Though the vast majority of checked luggage arrives on time and intact, things go wrong enough number of times to warrant a few basic precautions.
If you are planning to check-in a piece of luggage, photograph the contents and if you are carrying any valuables, then take the trouble of keeping an itemised list (with sales receipts, whenever possible). You might never have a use for it but when the situation arises you’d thank your stars.
Plaster your contact information in and around the bag.
‘Clean up’ your bag. That involves removing tags from previous trips, especially the annoying bag-check stickers that clingeth like a brother to everything. Sure it might make you look like globetrotting adventurer but scanners can misread them and the ensuing confusion is simply not worth it.
Avoid straps and lock wheels that can get your bag trapped in the conveyor belts.
Carry around expensive looking bags and you might inadvertently invite the advances of a luggage thief. Yes, they exist and yes, they are more likely go for a shiny leather luggage than a modest cloth one.
If you think you can’t live without it, don’t put it in your check-in luggage. Definitely don’t even think of checking-in laptops or other electronics, medication, jewellery, or important documents. Most airlines would deny liability and replacing them is, more often than not, not an option.
If you insist on putting an address on the bag itself, don’t use your home address. You might as well call up the International Association of Burglars and ask them to help themselves to all your stuff at home.