When you’re planning a trip, it’s important to carefully think about the things of value you’ll be taking with you. Most travel experts tell you not to take anything of value you can’t afford to lose, tone down the bling, and keep your clothing and baggage bland, that kind of thing.
Well, that’s all great advice until a traveler has a situation where they really do have to carry something valuable along with them and keep it safe while they are traveling.
Depending on the purpose of your trip, you might someday have to carry items like:
So how does a traveler keep valuables they can’t leave behind safe while they are traveling?
The most obvious way to keep valuables like innovative prototypes or specialized cameras is simply to carry them with you at all times. With a little luck, that valuable item will break down and/or pack easily into a carrying case – perhaps a customized case – that you don’t check but slip under the seat in front or keep stashed between your feet.
If the items are small, like cash, credit cards, and your passport, then they belong hidden and safe in a money belt. This way, those valuables are out of sight and right on your person at all times.
Either way, carrying your valuables with you and staying awake during the trip is certainly one effective way to ensure those items get where they are going safely.
While travel insurance is great for the basic stuff that gets misplaced, lost, or stolen, it’s not as great for specialized items like the grandmother’s wedding ring you plan to take to your son so he can propose. Neither the airline coverage nor travel insurance baggage coverage will cover the full cost of expensive items as they each have maximum payout limits for individual items, and items over a certain limit have to be accompanied by an original receipt (and who carries that around?).
The way around the problem, however, is to look into covering the valuable item with other insurance. If the item is a personal item, like your custom golf clubs, you may be able to schedule it on your homeowner’s policy or a special articles policy linked to your homeowner’s plan. If the item is a business product, check with your business insurance provider for coverage options before you leave.
If you have to get something of value from here to there, or you bought something valuable on your trip, the mail services have great options for insuring and delivering valuable items you want to see on the other side. Often, exclusive stores will even pack and ship the items you buy for you. Plus, if you can ship your valuables, you’ll be spared the effort of hefting, lugging, and keeping watch over those items as you travel.
In many cases, you can require a signature upon arrival to ensure that the valuable item is delivered only into the hands of the person you designate. That person could even be you. A direct mail service can also guarantee the arrival date and that’s something you can’t even get from your airline!
When traveling on a train or bus, secure your locked cases to the luggage rack nearest your seat with a bike or luggage lock. This way, if you fall asleep or have to leave to use the restroom, it’s less likely that someone will snatch the bag and leave with your valuable items. You can even lock small cases to the airline seat in front of you or to the back seat of your rental car when you’re driving.
Just remember to lock the valuables in the case first, then pass the locking cable through the case handles and through the lock on your case for maximum security.
If you’ve no other option than to stuff those valuables into your checked luggage, use a TSA-approved luggage to lock up the bag and make sure you have the highest amount of baggage protection possible. Some travel insurance providers can increase the baggage protection for certain items if you ask.
Unfortunately, with the many media reports of TSA thefts of cash, medicine, and electronic items, this is not the most secure way to get valuables from here to there. At least it’s an attempt to keep your valuables protected from common thievery.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.