How to Secure Luggage – And When it Backfires

How to Secure Luggage – And When it Backfires

I closed the lock with gusto to secure my luggage. That was done. All my valuables were safely stored and neatly packed into one locker. They usually never fit, which is why I keep my day bag on me. That is why it also has the key. Oh sh**. I forgot about the key… It was still inside the locker. Now that was smart.

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How to Secure Luggage – And When it Backfires

Photo credit: Photo by Jose Fontano and STIL on Unsplash

When Secure Luggage Causes Cold Sweat

The panic started to creep up on me, running up my legs and swear started to collect on my forehead. Had I just locked away my valuables without having a way to retrieve them? Would I have to break open the locker and buy the hostel a new one? Was I really this stupid?

My thoughts were spiralling. It wasn’t pretty and I tried badly to keep the anxiety at bay. I was yanking the locker out from under the bed. Maybe there was a way. Usually hostel lockers are not incredibly safe. But I came up short. The little slit that opened wasn’t big enough for more to reach anything. Well, that was at least good to know, nobody could steal anything now.

For the moment, I resigned. My hands feel limb to my sides. They touched my pockets. Then it hit me. Didn’t I have three sets of keys, hidden in strategic places? And didn’t I take out one and put it in the tiny pocket of my jeans? At that time, I was thinking ahead of myself, being fully aware of my own forgetfulness and my desperate need to secure luggage at all times. Indeed, here was the key! Thank you, yesterday me!! Sometimes my own self-awareness surprises me.

Photo credit: Photo by Jon Moore on Unsplash

What Solution Is There for Dumbness?

From that moment on, I always checked if I had the key to my locker within reach BEFORE I closed the lock to wherever I wanted to secure luggage. Normally I used code locks because of the fact that you could lose or forget the key and then what? But this time I didn’t have one on me.

The panty thief had stolen it when he abducted my backpack and forced it open. I couldn’t find any other locks back then. So I bought a simple one. “Super, super,” the vendor had advertised it. Made in China it said. It didn’t look unbreakable but then again, what locks truly where? And if so, a thief might slice open your bag anyway.

If you want secure luggage or a secure suitcase, you gotta be prepared. Don’t blindly trust. Don’t leave it open and leave the room. Don’t flash valuables and make it look attractive. Remember, someone can always just grab and run. It happens on trains, it happens in hostels. It might seem paranoid to constantly keep checks on your valuables (and a definite sign of anxiety), but never forget to secure luggage, in your room or by the reception. Keep your most priced valuables separate and safe as well.

Important to note: If you have travel insurance that covers your valuables, read the fine print as well. More often than not, your belongings aren’t insured unless you secure luggage and valuables in the safe at the reception. Not storage room, not room locker, nope the reception safe. This is bad news for people who stay in hostels.

How to keep your luggage safe

  1. Carry 1-2 locks with you when you travel (especially when your staying in hostels)
  2. Use a code lock and keep the security key or code safely stored away (keep a note of your code combination somewhere safe – maybe in a private online folder – or tell a friend)
  3. Use a lock cable to attach your bag to heavy furniture so they can’t be lifted away, lock or no lock
  4. Opt for a solid, secure suitcase or anti-theft bags (but don’t get a suitcase with included lock, if that one blocks up, you are in trouble, too)
  5. Take advantage of room safes or lockers but, if you can, lock your valuables in the safe at your reception for insurance purposes.
  6. Scan reviews for remarks on safety before you book anything. That way, you can avoid nasty surprises if someone has already gone through a bad experience. It is not always down to the accommodation but it might be.

On another note, also use RFTI blocking wallets for your credit cards. Next, keep your phones within sight and away from other phones. (You’d be surprised how easily data can be tapped into within close range). Just as you need to secure luggage, you need to secure your personal data. Try not to log into public wifi in popular places. Times Square, for instance, is known to have a lot of data theft going on due to hackers taking advantage of unsuspecting tourists.

