Losing your luggage can be a traumatic experience, especially if you have lost something important within your bags. Dealing with lost luggage can be a significant ordeal too, so it's important to remain calm and try to work things out in a timely, efficient manner.

There are a number of things you can do to prevent lost luggage, however, but there is simply no assurance that your luggage will always arrive where it is supposed to arrive when it is supposed to arrive. Generally comprehensive Australian travel insurance policies will include cover for lost or stolen luggage. Check the policy wording for full terms and conditions, as many policies will have a general exclusion where luggage is left unattended.

Preventing lost luggage

Obviously the best way to avoid losing your luggage is to carry it with you at all times, but with some airplane regulations and other travel restrictions, this isn't always possible. Most airlines allow only one or two carry-on bags, so make them count! Try to take the bags you deem to be the most important on to the plane and leave the rest to chance (or to baggage claim).

Label your bags on the inside and the outside. Labelling bags is a great help when you are looking for your luggage, of course. Don't be afraid to over-label your luggage, either, as you can never have too much identification when you're searching for your stuff. Use the outside labels on your luggage and pick up some addition sticker labels from the airline, too. This will help in providing adequate identification on your luggage.

Tag your bag with some form of identification, whether it's a splash of color or a piece of something special. This will help your bag stand out more and will help in identifying it. Some people like to include a backpack strap or a piece of bright tape, making it even easier to spot their bags in a line-up of similar bags.

Take a picture of your baggage. This will come in handy later.

Locating lost luggage

If, after all of the precautions you have taken, your luggage still winds up being lost, there are a number of things you can do to aid in the recovery process. Most baggage loss actually occurs as the result of an airline or airport error and not theft, believe it or not, so the best thing to do is to immediately take up the matter with the airport.

If your baggage does not show up on the carousel at the airport, make your way to the baggage window and make a report with the lost luggage service desk. You should supply the clerk with your baggage stubs and any identifying factors about your baggage, which will aid in the retrieval of your luggage. Remember not to panic and be courteous, as these people deal with thousands of individuals just like you in an average day.

Once this occurs, the airline will begin looking for your luggage using a computer and your baggage stubs. Of course, now would also be a good time to supply any pictures you may have taken of your baggage (hint, hint) to the clerk. Supplying pictures, complete with identifying features, should be a great way to fast track the reclamation of your cherished cargo. Remember to be patient, too.

Making a claim for lost luggage

In the event that you do need to make a claim on your travel insurance policy for lost or stolen luggage, you will need to provide supporting documentation (for example, a police or incident report). Once you have returned home, obtain a claim form and try and submit the claim as soon as possible.