How to Keep Your Bags and Valuables Safe While Traveling
Baggage theft is one of those issues that you think doesn’t apply to you – until it does!
Consider the recent experience of a traveler in the U.S. capital. You’d think there’s no tighter airport security than at Washington 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?
Stolen and lost baggage can throw a monkey wrench into your trip in the blink of an eye. Here are a few tips to keep your travel bags and valuables safe on your trip:
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 U.S. 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, unfortunately, even more common. The safest option is to make your important items carry-ons, and wear your jewelry. And, baggage insurance 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 zone in on 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.
Secure Your Bags on the Train
Railroad travel can be comfortable and relaxed, but don’t let down your guard just because you didn’t have to go through a metal detector. 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.
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.” 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 of 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’d bought Generali travel insurance, 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 on your trip.
Baggage Insurance: Because You Can’t Prevent Every Theft
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 call the local police. You’ll need to verify the theft to recover the value of your stolen items if you have baggage insurance.
Generali travel insurance 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.