It’s not possible to travel without luggage, so it pays to make sure its protection is at the top of your safety and security strategy.
A quick glance at any airport carousel and there are any number of colourful ribbons for easy identification adorning luggage, but there is plenty more you can do to have your luggage arrive safely, and in one piece.
Protecting your luggage starts before you travel, with your selection of the right suitcase or bag.
You will need to weigh up the options before you buy.
Hard-shell luggage seems like a good idea, but can crack or break from rough handling and while four wheels can be great for ease of travel, they aren’t great over rough surfaces.
Your picturesque accommodation in a Tuscan village, complete with any amount of cobblestones, could be unworkable with a four-wheel suitcase.
Soft-sided or fabric bags can handle impacts better, but obviously are much more likely to be torn or ripped.
Only buy expensive luggage if you can afford to lose it. Thieves will target anything that looks like a luxury brand, because if the luggage is expensive, so is what’s inside.
If you do prefer expensive luggage, or just don’t trust the system in general, consider investing in tracking tags and tucking them away in a hidden corner of each item.
If you have chosen your luggage, or have just hauled it out of the top of a cupboard at home – cursing is probably involved – just before you leave, take a photo of it from a few different angles.
You’d have to be living under a rock not to realise lost and damaged luggage has been a problem for travellers lately, so having evidence of what your luggage looks like before you depart will likely improve the chance of any insurance or compensation claim.
Also take a photo of the contents and bag tag, which of course you have diligently filled out right? Right?
Store the photos in a second separate location, not just your phone. A folder in your email is a simple solution.
If you discover your baggage has been damaged, take photos as soon as you can, also from several angles. Once again, this will hopefully streamline the claims process.
If it comes off the carousel damaged, you must report it to customer service in the airport immediately, or if that’s not possible, legally it must be reported within seven days.
Any complaint about loss or damage to baggage will need to be made in writing.
It’s a wrap
An increasingly common strategy to keep your luggage safe is to wrap it in clear plastic.
You can do it yourself with a roll from most hardware or office supply outlets or major airports also offer the service.
It will also add another layer of protection to your luggage, but don’t think it will save you from quarantine inspections. Border security will happily cut it off if they want to inspect your bags.
It’s all about you
If you want to take a more personal approach, a photo of your choosing can be printed directly onto a suitcase, thus foiling any thieves who might try and claim it as their own.
I feel this would be an ideal gag gift with an unflattering photo of the recipient displayed prominently, but as most come in over the $200 mark, maybe not.
In my research, I did find one on the internet of a couple who had used a loved-up shot for their honeymoon luggage, and frankly it was a bit nauseating.
Protect and serve
Another cheap alternative is a plastic bag protector. Basically, it’s a coat for your suitcase. They come in a variety of sizes and patterns and you can buy plastic or fabric. Make sure it will allow full movement of the suitcase’s wheels before you buy.
Do you have strategies for keeping your luggage safe? Why not share your tips in the comments section below?