Entries in travel tip (3)
I'm sure you've been watching the news about the political situation in Egypt right now and heard that the State Department is assisting Americans who want to leave. In our experience, it's a good idea to register your overseas trip with the State Department so that they have a record of your itinerary and contact information. We register all our group trips with the State Department in the event of any unforeseen emergencies, whether they be related to politics, natural disasters, or any other surprise.
Formally known as the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), the online registration process allows you to enter your personal information and your travel plans. When you sign up, the State Department will also send you updates on the country you've registered for. For example, clients who registered their trips to Egypt received email updates including travel alerts.
Learn more at the State Department website. There's a lot of great information on the site -- I always use it for looking up visa requirements and other relevant pre-trip information.
Good friends of mine recently went to Egypt for a two-week trip. Their bags, however, went ... well, somewhere else. (Fortunately, the bags eventually showed up.) So, what should you do before you check in your bags at the airport and what should you do in the unfortunate event that your bags take a separate trip from the one you planned?
Before You Go
- Put your name and contact information both on the luggage tag and inside the bag.
- Pack your valuables and important information (camera, laptop, prescription medication, passport, itinerary with contact names and numbers, etc.) in your carry-on.
- Make sure that your bag is checked to the correct destination (SJO and SJC are both San Jose, but in different countries!).
- Keep an inventory of the contents of your bag (may sound like overkill, but an inventory is very helpful if you need to file a claim).
- Make sure that you have a claim tag for each bag and that each person has his or her own claim tag.
- Leave plenty of time for connections if your itinerary has multiple legs.
- Pack a change of lightweight clothes and a toothbrush in your carry-on.
If Your Bags Don't Arrive
- File a missing bag report while you are still at the airport. The airline will give you a claim report with a file reference number that can be used to track the status of your bag online. The file reference number will contain five letters and five numbers -- the first three letters represent the airport, the second two letters represent the airline, and the last five numbers represent the unique claim number. So, for example, PDXDL12345 means that the bag was supposed to arrive in Portland (PDX) on a Delta (DL) flight. Enter the number on a site like My Lost Bag to track your bag's status.
- Also ask the airline representative for their customer service number so that you can call them.
- Keep the receipts from your additional expenses so that you can file your report with your travel insurance company.