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luggage lock - yeah or nay

Is a luggage lock necessary? - will be traveling to Ireland soon on a Rick Steves tour.

I have considered buying one to use when we leave a suitcase in the hotel room, but every lock I consider on Amazon has reviews that state either they can be easily cut or that changing the combination results in the lock not opening.
I am now wondering if I should just skip purchasing a luggage lock.
Thoughts? Advice?

Posted by
9914 posts

I vote nay.

I had a very bad experience with locks, funnily enough on a trip to Ireland for a RS tour. I'd bought myself, my brother and SIL double loop locks at AAA (Lewis and Clark brand). We were taking carryon only. At the first airport, as we were waiting my SIL tried to get into her suitcase to get something and the lock wouldn't open. At our layover in Seattle we finally found a store that had a pair of scissors we could borrow (thank you Ex Officio store) and the clerk helped us cut the cable. We got to the hotel in Dublin and you guessed brother could not open his. He had to take his bag down to the front desk and the maintenance guy cut it off with pliers. The staffer on the desk said it happens all the time. I DID get mine off and immediately threw it away.

I started just using a carabiner to keep the zipper tabs closed when I check my suitcase now. Nothing valuable is in there and if someone wants to get in all they have to do is punch thru the zipper with a ball point pen. I decided all I really wanted was to keep the zipper from coming open during baggage handling so my unders aren't scattered around the baggage claim area, lol!

As to your luggage being safe on a RS tour, one of the long-time guides told me he never worries in a RS hotel because if anything went missing from a tour member's luggage the hotel would be off the list and normally the tour hotels like the RS customers.

Have a wonderful time on this tour! You'll be busy!

Posted by
9 posts

thank you so much - this is very helpful! (and I am laughing about the "unders" comment!

Posted by
9914 posts

Hahah...really, that is the stuff of nightmares, isn't it? A plus for using packing cubes as maybe only the cubes would be strewn about!

Posted by
2329 posts

I bring small combination locks to use on my suitcase and carry-on tote if I have to leave them with the hotel prior to check-in--same locks, used many times over the years and tested before I leave. I occasionally use them in the room if I have made expensive purchases, but I don't use when checking bags--a small twist-tie works fine. Nothing valuable in my checked luggage anyway.

Posted by
13691 posts

I'm laughing too, schillpaw! Pam, you are a hoot! 🤣
(A nay here on luggage locks too)

Posted by
5512 posts

Here is what I use. It really isn't a lock, but it holds your zippers together in transit and lets you know if anyone has tampered with your bag. Tamper Tell Seals. I like that you don't need any sharp objects to open it when you are ready to open. It won't stop any dedicated thief, but I am not sure any luggage lock will. It will hold your bag closed and signal if it has been opened.

Posted by
3346 posts

I stopped using luggage locks many years ago. We just use zip ties to prevent inadvertent opening. Any thief worth the name can get around a lock in seconds. I keep a nail clipper in my purse to snip the zip ties off on arrival.

Posted by
21301 posts

I use a lightweight, inexpensive, TSA-approved key lock. It can be easily broken for access into the suitcase, but that would be obvious, so I'd at least know someone has been rummaging through my bag. I figure it's a minor deterrent in the unlikely event there's an unethical, light-fingered employee in one of my hotels. I do leave my back-up credit cards and ATM card and my tablet computer locked in the bag when I'm outside the room.

After the unfortunate occasion when I carelessly dropped my key ring inside the suitcase before locking it, I now keep a second key in the zipper pocket inside my purse, for emergency use. And I pay attention to how the lock is acting; as soon as it becomes even slightly difficult to open, I replace it so I don't end up getting locked out of the bag at an inopportune time.

Posted by
1888 posts

Another vote for cable ties/zapstraps.
Haven't used actual padlocks for many years now.
If you use black cable ties, they are practically invisible.
Snug them right down.
Just remember to bring enough for the homeward trip, and for train or bus journeys during your trip.
I put a teeny pair of cheap scissors in the outside small zipped area of my checked bag so I can cut them off when I arrive.
I've never once had them cut I've just Tempted fate..... ;)

Just don't put anything that can't be easily replaced in your case.
Keep valuables and medications with you.

Posted by
943 posts

Anyone who really wants to get into your bag is not going to be deterred for more than a few seconds by a lock.

Posted by
12 posts

Master keys for the TSA locks can be purchased online. Calibrate your security needs accordingly.

Posted by
2043 posts

My theory is the lock shows the thief where to go for the stuff they want. “Somebody has something that they are trying to protect there - let’s go get that one.”

And those TSA locks are useless. YouTube videos will show you how you can break them.

I just don’t put valuables in my suitcase. That includes jewelry (even if it’s costume), electronics etc. Nobody’s actually ever stolen my dirty underwear

Posted by
235 posts

I loop the zippers together with a zipper pull much like you would attach a strap to a camera I do this with my backpack zippers as well when in transit. I see it as more of a deterrent than an actual safeguard. Like someone mentioned upthread, if a thief wants in they’re gonna get in. But why make it easy for them? Maybe they’ll pass my bags up since they are not so easy to access …

Posted by
808 posts

Yes, we do use locks and my current favorite is Tarriss TSA Luggage Lock with SearchAlert Indicator | Extra Large Numbers | Resettable Combination | Total Luggage Security | 2 Pack.

We always use the same combo for 3 or 4 digit locks so odds are one of us remembers. No I don't kind myself they will deter a determined thief but that isn't the goal. These locks function easily and they are designed so you know if anyone opened them.

I have on occasion locked my carryon bag if on a flight where I'm hoping to sleep. Don't want to worry about someone messing with my bag in the overhead.

I also have some very small double ended carabiner clips to hold zippers together. They're about 1 1/2 inch long that I bought in a set from Amazon.

Posted by
292 posts

If somebody wants to get into it, they will. If nothing else, use a wire twisty from a bread bag. Cheap but annoying. It will hold the zipper shut but allows TSA access if they want to untwist it.

Posted by
5262 posts

There's nothing in my checked bag that would interest a thief. My valuable stuff is always with me.

Posted by
144 posts

We store bags at hotels quite often, and use the little combo locks on them just for peace of mind.

Posted by
943 posts

Try visiting PacSafe's website to see how their anti-theft devices function, Might give you some inspiration. I use a gate-lock carabiner to hold zipper pulls closed and I often carry some zipties that require a knife or scissors to release. But, as we say, a determined thief will not be stopped by any of these methods, merely delayed a second or two.

Posted by
19 posts

Nay! I was on a flight from Tel Aviv to Cypres when they removed all the luggage as the plane was too heavy. Got my bag the next day literally SAWED IN HALF!!!! EEK.
Security takes no prisioners.....

Posted by
11973 posts

Nay for me. I don't put anything valuable enough to lock in my luggage. Everything I bring with me that I don't want stolen stays on my person - that's primarily my phone. Passport, cash, credit cards, etc. stay in a neck wallet that I carry around my neck. I don't carry that much so it isn't a burden. I haven't checked a bag since 2001 (and that was only because I was on military orders directing me to bring much more than I could carry on). If I did lock a bag, I'd use TSA locks; just to make it easier to get through screening.

If losing something is going to ruin your trip (e.g. expensive jewelry) do you really need to bring it? Theft isn't the only problem. Sleeping in strange places disrupts your normal routines. You may forget to put a ring or watch on in the morning and not notice until you have checked out and are down the road. I lose converter plugs regularly (sometimes just the converter, sometimes charger and cable too), so I always pack at least one extra. I tend to lose travel towels too, so I avoid using mine if I don't need to.