Keeping Your Valuables Secure While Traveling
December 27th, 2023
How many times have you arrived at your destination only to find that not all of your valuables arrived with you? There is always the chance that you forgot to pack something, but there is also a good chance that you were a victim of petty crime.
The TSA reports that so far in 2008 42,000 travelers have reported lost items from luggage to the tune of $31 million. That is not lost luggage but items pilfered from luggage. If you think about how many bags are routed through the airline network every day you'll see why it's a miracle that anything arrives at its intended destination, not to mention intact. There are many opportunities for sleight-of-hand while your luggage is in transit so do not tempt fate by packing valuables you cannot afford to lose. Even though you can file a claim to get reimbursed for your missing valuables, the process takes weeks and will likely ruin your current trip. Making an inventory of the contents of your bag and keeping a copy with you will make it easier to file a claim should the worst happen. You can also email a copy of the inventory, a scanned copy of your passport/driver's license, and some credit card information to yourself and access it at your destination.
At baggage claim, make sure you are at the carousel when the bags come off. Keep an eye on any bags that look like yours. Everyone has black luggage. Tie a brightly colored ribbon around yours. When was the last time Security checked anyone's luggage tags on the way out? Even if someone walks away with yours purely by mistake, how likely is it that you will ever see your stuff again? Once you check your luggage at the ticket counter the situation is out of your control, but there are several ways you can prevent theft of your carry-on bags. Pack your medications, electronics, jewelry, other valuables, and keep everything with you. Keep all of your possessions together when you go through Security. Don't let anyone get between you and your bags.
After you clear Security locks your bags and keeps them with you. Although it's harder to casually walk off with an entire piece of luggage, that doesn't mean a fellow traveler couldn't slip his hand into an unsecured bag on the plane or while you're dozing or reading in the departure lounge. Another reason to lock your carry-on, especially on a long flight, is once you put it under your seat you tend to forget about it. The person behind or in front of you can go through your unlocked bag and put it back with you being none the wiser. Many people claim the first overhead bin they pass while getting on the plane, even if they are sitting toward the rear of the plane. Think about it. Another passenger can take your bag either accidentally or on purpose and be halfway to the curb before you realize it is gone.
Bravo, you've made it to your destination and so has all your stuff. If you are checking into a hotel, always use the hotel safe for small valuables. If you can think of a hiding place in your room so can someone else. As a single woman, I never stay in a ground floor room if I can help it. And I always double-lock the door. It's not paranoia, just good common sense.