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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 26: Securing Your Travel Belongings

Day 26: How to secure your belongings.

Welcome to Day 26 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

Packing better is not just about carrying less, it’s about packing smarter. And, you can’t pack smarter if you don’t consider the safety of your belongings at the same time. Today’s post covers the ways you can secure your belongings, whether that’s your passport or your laptop.

How to Secure Your Travel Belongings

Luggage Locks:

When checking a suitcase or backpack with zippers, lock them up with a TSA-friendly lock. We recommend the cable locks as they stretch and wrap around zippers and hooks with ease. Even if your luggage doesn’t have lockable zips, having a lock on you will do wonders when you need to lock your backpack in a hostel locker. Sure, many hostels offer locks for rent, but why spend extra money when you can bring one yourself?

Tip: Always lock up belongings in the hostel. Even if your dorm mates seem like nice people, you really can’t know until something goes missing. Don’t take that chance!

Special Purses and Daypacks:

Protecting belongings is often as simple as removing the chance for a quick pickpocketing. Several travel bags these days come with extra zipper clips to make it hard for opportune thieves to get at your belongings. Check out the Travelon bag, or the Pacsafe Slingsafe for examples. The Slingsafe 300 GII also comes with a strap that detaches and can be locked around a chair or other stationary object when you aren’t wearing it.

Tip: Never leave a bag or purse hanging off the back of a chair. This is the perfect place for pickpockets to have their way.

Money Belts:

Money belts and bra stashes are worn under the clothing and are used to hide cash, passports and credit cards from thieving hands. They may not be the coolest, or the most comfortable, but those who didn’t have them in a bad moment often wish they did.

Tip: Never take your money belt out in public. Don’t let someone know you are using this as a hiding spot!

Luggage Straps:

Protect your suitcase from a luggage explosion with the addition of luggage straps. If you ever overpack a suitcase, or use a suitcase with extra wear and tear, the chance for an explosion somewhere along the baggage handling process is much higher. Keep your bag in tact by tightening an extra strap around the outside. Not only does this take the pressure off the zips, it also helps to keep the luggage closed should a zipper come undone. If you purchase a brightly colored strap, it can help you spot the bag on the luggage carousel.

Tip: Keeping your gear compartmentalized in your luggage also means that if your suitcase or backpack should explode, your single pairs of underwear won’t be just strewn about on their own.

Luggage Wrapping:

A sure-fire way to keep your belongings secure when you have to check them is to get it wrapped in plastic. We only recommend this if you get to the airport and are really concerned about your luggage last-minute.

Tip: Double check that you don’t need anything from your luggage before wrapping!

>> We highly recommend you re-read the post, Packing and Protecting Electonics.

Take Action: Secure Your Belongings
Take a minute to think about your trip and the situations in which you might find yourself. Will you be doing tons of shopping and taking home a stuffed suitcase? If so, invest in a luggage strap. Will you be traveling through busy areas, such as packed trains and undergrounds? If so, invest in a good money belt (to hide your money) or a good daypack (that has protective straps and locks). No matter what the trip, we definitely recommend that a good lock should be on your packing list regardless.

Let us know how you protect your belongings in the comments below!

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Julia says

    I have never used my money belt, despite carrying it around with me for almost two years! Maybe I have been lucky in the places I’ve travelled, but I think vigilance is key. I do however use luggage locks ALL the time.

  2. Izzie says

    Extendable wire padlock systems are invaluable – I use them in places like Indian trains when you are travelling solo and have to go pee. Connect the bag to the train and combine with a zip padlock and your stuff is much less likely to get pinched.

    I would like to warn against something that isn’t actually mentioned in this post but might have crossed travellers’ minds: the total backpack cage thingo. Technical term, ha. I’ve seen them around, like a glorified piece of chicken wire that wraps around the outside of your bag and locks up. Meant to prevent bag slashing, mostly, I think. And I’m sure it works. However, from the ones I’ve seen on my travels, the main feature seems to be counterproductive – it makes your bag stand out and look like something worth stealing. A bit like walking around with your money belt on the outside of your clothes. In some parts of the world, you’re always going to stand out, but if you can make your bag look as normal as possible, it will help with security. In my opinion.

    • Brooke says

      Hi Izzie – The product you’re talking about is made by Pacsafe, and I definitely agree. I bought one for my first foray into backpacking and didn’t end up using it because I felt so awkward. Stick to their bags and daypacks instead 🙂

  3. Clariza says

    I’ve used Pacsafe bags for over ten years to several countries, including high pickpocket places like the Philippines and Italy. Knock on wood have not had a problem. They are very roomy, Lots of pockets inside and out. Outside pockets come in handy for small amount of money. The water bottle pocket is a bit small but I put my point and shoot in it (with a strap attached to the bag) and makes for easy access to take photos.

    I also only carry only cash enough for the day, two credit cards and identification during the day on trips. I leave the rest in the safe.

    Emailing yourself important documents and receipts is a handy and relatively safe way to have a back up if you lose your hard copies. Putting copies in checked bag can give who ever took it information you don’t want them to have.

  4. Anouk says

    I am a big fan of the RiutBag. I first saw it in a comment somewhere on this site. We have 3 now. The R10, the R15 and the day pack. The zippers are at your back so no-one can open it from the outside. I feel so much more at ease in crowded places and public transport. I even managed to take the R15 with only 15 liters as a carry on only. I did put my compressed pillow in my boyfriends carry on. But still I managed. I am very tall (more fabric) have medications and I need two pairs of shoes and a pillow. If I could just find a inflatable pillow with neck support I wouldnt have to use my boyfriends bag. I really want the RiutBag R25. That would be enough for normal travel.

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