Any trip away is met with a panic about taking your most treasured items away from their home, and I’m sure I’m not the only one to get paranoid about whether you’ll be the unlucky story of that person who’s luggage went missing, or whose belongings were stolen, lost, or left behind. While there is a certain amount of chance involved in these situations, I found a few preventative measures helped to put my mind at ease, and at least when I did eventually end up in crisis situations I felt a little better equipped to handle it!
Before you travel:
Insurance. Duh. I mean c’mon let’s not be silly, it’s a necessity and it’s annoying because it feels like it could be wasted money at the time but believe me it will be the best decision you ever made when you lose your ticket right before getting on a train out of a country (oops – my bad). Just don’t take the risk, and don’t scrimp on the cover you choose either. Be sensible in what you purchase as although it could be easy to go for the cheapest option, it might not actually cover all your possessions you’ve taken or activities you plan on doing during your trip.
Screenshot your address for your phone lock screen. I came across this idea from someone before I left, and immediately it just made so much sense. Our phones are often our most precious possessions with which we communicate, document, plan, and organise many elements of a trip, so losing it would be nothing short of catastrophic. Although this method does put a lot of faith and trust in whoever the finder is of your phone, at least if they see a name, email address, return address, or alternative phone number to contact you’ve already increased your chances of getting it back! This is especially handy if you’re someone with a lock on their phone, and so access to contacts would be limited for a finder. There are some other great phone finding measures out there such as Find My Phone apps, trackers, or locks. Use something you’d feel will most likely help, but simple lock screen contact details on a lost device could be a good place to start!
Buy a padlock. Why not right? From securing my checked in luggage on a flight to locking items in a safe at the hostel, they can help ease all sorts of luggage worries. In particular it made me feel way better about sleeping in dodgy and big dorms knowing my things were somewhat more protected and safely locked nearby. In cities I was unsure of, even padlocking the zip on my day bag made me feel more comfortable until I knew the area better. It’s not dumb or paranoid to want to look after your stuff, and you’ll be grateful to yourself for being sensible enough to think ahead.
Don’t pack your favourite things. Probably the best way to avoid damaging or losing your things while travelling would be to simply not pack them. That doesn’t mean buying all new clothes just for travelling, but if you know there’s a favourite outfit you’d be devastated to part with, maybe it’s best to consider leaving it at home while backpacking for an extended period of time across multiple locations. If you’re the forgetful type then this would be even more crucial, otherwise you’ll be returning home with half the luggage than when you left! It’s also not uncommon to unearth an old phone for the very same reason, why bring out your brand new iPhone when you have a perfectly good version that does exactly the same job with less of the worry?
While you’re away:
Set aside some budget for emergencies only. Prioritise what will matter to you in certain situations. For example, I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I’d let my broken camera issues go and simply put up with a phone camera, the photos I have really matter to me as an integral part of my trip and it would have been a huge regret to have ignored it. Luckily I planned ahead with some money purely for this kind of inconvenience, so I certainly think it’s handy to tuck away a bit of money as a reserve for unexpected problems.
Be diligent. I’m guilty of failing this one. RIP my favourite bikini, and towel (and for a few hours, my passport!). Just check behind you when you pack up and leave somewhere, in your haste you might have forgotten something behind! This also goes for your general behaviour in certain places. If we were warned or felt as though a particular beach, market, or street we were exploring was a popular pickpocket spot, instead of avoiding somewhere we wanted to go we zipped up with our bags in front of us. If you think you look stupid, trust me you’d look a lot more stupid if your belongings were stolen!
Know where the main solution spots in new areas are. This goes for several sticky situations, but generally knowing where the nearest embassy, hospital, and police station is will cover most problems. In less extreme cases, just knowing where an ATM is or a place to buy food and water can help in new countries and cultures. For example, we knew we would need to aim for a phone repair shop ASAP on arrival in Bangkok, so a little bit of research meant we knew exactly where we were headed. Rinse and repeat a few weeks later when said repaired phone had another malfunction. Of course, for all nightmare situations that you will (hopefully) eventually become an anecdotal story just knowing the local emergency service number can save so much stress and time should the worst happen.
