Ensuring your luggage stays safe and secure when travelling is key to planning a stress-free trip. Even if you're usually super careful, having a few extra safeguards that take some of the burdens off your shoulders is never a bad idea.
Because being careful is one thing, but being overly paranoid and helicopter-parenting your luggage won't make for an enjoyable travel experience.
When planning a trip, here are the best ways to take your luggage safety to the next level:
Skip the flashy, trendy designs
Choose well-constructed, lightweight luggage that won't attract undue attention. Bright or statement colours may be eye-catching, but when travelling: the more subtle or neutral the tones, the better.
Remember, you want the contents of your bag to be well-protected – but not to attract the wrong kind of attention. Many people think a unique design can make luggage easier to find, but a colourful string tied around a plain black suitcase handle will do the same thing. Except it won't look like it costs a bomb.
Use a lock – at all times
When leaving your bags just out of arm's reach, ensure they’re secured with a quality padlock. A sturdy combination lock or one with a built-in alarm will offer extra reassurance – and peace of mind – when travelling with valuable items.
Locks are convenient when leaving luggage in hotels or storage rooms. Having a quick 'look-see' of an open suitcase is much easier than breaking one open.
Any experienced traveller will always tell you to keep your bag in your line of sight wherever possible. Don't leave your bag unattended in public spaces – especially in high-risk spots like airports, train stations and bus depots.
Use labels, unique tags, tracking devices, and make sure you're fully insured!
Nefarious intentions aren't behind all cases of missing luggage. When so many instances of missing luggage are reported worldwide, airport/airline incompetence is to blame. While you can't do much to stop an airline from misplacing your bags (argh!), you can mitigate the risks of it going AWOL forever.
Use ID labels and unique identifying accessories (like a red scarf tied on the handle), install a tracking device, take (and keep) a photo of your suitcase and, whatever you do, ensure you have insurance. A missing piece of luggage is easier to deal with when you know you won't be out of pocket to replace what you need.
Know the unsafe hotspots of your destinations
Even the most inexperienced traveller knows that train and bus stations and tourist points of interest carry a high chance of luggage theft. Yet the most experienced will also let their guard down everywhere else.
Every city worldwide has dodgy neighbourhoods you probably shouldn't venture into – do you know what they are? Make sure you do before you arrive.
When choosing accommodation, research possible safety concerns
Most travellers scour hotel reviews to see if the amenities and services are as good as advertised. Wise travellers will instead look for reviews that hint at unsafe places. While no one wants to imagine housekeeping ruffling through your luggage while you’re out, it's worth remembering that it can happen. If too many people are saying a place is shady, pay attention.
Travel light – the less, the merrier!
It's a no-brainer. Keeping your eye on a carry-on and backpack is much easier than keeping tabs on a 7-piece-suitcase set.
Have you heard about packing cubes? They're lightweight organisers that help you pack your clothes and other items in a neat and compact way, so you can travel with a lighter bag and still have everything you need.
Blend in. Or at least try to…
Tourists are easy targets for petty thieves because they are often unfamiliar with and unaware of their surroundings. They also usually carry large amounts of cash, valuable items, and travel documents, making them attractive targets. Plus, they tend to stick around for just a few days, so thieves know that being 'identified' isn't generally an issue.
Aim to blend in to keep your bags safe for all these reasons. Dress down, avoid wearing excessive jewellery or carrying large amounts of cash – or anything that requires a colossal backpack. Most importantly, don't get so carried away with beautiful surroundings that you become unaware of what (or who) is around you.
Choose high-quality luggage built explicitly with safety in mind
Investing in good-quality secure luggage is the best first step you can take. Quality luggage is your best defence against theft because it's designed to be sturdier than cheaper options, easily opened with a plastic spoon.
It's essential to look for luggage with reinforced anti-theft features like:
- high-tension nylon or polyester fabric,
- reinforced zipper closures,
- compartments designed to conceal locks or cables,
- key or integrated locking systems
Locking systems are essential for air travel – so bags can be opened for inspection without being cut or destroyed.
Built-in safety features can be found on luggage, backpacks and handbags alike.
Use an anti-theft bag
Anti-theft bags come in all shapes and sizes. From cross-over to backpack style and everything in between, anti-theft bags are made of slash-resistant material. Everything about them is designed to deter pickpocketing – perhaps the most common luggage safety concern when travelling.
No matter where you're going, following a few simple steps can go a long way in protecting your luggage. Invest in secure, quality bags, and think of creative ways to protect your belongings at all times. While no protection is foolproof, these tips and tools might be the key to helping you keep your belongings safe and secure.
Updated: 28th May, 2023