New tracking devices can help you say goodbye to lost luggage.
Nothing ruins a vacation quicker than lost luggage. The odds of your bags being misplaced are admittedly low; according to the Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques, only about six bags were lost per 1,000 airline passengers in 2015. Still, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so here are a few tips on keeping track of your luggage using technology.
Invest in a Tracking Device
The market is flush with various tracking technologies in various sizes—some as small as a stick of gum, some the size of a small purse—that can be placed into your bags. Trakdot ($50) is a small luggage tracking device you place in your bag and follow with your smartphone. LugLoc ($70, pictured at left) uses Bluetooth technology and a small tracking device. I-Trak ($20) can be attached to nearly anything, and it sends you a text when your item is found.
Travelers can also use products that aren’t specifically marketed for luggage tracking. PocketFinder ($130) can track people, pets, cars or whatever your heart desires using satellite signals. Tile ($25) is a small tracker that can be attached to many items and is tracked via your smartphone; it also has a button you can press that emits a 90-decibel melody so you can find your lost item using sound.
Invest in Next-Level Luggage
The latest technology is luggage that actually tracks itself via optional add-ons. These suitcases have been all the rage on crowdfunding websites and will soon be common in the marketplace. Note, however, that these options are more expensive.
Bluesmart’s One suitcase ($449, pictured at right) is made from a tough polycarbonate and features a protective laptop sleeve, a USB charging port, location tracking through a smartphone app, a digital scale and a remote lock. The Kickstarter-funded Trunkster ($295) is another option; it also offers a digital scale, USB charging and location tracking, plus zipperless entry. It offers a GSM-GPRS luggage tracking device as an optional $40 upgrade. Barracuda ($299) ups the ante, offering the same features and tracking upgrades in a collapsible bag.
The airline you’re flying might also have its own tracking system. Delta, for example, has a setting in its app that lets you see where your bag is on your smartphone.
It’s not novel advice, but going low-tech and embellishing your bag with unique identifiers — like brightly colored ribbons or tags — is one of the best ways to ensure your suitcase isn’t accidentally taken by one of your fellow travelers. Unfortunately, the easiest way to prevent lost luggage is to keep it with you at all times. That’s not always a possibility, but it can give you peace of mind when traveling.
Before you go, buy travel insurance for your trip. Insurance isn’t just good for lost bags, but for delayed bags, too. If you are in your destination for a few days before you retrieve your bags, some airlines and travel insurance policies reimburse travelers for a certain amount per day.
Take a look at even more advice from our experts on travel technology.