I am going from the US to Germany. Should I put a lock on my luggage or just something to keep the zippers from opening? I am getting advice both ways.
Yes but not when you check the bag on a flight because baggage security screeners will destroy the lock or cut the bag open and seal it back with some ugly ass duck tape if they think they see something they suspect incendiary while screening it after you checkin.
That said: Keep all important valuable stuff that you can't afford to have stolen like medicine, cash, expensive stuff, or passport on your person close to your body even if you have a lock; someone when you get to Germany could just easily snatch the bag from you just like it happens here in the USA.
If you are looking for something to keep the zippers from opening consider these disposable doohickeys sold on this very site:flight locks
Twist ties from the supermarket produce section ...
Do you mean your checked luggage or carry-on, or your day-pack for walking around Europe?
For checked bags, I always use the TSA locks. I've rarely had any issues with these in many years of travel. Certainly going outbound from the USA, they're quite reliable. For flights originating in Europe, where there's no "TSA" but there's some European equivalent (and maybe not equipped with the mechanisms to unlock "TSA locks") I've never had any trouble, but I suppose it's more likely in that case.
For a carry on bag, I also use a TSA lock, just to keep unwanted intruders out of my bag - but that's more a convenience for me (I don't need a "special" lock). My carry on stays within reach or immediately above me on the plane, and locked if I'm asleep.
For walking around...I use a variety of mini-carabiners, speedlinks, etc. on any pack with zippers.
Rather than the "flight locks" linked above, I'd just use zip-ties. Get a bunch of them from any hardware or electronics store super cheap. I always bring a dozen or so zip-ties along on any trip, as part of my little "fix-it pouch" with the duct-tape, clothes pin and other small handyman items. Zip-ties are great for securing luggage zippers plus a hundred other things (I've used them to repair my pack, fix shoes, and more).
I use a small TSA lock on my suitcase any time it is out of my hands--whether in transit or left in my hotel room when I am out and about. Makes my suitcase just a bit less attractive to a potential thief. There are valuables in the suitcase (tablet and sometimes a modest amount of extra cash) only when it is left behind in my hotel.
I've had varying success. I've had bags opened and checked, with the TSA locks replaced and locked. I've also had one lock missing and the bag had been checked. Then on a trip to Montana last summer i tried to open my bag and the lock was broken. It took a trip to Walmart to buy a hacksaw before I could get into my bag. The card from TSA said the lock could be broken, but if they had used the right key it should have been fine. Nothing has ever been missing from my bags, but the card is tucked inside, not on the top.
I will continue to use the TSA locks, though. I still think it's a deterrent for opportunistic baggage handlers.
I use small zip ties in an oddball color. Whether a TSA lock or not, it's easy to break into my nylon bag. Zip ties are a minor deterence as I'll know when it's removed.
I bought a TSA lock once. The only one it kept out was me. Now, I'm back to my usual diaper or quilter pins when in transit. They keep the zippers closed. There's nothing in it worth stealing when on the road. I use my 20-30 year old keyless lock when I feel like it in the hotel room.
Hi Cindy, I use these flight locks (https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/flight-locks) when traveling out of the country. I take a TSA lock to use within Europe on trains, locking things up in the hotel, etc.
It's my understanding that TSA locks are a "US" thing and that Security in Europe or elsewhere doesn't have the key to open them, that's why they might be ripped off/destroyed. Can anyone confirm this?