On the arrival level, Washington Dulles features a row of lost and found offices run by the airport, United and the Transportation Security Administration. For items left on other airlines, travelers should inquire at the carrier's baggage claim office. (Andrea Sachs )
How to turn lost into found

If you’ve lost an item on the road, don’t give up on the search and rescue. With the right approach, you could be reunited with your beloved object. Here are some travel experts’ tips on how to safeguard your things and, in the event that they get cut loose, how to track them down.

Label like mad. For ease, Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com, recommends buying a labeling machine. Put your name and contact info (at least phone number or e-mail address) on your valuables, such as personal electronics and wallets. Attach a business card or other form of ID to the inside of luggage, briefcases and handbags. Use luggage tags — the stronger, the better. Pin your name to your sweater if you must.

Set up a contact info page on your gadgets so that anyone who turns yours on can see the details. Make sure that this info is not password-protected. As backup, jot down the serial number, which the tech company can trace. If your device has Global Positioning System technology, enable it.

Make your home land line or office number obvious in your cellphone address book so that the lost-and-found staff can easily ring you up.

●If you booked a room through a third party, the hotel won’t have your contact details. So give your phone number or e-mail address to the front desk when you check in.

●Before going through airport security, put any small, loose items (wallet, scarf, belt, phone) in your carry-on. Streamline your belongings; put them in a single tray.

●Before the plane lands, stow all personal devices in your carry-on — not the seat-back pocket or your lap.

●The night before checking out, put a reminder beside the hotel safe, such as one of the shoes you plan to wear the next day. If you charge your gadgets before you go, use an outlet in a glaringly obvious spot, such as one beside the sink.

●To stay organized, Banas recommends bringing checklists of your travel essentials. Check off each item as you pack your bag for home or the next hotel.

●Before you leave the hotel, Anthony Melchiorri, host of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible,” suggests that you ask the bellhop to give your guest room the once-over. A second set of eyes can often spot items that the first pair overlooked.

Know the specifics of your trip, such as the license plate of the rental car, your hotel room number and your seat on the plane. Keep boarding passes, hotel card key holders and rental contracts for proof. The more detailed the information, the quicker and easier the search.

Contact the purveyor immediately. If they can’t find your item, call back a few days later, in case a good Samaritan turned it in belatedly.

If your search hits a dead end, ask the company how it handles unclaimed items. If they auction them, sign up for the sale. You could very well buy back your belonging — or find a replacement.