Going on holiday is a strange thing – we would never in a million years consider putting all our valuables in one bag and then allowing strangers to have unbridled access to it in our day to day lives, but that is basically what we are doing when we pack our luggage. Travelling by train there might be extended periods where the case is out of sight, and travelling by plane you hand your case over to a chain of strangers with no chance of oversight or checking on it until you are in a different country.
A good solution is to use a case lock. While they are not impenetrable, they are generally sufficient to dissuade a causal, opportunistic thief, as they will take some concerted effort, time and maybe even a pair of bolt cutters to get into – all things that draw unwanted attention. Here is our guide to three different kinds of case or bag lock, to help you make an informed choice about how you want to secure your belongings when you travel away from home.
You can use any kind of padlock to secure your luggage, which means that you can really beef up the security aspect if you want to. Bear in mind, though, that a really determined thief will either simply take the whole piece of luggage away for access at their leisure, or attempt to cut into the case itself, thus bypassing the lock and zipper entirely. Additionally, the typical case or bag will have zips that have relatively small holes for the hasp of the lock, and the heavier-duty locks will generally be quite thick – so ensure that you can actually attach the lock before you buy.
The negative side of a padlock? Lose the key (or have it stolen) and you will have your own access problems to contend with.
Almost exactly the same as a traditional padlock, a combination lock simply operates through the use of a code instead of a key. This gives the benefit of you not being able to misplace the key, or have it stolen from you – of course, you need to rely on being able to remember the code, but use a loved one’s birthday or similarly easy-to-remember number and you should be okay.
One final benefit of the combination lock is that there is no opening for a criminal to try and force or pick the lock, providing an extra layer of security.
Cable locks operate by threading a length of cable through the zipper holes and then locking it into place. This is particularly useful if your luggage has more than one zipped compartment, because instead of having to buy multiple padlocks or combination locks and retain the keys or codes to each, you can consolidate down to just one. Another great benefit is that with longer cable lengths you can secure your luggage to an immovable object (the rail of a luggage compartment on a train, for example) and prevent someone from simply walking away with it.