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Before you depart on a trip, make a list of all valuables you're taking with you, and leave it at home in case it's needed. Take pictures of important items. Keep receipts handy if you need to show them later.
On short trips, avoid lost luggage by carrying all your belongings on board with you, if they fit into your carry-on bag and your personal item. Some travelers take the additional step of sending bags via overnight mail, scheduled to arrive in their destination city on the same day they do. This option probably makes the most sense when traveling with mission-critical items, like business samples.
Make sure your identification information is inside the bag—how you can be reached, your permanent address, your itinerary, etc.
Many people think it is okay to pack digital cameras or other electronics in checked luggage. If your bag is lost, you cannot claim these items. Always keep them in your carry-on.