There’s no bigger nightmare for a traveller: You’re in a foreign country and someone steals your bag. You’ve got no money, no phone, and all of your valuables are gone. Don’t let this happen to you. Be alert, equip your bag with appropriate security features, be safe, and plan ahead. Below, Standard’s listed some easy tips for protecting your luggage from theft.
- Never take your eyes off your stuff
Whether at the airport, in a taxi, or on a busy street, always have your bag on your person or within sight. For example, at airport security, keep track of your luggage while it enters and leaves the X-ray machine and don’t leave it lying at the end of the treadmill. If travelling on a plane or train, try to keep your carry-on under your seat, use it as a pillow, or somehow attach it to your body—especially on overnight commutes. If you must use the overhead bin, watch out for pilferers and be extra mindful of your surroundings.
- Buy a carry-on with security features
Always carry a bag that has openings with double zippers that easily accommodates locks and other fasteners (see Tip 3). Carry a bag with features that can be spotted easily—bright colours and unique design are good things. Luggage with hidden pockets is useful for passports, documents, tablets, etc. Some bags even come with safety straps that lock to, say, a pole or bench when you’re taking photos or sitting down to lunch. Most importantly, make sure you are comfortable with whatever bag you may buy.
- Use locks, zip ties, or locking luggage straps
These gadgets are simple and effective tools that prevent theft—locks especially, since they can be personalized by combination or key. Pilferers will often rummage through a bag, find something valuable, and flee before getting caught. That’s why these tools are so valuable. Of course, if a thief manages to run off with your entire bag, there are advanced methods of retrieval. Which brings us to our next tip.
- Consult technology
There are several ways to track stolen goods via GPS. Most computers and smartphones, should they be stolen along with a bag, have built-in GPS. Apple, for example, has a free Find My iPhone service and offers many third-party tracking apps. And palm-sized GPS tracking units—which can be tracked from your computer—are relatively affordable devices that easily stow away in the innermost crevices of your luggage. But let’s be clear: we’re not condoning conflict or some brand of vigilante justice. Be careful. Use this technology wisely and in conjunction with local authorities.
- Consider buying insurance
There are things that are beyond a traveller’s control. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it’s wise to purchase insurance. Plans vary, but many travel insurance packages include (at least some) compensation for stolen luggage. Read the policy carefully before biting the bullet.