For most travellers, luggage is an essential and unavoidable part of the journey. And the further you go, and the longer you are away for, the greater the volume of luggage you need.
But luggage also creates a security concern. There is always that fear of being separated from your suitcases in transit, especially if you take more than one flight, and being stuck at your destination with nothing to wear.
And then there is the concern of being lumbered with piles of cases at a busy airport, train or bus station in a strange city, a sitting target for thieves.
So how do you mitigate these risks and still make sure you travel with everything you need for your trip? Here are the best tips for keeping your luggage secure on your journey.
There is an old stereotype about thieves being able to spot tourists easily by their cameras and fancy watches. Nowadays, travellers often carry many more valuables with them, especially gadgets like smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Think carefully about whether you really need these. Do you need a Kindle reader and your iPad? Will you use the laptop? The safest place for unnecessary valuables is at home. But if you must take them, carry them in your hand luggage at all times. As a general rule, only place low value items in checked luggage.
Putting a name and address on all luggage increases the likelihood of it being returned to you if it is lost in transit. But it does not help you get your essentials back while you are still away. It is also a good idea to include your destination, especially if you are taking connecting flights and you are relying on airport staff to transfer checked luggage from one plane to the next. Also, remember to remove old luggage tags to avoid confusion.
Travelling with someone else? Then a good tip is to mix your items with theirs across two cases. That means that, should the worst happen and one case does go missing, you both at least have some clothing and other essentials when you reach your destination. Unless you are really unlucky and all your luggage disappears.
Anything you can do to dissuade a would-be thief from rifling through your luggage is a good idea. Speed is often of the essence for thieves, and they will be on the lookout for easy targets they can get in and out of fast. Luggage padlocks are affordable, robust and tough to break. Look out for a padlock approved by the Travel Sentry Approved (TSA) scheme. This means that, should customs want to search your bag, they can use a TSA master key to open the lock, rather than breaking it off.
The drawback of soft shell suitcases is that, even if they are locked, a thief can still relatively easily slash them open to get to your things. A hard shell suitcase prevents this, and again makes it more likely that a thief will overlook your luggage on the search for an easier target.
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