How to deter criminals from tampering with your travel luggage

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Imagine picking up your travel luggage from the airport baggage carousel. Before heading to customs, you discover that those carefully secured zippers are broken and your padlocks gone?

The type of luggage you travel with, and the way you secure it, will either entice or deter criminals.

Here are some tips for keeping your travel luggage tamper free and secure by discouraging opportunist criminals looking to pounce on green travellers’ luggage.

Ditch being polite or helpful

When you’re at any transport terminal – airport, train, tram or bus – it’s time to focus on self-preservation. Travel transfer time is not the moment to uphold your reputation for politeness and helpfulness. Get selfish.

If someone asks you to mind their travel luggage, or help carry a bag, decline. Don’t even think about touching someone else’s luggage as a favour. Those film scenes where bags get switched on unsuspecting travellers happen, for real.  Don’t take the risk.

Suspect everyone when it comes to travel transfer time. This is not a time to make friends. There’ll be plenty of other opportunities for growing friendships with less risk!

Think like you’re planning to defend yourself in a court of law

Make every move you take at a transport terminal an opportunity to present clear evidence in a court of law, particularly if you’re travelling to or from a destination with a reputation for baggage tampering.

Take photos of every item of your travel baggage just before it goes onto the security or check-in conveyor belt. Make sure you capture enough information to give a strong sense of your precise location. If you’ve secured your luggage well, take photos of every padlock, cable tie or secure plastic wrapping.

Make sure you have your time and date stamp on your camera switched on. Then, when you arrive at your destination and as soon as you take your bags off the baggage claim, take photos again – an absolute must if anything is out of order since check-in. If you notice your bags have been tampered with in any way, immediately alert transport terminal staff or security. You can show them the photos you took at the other end of your journey.

If you’ve been enjoying some tourist shopping, make sure that you watch the vendor packaging your take home goods. Don’t let them arrange a box out the back or send a package to your accommodation. Take a photo of the vendor, and clear cues to the vendor’s location. An honest vendor won’t object to having their photo being taken, particularly if they’re keen to market their wares.

Make sure you’re sending all your images off to a cloud storage app, in case your smartphone goes astray.

If it’s valuable wear it

Yes, it is an obvious old and favoured travel tip, but make sure all your valuables are with you at all times.

And remember, nothing is as valuable when you’re travelling the world, as your travel documents and identification.

Don’t put valuable jewellery, documents, cash, credit cards or monetary vouchers in your check-in baggage. Keep it buried deep in your carry-on luggage.

Comprehensive travel insurance is a non-negotiable

This one is self-explanatory. Just do it. Do your research and shop around for sure, but don’t skip being covered by comprehensive travel insurance.

Deter opportunists from tampering with your luggage

Some criminals can be lazy. They’ll be looking for an easy target. Here are some tips to help deter the lazy opportunist criminal from touching your luggage:

  • Invest in a hard travel case with clasps: a fabric backpack or travel case with zippers is an easy target for someone handy with a pocket knife. A hard travel case with clasps, not zippers, is far harder to tamper with without being noticed. If your luggage has been tampered with and it’s a hard travel case with clasps, it will be obvious and easy to alert to the attention of security.
  • Plastic wrap your check-in travel luggage: while shrink wrapping or plastic wrapping your check-in luggage isn’t tamper proof, it will act as a clear deterrent as any messing with it, will be blatantly obvious and easy to alert to the attention of security.
  • Secure your travel luggage with padlocks or cable ties: padlocks or cable ties will definitely keep a lazy, opportunist criminal at bay. For a more determined criminal, they may be able to tamper with your luggage and even access it, but it will be obvious that you need to alert security.
  • Make sure any zippers or fastenings are zipped or fastened: this one is a little obvious, but when you’re in a rush it can be forgotten. Before you step into a transport terminal, or outside of your accommodation, make sure your travel luggage is zipped and fastened so that your contents are not on display or easy pickings.

Pack and carry your own bags

Always pack and carry your own shopping packages and travel luggage. As indulgent as it may feel to have a concierge offer to launder and then pack your luggage before you go, don’t indulge this time. It could pose the perfect opportunity for a drug mule to hitch a bountiful ride through customs via your luggage while you carry all the risk.

As mentioned earlier, when it comes to shopping overseas make sure you are eye witness to purchased goods being packaged. If the vendor refuses this request, they miss out on your tourist dollar, simple.

Keep your travel luggage in sight

This may seem obvious but if you’ve been victim of a delayed itinerary and you’re tired and frustrated, you may forget to keep your luggage in your sights.

Above all else, enjoy happy and safe travels!

Other helpful articles related to travel luggage tips

The genius packing tips to keep your luggage perfectly organised

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