for jackets, business suits, blouses, shirts, dresses, socks, panty hose and underwear.
  2. Shoes:
    Stores like Bata, The Shoe Mart, Hush Puppies, and Timberland are always a good bet for business and casual shoes. You can't go wrong with brands like Hush Puppies, Clarks and Rockport.
  3. Toiletries:
    You can pick up travel and large sizes of deodorant, skin creams, sunscreen, shampoo, and shaving supplies at Boots, Carrefour.
  4. Cosmetics: Mac
  5. Photocopying:
    If you need to replace handouts, you'll find FedEx Kinko's and Staples in many parts of the world.

If you can't find some of these retailers, another important tip is that shopping centers near large hotels tend to carry a broader range of sizes. Definitely check with the concierge for advice on the best places to shop for business attire.

Be sure to print off these tips and keep a copy in your passport holder or purse. They will save you a lot of time and frustration if your luggage is ever left on the tarmac.

Photo Credit: malias

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