I always worry about how safe my checked-in luggage is once it disappears on the baggage belt. What can I do to protect my belongings? Sarah, Reading

The thought of someone rummaging through your bags once you’ve checked them in for your flight is a recurring worry for some travellers. And it’s a real threat – only last year, workers at a large US airport where caught on CCTV pilfering from luggage. But there are a few things you can do to ensure your fear doesn’t turn into a real-life nightmare.

The easiest is to avoid putting any valuables in your checked-in luggage. It seems obvious but it’s amazing how many people will pop jewellery, electronic items such as cameras and laptops, and holiday money into their suitcase, thinking the flimsy lock will keep it safe. Always carry these in your cabin bags to make sure they’re safe.

The other thing to be aware of is that if you’re travelling in the US, you need to have a suitcase fitted with a TSA-approved lock, so security personnel can open it up easily if they need to. If it’s not TSA-approved, then you’ll either have to leave it unlocked, or risk your bag being forced open, potentially damaging the luggage.

In the event that your bag gets lost, you’ll need some form of identification on it, so the airline can get it back to you. But be careful – don’t put a visible tag showing your name and home address. Burglars will often scope out airports to identify homes that will be empty for a week or two! Instead, use a luggage tag with a flap covering the address, or pop your details on a piece of paper inside the bag or in a side pocket.

For the same reason, it’s worth trying to make your bag visually identifiable too. Lots of people have rectangular, black roller cases, so it’s easy for someone to accidently pick yours up from the baggage carousel and wheel it out. Try tying a ribbon or scarf to the handle, or place a coloured belt around it. And always check as soon as possible that the bag you have is yours, in case it’s you who is running through customs with someone else’s luggage!

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