9 Ways to Protect Your Luggage on Your Next Trip


Think your last air travel experience was rough? Just imagine what your luggage went through. According to a 2017 report by SITA, a multinational company that provides IT support to the air transport industry, airlines mishandled (i.e., lost) approximately 21.6 million bags in 2016. And while that figure actually represents a record low for airlines, it doesn't reflect theft, damage, or all the other things that can sack your bags. So before you and your luggage enter the fray, take some common sense precautions. Here are nine ways to protect your luggage on your next trip. (See also: The Airline Lost Your Luggage. Now What?)

1. Choose the right bag

Protecting your luggage starts by selecting the right luggage. Hard-shell cases are less adaptable to pressure and can crack or break from rough handling and overstuffed baggage hulls. Soft-sided or nylon bags can handle impacts better.

If you're worried about distinguishing your suitcase from all the others on the baggage carousel, customize it with a piece of bright ribbon, a scarf, or unique luggage tag.

2. Keep it simple

When it comes to luggage, don't worry about keeping up with the Joneses. Obviously high-end luggage is more likely to be noticed by thieves; not only because the bags themselves are valuable, but because expensive bags suggest expensive contents.

3. Wrap it up

Encasing your luggage in plastic cling wrap not only protects it from scrapes and scratches, it's a slight deterrent for the wide range of folks who'll be handling your bag on its journey. Keep in mind, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the right to cut through any wrapping if an agent needs to inspect the contents.

4. Buy bag protectors

A bag protector is the commercial (and reusable!) version of plastic wrap. Made of durable PVC, these clear protectors fit over suitcases of various sizes and are secured in place with Velcro. They're designed to allow for free wheel movement and feature cutouts for easy access to handles.

5. Put your photo on it

The UK-based online retailer, Firebox, distributes a product called Head Case, a line of stretchable Spandex sleeves that fit over suitcases. Similar to the bag protectors mentioned above, the sleeves offer a distinct advantage: They can be customized with a photo of your choice. By choosing a giant selfie, you can protect your luggage from theft while shielding it from damage (if you don't mind a few chuckles at baggage claim, that is).

6. Take a photo of it

Snap a photo of your luggage before the first leg of any journey — especially international trips. Photos can help airport staff identify lost bags and facilitate communication between personnel in different nations.

7. Use a luggage tag outside and inside

Even the most secure luggage tags can get torn off in transit. Put a duplicate tag inside your bag in case it gets lost at the airport and you need to prove ownership. Oh, and for personal security, don't list your home address or landline phone number on luggage tags; use an email address and cellphone number instead.

8. Zip up toiletries

Though zip-top bags are required for the toiletries in your carry-on, they make just as much sense for checked luggage. Zip it up and protect your bags from leaking liquids like shampoo, mouthwash, and perfume. (See also: 15 Packing Secrets From a Professional Traveler)

9. Travel light

What's the best way to protect your luggage from loss or damage? Use less of it. By traveling with a carry-on only, you can keep essentials close at hand, adapt to last-minute flight changes easily, and hop off the baggage carousel once and for all. (See also: 5 Ways Carry-On Luggage Can Save You Time and Money)

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