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Suitcase Security When Traveling

Simple steps to protect your stuff

Ever lost your luggage? You know that sinking feeling when the last bag rolls around the carousel - it's the equivalent to coming down with traveler's diarrhea. You know your trip is about to get ugly...

Travel the WorldTravel the WorldWhile lost and damaged luggage is an unfortunate travel reality, it's getting easier to track down an errant bag half a world away and get it back to you - relatively quickly. And if you've identified your bag well and have an inventory of the contents, luck may be in your favor.

Use these tips to help ensure that even if your bags don't arrive with you, you'll be protected.

Before you leave home ~ what goes inside

  • Travel tips for lost luggageTravel tips for lost luggage Lay out valuable items and snap a picture of them with your smart phone. Keep a list of those items in your carry-on (and a copy at home if you're really worried). If you can include approximate replacement value of the items, even better.
  • If an item's irreplaceable, leave it at home. Laptops, electronics, medication, jewelry and important documents belong in your carry-on luggage only. If you're asked to gate-check a bag you planned to carry on, remove those valuables carry them on in your arms.
  • Print a copy of your itinerary that includes your email and/or phone number and leave it face up in your bag. If the tags are removed from your bag while in transit, this sheet of paper might be the only way your luggage finds its way back to you.
  • Put the address of your destination on the outside of your luggage - not your home address (which announces an empty house ripe for pillaging).

Before you leave home ~ the outside of your luggage

  • Travel checklist to prevent lost luggageTravel checklist to prevent lost luggageRemove tags from previous trips, especially those tiny white stickers airlines stick to the sides. And avoid travel stickers and decals. They make your bag identifiable on the luggage carousel but can be misread by a scanner.
  • Remove any straps or locks that get stuck on a conveyer belt.
  • Forget the Louis Viton luggage and opt for the value-priced set instead. Expensive looking luggage is an open for business sign to a thief.
  • Choose a nylon bag instead of a hard shell, which cracks easily and is rendered useless immediately.
  • Consider a TSA approved lock but remember it's approved because it's easily removed.

When you retrieve your bag from carousel, inspect it as soon as possible to ensure everything's accounted for. If something's missing call the airline immediately and submit a claim. The sooner you begin the process, the sooner resolution will come (hopefully).

Got any suitcase security tips to share? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook and let's start talking!

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Excellent tips! Hadn't thought of several of them. Sending to my family as well. Thanks :) Keane

You implied this, but it bears saying explicitly - put someone's contact information INSIDE the bag so the airline can find you while you are traveling or after you get home. Your contact info for sure - put your cell number in - but also a friend, family member, someone who will take care of it for you. If you are in transit being able to reach someone is key - and you never know if you'll be able to check email and those pesky cell phones have a way of getting lost or not have service while you are on the road. Your destination information is fine, but the hotel clerk at the Hyatt isn't going to go the extra mile to get your bag back to you once you've checked out. I actually have my business card in every piece of luggage I carry, including my carry on. Better too much information than not enough!

Beth, this is GREAT advice - thanks so much for sharing! If you'd ever like to contribute a guest post to GG, I'd love to have you. Your insights are bang on and will help our readers avoid huge headaches when traveling. Thanks for sharing!

Great post. I don't agree with not putting home address. It is important for airline to find. Security at home is another post :) I have had luggage lost and always found promptly - within 2 days. Never pack valuables in checked luggage is most important. Carry one change of clothing in carry on, along with minimum toiletries. Expensive suitcases are meant for car travel. Locks are useless any longer, but if your bag is opened it should have note inside stating it was opened due to random search Don't panic. Good excuse to go shopping.

Hey Darleen, I think it comes down to your comfort level when you're traveling. If you're comfortable sharing your home address and it's works for you in the past, that's awesome. When I travel, the whole worlds knows I"m traveling because of my social media stream so my address on my luggage is a moot point. If my mother shared her address, she'd worry the whole time :-) Thanks so much for sharing!

These are great tips that I've booked for my next vacation abroad! Thanks for sharing. I never thought to snap a photo...

Hi Carrie, The photo is really important if you're packing expensive items in your suitcase. When I travel, I tend to take VERY inexpensive jewelry and clothes so it's not an issue for me. Of I only take carry-on so my luggage never leaves my side. Glad you found the article helpful!

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