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Travel hacks for handling luggage as a family

Every family comes with baggage! Bypass the hair-tearing stress of forgotten toothbrushes, lost property and strollers on planes with our handy tips for dealing with luggage when you fly as a family. 

What kind of luggage do we bring?

Choice of luggage depends largely on your destination and personal preference. It is worth investing in good luggage. Recent suitcase models are lightweight, durable, easier to pack and a piece of cake to manoeuvre. Always bring a backpack or daypack to use during your holiday, even if it doubles as carry-on. Bring wash bags for laundry on-the-go, and plenty of zip-lock bags and plastic bags for grubby shoes and damp swimmers.

Man standing at baggage claim in airport

Hell hath no fury like a red-eye passenger finding out their bag has been lost. Picture: Shutterstock

What’s the best way to pack?

Two words. Packing cubes. This nifty little invention keeps everything compact. Use colour-coded packing cubes to separate dirty laundry from clean and baby’s clothes from activewear. Always pack as light as you can by renting strollers and car seats on-location, buying what you can on arrival and planning a laundry day halfway through.

Packing tips

How often do you regret packing too much? Picture: Shutterstock

How do we navigate check-in?

Research airline-specific regulations ahead of departure. Some airlines have tighter weight restrictions, some include infant baggage under adult tickets and others are lenient about liquid limits when it comes to breast milk or baby food. Confirm what to do with your stroller, which is sometimes checked in with bags and other times at the boarding gate. Leave plenty of time before your flight to negotiate the processes. If you have connecting flights, it doesn’t hurt to clarify that you want your bags to meet you at the end. Customise luggage with colourful tape or ribbons to make it easily identifiable on baggage carousels. It is a good idea to purchase portable baggage scales to keep an eye on weight while you’re away.

Making your luggage easy to identify with bright colours or tags will help when you claim it at the carousel Credit: Olesia Bilkei Shutterstock

What if our bags get lost?

It is an unfortunate truth of travel. Sometimes baggage gets delayed, so keep your bases covered. Carry-on should contain all valuables and must-haves (such as medications and a spare nappy or two) as well as a change of clothes for everyone. Try cross-packing your check-in baggage to spread everyone’s clothing out – that way, nobody will be caught in the lurch if their bag goes missing. Always use luggage tags marked with contact details and addresses, especially those of your post-flight accommodation. If you have time, book an extra night in your first destination in case you need to stay put and wait for a bag to arrive.

Read more:

How to deal with jet lag as a family

Top tips for flying with babies

This story first appeared in Family Travel magazine. To subscribe or read back issues of the magazine, click here.

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