Why You Should Always Pack A Lock When Traveling

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There's nothing worse than traveling in a foreign country, living your best life, giving all your friends on Instagram major FOMO, and then coming to the terrible realization that your stuff has been stolen. Gone forever, never to be seen again. Like most people, this will probably make you panic and experience all five stages of grief in about 10 seconds.

At this moment, you might be kicking yourself, wondering what you could have done to prevent this. In reality, it's an easy fix. All of this can be avoided with a couple simple items that can be stowed in a carry-on or attached to check-in luggage to prevent unauthorized access to your bags.

All you need is a combination lock or a padlock and if you're planning to secure larger items, you may also want a lock with a steel cable. This might seem like overkill but whether it's your first trip or your thousandth, every traveler should carry a lock with them to prevent these kinds of situations. Because besides losing your favorite t-shirt, losing your passport while traveling can be a major headache.

When To Use a Lock While Traveling

When traveling, keeping yourself and your things safe and secure should be your number one priority. Thieves can strike when you least expect it and in unexpected ways. This doesn't mean you should spend your entire trip worried about your things being stolen but there are definitely things you can do to prevent theft from happening.

One of the many types of theft that can happen to travelers is luggage theft. Most baggage handlers aren't so bold as to take entire suitcases but it does happen. Due to this, it's unfortunately fairly common knowledge that travelers should avoid packing valuables and secure all luggage with TSA-approved locks. This comes as no surprise since the Bureau of Transportation has reported that over 1.9 million pieces of luggage were mishandled (i.e. "lost, damaged, delayed, or pilfered") in 2021.

Other places you should definitely be using a lock are hostels, hotels, or basically whenever you can't keep an eye on your personal items, such as when traveling overnight on a train or bus. Hostels will usually provide lockers for guests to lock up their personal items, and it's a good idea to use your own lock as opposed to renting one from the hostel.

The Expert Vagabond also notes that combination locks can be used to secure your items when exploring the outdoors or even to provide some security for larger items (scooters, bikes, motorcycles, etc.) you may rent or purchase in your travels.

The Best Items To Use for Safer Travel

While a lock and cable might seem like enough, you definitely don't want to choose the wrong one. According to Insight Security, both combination and key locks have their advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately it comes down to how serious you are about securing your items and whether you prefer convenience over security. Keyed locks are generally more secure, but keys can be lost and you (hopefully) won't forget your combination.

If you're planning to hostel hop, consider purchasing a TSA-approved lock with a flexible closure to make sure your lock fits any size locker. If you're looking for something a bit more secure, but you don't want to mess with keys, this "non-pickable" lock from Talonport that uses keycards instead of keys or combinations may be your perfect match.

You may also want to consider using AirTags (for Apple users) or Tiles (for Android users) to keep track of your luggage or any other personal items that may be at risk of being stolen such as wallets, purses, and backpacks. According to the Washington Post, this is how an airline subcontractor from Florida was found with over $16,000 in stolen luggage this year thanks to a savvy traveler's Apple AirTags.