Keeping your luggage safe — protecting it from loss, damage or theft — has even become more critical part of your holiday travel. Expensive devices have become part of the traveling experience, so luggage has never been too attractive for theft. Therefore, luggage safety should be part of every traveler’s security priority.
As air travel becomes ever more popular, flight delays, missing bags and burglary even inside the cabin has become a common risk to all passengers. And as travel also becomes more exposed to potential terrorist attacks, security measures have made the experience less pleasant and more cumbersome.
Are TSA locks necessary? Should I book travel insurance? Should I place my contact address at bag tags? These questions are all legitimate, but not everyone is aware of their answers. Let us all explore the ins and outs of making our traveling bags safe and secured.
If you have the opportunity to buy a new luggage, zipperless bags may offer better security, given the horror stories about how easy to penetrate into a zippered luggage so culprits can steal away items, or worse insert some contraband. If not, a reasonably sturdy luggage that can withstand check in handling especially on long-haul flights and multiple stop overs.
Travel insurance comes in a variety of features: flight delays, lost wallets, medical and hospital benefits, and so on. While all these provide safety and guarantee you are covered in case unfortunate incidents happen, make sure they apply to your travel plans such as your destination or type of holiday. Of course, it’s great to include some coverage for your luggage in case it gets lost or damaged.
Packing your own bags not only helps you ensure you got everything in place — and whether items should be in the check in or cabin luggage — it also gives you peace of mind that no banned items (drugs, restricted food items, batteries, etc) are inside that generates alarm when passing through security checks and x-ray scanners.
Understand that not all items can be placed inside a luggage that’s checked in (power banks for example), and not all items are allowed inside the cabin luggage — liquids exceeding 100ml, large lithium ion batteries, etc). You also should anticipate what things to do during travel — read a book or use a laptop so making them accessible from your hand luggage and not buried underneath your checked in luggage is set.
This sounds self-explanatory but the truth is that many passengers have become unknowingly willing drug mules as they carry luggage with narcotics other people have asked them to carry — often with a token “reward” for the trouble. Carrying your own bags gives you assurance of knowing what’s inside. It also avoids getting surprised (or worse, detained) by customs officers who often make random checks.
Airport public announcements, cabin crew reminders and airport signs point to this basic luggage handling tip: never lose sight of your luggage so you can avoid getting it lost or stolen. You may need to drag them into the toilet, restaurant or duty free shops instead of leaving them in lockers or other people. When you need to use backpacks, ensure zippers are sealed and if possible, wear them in front in the middle of a crowded place so prying hands couldn’t get through.
Some countries, even at transit points, impose certain restrictions on items you bring. For example, travelers to the United Arab Emirates must not bring cooked food or items that conspicuously display Israeli origin. Likewise, Australia does not permit entry of seeds and nuts as well as dairy products. Abiding these country-specific guidelines helps a seamless entry into these countries.
Many passengers include name, address and phone number in their bag tags because they think this comes handy when airlines or other passengers try to locate them. But sharing your address also gives a hint to criminals that you’re not home or pretend to be airline staff looking to return your luggage and then rob you.
Less is more, so they say. This not only applies to those who adhere with minimalism, but also for travelers. As you bring more luggage, you have to look after more things and there is a greater risk of losing sight or leaving some of them behind. Check how many days are you traveling, anticipate the clothing you may need, including undergarments, footwear and outer clothing.
Although luggage may come in different brands, sizes and colors, there are plenty of opportunity to have the same bag with another passenger. Instead of just placing a bag tag with your name and contact details, which may come as a risk (read above), a brightly colored string or a zip tie which also adds another security layer for the luggage.
At the arrival area’s baggage carousel area, when you notice your luggage has been tampered with — locks broken or case damaged — do not touch it. Instead take a photo or video, and approach any airport staff to report the incident. While you might get through a more thorough screening yourself, alerting authorities could help defend you in case some drugs or banned material has been stashed into the bag.
Luggage safety can easily be taken for granted as passengers get caught up with security checks, arranging itinerary and keeping the whole entourage in place (not to mention the kids who can easily be on their own and leave parents in hysteria). Although losing bags to burglars, accidental pickup by other travelers or airline mishandling can occur, basic steps on part of its owners makes recovery much easier.
Although we think these tips are helpful, nothing beats common sense on bag handling. Carrying your bag towards the check in counter, carrying them into the cabin, in and around your hotel lobby or inside crowded buses or trains should still be the way to go.