Tell me: Have you ever had trouble with keeping your luggage safe or even locking yourself out of it?

Read next:

Women Travelling Alone – 24 Crucial Safety Tips
A Story about Failed Safety and what to Do Better
Your Ultimate Guide to Travelling Alone

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
How to Secure Luggage – And When it Backfires

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It had to happen, after ditching the 9-5 for a prolonged break, Annemarie's wokaholic tendencies led her to start a daily blog about her adventures. Realising how much travel has helped rebuild her confidence and and general #GirlBoss-iness, Travel on the Brain released a book about her adventures in Down Under and New Zealand and creates quirky video series focusing on story telling in destinations around the globe.
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  1. Reply

    Such great tips! Def going to use these :)

    1. Reply

      Hi Abby, I’m glad you found my tips helpful.

  2. Reply

    Such a great post. I am always super cautious about securing my luggage. I recently purchased an anti-theft bookbag and love it!

    1. Reply

      Hi Candy, good thing you are cautious. A lot of people aren’t. What kind of bookbag did you get? Would love recommendations.

  3. Reply

    This is so funny until it happens to me, right? I don’t want to think about what the thief did with your panties! LOL.

    1. Reply

      Hi Yamkins, yes, telling stories like that is funny for listeners but not when it’s suddenly you. I felt really panicky and somehow violated. The thief went through ALL of my stuff, touched everything. I know because when he threw the bag back over the fence with the stuff he didn’t want, everything was in a different place but all rolled up badly or stuffed back again. It felt violating.

  4. Reply

    Oh no! So sorry to hear you had to go through this. Thanks for sharing your lessons learned.

    1. Reply

      Hi Richa, yeah, it definitely sucked but at least my story can serve as a warning for others.

    • Mitali Deshmukh
    • 07/12/2017

    This is one thing I always fear of. Taking care of the valuable on tour is real important task … Thanks for the article about your experience for others to learn from it

    1. Reply

      Hi Mitali, yeah, it is a constant fear, I agree.

  5. Wow! Such a practical post and useful tips which I will definitely try to bear in mind in my next travels, AnneMarie! I’ve personally never had any issues with my luggage but anyway, we can never know when these tips will come in handy!

  6. Reply

    Honestly, I’m totally guilty of never checking the fine print on travel insurance. I really had no idea that luggage isn’t covered unless you are using the safe. Thanks for sharing

    1. Reply

      Hi Chadrima, haha, I think most people don’t bother. There was a time when I minutely checked every single sentence meticulously for everything I signed up for (mainly when I was still at uni studying law) but yeah, some things you really have to have a look at. When it comes to health and travel insurance, it can make all the difference and would cost a lot, too.

  7. Reply

    Wow. Such a useful post. I always fear about luggage, especially during overnight train journies. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Reply

      Hi Sapna, I feel you! Overnight train journeys are a real worry-inducer. In fact, my brother’s backpack was recently stolen on a train ride (and it wasn’t even night). It can always happen, sadly.

  8. Reply

    Yep, I always keep 2 locks on me and sometimes those big padlock types don’t fit through the eye of some lockers — I like the ones that have the extendable cord!

    1. Reply

      Hi Angela, that’s smart. I should realy follow my own advice and carry two with me but, of course, I forgot on this trip. Urgh.

  9. Reply

    I actually haven’t used a lock on my luggage before… but I probably should! lol.. Of course I keep all my valuables in my carry on but people still steal other things like clothes, etc. I’ll have to invest in a good sturdy lock and take some of the suggestions you mentioned. Thanks!

    1. Reply

      Hi Samantha, you really should. I mean, it doesn’t provide 100% protection, but it at least helps to not make you look like an easy target.

  10. Reply

    This is wonderful advice. I have had that exact same anxiety attack! I always opt for combo locks now.

    1. Reply

      Hi Maloney, I am glad I’m not alone. But those anxiety attacks suck!

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