Tips & Tricks: Flying With LOTS Of Luggage…

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As not only a magician who tours the world, but also the proud owner of two children, I’ve spent a lot of my life dealing with as much luggage as a Samsonite (or Rimowa if you’re flush with cash) shop. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way, so wanted to share them to help you out when you find yourselves with more bags than you know what to do with.

Here’s the answer. Just get one of those Mary Poppins bags. Everything goes in one bag then. Job’s done. I wish, okay here’s the real scoop.

Getting To The Airport

A hassle all of its own. There are two ways I accomplish this – the first and most obvious one is to use a good car service who have a huge car that can fit you, your luggage and your fellow passengers.

Flying from Heathrow you’ll find they normally drop you at passenger drop off. You’re then left to fend for yourself unless you pre-arrange for them to park up and help you, or the better idea is to pre-book a Heathrow porter. For £20 they’ll meet you at your car, take all your luggage to check in and help you through the process. If you forget to pre-book, you can normally flag one down, but it’s much easier to pre-book.

Another option is to use a service like Airportr or LuggAgent. I’ve used them a few times and they’re great. They collect your bags from your home and then you either pick your bags up from them at the airport, or if you’re flying with BA, AA, Virgin, Finnair, Cathay, Qantas or Easyjet they can check your bags in for you.

At The Airport

Use a porter, it’ll make your life so much easier and is worth every penny. In the US I’ve often found I can forgo a porter by using curbside check in but that’s not possible in the UK. The only times I’ve not used a porter in the UK is flying in Upper Class with Virgin where you can use the Upper Class Wing for check in and they’ll take your bags for you. 

Recently, my US tour was cancelled mid-way through (damn Covid), so I found myself in a position where I had to get a load of my props home. Normally they go from show to show and live in warehouses in the US or the UK and often will be sent via freight, but this wasn’t an option. Instead I found myself precariously balancing 3 large suitcases and 3 large boxes on a trolley in Dallas airport due to the lack of a porter. This is not a position you want to be in. 

When You’ve Arrived

If you can, try to book a porter again – often you can’t, so you’ll just have to hope there’s someone by baggage claim who can assist. I’ve found if there isn’t, turning on the charm and asking strangers for help or someone from the airline normally works too.

We put a strip of neon pink gaffa tape (that’s normally used to mark where I should stand on stage) on each of our bags, boxes and cases. It makes all your stuff super easy to identify from afar on the baggage carousel. If you’ve got a porter you can just tell them to take all the bags with neon pink tape on them. 

One time I forgot to book a porter for a Heathrow arrival. No worries I thought, I’ll just grab one of the porters that are normally there. However, our flight landed at around 9:30 pm and the porters appear to stop work around 9:00 pm, so I was there with 6 cases, my wife and two under 2’s both in pushchairs (praise be to the BabyZen) and no way to physically get out of baggage claim with everything.

Despite flying Club World, BA were useless. Heathrow was useless too – no one appeared to want to, or be able, to help. Luckily the kindness of strangers came up trumps and someone helped us to meet our driver the other side of arrivals by pushing one of the trolleys. Be sure to book a porter in advance if you’re landing late at night. 

Two Other Tips

Know what’s in your cases 

I take a photo of each one before I close it. That way, I easily know what is in each case in case any case goes missing (yes, I know I used the word case so many times there, get off my case about it!). Also, it means you know which one to open first when you get to the hotel and all you need is your stuff to sleep before you deal with the rest of it the next day.

Mix stuff up

Especially when travelling with kids. Don’t have a suitcase each, mix your stuff amongst each other’s cases, so if one goes missing, it doesn’t mean one person is without everything

Bottom line

A little bit of planning goes a long way to making travelling with loads of bags as stress free as possible.

Use help where you can. In many countries I’ve managed to find excellent prices for a VIP service on arrival. They meet you at the door of the plane and escort you through passport control, to luggage claim and all the way to your car, it doesn’t get any easier than that.

If you don’t want to spend that money (maybe you’re saving for a Rimowa) then try the airport porters – and if they’re free, don’t forget to properly tip the people lugging your luggage around for you.

Comments

  1. H says

    I find it can also be useful to clearly number bags 1 of12, 2 of 12, and so on. It helps to then be able to do a quick check that you’ve got everything, rather than having to remember if you had 11 bags or 12, whether you ended up using your small blue suitcase or not, etc.

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