Keep information on ID tags to minimum

Q and A

Q&a

August 13, 2006|By SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

What do you recommend people put on their luggage tags? I put only a phone number because I had heard that thieves will know your home is vacant if you put your address on tags.

You are wise not to put too much personal information on luggage ID tags, says Anne McAlpin, author of Pack It Up, a book-DVD set that offers advice about packing smart.

"Only put contact information that will be helpful to your airline" if your bags are lost, McAlpin says. "Writing down your home number if you're not there to answer the phone doesn't do any good."

Instead, print only pertinent contact information: your name, your cell phone number (if you are taking it with you), your e-mail address (if you are bringing along your laptop or plan to check e-mail) or the number of someone back home who has your itinerary, including the hotels where you will be staying. If you are staying in only one hotel during your trip, include its address and phone number.

More advice from McAlpin: Put two ID tags on the outside of your suitcase in case one is torn off; put contact information inside your luggage for the same reason; use tags that cover your information so it can't be read by someone standing near you. And never put your home address on your tags for the reason you mentioned.

I'm looking for a city in Europe that I can use as a base for a couple of weeks to visit other cities. Can you recommend one?

If you are thinking of one city that puts you within reach of others by rail, consider Vienna, Austria; Brussels, Belgium; or any of several in Switzerland - Bern, Lucerne or Zurich.

From Vienna, you are close enough to central and eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Brussels puts you within reach of Antwerp, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Paris. From the Swiss cities, you can visit Basel, Geneva and many of the country's scenic mountain and lake areas.

For visiting multiple countries, you should purchase a railpass from RailEurope (raileurope.com), which will enable you to travel among several countries for one price.

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