September 28, 2009

Travel Tricks 6: Lifting Luggage

As a trainer and speaker, I travel a lot. Often the speaker engagements are just overnight trips so I can speak that evening or at breakfast or lunch the next day. Training trips may be a little longer since I get in the night before in order to do early morning set-up and when I leave depends on available flights after the allowed take-down time on last day of training. When I travel, I try to take only the required materials and clothing to limit the amount of luggage I have to deal with. Therefore, this post is about luggage tips and mishaps.

As far as packing goes, I try to always check the airline/airport rules for carry-on sizes, restrictions, and permissible items. I know too many people who were forced to throw things away or get a locker for valuable items to pick up on return trip. Whenever possible, I try to get everything in a carry-on so I don’t have to spend time waiting at carrousels or conveyor belts waiting for luggage. It also helps avoid those baggage check fees most airlines charge now. I try to pack things tightly so luggage crushing is less likely and roll clothes to avoid fold creases.

Yes, this means I’m one of those people blocking the aisle as I try to get my small carry-on suitcase into the overhead bin. Sometimes my suitcase is a little heavy going up or coming down because there are training materials as well as clothing in there. However, this does not mean I break the 2 carry-on items rule that I see so many others breaking and getting away with. Plus I am always grateful when someone taller or stronger offers to put my suitcase up or take-it down for me. The kindness of strangers on the plane and in the airport is always appreciated.

When I have checked baggage, I find that I am often the one who gets the spot check. How do I know? There is usually a nice note inside the suitcase letting me know my suitcase was randomly selected and inspected. Nothing is ever missing and it is rarely much out of order from original packing process. However, this does not mean nothing was different. I once had a lock cut off even though it was not securing the suitcase it was only dangling from the zipper pull. And my luggage occasionally looked like it was drug across an oil spill. Of course that might be from the airline equipment verses the handlers. I know the equipment has crushed some of my suitcases in the past. How did I know it was crushed if everything looked ok? Well I noticed the suitcase looked saggy, but I did not know the frame was bent or corner broken until I unpacked and saw the damage. Since the contents were ok, I shrugged it off. However, one time a bottle fragrance was broken during the crushing so everything in the suitcase was wet and sweet smelling. Now all breakables are small enough to go in the carry-on or they are left at home.

I know a few people who have had their luggage lost and had to buy new clothes for their vacations, get meeting materials faxed to hotel, or go to an office supply store to buy training stuff. The morale to their stories was not to panic or let it ruin your trip but instead find a workable solution and get on with life. Although some of them have never gotten their luggage back, they still had a great time. So I know I’ve been fortunate. When my suitcases seemed lost it was typically because they did not get on the same plane as me. So it arrived early and was locked up somewhere or it got there later and I had to make arrangements to get it.

What makes your travel easier? Got any great packing or travel survival tips? Let us know with a comment on this post or
others in the travel series.

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1 comment:

Chris said...

Hi Shirley,

My wife and I also suffered the travel nightmare of lost luggage, we were so frustrated by the lack of help we got from the airlines we decided to do something about it and founded if you let me have your mailing address I will send you some tags to try out on your next trip. Regards Chris Truelove