Words by Ben Stower
Frequent flyers, such as business travellers, run a greater risk of having luggage stolen, damaged or lost while on the road.
Most people would rather not think about it, but prevention is practically impossible if the reality isn't at least acknowledged.
Fortunately, there are a number of tricks and modern inventions that grant travellers better luggage protection. Here are the ones we've deemed most useful.
Personalise Your Bag
As a business professional you probably don't want to turn up to meetings with a bedazzled suitcase. Unfortunately, the most expressive bags are the easiest to spot on the conveyor belt and the hardest to pick up by mistake, whereas standard black, red and blue roller bags are much harder to distinguish.
You don't have to get out the glitter and studs. All your suitcase needs is one distinguishing trait – a red ribbon on the handle, a business label on the front or strips of duct tape that can be removed before meeting clients.
Make sure your suitcase is one of a kind
Request A Fragile Sticker
Have you ever looked out the plane window while waiting to taxi and watched baggage handlers mercilessly tossing bags into the hold? It's a cringe-worthy sight.
It's possible to request a 'Fragile' sticker for your bag while checking in. There may not be anything inside that's technically fragile, but they don't need to know that and they won't run out of stickers.
Just make sure you've got a viable reason when prompted; a glass ornament or mirror will suffice.
This isn't fool proof. Baggage handlers sometimes disregard the Fragile label as many touring bands will attest.
Wrap & Lock It
If someone really wants to get into your suitcase, there's very little you can do to stop them. However, employing a few different guards will deter the less-enthusiastic thieves.
There are three main protective agents from thievery, the first being a set of TSA-approved padlocks, which can be fastened to your bag's zippers. This should be your base level of security.
On top of the locks, you can also fasten the zippers together with zip ties and then encase the entire suitcase in plastic wrap using the machine at the terminal.
It's a little excessive, but will give a thief reason to pause and makes it easier to immediately spot any signs of tampering.
Invest in a padlock to keep your belongings safe
Include Contact Information
Attaching a travel tag with contact details to your suitcase is a given. But what happens if it falls off?
It's always good to have another tag or label attached to the inside of your luggage with contact information so anyone who takes your bag by mistake or finds it at the opposite end of the airport (this has happened) can return it to you.
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One of the more ingenious items for travellers, this sticker the size of a ten cent coin can be attached to your bags, wallet and any other important items.
The technology connects with your phone, allowing you to track any item that's been 'stuck' via radar. You can also set up alerts (a virtual leash) on certain stickers to go off if they move more than 30 metres away from your phone.
If an item with a sticker goes missing, the app can be used to locate its last known position and alert other users of its lost status, potentially initiating a group search.
A StickNFind sticker is very inconspicuous
One of the best ways to protect your valuables is by investing in a hardside suitcase. These are better suited to the rough life of air travel and will reduce the amount of stress on items packed inside.
One of the better brands to choose is Samsonite, renowned for its light-weight hardside luggage and inbuilt TSA-approved locks.
If you do lose your bag or valuable items, the situation can still get worse when you don't have travel insurance.
These days you shouldn't be flying if you can't afford insurance, with companies such as Cover-More offering valuable protection against theft, damages and more of those travel nasties.
Yes it's more money, but you definitely don't want to be wishing you opted for insurance. By then it's already too late.