How to track your own luggage

Tips & tricksVideo
4 mins

A lot of people flew overseas for the first time in a while last year—and a lot of them encountered chaotic airports, which led to delayed and lost luggage. With airports and airlines still experiencing staff shortages, busy travel periods are likely to bring more of the same.

Sure, most lost luggage gets recovered at some point, thanks to reliable tracking methods among airlines. But stepping into a new city or country without your belongings is nevertheless stressful. Where is it? When will it arrive—if ever?

You can remove some of this uncertainty by tracking your own luggage. 

Read more: Traveling this summer? 8 tips for online safety

Tracking devices for your luggage

Tracking devices use a variety of technologies to show you where your lost items are on a map on your phone. It might be merely interesting or calming to your neuroses to know where in the world your luggage is, or it might even help you find your bags in a disorderly airport. Here are your options and how they work.

Common Bluetooth trackers

Bluetooth tracking devices like Apple’s AirTag, Life360’s Tile, and Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag are convenient for finding your keys or valuables, but they can also help you keep an eye on your luggage while traveling. Each device has an accompanying app—Find My, Tile, and SmartThings, respectively—which can be used to track any item you’ve attached a tracker to.

Generally speaking, small Bluetooth trackers are great for tracking items within a short distance—so depending on the device you’re using, this could reach up to 400 to 800 feet. This is especially helpful if you’re at the baggage carousel in the arrivals hall at the airport and your luggage hasn’t appeared. Perhaps it’s still on the plane or perhaps it’s the next item coming out on the conveyor belt. With Bluetooth, if it’s within your immediate vicinity, you’ll know exactly where it is.

Bluetooth trackers can also work for longer distances; an approximate location on a map can be given when the tags’ signals bounce off each other. In this sense, the Apple AirTag benefits from its huge user base.

If you love the peace of mind of being able to see your luggage on a map, wherever it is in the world, then by all means give it a try. However, you might not be able to do anything about getting it back sooner. After all, the responsibility of tracking and returning your luggage should fall to the airlines and not travelers.

Read more: AirTag, Tile, SmartTag security: Are you being tracked?

GPS trackers

In contrast to Bluetooth, GPS tracking is a more accurate option for tracking items long distances—anywhere on the globe to be exact! GPS is great for tracking things like vehicles (cars or bikes) and pets.

The biggest downside of GPS over Bluetooth is its inaccuracy in enclosed spaces—specifically in densely packed indoor environments where they may be affected by concrete walls or other obstructions.

GPS luggage tags like those by Dynotag or LugLoc are great for tracking your luggage through a web portal or app in real time. If your luggage ever goes missing, you can take comfort in the fact that you’ll know exactly where it is at any given time… but unfortunately, that probably won’t help you get it back any faster.

Should you track your own luggage?

There isn’t a downside to placing a tracker on your luggage, except the cost of the tracker. Adding a tracker to your luggage does not pose a significant privacy risk to you, and there aren’t any airline rules restricting you from doing this. 

There are situations in which tracking your own luggage might be helpful. For example, if you can see that it’s arrived in an airport, you can make your way there to claim it, possibly even before the airline has a chance to contact you. 

And then there is, of course, the entertainment value and peace of mind that a luggage tracker can provide you.

Travel tips to avoid losing your luggage

  • Opt for carry-on. Most international carriers allow for a single carry-on bag—usually 11 to 26 lb or 5 to 12 kg. So if you can squeeze most of your essentials into a carry-on, go for it!
  • Personalize your bags. Making your luggage stand out as much as possible is a great way to set it apart from others in its vicinity and prevent others from taking it by accident. This can involve using loud colors or distinctive patterns; adding a unique design, such as with stickers or colored tape.
  • Take pictures. Before flying, take pictures of your luggage from multiple angles. This will help to ensure that you can show any airline or airport staff what they should be looking out for in the event your baggage is delayed or misplaced.

FAQ: Tracking your luggage

How can I track my luggage?
How do I track my delayed baggage?
Is there an app to track luggage?
Can I put a GPS tracker in my suitcase?
How long does it usually take to find lost luggage?
Do airlines deliver delayed baggage?
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