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Our lost luggage and two packing tips to help you if it happens

If we are travelling with Braeden, our worst fear is that his wheelchair won’t arrive at our destination, or that it will arrive damaged. The second concern is if our luggage not showing up. In the lead up to our European adventure we heard quite a few stories of people travelling and arriving at their destination only for their luggage to go elsewhere. Lost or delayed luggage in the travel era post border closures seems to be an ongoing issue. When it came to packing for our trip we had this top of mind. We decided to take precautions and thought we’d share our tips with our Have Wheelchair Will Travel community in the hope we can help you.

Also, I’m peppering this blog with some of our Paris photos because I’ve got so many I want to share over time. I think these are better than all airport or suitcase photos.

Lost luggage - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

As you may have read in my blog about our European Adventure, it was Hubby, Amelia and I travelling this time. We all had packing cells to organise our clothing. Although we each had our own suitcase we decided to split some of our clothing in case of a bag was lost. Each of us packed two cells with a full set of clothing. That’s underwear and an outfit for the day. We then split these cells between the three suitcases. I put one cell, with a full day’s outfit, in Hubby’s suitcase and put another cell, with a full set of clothing, in Amelia’s bag. Hubby and Amelia did the same. In my bag I mostly had my own clothing but also one packing cell for Amelia and one for Hubby. That way, if our luggage didn’t arrive in Paris we knew we’d have at least one change of clothing while we waited for our luggage to show up. Thankfully all our bags showed up in Paris. That was not the case on Hubby’s return to Sydney.

Lost Luggage - Paris - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

We have had a staggered return to Sydney with Hubby the first to fly back home. Hubby was standing at the baggage carousel for quite a while before he became concerned that his bag wasn’t turning up. I’ve had that sinking feeling before when you see more and more people leaving with their bags and still there’s no sign of your own bag. I’ve never not had a bag show up though. We put Apple AirTags in each of our suitcases so Hubby checked the tracking on the app on his phone only to find his bag located somewhere over the Indian Ocean. That was somewhat unexpected. He queued up to enquire about his bag and was informed it hadn’t made his flight but it was on a flight due to arrive at the airport around 10.30pm that evening. At least they knew where the bag was but it was still an inconvenience. Hubby was offered two choices,  pick the bag up after 10.30pm or wait for it to be delivered to our house, but there was no timeline for that. There was a back log of suitcases to be delivered and therefore they couldn’t tell him how many days it would take. Their best guess was 2-3 days. Hubby was tired so didn’t do the hour round-trip back to the airport that night. Two days later there was no sign of the suitcase being delivered and no correspondence about it. So, Hubby went back to the airport to pick it up. The AirTag in the suitcase helped locate the bag in the storage facility which was full of bags that hadn’t made their way home with their owners – fifty alone from Hubby’s flight. His bag was buried under others so being able to use the AirTag to locate it was helpful.

Lost Luggage - Paris - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

We were fortunate this happened on our return trip rather than on the way to Europe as it would have wasted precious travel time and cost us a lot more in taxi fares to go back to the airport to pick up the luggage. I was still concerned until I received a message from Hubby to say he had the bag and everything was fine inside. Braeden’s presents and many of Amelia’s souvenirs had returned in that bag.

I’m not sharing this story to worry people. I’m hopeful that our tips about using an Apple AirTag or similar tracking device can assist if the worst should happen. I also think that it’s wise to split your belongings if you are travelling with others. It’s especially important if you are travelling with items you can’t do without, like continence aids or other person-specific equipment that isn’t easily accessed at your destination. Always keep your medication in your hand luggage. It’s also a good idea to have a change of clothing in your hand luggage if you have the space. Small hand luggage allowances make this difficult but I always have spare underwear and a change of top as a minimum. Lastly, at check-in when you are handed your boarding passes and baggage receipt, make sure you put them somewhere safe. Your boarding pass is proof that you’ve flown for collecting airline points if you are a member of a frequent flyer program and your baggage receipt will be used to help locate your luggage.

Our lost luggage and tips if it happens to you - Have Wheelchair Will Travel
Photo taken at Rome Airport as proof

It’s also good to travel with a photo of your suitcase to help staff identify it. I also took a photo of my suitcase open before leaving Rome so I had a vague idea of what was in it and as proof if it should go missing. My bag arrived without any hassle but due to a delay in Singapore my luggage also had more time to make the connection than Hubby’s did. Try and avoid too tight a connection time for flights too!

Lost luggage - Apple air tags - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

You can read about how Apple AirTags and tracking devices work in our review we wrote last year.

If you’re wondering what kind of suitcase I travel with, you can read about my Victorinox bag in this review.

Here’s a list of our packing essentials when we travel with Braeden.


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