When you haven’t traveled before, it’s a good idea to brush up on some sensible ideas about protecting yourself and your possessions when hitting the road (or the air).

Pack for Yourself

Even with a friend, you never know what will end up in your luggage when you’re traveling into another country. They could have illicit substances that they decide are safer in your bag than theirs and not give it a second thought if they’re under the influence when they make that decision.

The TSA or other agent searching your bag won’t care much if you packed it or not, even though it is usually a question they ask. Then it’s in your bag and not theirs, usually you’re on the line for it.

Pack the bags yourself and don’t let anyone get near your bag while you’re traveling. If people have been near it, check at my travel luggage the contents before checking the bag to make doubly sure you’re in the clear.

Use Acceptable Locks

If you’re using locks, they need to be ones that TSA can unlock. These can be purchased online. TSA have universal keys to unlock these kinds of locks, have the right to cut off a lock (thus destroying it) if it’s not unlockable and you cannot find the key. Save yourself a headache and buy TSA-approved locks.

Zip Ties

Zip ties make for a quick way to prevent someone opening your luggage. While some – or all – of your zips can be locked up, preventing the bag from being opened fully is the job of a zip tie. Bear in mind that it’s easy to cut a zip tie, but at least you can see if that’s happened and then be sellotaped back up again.

Losing Luggage

Understand that some luggage gets on the wrong plane and other luggage grows legs and walks away. Consider what items must go onto a carry on because they’re too important to lose permanently. Pack what is irreplaceable in carry-on luggage to avoid a travel disaster.

Electronics

Electronics are currently a hot topic for security. Check what the current rules are for traveling through countries and arriving at other ones. Electronics need to go into your carry on. Understand that luggage personnel tend to throw luggage around, not place them carefully. Therefore, a laptop’s screen or hard drive, and a tablet’s delicate display aren’t likely to survive in stow luggage! If it’s breakable, it needs to be in your carry-on. Period!

Liquids

Check what the current conditions are for liquids and things like creams, makeup, shampoo and other items. Most of these must be checked in your luggage. Bear in mind that even if you put these liquids in a bottle/tube into a separate plastic bag, they will get bounced around enough to escape the confines of the plastic bag. Likely, you’ll end up with items in your luggage with cream on them. Take as few liquid-based items are humanly possible. Take mini-size versions if you have to and then buy locally.