>  Advice   >  How to keep your luggage safe

Few travellers will be unlucky enough to have their bags stolen off an airport baggage carousel by a thief who then breaks into their home to steal valuables. However, this incident at Melbourne airport highlights the need for travellers to keep their luggage safe. Here are eight tips for keeping your belongings safe and tamper free, whether you’re on a bus, plane, or train, travelling by car or in transit to your destination.

Zip it tight

When you are travelling with a handbag or small backpack, ensure the zippers are securely done up. Keeping the zipper opening close to your hand or arm means you will see (and feel) someone trying to undo your bag. While a determined thief can undo most zips, they will likely seek out an easier target than your tightly done up bag.

Lock your bags

Buy a TSA Approved lock and use it when your bag is travelling as checked luggage or left in storage at a hotel or train station. Using a TSA Approved lock means authorised Travel Safety Authority staff, such as those in charge of airport security, can open your bag using a master key without damaging your suitcase or the lock.

Take it with you

If you need to use the bathroom while you are on a flight, take your handbag with you. While most travellers are honest and wouldn’t dream of helping themselves to the contents of your wallet, the person sitting next to you might be one of the opportunistic few.

Keep an eye on your bag

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re paying a taxi driver or asking directions, but all it takes is a few moments for a thief to swipe your carry on at the kerb. Keep an eye on your luggage at all times, especially in places where it’s busy such as outside train stations and around cruise ports where there are lots of passengers coming and going.

Look up on the train

If you place your bags on an overhead luggage storage shelf, look up periodically to make sure they’re still there and be vigilant when other passengers are leaving the train. You don’t want your bag getting off before you do. If you are planning on getting some sleep, it can be a good idea to retrieve your bag and keep it beside you for added safety.

Be taxi smart

If you have luggage in the boot of a taxi, don’t pay the driver until you have removed all your bags from the car. You don’t want them speeding off, either by accident or on purpose, with your luggage still in the boot.

Keep your valuables close

Don’t pack high end electronics such as camera equipment and laptops in checked luggage. Even if your bag simply goes astray, losing this type of equipment can be very stressful. Worried you’ll have too much carry-on with all those valuables?  Consider leaving some at home.

Smart luggage labelling

Airlines add a bag tag to each checked suitcase but what if this comes off during transit?  Make it easy for good Samaritans to reunite you with your luggage by putting an easy-to-find label on the inside of your bag with your name, email address and mobile number (including the country code). Don’t include your address, it’s an open invitation to thieves. Before you check in for your next flight, remember to remove old airline bag tags and labels. You don’t want your suitcase going on its next holiday without you.

Want to travel smarter and save money? Check out our tips for flying a low cost airline, keeping your luggage safe, visiting Europe in peak season, getting a great car hire deal, avoiding travel scams, saving money at the airport, staying at an Airbnb, finding cheap five star hotel deals, catching public transport overseas, staying safe in a big city, getting the best round-the-world airfares, making the most of a five star hotel stay, travelling during low season, visiting a theme park in peak season, packing a carry on bag, visiting a wine region, planning a romantic getaway, early morning flights, visiting the Great Barrier Reef, multigenerational travel, travelling in a motorhome, buying the best souvenirs, going on safari, visiting the Eiffel Tower, travelling with pets, holidaying with adult children, travelling with teens, and sleeping on a plane.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.