06 November 2017 by Anna Staford
Your luggage is an essential element of any trip, whether travelling light with just hand luggage, or utilising your maximum baggage allowance with your new holiday wardrobe. But did you know that lost or stolen luggage is one of the most common reasons for making a claim on travel insurance? With nearly half a million Brits a year contacting their travel insurers to claim for lost or stolen baggage, are you security conscious enough when you travel? Read our luggage security tips to see if you’ve got it right.
It's tempting to take your favourite jewellery, clothes and gadgets with you, but do you really need to? It’s best to leave your high value and designer items at home to avoid the risk of loss or theft while away. You don’t want to spend your well-earned break worrying about losing or damaging your treasured possessions.
It sounds obvious, but always be sure what you are carrying before you travel to a different country, especially if you are travelling through an airport or border control. Never carry anything for someone else (obvious exceptions apply – like carrying your young children’s, or grandchildren’s luggage). This rule is especially relevant if backpacking or long-term travelling, where you will most likely meet friends along the way. It’s great to make new friends while travelling, but don’t carry their bags!
This reduces the chance of opportunist thieves stealing your luggage, or worse still, putting items inside your luggage to swipe after you have unknowingly taken the risk of clearing border control and customs for them. Use a combination lock and/or bright coloured luggage straps for added security. And if your bag appears on an airport carousel with the straps missing, or moved, or the lock opened, or damaged, avoid touching the bag and tell an official that you think you bag may have been tampered with.
Nothing looks more inviting to thieves than your matching designer luggage set. Don’t attract attention to your personal possessions with this unnecessary extravagance. Use sturdy, strong luggage and tie a distinctive ribbon, or bright luggage strap to it so that its easily identifiable. This will also alert others that it is not their bag, even if it is similar or identical. Label bags with your name, and a mobile number, or company address if travelling on business.
Whether at the airport, train station, hotel reception, café, beach, always keep your luggage with you and keep your eye on it. Keep your valuables (especially passport and money) well hidden, ideally on your person, rather than in your luggage. Keep zips and poppers on hand luggage closed and turn them inwards so they are closest to your body. Be especially cautious with shoulder bags as it takes seconds to slip a nimble hand into a side pocket in a crowded place. Wear handbags across the body with the strap diagonally over one shoulder. A bag hanging loose on one shoulder is an easy target for a snatch-and-run opportunist thief.
If you must take high value items, always carry them in your hand luggage, or on you with a waist belt. If you are booked into a hotel, use the room safe, or ask at the hotel concierge if they have a secure safe (if it’s safe to do so) and get a receipt that lists your items. Beware these may be too valuable for your travel insurance policy.
If you are travelling with a close companion, or family, split your clothes between your luggage. This means that you will all have some of your items for your trip, even if one of your bags goes missing or is stolen.
If you are taking medication on holiday, carry enough for several days in your hand luggage and carry the prescription to make it easier to get a replacement if it goes missing.
This will avoid you carrying seemingly ‘innocent’ items which could get you into deep water. Such as fresh fruit and deli products, or a wood carving. You may get a hefty, on the spot fine, or even imprisonment depending on where you travel and what you are carrying.
Some people buy travel insurance that excludes baggage because its cheaper and they are ‘not taking much’ with them. However, you will be surprised how the value of your luggage adds up, so don’t be caught out by under insuring, or worse still, taking the risk of travelling without insurance. Lost luggage will be a huge inconvenience and it will cost you, however light you travel. Replacing your Passport alone will set you back nearly £100, so give yourself added peace of mind with the right travel insurance. Here are our top Baggage insurance tips:
Wherever you chose to travel, read the latest official travel advice before you book a trip. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website is a great place to start, www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice .