Travel Tips: How to Lug Your Luggage without Losing It — or Hurting Yourself
Protect your suitcases and your back with these smart strategies
We all have our baggage — especially when we travel. And just as too much baggage can hurt a relationship, heavy luggage can hurt your back. And then there's the issue of making sure you don't lose it (your luggage, that is, not your mind) when you travel by plane.
Whether you're a frequent flyer or an occasional jet setter, follow these tips to help you and your suitcase have a safe flight.
Save your back
If being charged extra for overweight bags isn't enough incentive to get you to pack light, consider this: According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were more than 72,900 luggage-related injuries in 2014.
The larger and heavier your luggage is, the higher the risk of neck, shoulder and back injury, warns the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
Related: 5 Ways to Safeguard Your Luggage
If you must carry the weight of the world — or at least a lot of personal stuff — on your shoulders when you travel by air, take steps to save your skeleton.
Invest on quality luggage. AAOS advises purchasing sturdy luggage with strong wheels and a handle so you can pull it around the airport. If you use a backpack, make sure it has a padded back and adjustable shoulder straps.
Divide and conquer. Split your belongings into several small bags instead of cramming them into one big one, advises AAOS. Consider shipping boxed items, such as gifts, to your destination ahead of time.
Lift smart. Here's what the AAOS suggests: "When lifting luggage onto a platform or into a car trunk, stand alongside of it. Bend at your knees, not your waist. Lift with your leg muscles, then grasp the handle and straighten up. Lift your luggage close to your body." Don't twist your body when lifting — it's a recipe for a wrenched lower back.
The Mayo Clinic shows the proper lifting technique.
Get it into the overhead compartment without killing yourself. First, lift your bag up onto the seat armrest, advises the AAOS. Then place both of hands on either side of it to put it into overhead compartment. If the bag has wheels, they should go in first. Don't hesitate to ask a flight attendant for help if you need it.
Ask for help. Some airlines offer a baggage claim service so you don't even have to haul heavy luggage, according to AAOS.
Keep you and your luggage together
Arriving with no bags is a traveler's nightmare. Here are five ways to avoid it.
Don’t overstuff your bags. If you cram too much into your bag and your suitcase springs open in transit, you're likely to lose items, says the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Check in on time. Arrive at the airport in plenty of time to help make sure your bag makes it onto the plane, advises the DOT.
Use labels. Before your hand off your bag to an airline worker, make sure it has a securely attached tag with contact information. Some travelers prefer to include only their cell phone number and perhaps the name of their hotel on the tag. Also put this info, along with more sensitive information, such as your home address, inside the bag, perhaps on an index card. If the outside tag disappears, the airline should be able to find you this way.
Make them look unique. If your bags look like every other bag on the carousel, tie bright ribbons around the handles or use colorful luggage straps.
Track it. Some electronic devices allow you to track your luggage en route by sending a signal to your smartphone.
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