Your luggage is safe in your hotel room.
While traveling via a car or train, you have your luggage in front of your eyes.
But, what about when you are on a flight? It is susceptible to theft and tampering, because your checked luggage is out of your sight.
Before you say you’ve got locks…
Locked luggage does not equal tamper-proof or theftproof luggage. Combination, padlock, zipper, or something else, all locks can be picked.
A basic rule is not to bring unnecessary valuables, and don’t flaunt the fact that your bag has something in it worth stealing. Also, note that many countries and airlines require you to lock your checked luggage.
Luggage locks are to keep honest people honest. As for keeping dishonest fingers out of your luggage, here’s the guide you need.
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Theft and Tamper-Proof Your Luggage
1. Don’t Trust Zippers
Other than offering no security whatsoever, zippers also make it tough to realize if your luggage has been tampered with.
Picture this: You have just checked into your hotel room. You open your bag, only to find your cashmere sweater is gone. But the zipper was still intact, so you couldn’t have possibly known that someone rifled through your belongings and then zipped it closed. Your only fault here is trusting zippers.
Another more consequential result could have been someone sliding something into your bag using the zipper. This is a scam where corrupt officials slide banned items into the bags of unsuspecting travelers. Then you have to pick between either paying a bribe, or facing legal charges. Either way, your vacation is off to a not-to-so-great start.
2. Avoid Packing Cheap Imitations
Imitation jewelry and watches are great. For $25 you get the feel of flaunting a real Rolex.
But, when that imitation item in your bag shows up in the airport security scan, someone with loose morals might be tempted. Before you think that it won’t happen, know that it does. There have been documented incidents of airport and airline employees stealing from passengers.
3. Don’t Plastic Wrap Your Suitcase
- Plastic wrapping will let you know if your bag has been tampered with, however, reapplying a similar-looking cover is not hard work.
- Plastic wrapping keeps your luggage weatherproof, but hardcase luggage is pretty weatherproof in itself.
- Plastic wrapped around your bag makes it easier to identify and trace, but not when you have a horde of other people with the same idea.
Plastic wrapping your suitcase actually makes it easier to hide that it has been tampered with. It is also simpler for thieves to say they ‘mistook’ it for their bag on being caught trying to wheel away your luggage.
If all that wasn’t enough to make you realize that plastic wrap is useless, factor in the environmental concerns. As a traveler, you already have a sizable environmental footprint. There is no reason to add to it.
4. Don’t Arrive Too Late. Or Too Early
When you arrive to the airport too late, there is simply not enough time to watch while your luggage gets checked in. When it isn’t in front of you, the risks multiply. Plus, last-minute hassles also result in your luggage not being boarded onto your flight.
What’s the problem with arriving too early? It gives airline employees with nefarious intentions more time to figure out how to break into your bag and get away with it.
An hour to 90 minutes before your flight time is the right window to arrive.
5. Get The Right Luggage
Fabric bags with zips? No.
Hard case suitcases with at least two latches? Yes.
You can also select a suitcase with a lock combination to make your luggage unappealing for thieves.
Also, remember to be obnoxious in picking a color for your luggage. Hot pink bags are more easily identifiable than tan, brown, or black bags. With that, no one can claim they accidentally took yours from the baggage claim area.
Don’t want to do away with your plain, simple suitcase just yet? Personalize it with stickers, or use funky zip tags in uncommon colors.
6. Pack Right
- Don’t wrap the cords of items around the item. This makes them look unclear in scans, and will warrant additional security screening, which increases the likelihood of items being stolen.
- Pack multiple copies of your itinerary and contact details in your bag. If someone well-wishing finds your lost bag, it will be easier for them to return it to you.
- Invest in a sturdy identification tag. The paper tags provided at the airport are likely to come off or get damaged.
- Frequent travelers can also buy tracking devices that get attached to the luggage’s lock and inform you if the luggage is opened. If the airport security or a thief opens your bag, you’ll know it immediately and can act fast.
7. Use The Firearm Trick
If you are traveling to and from a country where you are allowed to bring firearms after declaring them, you can use it to your advantage.
All you need is a starter pistol. This is a pistol that fires blank rounds, and is used to start races. It also qualifies as a firearm. When you declare it at airport security, you are required to get your luggage checked separately.
This has two advantages:
- Your luggage is checked in front of your eyes. So, there’s no chance of anything being stolen.
- Your luggage is handled carefully, which further keeps it safe.
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Minimizing the Risk, and Preparing For the Worst
There is no foolproof way to secure your luggage. There is no magic antitheft suitcase. The safest way to not get your luggage stolen or tampered with is to not have checked luggage at all. Pack light, and only travel with a carryon.
But, if that’s not possible, make sure everything in your luggage is replaceable with cash.
Other ways to minimize the damage done:
- Take a photo of the contents of your bag. If the airline mishandles your luggage, this can help you get some reimbursement.
- Read the list of the airline’s prohibited items with care. This avoids the chance of the airline staff having to specifically check your bag after a scan.
- Pack a change of clothes and some essentials in your carryon luggage.
- Get travel insurance. For around 5 to 10% of your trip cost, you can get a comprehensive travel insurance plan. It can help you get reimbursement for your lost luggage or a trip you must cancel for a covered reason. You can also receive coverage for eligible medical expenses while abroad.
Visit Insubuy to compare and contrast insurance plans from multiple providers. Once you find a plan that makes you feel secure enough, buy it right from the website and travel with complete peace of mind.
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