14 luggage safety tips for travellers

While December and January may be the prime times to travel, it’s also peak season for luggage thieves. The holiday season brings hundreds of thousands of people to airports, train stations, bus terminals and harbours globally and Auto & General Insurance urges travellers to be extra vigilant.

‘Few things put more of a dampener on your holidays than when you arrive at your destination, only to discover that your bag has been pilfered and your precious belongings have gone missing,’ says Ricardo Coetzee, Head of Auto & General.

‘There is an even higher risk during the holiday season, as people travel with presents and larger luggage items. For the criminals, it’s a perfect opportunity: more passengers, more bags, increased chances of delays and lost luggage, all providing further opportunities for theft.’

Check out the 14 ways you can avoid losing your belongings:

Before you leave

  1. Invest in luggage with secret compartments.
  2. Take your valuables as hand luggage – laptops, cameras, jewellery and bank cards.
  3. Expensive toiletries, such as perfume and make-up, should also be taken as carry-on; but remember to abide by hand-luggage quantity restrictions for liquids when flying.
  4. Make your bag stand out from others: tie a brightly coloured ribbon or bit of fabric onto the handle so that it’s easy to spot if carried away.
  5. Put your identification particulars on both the inside and outside of your bag, with contact details for yourself and a next of kin.
  6. Be sensible when packing; if you don’t need to take that expensive pair of boots or jacket, leave it at home.

At the terminal

  1. Locked zips, cable ties and baggage wraps are the triple threat to deter criminals. Don’t let your bag be an easy target.
  2. Never leave your luggage unattended and keep it in sight at all times.
  3. Never entrust your luggage to someone before verifying that they are an official working for a reputable service provider.
  4. Avoid opening your bag and revealing what’s inside, as prying eyes may be watching. When you absolutely have to open your bag, like when being asked by an official, do so swiftly and close it again immediately.
  5. Don’t check your bags in too early. Your bag could be left on the side lines if you check them in very early which allows a window for criminals to pilfer and can also result in bags not being loaded.
  6. Get to the baggage carousel early to avoid your luggage attracting unwanted attention.
  7. Photograph your luggage prior to departing and check your bags once you arrive at your destination. That way, if anything has gone wrong, you can deal with it immediately.

‘If you are unfortunate enough to be a victim of either lost, stolen or pilfered luggage, the important thing is to remain calm and act quickly. Go to the customer service desk immediately to report the problem. Also make sure that you have the correct portable possessions and travel insurance in place, in case the unforeseen does happen,’ Coetzee concludes.

Also read:

Travel hacks for the solo traveller

9 ways to travel sustainably in South Africa

Image: Unsplash

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