Nothing undermines a well-planned vacation quite like no-show luggage. When your suitcase fails to appear on the baggage carousel, you’re guaranteed a stressful experience filling out baggage-claim forms and futilely waiting. When it comes to making sure checked bags arrive safely at your destination, you are at the mercy of the airlines. Here arSliderse a few tips to give you better odds.

Check In Early.
Travelers who check in late—whether they arrived at the airport with only minutes to spare or got held up in a meandering check-in line—are more likely to get separated from their bags. Baggage handlers need time to process luggage and load it onto planes.  The earlier you can check in, the better.

Place Your Itinerary inside Your Bag.
Luggage tags can easily be torn off in the rough-and-tumble handling process, but a copy of your itinerary, placed on top of your belongings inside your bag, will almost certainly stay put. Place a copy of your travel plans along with contact information in a prominent place inside any checked bags; if your bag gets delayed, this will make it easier for airline staff to forward your luggage to you.

Take Some Photos.
If your bag has gone AWOL and you’re attempting to get it back, photo evidence will help. Take a picture of the outside of your bag to show the airline staff member who is helping you locate it. It’s also wise to take a quick photo of your baggage-claim ticket, in case you lose it. Take a picture of the inside of your bag as well; this will come in handy in case you need to file an insurance claim for your lost belongings.

Use a Luggage Strap.
Suitcases, unfortunately, sometimes suffer from a case of mistaken identity at the baggage carousel. This is especially likely to happen when half of your plane is traveling with the same bag. So give your bag a makeover with a colorful luggage strap, some neon duct tape, or whatever your creative little mind can conjure up.

Avoid Short Layovers.
Tight layovers increase the likelihood that your bags will go missing. If your flight is late, the window of time for airport staff to transfer your bag from one plane to the next narrows.  For international flights it’s important to allow three or more hours, ideally.