Your bag is your entire life when you travel. Everything familiar and essential for your trip has been packed into what you can carry (or afford to have the airline carry).
One of the simplest ways you can protect your belongings is with luggage locks. While luggage locks aren’t a failsafe, they are invaluable to the vigilant traveler.
Today, we’re breaking down a few reasons why you can’t afford to travel without these handy accessories. Ready to learn more? Let’s go!
A Quick Note on Luggage Locks at the Airport
Before we begin our discussion on the advantages of traveling with luggage locks, it’s important to note that while you’re in the airport and flying to your destination, you’ll be required to comply with local authorities on their usage.
In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has broad power to examine your luggage to ensure maximum security.
“TSA is careful to not damage any personal belongings, however, we are not liable for damage caused to locked bags that must be opened for security purposes,” reads a TSA blog post addressing baggage locks.
Many luggage locks have TSA-compliant key holes to allow TSA agents to open the lock without destroying it. To save your wallet and your luggage, it pays to have a lock the TSA can get into without breaking your lock or your bag.
Luggage locks have also been known to snag on conveyor belts. Combined with TSA search inquiries, these issues have caused most major airlines to adopt policies discouraging travelers from locking their bags when they go through the airports. Delta Airlines and American Airlines are pretty explicit about not having luggage locks on your bags.
At the very least, some airlines require a TSA-approved lock. The good news is there are new types of locks that are both sleek enough to avoid getting caught in conveyors and look impressive, which is half the battle.
Your Luggage Lock Offers Powerful Protection
Even with limitations on locks in airports, luggage locks are a must-buy for travelers.
First, remember that it only feels like you are in the airport forever. Most of your time (hopefully) will be spent admiring the wonders of Europe.
Second, remember that most petty criminals are cowards. This is what makes a good lock a good buy.
The reason why your baggage lock is so powerful is simple: mind games.
Criminals often operate opportunistically and are looking for an easy score. Simply the appearance of difficulty is enough to deter most would-be criminals.
The guise of security is important because it sends a clear message that criminalizing your property would be difficult. It’s a lot harder to bypass a lock on a bag than to simply unzip it when someone is not paying attention.
Further, a good lock is going to take a fair bit of time or effort to cause to fail. This is obvious and it gives you, bystanders or the authorities to act appropriately.
Which Luggage Locks Are For Me?
There are a lot of luggage locks out there. While a bit overwhelming, this does give you the ability to chose the lock that is perfect for you. Basic shopping rules apply. Only buy from known and trusted vendors.
Here are a few other things to consider.
These are possibly the most simple, but effective, types of locks.
The combo lock limits the number of openings that can be compromised by crooks. Without a keyhole, the only other opening would be the TSA-approved access port.
There is a range of number combo options. Most combo locks are three numbers. Some go up to five, significantly increasing the number combinations that would need to be tried to open your lock by chance.
Some locks are now able to use the 26-character Latin alphabet rather than the 10-character numeral system. This also increases the number of possible combos for added security.
Just remember to really mix up the keys. There is no point to having the lock if anyone can simply open the lock because you didn’t reset the combo keys.
These locks are often the most robust.
With only one true moving piece (the key hole and tumblers) there isn’t a lot to try to compromise.
Their simplicity allows for really solid design, with some opting for brass and steel. This craftsmanship also prevents criminals who simply try to cause the lock to fail from brute force.
Cable locks use a flexible steel cable rather than a solid piece of metal to close the lock.
This allows you added convenience and creativity. If you are able to loop the cable through the zipper heads and a handle, you give another anchor and, thus, strength for your lock. Sometimes these locks have two cables.
They also come with either key or combo locks.
Some more high-tech locks are able to communicate with your cell phone or a company server (thanks, internet of things!).
If you know that your bag has been open and when it was opened, you can rest assured knowing that you have a starting point for officials if your bag’s contents are violated by a criminal.
Now You Know, It’s Time to Go
Traveling is an incredible experience and one that shouldn’t be wrought with fear. You can add a great deal of security and peace of mind to your trip by simply adding luggage locks and luggage tags to your travel repertoire.
Now that you know the power of these little tools, you can go confidently in the direction of your wildest dreams — a fabulous vacation to Europe!
You can find other European travel tips here. Let’s get out there!