Overall, make like a boy scout and Be Prepared, but don’t let the fear of damaging or losing your things consume what should be a fun and exciting adventure. Some things will happen no matter how careful you are, and your experience and health will always be more important, things can be replaced but your memories can’t! How do you make sure to prepare for a big trip? Do you think backpacking lends itself to more luggage issues than the a suitcase holiday? Let me know your preventative packing plans!
How do you keep your belongings safe on your travels? Share your tips!
atravellersfootsteps08/16/2017 at 11:33 am
Really great tips! I am all over most of them but every now and then leave something behind in the hotel room. Great read
suzystories08/16/2017 at 8:49 pm
It’s so easily done! Can happen to anyone so it’s always good to double check 🙂
Jen Horsfall08/16/2017 at 11:34 am
Thanks for all the tips, I am quite apprehensive about my 3 month trip in South East Asia coming up. I have insurance, but also a tendency to forget things!
suzystories08/16/2017 at 8:50 pm
I was there for a couple of months too! And yep, I’ve left a few items behind, and in places where they’re much harder to get back! Hope you have a lovely trip 🙂
Wandering Walsh08/16/2017 at 12:05 pm
These are great tips sometimes we forget that bad things can happen if we’re not careful enough!
Liz08/16/2017 at 12:20 pm
Thanks for sharing your advice, it is really useful!!
Leigh | Campfires & Concierges08/16/2017 at 1:35 pm
That 2nd tip is especially great! I’m going to update my phone screen now! I met a lady the other day who’d left her phone in the previous town and because it had a new SIM card she didn’t even know the # to try calling it.
suzystories08/16/2017 at 8:53 pm
Oh no! What a nightmare, I hope she managed to track it some way! Certainly hope the kindness of strangers would shine through 🙂
Ana - JauntingTrips.com08/16/2017 at 2:53 pm
Good advices, especially the one everybody knows and somehow fails at it: insurance! I’d add to it also read the fine print. As for the padlock… I’ve seen zippers open with the padlock on. So maybe a good investment in a safer luggage altogether, then a padlock 🙂
suzystories08/16/2017 at 8:54 pm
Absolutely!! All that technical jargon is a headache but sooo worth it if needed – sometimes it pays off to be paranoid right?! Ooh yes, great idea 🙂
Jessica Flynn08/16/2017 at 4:31 pm
Absolutely fantastic tips! I keep meaning to do the whole screenshot idea. I also take pictures of my luggage in case the airline gets a bit scatterbrained…
suzystories08/16/2017 at 8:55 pm
Yes I’ve heard that too! Some people document all the items they took away with them in dated photos so if they need to claim insurance they can claim/remember what went missing too.
zephyriousity08/16/2017 at 10:44 pm
This is really helpful. Specially when I am about to travel solo away from my Country for the first time. Thanks for the tips!
Jewels08/17/2017 at 2:59 am
Great tips!! I would have never thought to use my address and emergency contact as my home screen when traveling. That’s a smart idea.
JC08/17/2017 at 3:20 am
Great suggestions! I have yet to have an issue with missing or stolen belongings, but taking the proper precautions when traveling is always just one less thing to worry about.
suzystories08/17/2017 at 7:21 pm
Absolutely! Hope you continue to have safe and secure travels 🙂
enchantedserendipity08/17/2017 at 5:46 am
Some really helpful tips here! I am such a nanny when it comes to safety and my stuff. I have a million hard drives with me and at a home, i back up to icloud too. I also take photos of my luggage in case it goes missing. But thankfully I havent encountered issues much on my travels. Don’t pack my favourite things…i must remember that!
suzystories08/17/2017 at 7:20 pm
That’s a great idea 🙂 Hope your luck stays that way too!
Rated by Hanna08/17/2017 at 1:38 pm
Good point about leaving behind valuables that you wouldn’t want to get lost. I left behind my e-ring for that reason. Making a photo copy of ID to carry around while leaving the real thing safely stowed/locked is also good. I’ve had a few scares of traveling with that in the past!
suzystories08/17/2017 at 7:19 pm
Yes! That’s a great idea. I also like to keep a digital copy somewhere like Google Drive in case I even lose that!