Stolen Luggage: How to Keep Bags and Valuables Safe on Vacation

Stolen luggage or valuables can send your trip into a tailspin in the blink of an eye.

Consider the recent experience of a traveler in the U.S. capital. You’d think there’s no tighter airport security than at Reagan National, but brazen thieves will still try to grab your bags when they think you’re distracted.

While getting his shoes shined, a traveler en route to Atlanta noticed that his carry-on bag was no longer sitting next to him. Thinking quickly, he alerted airport security guards who replayed surveillance footage of the shoe-shine stand. Based on a physical description, the gate agents in the nearby terminal held up their departures and planes were quickly scanned for the culprit. Luckily, the stolen suitcase was retrieved – but what if things had gone the other way?

Here are some tips to keep your travel bags and valuables safe on your trip and how to protect yourself from losing them:

Use Carry-ons – Don’t Check Anything Valuable

When traveling by air, don’t assume your checked travel bags are in a safe zone. There have been numerous instances of airport baggage workers picking through suitcases for jewelry, electronics and other valuables. In one city, theft was so rampant that security staff sent “bait bags” through the process to identify the crooked workers.

Outside of the U.S., theft within airports is something to pay even more attention to. The safest option is to make your important items carry-ons, and wear your jewelry. And travel insurance with Baggage coverage is a good back-up plan.

Stay Alert in Airport Security

The security area is the danger zone for your carry-on travel bags and other valuables. Opportunistic thieves count on you being distracted by all the chaos and watch for a moment to seize your wallet or swipe your laptop while you’re being patted down. Keep your eyes on your carry-ons during the entire process to ensure your briefcase or purse makes it on the trip with you.

Also read: 7 Travel Safety Tips that Could Help Protect Your Trip from Disaster

Secure Your Bags on the Train

Railroad travel can be comfortable and relaxed, but don’t let down your guard just because security seems a bit more lax.

If you’re bringing large travel bags aboard the train that need to be stored away from your seat, consider threading a plastic zip tie through your zipper. This security measure will keep anyone from stealthily opening your bag while you head to the dining car.

Also read: Travel Europe by Train: The Fastest, Most Scenic and Popular Routes

Don’t Let Your Bags Cruise Away

Don’t make it easy for anyone to collect your travel bags along with theirs as you disembark from your cruise ship or plane. Colorful bags are not a thief’s friend – make your luggage distinctive with a bright ribbon or colorful duct tape. This makes “accidental” claims by thieves less likely and might even save you a few minutes when identifying your luggage. 

Protect Your Passport

When traveling overseas, your passport goes from being an ID to a “valuable document” Many foreign crooks target passports to use for fraudulent border crossings. Consider placing your passport along with your credit cards and cash into a money belt or a hidden pouch that’s worn around the neck and under your clothes. You can find these personal security items in a sporting goods retailer or online travel supply store. Better safe than sorry.

Say you’ve taken all the precautions, but you still become the victim of a pickpocket. Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed. Some crooks have been running this racket for years and are really good at swiping passports and wallets from tourists. 

If you have travel protection from Generali, it can cover the processing fees of having your passport reissued so you can get back home and on with your life. The same plans also include Identity Theft Resolution Services that can help if your passport, credit card or other sensitive documents are stolen.

Also read: How Travel Insurance Covers Passport Issues

Baggage Coverage: Because You Can’t Prevent Every Theft

Generali travel protection plans include coverage for your travel bags and covered personal effects if they are lost, damaged or stolen during your trip. Having something stolen from you can be traumatizing, but being reimbursed for that loss can make the experience a lot better.

What should you do if your travel bags are stolen? Immediately inform your tour guide, train conductor, airline representative or other authority figure about your lost items. If something goes missing from your hotel room, promptly contact the manager. The next move is to file a police report. You’ll need to verify the theft to recover the value of your stolen items if you have Baggage coverage.


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