Luggage Locks – Useful or Pointless?

This questions often divides travellers – are luggage locks a useful safety feature? Or are they a pointless waste of money?

I’ve always been one to lock up my backpack before waving it goodbye and check in, only to be told by a bystander at baggage claim that “it’s totally pointless to have a padlock on your bag as security have a magic master key that can open it anyway” or the other top hit “you can just pop the zip with a pen to open up a bag anyway”.

Well that might be true, in fact it is. If someone wants to get into your bag, a small padlock won’t stop them. However, I am of the opinion that at the very least it’s a small deterrent to the casual thief. Making them work that tiny bit harder to get in might work in your favour one day. Will a lock stop someone getting into your bag if they really want to, and the bag is out of your sight? No, it won’t. Will it stop a pesky roadside pickpocket sneaking into your backpack you whilst you line up for a taxi at the airport? Maybe. Who knows. They fact is, it can’t hurt, can it? For a small cost you can get added security, how effective is up for debate, and you’re not losing anything. There’s a chance that someone after a quick bag rifle would bypass yours and try it on with someone who is travelling lock-free.

Many travellers favour the lock-free option, some use cable ties arguing these are more sturdy and at least you can see if they been broken and someone’s been in your bag. For me, it’s always a combination lock. These may be less sturdy than key padlocks and easier to crack, but the chances of losing the key is too much of a risk for me. I usually just pop on a combo-lock when I’m travelling around and it gives me peace of mind. And if someone does get into my bag? Well, all they’ll find is crumpled up clothes and a few toiletries (always keep your valuables on your person!), but at least I know I tried to lock it up and it would have happened regardless.. Guilt free and a good excuse to go shopping!

Furthermore a lock might stop that zip from working its way open on your bag’s journey to greet you at baggage reclaim and prevent you from having to watch as your favourite bra circles the baggage carousel with your other clothes and possession strewn about. I use a luggage strap on suitcases too to stop this from happening.

Me being the paranoid android that I am also thinks it might deter people from putting things into your luggage. We’ve all heard the horror stories of drug-mules having no idea that they were carrying contraband item, however true these might be.

So I’m in the pro-luggage-lock camp. Are you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section, or tweet me @RTWin83years.


2 thoughts on “Luggage Locks – Useful or Pointless?

  1. Definitely a combination lock. On a recent group tour through SE Asia, there was two situations the required a hacksaw to cut off a lock because of a lost key and a key bent in the lock.


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